I have a headset which has separate headphone and microphone jacks (both 3.5mm) that I would like to do some recording with.

I initially thought, just plug headphone into headphone and micrphone into line-in and it would all work. Needless to say, I didn't get any sound from the microphone. After reasearching, I discovered that the line-in is for amplified sources only, not basic microphones and that the mic needs to be ran through an amplifier first. Alternatively, I could get an adaptor which combines the 2 jacks into 1 and plug it into the headphone plug as I understand that it can pick up mic inputs.

I don't have any adaptors and in the past (on PC) I've been able to run a mic through a line-in and use software to amplify and reduce noise to get a mic to work and record.

I found software called 'LineIn' but that doesn't seem to do the job. I was wondering if there is a software approach I can use which will amplify the mic on the line-in so I can use it to record and thus, not have to buy yet another adaptor?

My other thought (which I have known to work on a PC); Would it be possible to swap the line-in to be used as a headphone output and then use the headphone ouput as a mic-in?


  • What iMac (year/build) do you have? I think the newer ones do not have a line-in anymore. Commented Aug 18, 2017 at 8:10
  • @CousinCocaine I have a late 2009 iMac
    – David
    Commented Aug 18, 2017 at 8:10
  • For years Macs have required a line level input for microphones not a mic level. So, you are going to need an amplified mic input. Either buy an amplifier for the mic or a different head set. 😞
    – ArchonOSX
    Commented Aug 18, 2017 at 8:55

1 Answer 1


What you need is a audio mixer (I personally use and like the Behringer line)

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The inputs/outputs built in to computers (both Macs and PCs) are basically rubbish - they are looking to give you functionality to mark a check box for marketing purposes, not give you the ability to make good to professional quality recordings..

This mixer will give you a USB interface to your Mac while allowing you to bring two sources in while having granular control over input sound levels.

Granted, it's not a "free" solution, but at $30 USD, it's a very economical solution that gives you better quality and more flexibility than what you have at present.

  • Hopefully, I won't be accused of necroing a thread, but the lavalier mic might need a power adapter as it probably can't use the 48 V phantom power.
    – Leonardo
    Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 19:57
  • Every lav mic I’v ever seen had a battery pack and a powered base. I’m not sure what you’re getting at @Leonardo
    – Allan
    Commented Jun 12, 2020 at 18:18
  • This one doesn't, it needs an adapter like this one
    – Leonardo
    Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 1:13
  • @Leonardo - ok...so that one is different. I’m not seeing your point.
    – Allan
    Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 1:15
  • Further necro… they just need 'some power'. Tiny condensers like this, whatever quality or price, don't need much. Pro lav mics tend to have micro-dot type connectors, to which you add one of a dozen or so adaptors to the transmitter pack you're using, or to XLR phantom. There are a myriad standards & a corresponding myriad adaptors. Only 'cheap mics' run directly off cameras, though some pro makers now have added low-cost 'blogger' mics to their line-ups;) Swathe of microdot adaptors. I just have the XLRs because I don't use them wireless.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jan 22, 2023 at 16:11

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