Apple question

Quick question, Macheads: I’m trying to use a simple microphone into the line-in jack and I’m getting nothing. Yes, I changed the device in the system preferences. The internal mic works fine, as does the iSight mike. And I did get an amplified mic to work in the line in jack. Could it be that a simple mic or headset won’t work? How are people doing podcasts? How are people doing Skype? I just want to use a basic mic for video chats and other recording. Any advice?

  • While I haven’t played with audio input devices in a good long while, I did see this review on Macintouch last week of the Samson C01U USB mic, which seems to be a decent podcasting device.

  • Jeff,

    Microphones that plug in through the line-in jack is something that Apple has done a little differently than other computer manufacturers. I’d recommend getting a USB microphone, like Logitech’s USB desktop microphone:,CRID=103,CONTENTID=6776

    Alternatively, you can pick up an old Apple PlainTalk microphone pretty cheaply on eBay and that will also work, though the sound quality won’t be as great as a USB one.

  • Tim

    I think you might like the iMic — heard nothing but good things.

  • Angelos

    And if all else fails, verify your disk permissions and reinstall the OS. That’s what Apple would tell you to do.

  • PXLated

    USB mike here. Works just fine.

  • Aren’t you using a Powerbook, Jeff? Why not use the internal one built-in to your laptop? Just select “internal microphone” from the sound control panel and fire away.

    The other solutions offered here work, too. I use an integrated USB headset/mic from Plantronics when I need privacy.

  • I use the internal mic on my iBook for Skype, Gizmo, etc. I record podcasts either using the iTalk or the internal mic in iMovie. Using Keynote, I can make show notes with web clippings, save out as QuickTime, pull them in to iMovie and record VO…

  • jr

    We has this discussion on #joiito last week. If I remember you need to have some sort of amplified mike. It appears that there is no standard for microphone inputs. You would think that since the jack is the same the requirements are the same.

  • Sal M

    If it’s really a Line In jack and not a Mic jack, you’ll need either a USB mic or a small amp for the mic. Line In connections are non-powered, and need a pre-amp to boost and condition the signal.

  • Berry

    If you want a good USB microphone, Samson just launched the very first USB condensator microphone that gets its power from USB as well (so no extra ‘phantom power’ needed) for about 80 bucks. It’s the Samson C01U, for 79,99 dollars/euros. Not advertising here, I just ordered one myself. And it really is worth the money. You get cristal clear audio that your listeners will appreciate.
    For recording Skype: I tried several howto’s out there that failed to work. This one does work, however with an audible echo for the person on the other end, but recording perfectly:

  • iMic does the trick for me, Jeff.

  • Also note, however, that we’re having some issues here vis-a-vis podcasting

  • Ditto on the USB mic. Works like a charm.

  • huh

    i thought with a mac you just plug it in, the mac would read your mind, and this would work for you. macs just must not be living up to the hype

  • Angelos

    You have no idea, huh. It’s just brutal.

  • I have the same problem as Jeff. The USB mic is okay but inferior in quality to the proper professional audio mic that the radio station has given me to use. From what I can tell Saul M. is the one who is answering the question here, which is, if you want to use a professional-quality mic to record on your Mac, what can you do? And the answer is, you need a pre-amp. Is that correct?

  • Angelos

    Yes Jonatan, “To interface a standard professional microphone with the Macintosh sound input port, a preamplifier must be used to boost the output level of the mic (typically less than 1 millivolt) to the level required by the sound card (about 100 millivolts).”

    But even then, you’re wasting an expensive mic by strangling it with some cheap step-down adapters with cheap solder.

    Creative Labs makes wide range of products for PCs, that do excellent sound work. Not sure about their Mac options.

    The Digidesign Mbox 2 is a great piece of equipment, a friend of mine uses it.

    Like with any electronic products, you can spend a little, or go nuts.

    But putting a real mic though a 1/16th plug seems a crime.

  • Old Grouch

    Unless you’re engaged in audiophile-grade recording, any general-purpose preamp should be adequate. I haven’t used this one, but it has the featureset you’re looking for without costing an arm and a leg. You’ll also need a cable to go from the preamp’s 1/4″ (mono) unbalanced line output to the Mac’s 3.5mm line input. Note that the Mac’s line input is STEREO, so you’ll probably have to get somebody to make you a cable :-P (If you use a mono 3.5mm plug, you’ll only get audio on the left channel.)Constraints:Real professional microphones have low impedance balanced output with a 3-pin connector, usually “XLR” type. These require a preamp that has either an input transformer (best- kills hum) or some sort of active-balancing network on the input (cheaper).The preamp should have an unbalanced output, or be capable of being connected that way.If you have a condensor microphone that doesn’t have an internal battery, then you need a preamp that provides “phantom power”, or a battery adapter (goes between the microphone and the preamp).Dynamic microphones don’t require phantom power, but shouldn’t have problems if it’s present.It’s handy for the preamp to have an adjustable output, to keep from overdriving the computer. (If you find you’re just cracking the computer’s volume setting, you’ve got too much signal.)Well, no preview, hope this formats!

  • Rob

    The iPad has landed. But should campuses be throwing it a welcome party?

    At least two are. Seton Hill University, a Roman Catholic institution in Pennsylvania, announced this week that it would be giving Apple’s new computing tablet to each of its 2,000-odd full-time students when they arrive on campus in the fall. How about another italkbbschool