Sometimes abbreviated as mic, a microphone is a hardware peripheral and input device originally invented by Emile Berliner in 1877. A microphone allows computer users to input audio into their computers. The picture is an example of Blue Microphone's Yeti USB microphone - silver edition and an example of a high-quality computer microphone.
What is a microphone used for on a computer?
Below is a short list of all the different uses for a microphone on a computer.
- Recording audio for a video
- Voice recorder
- Voice recognition
- Computer gaming
- Online chatting
- Capturing any noise in a room
- Recording voice for dictation, singing, and podcasts.
- Recording musical instruments
Where is the microphone plugged into a computer?
On a laptop computer, the microphone is plugged into the microphone port found on the front or side of the laptop.
More advanced microphones, like the Yeti microphone pictured above, connect to the computer using USB.
The microphone port is usually marked with an icon of a microphone, as pictured. The port may also be labeled "mic." If the port connectors are color-coded, the pink connector is usually the microphone port. See our sound card page for further information about these ports for desktop computers. For a full listing of computer-related symbols, see: What are the most common symbols used by computers?
What type of microphones are available?
Below we've listed the most common types of microphones and how they may be used.
An omnidirectional microphone is a microphone capable of picking up the sound in all directions around the microphone. These types of microphones are used in studios for recording more than one person or musical instruments. For example, the Yeti microphone shown at the top of this page is an example of an omnidirectional microphone.
A unidirectional microphone is any microphone that is only capable of picking up sound in one direction. This type of microphone is useful for when someone only wants to record one thing, such as their voice when doing a podcast or voice-over.
A bidirectional microphone is a microphone that picks up sound equally from the front and back of the microphone. This type of microphone is good to use when interviewing a person to equally pick up the sound from the interviewer and interviewee.
A close-talk microphone is a microphone designed to have someone's mouth near the microphone without creating noise that may occur with other microphones. These microphones are used with a headset and phones, and are great for voice-recognition software.
Also known as a lavalier microphone, a clip-on microphone is a hands-free wireless mic that clips to the user's shirt.
Why is a microphone considered an input device?
Because a microphone sends information to a computer, it's considered an input device. For example, when a microphone records a voice, the audio is sent to the computer and stored on the computer's hard drive. Once the recording is stored as an audio file, it can be played, edited, and shared.
Microphones are essential to voice recognition technology, which uses your voice to issue commands to the computer and execute specific tasks. Examples of this technology are digital assistants like Siri and Google Assistant.