Mac Mini microphone input doesn’t work. Why?

October 8th, 2006

This is the best answer I got:

“The Mac mini’s input is a line-level input, whereas the mic line on most analog headsets needs a mic-level input (to power the mic). The mini isn’t giving the mic any power, so it’s not going to work.

You need something to pull the level of that mic line up to what’s known as “line level.” A lot of people use the iMic, others use audio mixers that will provide power to the mic (and other inputs) while providing a line-level output for the mini to accept.

Alternatively, you can pick up an inexpensive USB headset. Logitech and Plantronics both make very affordable USB-based solutions.

Hope this helps.”

Chris Brightwell

Entry Filed under: Dicas,OS X

47 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Chris  |  March 29th, 2007 at 1:06 am

    Wow, that sucks. I always wondered if my Mac Mini was broken. I even sent back a Logitech headset that I purchased from Amazon thinking it was a defected product. Now I know, thanks!

  • 2. Melinda  |  August 31st, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    We just had our new mac mini the the shop for a week. They (these are mac techs no less!) replaced the mother board and a number of other parts & finally learned about the usb requirement! We’re off to get a logitech usb mic now — thought for a while there that we had our first mac lemon. have beeen a mac user since 1984 – never a problem — still not a problem now that I know what’s going on!

  • 3. elviswjr  |  October 6th, 2007 at 12:57 am

    If you have a PC nearby you could (I’m just guessing) connect your mic to it and go out from it to the mac. I’ve got the same problem so I think that’s what I’m going to try. At least it’s better than buying a mixer or something.

  • 4. Nicolas  |  November 28th, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    Well thanks for sharing, this reconciled me with my mini.
    Although USB headset or imic might work perfectly, i would consider a bluetooth headset directly if you have bluetooth on your mini (you probably have it ;-)

    Skype wireless…geee, sounds really good !

  • 5. gemma  |  December 18th, 2007 at 11:49 am

    Thanks a lot, i actually spent 30 min on the phone with a mac-expert (swedish store) trying to solve the problem of connecting a regular mic to the line-in in a mac mini and at the end he said he would call me back cuz he couldn’t figure out what was wrong :-) It happened the same with my macbook and after three phone calls to the store i gave up. This was very useful!

  • 6. ASSAUMDED  |  January 31st, 2008 at 10:36 am

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  • 7. Biju Gopinath  |  July 25th, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    This Port is not for an ordinary microphone or Headphone with mic. you can connect your audio device’s aLine in to this port or use an amplified mic ( Analog Mic with amplified signal)

    MAC should provide an option to connect with normal mic :)

    I suggest to use a USB headset with MIc or USB mic

  • 8. Joe Sabourin  |  August 26th, 2008 at 2:16 am

    Being a very recent PC convert to the mac world I find it very strange apple would use a harder way to get the sound to work with just about any microphone than to have the purchaser go out and get a more expensive mic or imic adapter or a usb mic when most people probably already have more than one plain old mic in a drawer somewhere. I have approx 8 that won’t work and zero that do. But I also had a problem with a earlier web cam until the last maccam update that has way more camera’s that it works with. All in all very pleased with the very quiet little box.

  • 9. John  |  October 21st, 2008 at 8:22 am

    Well that is just dumb! WTF could they not just have a normal mic-in like everyone else on the frakkin planet. Laptops manage it, even if they have in-built microphones.
    It’s the little things that keep biting with Macs. You pay a premium price over a regular PC, and you keep having to pay for extras to get basic functions.
    Apart from this annoyance and the crippled Intel integrated video card though I love my mini 8)

    It’s like media playback through your PC/iTunes with the iPhone and iPod. With an iPod, you can play back media from the pod using iTunes, but not with the iPhone. Why take this function away on the more expensive player??? The only reason I can think of it to make you want to go out and buy a dock for the phone to play back on real speakers. Damn it, I have a good stereo already connected to my PC at work, why should I have to go out and pay another $200 for some crappy 3″ speakers just so I can listen to tunes and podcasts from my phone while I work without the ear buds.

  • 10. Mark  |  December 7th, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    I think it would be nice if the input was switchable, but the line level makes sense if you connect in a home media center etc. The iMic has a switch to go between line level and mic level which works great. Apple should do the same on their inputs.

    If there is some technical reason they can’t easily add both line and mic inputs, I think more people would benefit form a mic input. Perhaps they though if most people are now buying monitors with built in cameras and mics that work over USB so a line input would be more useful?

