XLR to USB Adapters: Best Choices

XLR to USB adapters (also commonly called converters) are electrical devices that allow an XLR device to connect directly to your computer. In this review, we’ll go over the functional differences between adapters, converters, and audio interfaces. We will also cover the things to consider when making a purchase like microphone type and phantom power. And finally, we’ll list the 8 best XLR to USB devices. If you’re looking for a cable that will not adapt to USB, check out our buying guide on the best XLR-to-XLR cables. OK, enough said.  Let’s get crackin!

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Last Update: December 12th, 2019

In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top 3

8 of the Best XLR to USB Adapters

Shure X2U XLR to USB Signal Adapter

Shure X2U XLR to USB Signal Adapter
Shure X2U XLR-to-USB Signal Adapter
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Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on https://www.amazon.com/ at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

The Shure X2U is a great adapter that has a quality feel to it. It has additional features over a simple XLR to USB cable such as +48 V phantom power switch built right in. It also includes monitor mix control that can mix audio playback from your computer with the input from your mic. This converter bridges the gap between a basic converter and full blown professional audio interface. Check out the Shure website from more details and specs.

Features & Specs

♦  High build-quality, feels heavy
♦  Comes with a carrying bag
♦  +48 V phantom power button with on/off LED
♦  Portable
♦  Locking XLR connector
♦  Headphone jack with volume control
♦  Some users report a certain degree of added noise
♦  USB cable included

Cons
  • Relatively expensive
  • Noisy with some setups
  • Heavy
Pros
  • Sturdy build
  • Versatile
  • Many features

Blue Microphones Icicle XLR to USB Microphone Converter/Preamp

Blue Microphones Icicle XLR to USB Microphone Converter/Preamp
Blue Microphones Icicle XLR to USB Microphone Converter/Preamp
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Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on https://www.amazon.com/ at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

The Blue Icicle is another good choice in our list of XLR to USB adapters. Like the Shure X2U, it too has +48 V phantom power and also comes with a USB cable. It does lack some of the features see in other adapters, opting for a simple approach to signal conversion. But if that’s what you’re after, it could be a benefit. Some users report driver issues when using this adapter with Windows 7.

Features & Specs

♦  Built-in +48 V phantom power (cannot be turned off)
♦  Portable
♦  Locking XLR connector
♦  Some users report a certain degree of added noise at elevated gain levels
♦  Single analog volume control

Cons
  • Might have compatibility issues
  • Added noise at high gain
  • Plastic build
Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Lightweight
  • Simple operation

MXL Mic Mate Pro XLR to USB Preamp

MXL Mic Mate Pro XLR to USB Preamp

The Mic Mate Pro from MXL lands somewhere between the Blue Icicle and Shure X2U when it comes to features. Like the previously mentioned models, it too has +48 V phantom power. It also has a 1/8″ headphone jack and allows for monitor mixing just like the X2U. Users report that the build quality on the XLR to USB adapter is very good, but like the others it may introduce some noise at high gain settings. This one also boasts a pretty high buyer rating. For more information, take a look at the manual.

Features & Specs

♦  Built-in +48 V phantom power (cannot be turned off)
♦  Portable – less than 6″ long
♦  Some users report a certain degree of added noise at elevated gain levels
♦  Gain knob
♦  1/8″ headphone jack with knob – monitor mix from PC and mic
♦  6 ft USB cable included
♦  Recording software included

Cons
  • Somewhat expensive
  • Added noise at high gain
  • No phantom power switch
Pros
  • Well built
  • Versatile features
  • Good preamp

MXL Mic Mate Dynamic XLR to USB Preamp

MXL Mic Mate Dynamic XLR to USB Preamp

The Mic Mate Dynamic from MXL is a simple XLR to USB adapter that was designed for use specifically with a dynamic microphone. It does not have phantom power, and is very simple in design and function. It has a gain switch with three different settings so you can use it with a variety of microphones. The Mic Mate Dynamic doesn’t require any drivers. It’s a plug and play device.

Features & Specs

♦  No preamp – built specifically for dynamic mics
♦  Die cast construction
♦  3-position gain switch
♦  Recording software included

Cons
  • Lacking in features
  • Dynamic mics only
  • Expensive
Pros
  • Simple operation
  • Metal construction
  • Low profile design

Pyle Microphone XLR to USB Adapter

Pyle Microphone XLR to USB Adapter
Pyle Microphone XLR-to-USB Signal Adapter - Universal Plug and Play XLR Mic to PC Adaptor for Digital Recording w/ Mix Audio Control, +48V Phantom Power, Headphone Volume, USB Cable - PDUSBPP10
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Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on https://www.amazon.com/ at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Pyle recently came up with their own take on the XLR to USB adapter, and did a great job providing a value piece of gear to consumers. This adapter has all of the features you could expect out of a solid adapter, and at a great price. On the bottom, there is an LED indicator that tells whether or not the mute button is activated, and the body is made of durable and lightweight aluminum – perfect for travel and on-the-go recording. As with most products, it is not without its flaws, though. Some users report poor customer service, and the preamp is not exactly studio-grade.

