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.
- Audio for a video
- Voice recorder
- Voice recognition
- Computer gaming
- Online chatting
- Recording voice for dictation, singing, and podcasts.
- Recording musical instruments
Where is the microphone plugged into a computer?
The microphone is plugged into the back of desktop computers into the computer sound card microphone port and depending on your computer case may also have a port on the front. 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.
In all situations, the port should have a symbol that represents a microphone, like that shown in the symbol picture to the right, and may say "mic" next to the port. 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.
What type of microphones are available?
Below we've listed each of the 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 type of microphones are used in studios for recording more than one person or musical instruments. For example, the Yeti microphone shown on this page is a good 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 would be a good microphone to use when interviewing a person since you'd want to equally pick up the sound from the interviewer and interviewee.
A close-talk microphone is a microphone that is designed to have someone's mouth near the microphone without creating noise that may occur with other microphones. These type of 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 wireless mic that clips onto the shirt for a person who needs to have their hands free or doesn't want the distraction.
How does a microphone input data into a computer?
Because the microphone sends information to the computer, it is considered an input device. For example, when a microphone is used to record a voice or music, the information it records can be stored on the computer and played back later. Another great example of how a microphone is an input device is with voice recognition, which uses your voice to command the computer at what task to perform.