We have all been there.
You need to record something, talk to a friend on Skype, or make an announcement but you're without a mic.
You've likely heard of people being able to use headphones as a microphone and wondered how it works.
Well, headphones and microphones are very similar in construction. They both have a diaphragm and deal with sound in different ways by how they utilize sound vibrations.
A microphone takes vibrations from an input source and captures them to them be recorded or broadcast. Headphones vibrate the diaphragm to create sound to be heard by a listener.
In a pinch, headphones can be used a microphone if you know how to make them work.
How To Get Your Headphones Picked Up As a Mic
Most earbuds and earphones come with a four-band 3.5 mm TRRS connector, which offers additional audio channels like the microphone input added to your stereo output. TRRS plugs feature a sleeve, two rings, and a tip, and you can easily identify them by their three black bands. To get your headphones picked up as a mic, plug your headphones into the mic input jack.
But what happens if the plug on your headphones doesn't match the audio jack on your computer or your pair of headphones only have one to your PC's two jacks? Well, that's where adapters come in. If your headset has only one jack, you can opt for the Kingtop 3.5mm Combo Audio Adapter. It has one 3.5mm TRRS plug and two 3.5mm TRS jacks.
It's perfectly designed to connect old and outdated audio devices with separate microphones and audio plugs to new and advanced laptops and even gaming consoles that only feature one Integrated audio jack. It makes plugging a headset mic into devices with only one port possible. However, this adaptor doesn't work with most standard Apple earphones and other Apple devices.
You can also work with the Millso Headset Splitter Adapter. It features two separate TRS plugs for microphone and audio and one TRRS jack. So, if your computer has two separate headphone and microphone jacks and your headphone has a single TRRS plug, this adaptor will help you to seamlessly link the two, making it ideal for video conferencing and online gaming.
After plugging your headphones into the computer, click on the sound icon to open the sound settings. This is located on the Windows menu at the bottom leftmost side of your screen. Click to open up your computer preferences and select "manage audio devices". Select your input device then choose the recording device or microphone you want to use. Click the recording tab on the sound control panel and tap or blow into your headphones continuously to see if it picks up the input. Watch for green bars, which show your headphones are picking up the noise.
If it does, you're good to go! You can set the headphone "mic" as the default input device for your machine and you'll be able to use your headphones as a mic. Keep in mind that third-party audio apps, such as Discord and Zoom cam override the system preferences for your sound devices. So, if you often use them, ensure you turn them off to avoid unnecessary interference.
Complications That May Arise and How to Fix Them
If you've followed the above steps and still can't use your headphones as a microphone, check to see whether you've got the following issues;
If your pair of headphones isn't functioning, it could simply be a matter of not choosing the right audio input device in your sound settings. To confirm whether you've set the right device as default, go to the control panel, select the "Sound" icon and click the "Recording" tab on the pop-up window. Your PC should have a green check with the green bar rising as it detects sound.
A non-functioning microphone or headset may be caused by plugging your headphones into the wrong port. The good news is that most ports on laptops are color-coded to prevent these mistakes.
Another reason you can't use your headphones as a mic could be due to a sound driver issue. Your drivers may either be incompatible or outdated, thus making it hard to use your headphones with your PC correctly.
One effective way of addressing this issue is through the Device Manager. Open your Control Panel and choose "Device Manager". This will prompt a small window to open. Click the "Sound, video and game controllers", and then right-click your device from the list. When a menu opens, you can either update your driver or choose to re-install it by scanning for hardware changes.
If everything else fails, check to confirm whether your headphones have any physical issues. If none of the above troubleshooting options can fix your headphone problem, your PC may be defective.
Optimizing The Sound
Obviously, headphones and microphones are optimized for their respective jobs. Your headphones won't be an ideal mic, so you may have to adjust some volume and EQ settings to get the best experience.
To adjust the overall input volume, select "Sound" in your control panel. Here, you can give your improvised mic a volume boost. However, it's worth noting that if you overdo it here, you can expect clipping and sound leakage.
If you have the option with your setup, you want to adjust the EQ as well. Depending on your computer and installed programs, you may be able to add a high pass filter to remove some of the low-frequency humming you can expect due to the way headphones are made. If you can, drown out all the super low frequencies, and boost the high. This will give you the best overall sound with headphones.
Wrapping It All Up
If you're in a pinch, headphones can work as a makeshift microphone, but you can't expect high-quality audio. You will be able to conduct skype calls, make announcements, and do some low-quality recording.
Have you used headphones as a mic before? Let us know your experience in the comments section below!