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I recently purchased a MXL 910 condenser mic from Musician's Friend. I bought an external phantom power supply to power it. I have it set up so the mic is connected to the phantom power with an XLR cable, and then the phantom power is directly connected to my laptop's microphone jack with a XLR to 3.5 mm jack adapter. For some reason, the mic is extremely quiet. Is my mic not getting power from the phantom power, and only being powered by my laptop? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
And got the following answer:
Your microphone input expects a sound signal at line level, that is at 0db. By supplying phantom power, you are simply powering the microphone. You aren't amplifying the signal to 0db, that is why it is very soft. Your condenser microphone signal might be somewhere at -40db. Hence it is very soft. What you need is a pre-amp, to amplify the microphone signal from - 40db to 0db before it hits the computer. And herein lies your problem. But even if you end up getting a pre-amp, why on earth would you be using the 3.5mm jack as the input for the sound anyway? The MXL produces great sound and you are relegating it to a stock microphone input. You know what that is like, is like driving a ferrari on a rocky road. Your sound will be VERY poor as compared to what you can achieve. Besides your signal path is unnecessarily complicated, hence degrading the sound. Mic -> Phantom power - > pre amp -> 3.5mm jack. That is why audio interfaces are so popular. Most can provide phantom power, have good pre-amps, and this digital analog conversion is handled by a dedicated device, and most of all it can send high quality signal through USB or firewire. Consider, the focusrite scarlett 2i2 or Presonus 22VSL. Both are quality devices that will give you audio that is MANY folds better, and ofcourse louder. You have a pretty nice microphone for a beginner. You are only destroying the capability of that microphone and turning it into a crappy $30 mic by using the 3.5mm jack. If you find those interfaces expensive, at least use a USB mixer. Even that will give you so much better sound.