I got a SteelSeries headset for Christmas and I plugged it into my MacBook Pro. The audio output works fine, but I am having issues with the audio input.

I saw this post which talked about some power issues to the microphone on the Mac Mini… I did not quite get what they were discussing, though.

I also found this link which says:

Some microphones require power on the stereo mini jack and may not work on Mac systems. Try to check for Mac compatibility when buying USB microphone sets. Unamplified PC microphones often won't work.

The SteelSeries FAQ says I need a USB sound card to use the microphone with a Mac.

Does this mean I can't use my headset because it needs power from the computer? If yes, is there a workaround?

Does anyone know of any VERY cheap sound cards?

Why doesn't my microphone work?

  • Which specific Steel Series headset is it? Is it USB? If not, what version of the MacBook Pro do you have (i.e. early/mid/late [year]) Commented Dec 25, 2010 at 0:56
  • i have an early 2009 macbook Pro... not quite sure :S the headset is: Steel series siberia v2 and it does not use USB
    – Kristian Flatheim Jensen
    Commented Dec 25, 2010 at 0:58
  • Do you have both a headphones and a microphone jack, or just one? Commented Dec 25, 2010 at 1:32
  • both... one for the microphone and one for the headset
    – Kristian Flatheim Jensen
    Commented Dec 25, 2010 at 15:10

3 Answers 3


On new Macbook Pros, there is no microphone input. What you have is a line-level input. Microphones that do not have integrated power and amplification (all cheap computer microphones/handsets) will not work when connected to the line-level input.

The connectors are exactly the same, but on the line input there is stereo input and ground, and on the microphone input there is mono input, voltage reference and ground. The input level is also different, with line level at around 1V and microphone level at 10-100mV.

To resolve the problem, you need to get one of the following:

  • a USB sound card which has a proper microphone input circuitry,
  • a powered, amplified microphone that can be used with line-level input, or
  • a microphone preamplifier.

See also:


As discussed in the "Are there headset adapters usable for MacBook Pros?" thread, new Macs DO have a normal Mic level input. However it is combined with the headphone jack (not the "audio in" port). You can purchase an adapter (such as the "Headset Buddy") that combines the headphone and mic into a single "smart-phone" style plug.

Note that this will only work properly under Mac OS. So if you intend to use your headset under Windows with BootCamp, you will want a USB adapter, such as the Griffin iMic instead.

  • Even with a Headset Buddy, only the output works. I still think the headset needs to be powered. Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 13:24
  • Does not work on MB Pro 2012 with Mac OS 10.14.6
    – Andi
    Commented Jul 7, 2020 at 13:09

As I wrote in an answer to this question, you can 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.

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