Band Equip: DI box or preamp to Line-In?

      • My PC has a mic input, but it’s only for high-Z mics. What’s the cheapest way to hook up low-Z mics to the line-in jack? Would a DI box or a preamp be better?
  • Nobody at the music stores seemed to know, as both are intended to connect to a mixing board. They pointed out that mixing boards have a line-out, but I don’t want a [hardware] mixing board and can’t afford it anyway. - DougC

Is the mic XLR or 1/4?

Do you own a preamp or do you have to buy one?

      • Well I got nuthin right now, except some high-Z mics of my own that plug directly into the mic jack of the soundcard. I have no preamp or DI box. The DI boxes all have both inputs; I dunno if the preamps all do…
  • Also, just to make it more interesting, I’d also like to be able to use the high-Z mics with whichever setup I get also.
  • The mics usually come with XLR cords, but the 1/4" adaptors are only a couple bucks, so that’s not the problem. What cannot be easily detirmined is if the output of either can be ran into the line-in of the PC’s soundcard. - DougC

If you want a little control between your mic and your line-in, and if you have an old cassette deck with 1/4" mic inputs:

get an XLR to 1/4" adapter and plug the mic (or a pair) into the cassette recorder.

Run the output of the cassette deck into the line in on your soundcard. I’m assuming your line in is a stereo miniplug, so a stereo RCA to stereo miniplug adapter would be in order.

Put a tape in.

Press ‘record’ and ‘pause’.

Use the record volume knob and meters on the deck to adjust the mic level. Voila!

The best thing to do would be to save your cash and get a small mixer or maybe something like an ART preamp.

The DI is to change the unbalanced signal to a balanced signal so that they can go straight into a board. The xlr to qtr inch adapters that dont have a transformer are a bad thing. They switch the balanced signal to unbalanced, but dont correct the impdance. Get the slightly more expensive transformer variety.

Also, the mic in on your sound card is for cheapo multimedia mics used for net meeting. dont ever use this for trying to record anything that you want to sound good. It has a cheesy preamp that introduces a lot of noise. Use the line in instead.

If you are serious about this sort of thing, go to and read up. They have tutorials that will answer any questions you may have.