Can You Convert A USB Mic to XLR? (Important Things to Know!)

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USB microphones are getting better as each year passes. In fact, the latest models are so good that producers, musicians, and audio engineers are looking for new ways to incorporate and use them in their music production.

Due to their unique qualities, lots of people recommend that one gets a really good USB mic that can be used for as many purposes as possible.

However, with most USB microphones offering only USB connectivity, it has led many to wonder if there is the possibility of converting such USB mics to XLR so that they can be used with traditional audio equipment like mixing consoles instead of only using them through a computer.

Therefore, if you only have a USB mic, or if you particularly like the tone of a USB mic, and are wondering if you can use it in a live setting or use it to record through a mixer or an audio interface, you need to read this article to the end.

You cannot convert a USB mic to XLR. This is because, typical USB mics are designed for digital outputs, and are only built to work with USB. Trying to convert such USB mics to XLR will end up introducing latency and can degrade the audio signal. This will make the signal unusable.

Why You Can’t Convert A USB Mic to XLR

USB microphones have made microphones more accessible to lots of people. Due to this, USB microphones have taken the audio world by storm and have revolutionized the way we use microphones.

However, a significant limitation of USB microphones is that most of them do not have an XLR output. Such microphones cannot be used with XLR cables. This, in turn, means they cannot be connected to XLR audio devices such as traditional mixers and audio interfaces.

The fact that most USB microphones come with only a USB output poses a big problem if you want to use your USB mic with devices other than your computer. Due to this, one question most USB mic owners ask is if there is any way to convert their USB microphones to have XLR functionality.

The truth is, USB microphones cannot be converted to XLR. This is because these microphones have a built-in analog-to-digital converter that converts the analog signal produced by the mic capsule into a digital signal that a computer can use.

Along the way, this signal is amplified and enhanced to be useable for direct input into a computer. Converting a USB mic to XLR simply means, reconverting this final digital signal back to analog. Unfortunately, the signal chain of typical USB mics is not conducive for conversion back to analog to be used with an XLR output.

It is worth noting that, there are methods for converting digital audio to analog via complex interfaces and preamps. However, applying these systems to USB mics will add so much latency to the audio signal that it will become unusable in a real-world situation.

Since typical USB microphones cannot be converted to XLR, if you intend to go in for a USB microphone, I suggest that you choose USB microphones that come with dual outputs. The USB microphones that have dual outputs have both USB and XLR outputs.

What this means is, USB microphones with dual outputs are a good choice if you plan on using a USB microphone with traditional audio devices like mixing consoles.

One of the best dual-output USB microphones available on the market is the AudioTechnica AT2005USB. This USB microphone has both USB and XLR output types and can be used for both analog and digital devices.

Therefore, if you want to buy a microphone that can be used via USB to your computer and via XLR to a mixer or interface, this is the microphone to get.

Can You Connect A USB Mic DIRECTLY to A Mixer or Interface?

USB microphones have made recording and streaming far more accessible for many people. It is not surprising then that, lots of people own USB microphones.

As a USB mic owner, if you only have a USB mic and want to plug it into a mixer or an audio interface for recording or a live performance, how will you go about this? Is this even possible in the first place?

Yes, you can connect a USB microphone directly to a mixer or interface if the USB microphone comes with a direct stereo headphone output. These headphones’ outputs are usually 3.5mm jack outputs.

Just as I mentioned earlier in this article, USB microphones cannot be converted to XLR. Regardless of this, while USB microphones cannot be converted to XLR, they have a built-in output that can send the signal from the mic to traditional audio devices, such as mixing consoles or interfaces.

This built-in output is their headphone output. Most USB microphones on the market have a direct stereo headphone output. This direct stereo headphone output is an unbalanced output designed for direct listening through headphones.

However, the signal from this output can be amplified and made useable through a mixer or an audio interface. Since these headphone outputs accept 3.5mm jacks, you will need a converter like the ANDTOBO ¼“ to 3.5mm Adapter(on Amazon) to convert the headphone cable from 3.5mm to ¼” jack.

This connection will work well, and as long as you do not turn the mic gain up to high, it will produce a crisp and clear audio signal for any purpose, be it a live performance or recording.

This video below does a great job of providing a visual demonstration and guide on how to connect your USB mic to a mixing console using the items I have mentioned above.

It is worth noting that the USB microphone will still need to be connected to a computer, as the microphone requires power from a USB device to function.

These microphones have a built-in A/D converter, a preamplifier, and a headphone preamp. They also have electronics such as gain controls, volume controls, and sometimes lights with level meters.

These functions are required for the mic to work correctly, so it will still need to be plugged into a computer, even though the audio is sent to the mixer or interface via the headphone output.

In summary, you can connect a USB mic to traditional audio gear like mixing consoles and audio interfaces via the USB mic’s headphone output. However, USB mics will always need a computer to work. Therefore, remember this whenever you want to use the microphone through audio gear.

Do USB Mics Sound Good in A Mixer or Interface?

Yes, USB microphones sound excellently good when connected to mixing consoles and audio interfaces. Most modern USB mic models sound shockingly good in both mixing consoles and audio interfaces.

USB microphones sound good in mixing consoles and audio interfaces because these microphones have been built with high-quality and efficient circuits and parts that are capable of retaining their good tone and high sound quality even when they are run through mixing consoles or audio interfaces.

However, you should note that, despite the fact that USB microphones sound great in mixing consoles and audio interfaces, the reality is that, USB microphones are designed to work best via USB.

What this means is that the quality of sound you get when you are running a USB microphone through a mixer or interface via the headphone output is relatively inferior to what you get when you connect the USB microphone directly to a digital device.

That notwithstanding, it will still sound good enough to use, especially if it is well-mixed. You should note that, to get a good tone from a USB mic that has been connected to a mixing console or interface, be sure not to use the microphone’s gain level too much by raising it above 50%.

This will prevent signal noise from being generated. In addition, always ensure that the mic is connected in the best possible signal path through the audio gear.


USB microphones are designed primarily to be used with USB ports. Due to the fact that USB microphones are meant to work via USB, they cannot be converted to XLR without adding shocking latency to the audio signal.