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I bought a headset, and it has a (obviously) male headphone input and microphone output. Problem is, MacBook Pros don't have a microphone input. Instead, they have an audio line in.

However, relatively recent MacBook Pros apparently combine the audio out with a microphone input, allowing, for instance, iPhone headsets to be plugged in the computer and work as expected.

So I was wondering if there were adapters that took the two jacks and merged them into a single, "iPhone-compatible" jack, that I could plug in the MacBook Pro.

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For future reference, if you are going to buy headsets for gaming/music/skype, next time buy USB ones directly. Much better quality (digital). –  Martín Marconcini Sep 20 '10 at 1:38
    
pardon my ignorance, but does this mean that the MacBook Pro's female audio in jack does not accept microphone input?? –  Robert S Ciaccio Sep 20 '10 at 3:23
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@calavera That's what it means. It accepts an "audio line in" connection, which is a digital signal. Microphone input is analog (and weak). –  zneak Sep 20 '10 at 3:29
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@zneak wow that really blows... so if I wanted to hook up an external mic for recording an interview, it wouldn't work? –  Robert S Ciaccio Sep 20 '10 at 3:40
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@calavera No (unless it has a line out instead of a microphone out), but the integrated microphone does a fairly good job. If there isn't too much noise (like music or angry fans running at full power), it should be pretty good. –  zneak Sep 20 '10 at 4:24

5 Answers 5

Some two-plug headsets come with USB adapters, e.g., my current headphones (note the circled dongle).

You can also buy third-party USB adapters which should work (emphasis on the should), such as this USB 2.0 Virtual 7.1 Channel Sound Card Adapter.

However, I don't know of any adapter with standard two-plug headset jack inputs and a single-plug headset output—but I wish I did, as then it might also work for connecting standard two-plug headsets to iPhones and iPads.

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It would, indeed, and apparently all it takes is a TRRS male connector, two TRS female connectors, and some soldering skills. –  zneak Sep 20 '10 at 15:15

The problem lies in the fact the “Mic” input in all the Macintosh line (Macbooks, iMacs, Mac Pro) is not a Mic input but a Line Input as it has been already stated.

A Line input expects a much higher signal than a typical microphone, so the signal is barely if at al heard if you plug a mic directly into that.

Then we have the impedance issue, the different impedance can be explained like… imagine a small water globe (the mic) hitting a brick wall (the line in). That’s what the sound coming from the Mic experiences when it “hits” the line in. It bounces back and nothing gets through.

As for your question, I am not aware of those, but you can get very cheap USB dongles that will let you connect both the headphones and the mic into a single USB. There are plenty, Creative Labs having one as far as I can remember. They are usually deprecated because most headphones for computing ARE USB directly, meaning they have the circuitry integrated.

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Of course the combined jack on Macbook is analog, of course it accepts mic signals (works with apple and other brand headsets for iPhone, for example) and not just line in signals (you can even plug electric guitar with passive adaptor from iRig) and as Zneak properly points in his question, it would not be too difficult to make an adaptor that splits one headset jack on Macbooks into headphone and mic, which is also great if you want to use some top notch headset like Sennheiser PC 360. Unfortunately I was not able to find such a product, only a guide on how to make one.

Last but not least, USB headsets are in no way better. They only use extra CPU power, clutter USB ports and are only as good as the DACs, ADCs, headphone and mic they employ. Now these components are much better inside Macbook and good analogue headset...


The Headset Buddy at Amazon claims to do just this. But I am not sure how well it will work, as the headset pinout Apple uses in Macbook, iPhone or iPad is different from some other manufacturers (that is why you cannot use iPhone headset with, say Samsung Galaxy S)

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Conversely, I used my Galaxy S headset without any issues on my MacBook Pro. –  zneak Jan 5 '12 at 16:57

Yes. As hinted by Kyle earlier, the "Headset Buddy" (about $15 from Amazon) works perfectly for this task. Using it you can use your normal microphone (and optionally headphones) by plugging them into the combined "headphone" port on the MBP (not the "audio in" port).

Note that on my MBP (Mid 2010) this functionality does not work under Windows XP or Windows 7. If you need a headset microphone under Windows, I would recommend a USB-Mic adapter instead, such as the Griffin iMic.

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Or get a much cheaper version at monoprice.com/products/product.asp?p_id=7116 –  Rich Unger Feb 24 '13 at 14:29

I have a USB -> female audio, that lets you plug either the male headphone jack or the male microphone jack into it, and then use the "official" female adapter on the laptop for the other. Would this help?

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Can you provide a link and/or a model number? Also, how extensively have you tested it? Does it work well with Skype? –  Ctrl-Alt-Del Fatigue Jun 29 '11 at 19:51

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