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A few questions regarding DIY Binaural Earbud Microphones

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone, I am a music noob and non-engineer, and am attempting to build a simple binaural microphone. I am running into some problems however and wondering if someone could answer a few questions.


First, I have started with an old pair of iPod earbuds (Gen 1/2) which I snipped, stripped, and soldered on “Gino 9.7mm x 7mm 2 Pin MIC Capsule Electret Condenser Microphones”. When plugged into a microphone port, one side works, the other side does not. I have tried swapping the cable colors on the mic to make sure they weren’t just backwards or something. I’m assuming this is because the mic port is mono and can only pick up one half of the earbuds? I then tried plugging it into my old X-Fi XtremeMusic sound card which has a line-in but still nothing (and yes I tinkered with the X-fi settings to make sure they were configured right). Again I tried flipping the connections to see if it was backwards or something, but it just appears not to work. Although when I tap or rubbing at the wires it does seem to pick up feedback in the X-Fi monitor and in Audacity in the proper left and right channels (which seems promising).


Then I realized I might need a preamp? Do you think the earbud microphones are actually working in the line-in but are just extremely quiet? Can this be remedied with a different pair of earbuds or even headphones? Or is a preamp for this kind of situation necessary? Remember, this is a stand-alone PC sound card plugged into the motherboard of my desktop (running Win 7 Pro, although I doubt that’s necessary to bring up).


The reason I’m wondering if a different pair of earbuds or headphones will work is because I have a number of them lying around. In fact, I have a Turtle Beach headset with a built-in headphone amplifier and was wondering if I can somehow repurpose that into a microphone preamp? Is it possible to open it up and connect the cables in some way that it boosts the microphone to see if that’s the problem?


If I do need a preamp to pick up the weak microphone signal, what other options are out there for recording (just out of curiosity, I’d like a few options to move forward with)? I saw some posts about portable minidisc or DAT recording devices, but I need it to be USB so I can upload it to my computer and then to YouTube. Remember this needs to be a fairly simple and cheap implementation for now. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


If you’re confused about what I’m trying to accomplish, here are a couple guides I tried following that did not work for me:



Sorry for such a long post, but it’s hard to find a straight answer and after a few hours of searching I figured it would be best to just post a thread here. Thanks in advanced!

post #2 of 3

I'm having a hard time following your post. 

But - Yes, you probably need a preamp. 

Even if you dont need one *right now* knowing how to build one, and having one handy opens the door to so many neat microphone elements, and interesting modifications of the elements for improved fidelity. 

You can find schematics for preamps for condenser mics all over the web, with complexity ranging from Cmoy to omfg. 


If you have not found these guys in your travels, they are worth checking out:


Not so much DIY as great info and a roadmap (of sorts) to success. 

post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 

Yeah, it's hard for me to relay exactly what I'm doing because I don't fully understand everything or know the correct terminology, but I'm trying to learn it.


If I do get a preamp, say like this one: http://www.amazon.com/Behringer-302USB-Premium-5-Input-Interface/dp/B005EHILV4/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1396381873&sr=8-4&keywords=microphone+preamp


How do I know if the 3.5mm mic jack has the preamp part? It says "phantom powered XENYX Mic Preamp" but does that apply only to the big mic port? Or the 3.5mm mic port too? I wouldn't mind getting something like this because I also do podcast-like recordings and having some music equipment I'd like to experiment with, but I'm also broke so price is a big issue. I'll look into building my own as well. Thanks!

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