1

My iMac and Macbook Air have only got one 3.5 mm jack each. I would like to use this jack as an audio input source to record an electronic drumkit.

I realize the proper way of doing this would be to get an audio interface, but I don't want to invest in one just yet. For now, I would like to plug in a 3.5 mm cable to the output jack of the electronic drumset and connect the other end to my computer to record the drumset's sound.

This was possible with my very old 2009 white MacBook. Can this be done in the newer models?

I found this thread and tried using a cable with three rings. This cable has a built-in mic, so the computer is picking up on its mic, rather than the drumset's output.

4

I would like to plug in a 3.5 mm cable to the output jack of the electronic drumset and connect the other end to my computer to record the drumset's sound.... This was possible with my very old 2009 white MacBook. Can this be done in the newer models?

You can’t. The audio jacks on all Macs are microphone inputs and not line inputs. Your 2009 MacBook had only a microphone input and not a line input.

Microphone versus Line Inputs

The key differentiation between mic and line signals is the voltage. Microphone voltage is extremely tiny (millivolts) where line level input is about 1 1/4 volts. Macs aren’t recording/pre-amp devices and do not contain the necessary components to raise the voltage to line level.

The thread you referenced is about the TRRS jack or Tip, Ring, Ring, Sleeve and these are typically used in telco, not pro audio (yes, you can get very good quality sound from them, but they’re never found in even the smallest recording studio). The cable, was just a "breakout" that separated the headphone (out) from the microphone (in) connectors. It never converted a signal to line level.

I realize the proper way of doing this would be to get an audio interface, but I don't want to invest in one just yet.

Yes. However a simple audio mixer that handles mic, line, and instrument (what you need for your drum kit) that also includes a monitor port can be had quite inexpensively.

| improve this answer | |
  • 3
    "Macs aren’t recording/pre-amp devices and do not contain the necessary components to raise the voltage to line level." – Can you clarify that? First off, it's not relevant since the OP already has a line-level signal, there is no need to raise the voltage. Secondly, according to what you wrote just before that "The audio jacks on all Macs are microphone inputs and not line inputs", so if the Mac has a microphone-level input, it does have circuitry to raise the voltage at least up to the operating voltage of its ADC. – Jörg W Mittag Mar 24 at 10:13
  • It is relevant because line level is much higher than mic level (refer to voltages). The Mac is not a pre-amp for mic input. Also, mic input doesn’t have a “level” that it needs to be raised to for analog to digital conversion. You’re conflating two totally different processes – Allan Mar 24 at 14:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .