Best XLR to USB Adapter Choices in 2019

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 7 best XLR to USB devices in 2019. 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!

Full Disclosure: This is an affiliate review. Purchasing from the links or buttons below earns me sales commission.


The Bottom Line

After a lot of research and reviews, I recommend the Shure X2U XLR to USB adapter.

Top Pick: Shure X2U XLR to USB Adapter

The X2U XLR to USB adapter from Shure wins top spot on this list of 7 best XLR to USB adapters. This highly portable adapter boasts built-in 48V phantom power that can be switched on and off, monitor mixing capabilities, and a headphone jack. Buyers say this item is very well built and feels like a quality piece of equipment. It also comes with a USB cable and carrying case.

Runner Up: MXL Mic Mate Pro XLR to USB Preamp

Second place on our list goes to the MXL Mic Mate Pro. This small adapter also includes 48 V phantom power for use with your condenser mic, but keep in mind that it cannot be turned off so this will not be ideal for dynamic mics. It has added capabilities like 1/8 inch headphone jack and monitor mixing so you can listen to audio from your mic and from your PC simultaneously. It also includes a 6 ft USB cable.

Also Great: Behringer U-Phoria UM2 Audio Interface

Since an audio interface technically counts as an XLR to USB adapter, third place on our list belongs to the Behringer U-Phoria UM2. This audio interface provides fantastic value for it’s price, and is great for someone looking for a low-cost investment into their audio gear collection. While it is a little bulkier than other adapters in our list, it provides greater capabilities like L and R RCA outputs and Xynyx preamps for a cleaner audio signal.


In order to understand what makes an XLR to USB adapter or XLR to USB converter great for your specific application, we first need to understand the specific problems that each one solves, and their advantages and disadvantages.

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.

OK, now that that’s cleared up, let’s look at our list!

The Top 7 Best XLR to USB Adapters in 2019

Shure X2U XLR to USB Signal Adapter

Shure X2U XLR to USB Signal Adapter
shure X2U xlr to usb adapter

Features

♦  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

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 audio interface. Check out the Shure website from more details and specs.

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Blue Microphones Icicle XLR to USB Microphone Converter/Preamp

Blue Microphones Icicle XLR to USB Microphone Converter/Preamp

 

Features

♦  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

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. It lacks some of the other features, opting for a simple approach to signal conversion. Some users report driver issues when using this adapter with Windows 7.

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MXL Mic Mate Pro XLR to USB Preamp

MXL Mic Mate Pro XLR to USB Preamp

Features

♦  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

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.

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MXL Mic Mate Dynamic XLR to USB Preamp

MXL Mic Mate Dynamic XLR to USB Preamp

mxl mic mate dynamic

Features

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

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.

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Valinks XLR to USB Converter Cable

Valinks XLR to USB Converter Cable

Features

♦  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

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 cheap and some users do report reliability issues, but the majority of reviews are positive.

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Behringer U-Phoria UM2 Audio Inteface

Behringer U-Phoria UM2 Audio Interface
Behringer U-Phoria UM2

Features

♦  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

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.

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Focusrite Scarlett Solo Audio Interface

Focusrite Scarlett Solo Audio Interface

focusrite scarlett solo

Features

♦  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

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.

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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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