Features & Specs

♦  Headphone volume and monitor mixing control
♦  48 V phantom power built in – works with condenser mics
♦  Mute button
♦  Universal OS compatibility
♦  Plug-and-play connectivity

Cons
  • Confusing manual
  • Added noise at high gain
  • Operation has a learning curve
Pros
  • Plenty of features
  • Great value
  • Universal compatibility

Valinks XLR to USB Converter Cable

Hosongin XLR to USB Converter Cable
XLR Cable, VAlinks 10FT 3PIN XLR Female Microphone Cable Studio Audio Cable Connector Cords Adapter for Microphones or Instruments Recording Karaoke Singing - 3m/10ft
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Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on https://www.amazon.com/ at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

This XLR to USB adapter cable from Valinks is the ultimate in simplicity on this list. It’s great for a simple connection for your dynamic mic. It is compatible with all major operating systems. This cable is very inexpensive in comparison to the other options on our list and some users do report reliability issues, but the majority of reviews are positive.

Features & Specs

♦  No preamp – better for dynamic mics
♦  12-month warranty
♦  PVC jacketing, oxygen-free copper conductors, and gold-plated contact surfaces
♦  LED power indication light on USB 2.0 connector
♦  Plug-and-play – no drivers needed
♦  10 ft length

Cons
  • No additional features
  • May not work with recent USB iterations
  • Some QA/QC problems reported
Pros
  • Very inexpensive
  • 1-year warranty
  • Simple operation

Behringer U-Phoria UM2 Audio Inteface

Behringer U-Phoria UM2 Audio Interface
BEHRINGER Audio Interface, 1x XLR/TRS 1x 1/4" 2X RCA USB, Black, 1-Channel (UM2)
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Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on https://www.amazon.com/ at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Since all audio interfaces also count as XLR to USB adapters, the Behringer U-Phoria UM2 makes the list. While not as portable as some of the others listed, this audio interface does include more features and will produce a cleaner signal with it’s Xenyx preamp. It also costs considerably less than some of the others on this list, and has L and R RCA outputs for connection to your studio monitors.

Features & Specs

♦  48V phantom power with on/off switch
♦  Direct monitoring capability
♦  1/4″ headphone jack and TRS line-in
♦  Max sampling rate of 48 kHz
♦  RCA outputs
♦  Input/output gain knobs

Cons
  • Bulky
  • Mic preamp isn’t great
  • Some QA/QC problems reported
Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Full-blown audio interface
  • Additional I/O

Focusrite Scarlett Solo Audio Interface (3rd Gen)

Focusrite Scarlett Solo Audio Interface (3rd Gen)
Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First
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Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on https://www.amazon.com/ at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

One of the most popular audio interfaces out there is the Focusrite Scarlett Solo. Similar to the Behringer UM2, this XLR to USB adapter includes added features such as direct monitoring and RCA outputs. It is a little bulkier than some of the previously mentioned items, but you sacrifice space for added quality and capability. This is a great beginners interface and ideal for someone who is just getting acclimated with the digital audio world.

Features & Specs

♦  48V phantom power with on/off switch
♦  Direct monitoring capability
♦  1/4″ headphone jack and TRS line-in
♦  Max sampling rate of 192 kHz
♦  RCA outputs
♦  Input/output gain knobs

Cons
  • Bulky
  • Expensive
  • USB-C may require driver update
Pros
  • Great mic preamp
  • 24-bit resolution and high sample rates
  • Additional I/O

XLR to USB Adapters vs. Audio Interfaces

Like we mentioned earlier, XLR to USB devices convert the analog signal from an XLR device such as a microphone into a digital signal that your computer can understand.

  • Advantages
    • More compact, take up less space
    • Cheaper
  • Disadvantages
    • Limited functionality
    • Simpler designs may require phantom power (preamp)

Audio interfaces serve as XLR to USB adapters with additional features. Audio interfaces can have gain knobs, 1/4″ TRS inputs and outputs, headphone jacks, and more. An audio interface can also convert a digital signal to an analog signal that then get’s played through an analog device or devices like studio monitors.

  • Advantages
    • More features, more connectivity
    • Most have a built-in preamp
  • Disadvantages
    • Can be very expensive
    • Take up more space

Dynamic Mics, Condenser Mics, & Phantom Power

One thing to consider in your purchase is whether or not you’ll be using a dynamic mic or a condenser mic. Condenser mics almost always require phantom power, and your adapter will need to be able to supply it.

If you’re going to use a dynamic mic with any of the following adapters that include 48 V phantom power, you need to make sure your dynamic mic is balanced. Balanced dynamic mics are not affected by phantom power. If your dynamic mic is unbalanced, it’s best to choose an adapter that does not have phantom power, or one that has the option to switch it off.

Concluding Remarks

When it’s all said and done, your decision here will boil down to several factors:

  1. Audio quality
  2. Capabilities
  3. Portability
  4. Microphone type
  5. Price

As far as quality goes, audio interfaces will provide you with the best sampling rates and less introduced noise than an adapter, but with less portability. If that’ sounds right for you, I suggest going with the Behringer UM2 audio interface.

If you want portability, a decent level of quality, and added capabilities and you’re willing to pay a little more for it then the Shure X2U will do the job. If you only plan on using a dynamic mic, and just need a simple connection for a very low price, then the Valinks XLR to USB cable is your choice.

That wraps it up for this review. Thank you for reading, and I hope this list helps you make a great choice for your XLR to USB adapter purchase!

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