  • 11. iShar  |  December 22nd, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Wow, I tried last year and earlier this year and again today. Finally I came here read about the Line In is not the same as Mic In.

    And then in a stroke of genius I hooked up my bluetooth headset to my mac mini and it worked like a proverbial charm. I just needed a microphone to record my voice for voice-over presentations. I still use my regular speaker system for the output.

    Yay! :)

  • 12. hillview5  |  January 2nd, 2009 at 12:32 am

    Thanks so much. It troubled me for weeks.

  • 13. tommy jonq  |  January 9th, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    the reason macs require line input levels is because professional and semi-pro audio-video people use macs and most of our equipment outputs at line level. and yet, bizarrely, there is no firewire port on the new silver macbooks. having said that much, i know that macs from a few years ago had their levels set in firmware, not hardware. i don’t know about the new chipsets, although i doubt quite seriously that they’re significantly different from the old chips. do i know how to set the input levels in the new macbooks, under os x.5? no. does someone else? surely.

  • 14. Go 4 Apple  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Interesting read, thanks :o)

  • 15. benot  |  April 12th, 2009 at 7:58 am



    fell less stupid now :-)

    Thanks for the tip!

  • 16. Len  |  April 19th, 2009 at 8:48 am

    Y’all know that the line-level input on a Mac worked perfectly with passive microphones under Tiger, right? And it works just fine under Windows and Boot Camp.

    So, maybe you should be worrying about why Apple chose to disable this feature with Leopard? All this talk of ‘professional inputs’ is nonsense…

  • 17. Frank  |  April 24th, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Hi. So I bought a 2009-series mini-mac and I tried 3 microphones (bought one new) and none worked. The guy in the Apple Centre looked funny at me, when I told him some story about audio-jacks were an issue back in Performa days. This centre didn’t even sell (apple) mic’s, and he sent me to some radioshack and told me any cheap mic would work fine.
    Now I found this page. I interpreted the icon |•| on the back as a microphone! The manual says it needs a “mic (line-level) or other optical digital inputdevice”. Well at least the Apple Centre was wrong, if Len is right. For me this is a showstopper right now. Never thought it would be still an issue, after all those years. What did microphones ever do wrong to Steve?

  • 18. Gustavo  |  April 24th, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Hi There,

    When I posted this I was using Tiger. It was an issue then and it’s still an issue with Leopard. I guess it’s a hardware problem and cannot be circumvented with any software implementation.

    Best Regards,


  • 19. Steve  |  June 3rd, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    That’s been driving me Crazy!

  • 20. Maxximillian  |  November 3rd, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Thank you so much for the good advice. I am really relieved to see that there is a solution. I’m also irritated that Apple would neglect to include – or if Len is right, that they would remove the functionality that it once had allowing a passive mic to work on a line-in. I’m writing to Apple. Seriously. I’m going to use the Griffin iMic, which (luckily) I happen to have laying around to connect my Plantronics headset with boom mic. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and come back here to share my results and any other goodies I find that do work.



  • 21. robert lawrence yap  |  November 28th, 2009 at 3:03 am

    guys i used my my mac the messenger application but the other person cud not hear what im talking what should i do

  • 22. Wayne  |  December 6th, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    This thread has been extremely helpful! This was driving me absolutely crazy trying to figure it out on my own. Thanks for the info.

  • 23. nik  |  February 24th, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Awww, crap!
    I tried hours on this… that’s why it never worked!

  • 24. fernanda  |  April 7th, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    I have just bought an ichat leadership usb, but is isnt working – it seems to be only for PC. Why?

  • 25. coco  |  April 27th, 2010 at 4:00 am


  • 26. Jasmin Cro  |  April 28th, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    LOL LOL LOL thx i am trying to solve this problem 3 days i am new mac user . hahahahaa ok np i need to buy new headset …

  • 27. Zarda  |  May 26th, 2010 at 12:52 am

    I am having a similar problem, BUT when playing “line-level” audio or music from say an ipod or from the output of another source INTO the audio in on my mini, it will not play the audio through the speakers connected to my mac. Why? I have checked all the settings under “sound” and in fact I can SEE the music playing via the input audio meter but no sound so I know the computer and the OS “hears” the music but is not outputting it. Why??

    Also, interestingly, when the computer reboots, the mac “startup sound” plays through the little internal speaker and not the computer speakers. Why? Are the two related?

  • 28. Alfredo  |  July 4th, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    Guys, thank you so much for the information!!! I just tried to connect me with my regular celular phone bluetooh and worked perfectly for Skype and fring!!

