A computer or laptop in combination with software (sound editors, etc.) can become a real multimedia station. They allow you to play, record, edit, and send audio files or audio streams to other devices. But there is a problem of picking up sound for further processing: stationary computers are not equipped with microphones, and built-in laptops are only suitable for transmitting voice messages. Connecting through the input of the built-in sound card is not the best solution due to latency, bad preamps, etc. And then the question arises: how to connect a microphone to a PC / laptop?
If you don’t have a microphone or other equipment from the list above, the easiest way is to buy a USB microphone right away. Its connection does not cause any difficulties: Windows and MacOS select drivers on their own and recognize them without rebooting. Whereas it used to be thought that USB devices were designed primarily for audio conferencing, podcast recording, and on the road, today USB microphones are capable of transmitting studio-level signal quality. A sound card is designed to solve a wider range of tasks than connecting a microphone via USB. It is a basic hub for aspiring musicians and producers working at home. The main task of a sound card is to convert a signal from analog to digital and vice versa. Many models are also equipped with MIDI and other connectors, which allows you to connect through them and other devices.
If you already have a microphone, you can connect it to your computer via an external USB audio interface. Sound cards have preamps that will amplify the microphone signal to the required level and digital converters that convert the analog signal to digital.
And another way to connect a microphone via USB is a mixing console with a built-in interface. This method is generally similar to connecting via a sound card: preamplifiers are installed at the inputs of the remote control, and built-in converters send the signal via USB.
The biggest drawback is the impossibility of channel-by-channel recording in inexpensive consoles, since they digitize only the master output (all channels together). The advantages of using it are the ability to connect various devices, direct the signal to several sources at once, and use the effects built into the console.
Technology has stepped forward and connecting a microphone via USB is no longer a problem. With each new version, the sound quality will be at a consistently high level.