Input Cable Wiring From XLR to a PC Card

by Larry Rivers, studioD

Recording sounds on a computer can be accomplished in variety of ways. Most professional recording studios feature dedicated analog to digital audio interfaces which handle analog to digital conversions, as well as multiple channel inputs. Most modern computers, however, feature integrated sound cards, which can also be used to record sounds or music.

XLR Cables

Developed in the 1950s as a professional audio connector, the XLR cable has become an audio industry standard. Featuring three conductors and a ground connection, these cable transmit professional balanced audio in a variety of voltages and signal levels. XLR cable can be used to carry low level signals such as microphones to mixing consoles, as well as carry the line level signals of the mixing console's outputs to a recording device.

1/8-inch Stereo Audio Cable

The 1/8-inch or 3.5-mm stereo audio plug is the industry standard for audio connections for consumer computer sound cards. These inexpensive connectors feature a small size and three conductors, typically configured in an unbalanced left, right and ground configuration. Most computer sound cards feature a microphone input, line level input and line level output 1/8-inch audio jacks.

Connecting Microphones

Passive microphones, such as commonly found dynamic hand-held microphones, can be connected directly to a computer's sound card with a custom XLR female to 1/8-inch mono male audio cable. These cables allows the direct connection of a microphone to a computer's microphone input only, as this input features an internal preamplifier, required to boost the microphone's signal to a usable level.

Connecting Line Level Audio Devices

XLR female to 1/8-inch mono audio cables can also be used to connect professional audio equipment, such as DJ mixers, to a computer's sound card. As the 1/8-inch plug features stereo inputs, a single XLR-to-1/8 cable will provide only one channel. Adapters such as a dual XLR female to single 1/8-inch stereo plug Y cable can allow stereo connection of professional audio equipment by providing an XLR connector for both left and right channels.

About the Author

Larry Rivers has contributed his recording and audio production expertise to Nashville and Los Angeles alt-weeklies as well as industry magazines since 2008. He is a music recording expert, holding a Bachelor of Science in audio production and bringing over 12 years of album production and live sound engineering to his how-to articles.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images