  • 29. Stu  |  September 9th, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Thanks, that explains a lot. Like others I spent ages trying to sort this out. Next time, I’ll know where to look first. I set up skype on a mini at home when I was working away to talk to the kids. Mic didn’t work (3 of them) and they ended up sticking a headset into the mic socket and talking into the earpiece! Remarkably it worked. One day I’ll get the hang of all this!

  • 30. Ben Linford  |  September 13th, 2010 at 8:01 am

    Thanks for this.
    I had wondered whether it was a power issue.
    Mac Mini’s are great but obviously lack some of the inputs that a windows box is capable of supporting through PCI boards.
    If you can just invest in a usb headset though, why not!

  • 31. Ben Linford  |  September 14th, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    You can now buy USB adapters that convert your typical USB port, into the two 3.5mm inputs that most headsets tent to use.
    eBay is a good source, as always, for low-end electrical goods.

  • 32. MP  |  October 16th, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    The logitech mic works very well with a Mac mini, whether an old one or a new one. Here is how to set it up:

    1) Plug the Logitech USB end to one of the Mac mini USB ports
    2) Go to System Preferences>Sound>Input and select the Logitech device for sound input, set the input and output levels to high, and make sure the mute box is not checked.

    If you are trying to use the Logitech with Skype:

    3) Open Skype Preferences>Audio. Set the audio input device to the Logitech device.

  • 33. na  |  November 18th, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    i did not liked the PC always lead me the way it want, but now I have many many unknown issue from MAC! Bit frustrated now … they just want us to do chat the issue??? Or always try to bring up the issue the it is only suitable for skilled people?? MR!!

  • 34. Kerrigore  |  December 5th, 2010 at 12:21 pm


    By default the Mac will not pass the input into the output, you need an app to do this. I use LineIn, and it works perfectly plus it’s free:

  • 35. AppleLover  |  December 8th, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    No love to Apple for this one!!! I thought they were it with options with multimedia and compatibility? I WANT A MIC INPUT OPTION!

  • 36. Shan2dude  |  January 3rd, 2011 at 4:49 am

    well what can i do then is iMic a software or a input device

    please do help]

  • 37. Bothsides of the fence lover  |  January 14th, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Strange, I have been recording audio input on a 2009 mac mini for a while and used several cheap MICs and every single one has been working perfectly fine.

    For every single one I have been plugging in directly. to coin a phase those MICs were “cheap as chips”, as I never believe in buying quality for mics or headphones.

  • 38. Headsets Microphones  |  February 8th, 2011 at 3:48 am

    This is a very nice post. Thanks, that explains a lot. Like others I spent ages trying to sort this out. I’m very glad I read this post.

  • 39. Eldon Wiancko  |  March 4th, 2011 at 12:26 am

    What are they talking about? I see only questions, and no answers. What is the solution to no sound from the Line-In ?

  • 40. BiloX  |  March 14th, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Amazing. Many thanks for the information. This was driving me crazy. It is a shame that Apple does not include the lame line-level input on the Mac mini with a true mic-level input (to power the mic).

    The workaround in my case was to connect the microphone to the Griffin iMic:

    Thanks again. You made my day!

  • 41. ronenu  |  March 28th, 2011 at 6:29 am

    Your mac is not broken // it is just confusing.
    i think that one you understand to logic behind thr apple’s decisions you find it better and advanced.

  • 42. Andy  |  April 6th, 2011 at 8:55 am

    I am happy to go out and buy a Logitech or whatever USB gizmo so I can use a headset so I can use skype on the Mac Mini.

    However, couldn’t I use Skype on the mac mini through the bluetooth link on my mobile?

  • 43. Andy  |  April 6th, 2011 at 9:11 am

    And another thought. Bluetooth headsets for mobiles are really cheap. Can’t I pair one of those to the Mac Mini and then use that for Skyping? Dedicated Logitech USB headsets for Mac Minis cost about $50 (£33 pounds to me here in London). Thoughts?

  • 44. Miguel  |  June 16th, 2011 at 8:44 am

    Hi ,
    Download :

    lineIn application and your on

    Good luck

  • 45. Jose Antunes  |  September 17th, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    I have a 2011 mac mini core i5 and I use my iPhone headset with mic and it work perfect connected to the audio out port, yes the mic works thru this port. I also use my irig to record my guitar on the garage band software succesfuly thru the same port

  • 46. Why doesn’t my head&hellip  |  June 4th, 2012 at 1:00 am

    […] saw this post which talked about some power issues to the microphone on the Mac Mini… I did not quite get what […]

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