Question: Can you connect a USB microphone to an XLR input?
Answer: You have been using an AT2020USB+ microphone for a long time recording vocals in your home studio. You absolutely love the sound and constantly receive compliments from those listening to your work about how great your vocals sound. Now, you want use that microphone for your live shows because “it is your sound.” There is only one issue: The microphone has a USB output connecter and the PA system has XLR inputs. No problem, you think, I just need an adapter that converts the USB connector to XLR. You search high and low and find many XLR-to-USB adapters or interfaces, but no USB–to-XLR adapters. What gives?
Well, as far as we know, such adapters simply don’t exist, and for good reason. USB microphones are designed for digital output. Within the microphone is an A-to-D converter (analog-to-digital converter) that takes the analog signal from the capsule and converts it to a digital signal ready to be used in a computer recording program. In order to connect this microphone to a standard analog XLR input, the digital signal would have to go through a digital-to-analog conversion process. Remember, the audio signal has already gone through the A-to-D process and with a hypothetical USB-to-XLR adapter it would then go through the D-to-A process. This does not seem very efficient and would probably add latency to the signal.
Does this mean you need both a USB microphone and an analog microphone? Not really. Audio-Technica actually manufactures two microphones that are both digital and analog: the ATR2100x-USB and the AT2005USB. This is accomplished by sending the analog signal to both the A-to-D convertor as well as the XLR output. Analog microphones can also be converted to work with digital inputs, but you must use a proper adapter, as we explained in a previous Question of the Week.
If you have additional questions or would like a recommendation for an Audio-Technica product, feel free to contact the Audio-Technica Audio Solutions Department. We are always happy to help.