How to Set Up an External Microphone on Your Mac

How to Set Up an External Microphone on Your Mac

Whether you’re recording a tutorial, a gameplay video, or just making a skype call, using an external microphone can really improve the audio quality of your end result. This tutorial will show you how to set up an external microphone with various programs on your Mac.

what microphone should i buy?

there are many microphones to choose from. It can be overwhelming for someone looking to buy their first microphone, and often the best microphone for you depends on what you plan to use it for.

Reading: How to connect microphone to macbook

so here are three that are good to consider if you’re shopping for your next microphone.

blue snowball

A great usb microphone for beginners who want to get good sound quality without paying through the nose for it, you can plug it directly into your mac and you don’t have to buy any adapters to make it work.

One drawback, however, is that many users on amazon reported that you needed to hold it very close to your mouth to get the best sound quality.

you can get the blue snow globe for $60 on amazon

audio-technica in 2020

this mic comes in both usb and xlr versions it is a step up from the blue snowball in sound quality and is a great deal for the price however please note if you buy the xlr version you are only buying the microphone itself, you will also need to purchase a mount and adapter like the blue icicle.

you can get the xlr version for $70 and the usb version for $150, the usb at2020 also comes with a small desktop mic stand.

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red podcaster

the røde podcaster is a broadcast-quality microphone that connects via usb, it’s a great mic and, according to one amazon user, it’s “built like a tank”. It’s powered directly from your USB cable, so you won’t need to buy an external power supply for it. you can get the røde podcaster for $230 on amazon.

rode nt1a

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This mic is a great choice if you’re looking to step up to the pro category, the audio sounds warm and clear, not muffled like some lower end mics.

røde advertises the nt1a as “the world’s quietest studio microphone”. however, it will set you back a little over $230.

getting ready

To get started, connect your microphone to your Mac’s USB or Audio Line-In port, depending on which type of connection your microphone uses. once you’ve done that, your mac should immediately recognize your microphone.

connect a microphone to a macbook (late 2012)

Looking for the microphone port on your new macbook? you won’t find one, apple removed the dedicated audio line-in on the latest macbooks, so how can you connect your mic now?

If you’re using a microphone that connects with an audio line-in cable, plug it into your Mac’s headphone port, Apple has combined audio line-in and headphone ports on the latest MacBooks.

now we need to modify your applications to use that microphone instead of the default built-in microphone. i will show you how to set it up in skype, adobe audition and quicktime. but it’s more or less the same for any application.

configuring your microphone with skype

first, open your skype preferences, this can be done by clicking “skype” in the menu bar and then selecting “preferences” or pressing “⌘,”.

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in the window that opens, click on the “audio and video” tab in the menu bar and you will see a drop-down menu. by default, it will say “built-in microphone”. you need to change it to your external microphone.

and that’s it! you have configured your external microphone to work with skype!

fast hour

quicktime is the easiest of all here, as its audio settings can be edited in the screen recording window.

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to change the microphone settings, you need to go to the menu bar and click on file, then click on new screen recording in the window that appears, you will see a white arrow on the right side, click on it and it will open a drop-down menu of microphones you can choose from.

From that menu, you can also change the quality of the video and where the video file will be created. that’s all there is to setting up quicktime.

adobe audition

If you’re using professional audio recording software like Adobe Audition, you’ll definitely need an external microphone to use it. If you bought Adobe Creative Cloud, you may not even know you have this program!

To get started, open Adobe Audition, then click “audition” in the menu bar, hover over the preferences option, and select your audio hardware.

In the window, you’ll see that audition has more settings than the other programs we looked at, but you don’t need to worry about that, we just need to change the audio input.

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To do this, simply click on the drop down menu and select your microphone from the list. once you’ve done that, just click “ok” at the bottom right of the preferences window.

manage your audio devices with system preferences

You can use the sound panel in system preferences to change your audio input device. To do this, open system preferences and click the sound icon.

now you can see all the audio devices you have connected to your mac, just click on the one you want to select, system preferences also lists what type of connection those devices use, such as usb, audio line-in or built-in , you can also use the input volume slider to change the sensitivity of the selected microphone or toggle the use of ambient noise reduction if your microphone has that feature,

A quicker way to quickly change your audio input device is to hold down the option key and click the sound icon in the menu bar, instead of the slider to control your mac’s volume that normally you see when you click there you will see a list of all your audio input and output devices, just click on the one you want to make the selected audio device.


that’s all you need to know to start using an external microphone on your mac! now you are ready to venture into the world of high quality audio recording. what microphone do you use? let us know in the comments.

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