How To Use Headphones as a Microphone

Headphones as Microphone

Are you out of a mic? It can be an annoying feeling, especially if you’re trying to get on a zoom call or need to announce something. Maybe the mic you have isn’t working, or perhaps you are traveling and forgot to bring one.

You may look at your pair of headphones and wonder if it’s possible to use that as a mic. If you have a headset that has a mic built in, that will obviously work. But what about a regular pair of headphones?

As a matter of fact, it can work. Do you have several questions about this? We don’t blame you. In this post, we will explain how using headphones as a mic works and how you can improve the sound quality.

How Does It Work?

One reason why headphones can work as a microphone is because they are similar in regards to how they are built. If you are not a tech geek, you may not have a clue how they work. Basically, both mics and headphones use a diaphragm.

In humans, the diaphragm refers to breathing. For a mic or a pair of headphones, the diaphragm is a membrane. This membrane reacts to vibrations in sound. When you use a microphone, the diaphragm catches the vibrations so they can be recorded or be a part of your broadcast.

Meanwhile the headphone diaphragm receives vibrations to send to you, the listener.

Because of their similarities, you may be able to use some pairs of headphones as a mic.

How To Do It

It’s quite simple. Plug the headphones into the mic jack. Make sure you’re plugging them into the jack with the microphone symbol above it, not the headphones.

Afterwards, you have to do some light modifications. Search for “manage audio devices,” or the equivalent on your device. Go to the tab that says “recording.” You should be able to see if your headphones will detect your voice by blowing or speaking into them and seeing if it manages to pick up the sound.

Choose the headphones as the default, and you’re good to go.

What about a Bluetooth pair? Many Bluetooth headphones or earphones have a mic already built in, but if they don’t, you may still be able to use it. Simply connect them to your computer’s Bluetooth, select the device, and give it a go.

What Headphones Can Be Used?

Any pair has the potential to be used as a mic, but you may have better results with some than others. For example, a $10 pair of headphones you bought at Walgreens probably won’t pick up sound very well. However, if you have a $100+ pair of headphones, it may be able to pick up sound quite easily. Not amazingly, mind you, but good enough for whatever you need to use it for.

As we said, if your pair has a mic built-in, we are not referring to these. We are referring to headphones designed specifically for receiving audio and nothing else.

What Can This Be Good For?

With using your headphones as a mic, you are going to have some disadvantages. Headphones and microphones share similar machinery, but headphones are designed to receive audio, and vice versa. Because of this, if your headphones can pick up audio, it may be lower quality.

They are good if you need to make a call or make an announcement. Your voice should be clear enough for people to understand you.

What Is It Not Good For?

If you need to use the mic for professional audio, this isn’t a good way. For example, if you are streaming or making YouTube videos, many viewers will be put off by the quality of your “mic”. If you are trying to be a voice actor, your samples will not benefit by using a pair of headphones. It’s probably not too good for singing either.

If you have a following on YouTube, Twitch, or another website, your fans may understand if you need to use them when you’re in a pinch. But if you are starting your career with headphones as a mic, you may have a problem attracting new viewers.

How To Make It Sound Better

Using headphones as a mic will never give you great sound. With that said, there are some ways for you to improve the sound, especially if the volume is a little bit low.

Go to your control panel and click the “sound option.” You should be able to boost your mic. When boosting, make sure you listen to the sound quality. If it’s too boosted, your audio may clip.

Sometimes, you have the ability to equalize the audio, especially if you’re using audio recording software. For example, you may be able to use filters such as high pass. These can reduce humming and other frequencies that can appear when you try to use headphones as a mic.

With a little bit of experimentation, you can get your headphones to sound decent when used as a mic. However, you will never get true mic quality. At the end of the day, you still need to have a good mic if you’re looking for high-quality sound.

Even a microphone under $20 will probably sound better than using a high-quality pair of headphones as a mic. You could even use your smartphone to record the audio. As we said, you should do this if you have no other option for recording audio with a mic otherwise. For example, you have to make an announcement and you have no time or money to buy a temporary mic.

In Conclusion

The pair of headphones you have can indeed work as a mic, but it’s not good for professional-quality audio, or even medium-quality. However, it can work if you don’t have anything else. With a little bit of digital elbow grease, you can make them sound better, but still, at the end of the day, you are better off with a mic, even a cheap one. Good luck

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