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How to Use Earbuds as a Mic

Turn your earbuds into a mic for hands-free convenience

What do you look for in a good quality mic? Podcasts, vlogs, online tutorials- there are countless reasons you might need a proper, professional microphone. But with all the different kinds of mics out there, how do you know which one is best for you? Some mics cost up to hundreds of dollars. But did you know you could have your own mic just by making a few tweaks to your earbuds?

Some people use their earbuds like the ones found here or here: to take phone calls, VOIP calls, or gaming. But if you have an extra pair of wired earbuds, with a few simple alterations, you can easily turn your earbuds into a convenient, hands-free mic.

How do earphones work as microphones?

The technology behind earphones and microphones depend on vibration of diaphragms that convert sound into electrical signals. Once they are successfully converted, they convert back to sound again. This allows you to speak into your earphones to record audio.

If you decide to repurpose your earphones and turn them into a mic, the sound quality may not be as high, but this can be easily fixed using any audio program on your computer. This option is also more feasible than spending thousands of dollars on a professional mic, which you may still need to edit using an audio program anyway.

Why use my earphones as a microphone?

Microphones for personal use cost anywhere between $150 – $1000. And these are just for home use, not in a professional recording studio. If your intention is to use professional quality equipment in a proper recording studio, it could set you back hundreds of dollars just to rent (by the hour!). But for everyone else that needs a mic in their home, personal mic seems more practical.
Another reason to use your earphones as a mic is because you can actually turn it into a lavalier microphone. If you’re not familiar with these mics, it’s the same mic that newscasters may use. It sits comfortably on your chest, usually attached to the front of your clothes.

Turning your earphones into a lavalier mic

To make your own lavalier mic, all you need is a pair of wired earphones. The best kind for this is the ones that usually come when you purchase a phone. They typically have a mic attached to the cord that would be used to make phone calls.

First, here’s what you’ll need- most of these you should already have in your home:

  • Any pair of earphones with a microphone attached to it (preferably ones you don’t mind cutting up)
  • A hot glue gun
  • A clip or pin, something to secure it to your clothes
  • Scissors
  • With your scissors, cut the earbud and cord off the side without the mic attached to it.
  • Cut the second earbud off right above the mic piece
  • Using your hot glue gun, attach the mic to your clip or pin. (make sure you do this on the backside of the mic)

Now that you’ve successfully turned your earbuds into a working mic, you can use this new tool to hear through your computer’s speakers. This is helpful if you want to produce music in your home, turn your microphone into a karaoke setup, or just amplify your voice for presentations.

Most computers will not automatically play the feedback from your mic and require manual input/output setting changes:

  1. Use the search bar to find “Control Panel”
  2. Select “Hardware and Sound”
  3. Select “Sound”
  4. Select “Recording” (you can also get to this step by right-clicking the speaker icon from the Desktop and select “Recording Devices”
  5. Select the microphone icon
  6. Double click to open “Microphone Properties”
  7. Select “Listen” (if multiple devices appear, speak into your mic to see which device is active by the green bar appearing) Note: if your mic is disabled, right-click and select “Show Disabled Devices”, then right-click to enable the disabled mic.
  8. Select “Listen to This Device”
  9. Select “Apply”

Note: If you don’t hear any sound, select “Playback Through This Device” and then select “Apply”

Getting the most out of your mic

Once you have everything set up (and running smoothly), there are a few tips and tricks to help you get the best sound out of your earbud mic. If you are familiar with mics, you’ll know they have feedback. Sometimes when you speak into a mic with certain obstructions, you’ll hear a loud screeching sound. This is the feedback from your mic. This happens because the mic is too close to the speakers, too far from the sound source, or the microphone is too loud. Because you are using your earbuds, you might not get this kind of feedback, but you still might hear some kind of altered audio.

Testing your mic

To ensure you are getting the best quality sound from your mic, try testing out the volume from low to high. Do not start off at the maximum volume, this could result in muffled or staticky audio. You can also try repositioning the mic. If you are using your mic as a lavalier mic, it might be too far or too close to your mouth, resulting in inconsistent audio.

If you can’t seem to find the “sweet spot” while recording, you can simply edit the audio you have and adjust the levels on any audio editing program on your computer. This is a great way to play with sound and even add special effects to enhance and experiment with different projects.

Do earbuds make good mics?

If you’re looking for an affordable solution to a professional mic, you can definitely use your earbuds as a mic. For experienced people, this is a great alternative because you can easily edit any inconsistencies on your computer. It’s a convenient, hands free solution and can be easily done with a few household items.

But is this a replacement for a professional mic?

It can be if you are willing to put in a bit of extra work. Professional mics are great because they pick up sound from all directions, but there is a lot to know about mics. If you have no training or have not done any research on how to properly use a professional mic, you could just be wasting your money. Turning your earbuds into a mic is a great way to start off any small projects in the comfort of your own home.

October 7, 2020


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