I have a couple e855 Sennheiser mics and 1202-VLZ Mackie mixer. When my son was visiting recently, we connected the mics+mixer to the stereo line-in of my PC desktop and captured some decent recordings of his voice+guitar with Audacity. He would like to take the mics and mixer with him so he can record at his place, but he has a MacBook which does not have a line-in.

The most obvious solution is to get some kind of USB soundcard, but I'm not sure what all I should be looking for, and I am having trouble finding soundcards that specifically known to work with a MacBook. I was hoping you might recommend hardware options and volunteer any recording advice relevant to this particular situation. I would prefer to start with lower cost options (under $100 if possible).

I contacted Creative asking about their X-FI products and they said their only USB product that works with Mac is the Sound Blaster Wireless.

  • I think the answer I gave to this question ought to help. In short, you need some kind of preamp for the mics and some way to digitize sound into your computer. I'm posting this as a comment since it doesn't directly answer your question.
    – Warrior Bob
    Commented Dec 8, 2011 at 23:25
  • Thank you for the link. I know that I need a sound card. I was hoping for advise on how to find USB sound cards that work with the MacBook. If I become aware of multiple USB sound cards then I can move on to considering the issues you mentioned.
    – pmilligan57
    Commented Dec 8, 2011 at 23:34
  • From your question title (and content) it sounded like you weren't sure what hardware you'd need. Does your question basically boil down to 'I need a USB soundcard to record voice and guitar, what should I be looking for?'
    – Warrior Bob
    Commented Dec 9, 2011 at 18:07
  • I apologize for being unclear. You're wording is probably better. We have the mics, mixer & MacBook. The MacBook has no line-in. I assume USB sound card is the only option (but I am interested if there are other ways). I am having difficulty finding USB sound cards that work with MacBook. Can anybody recommend specific USB sound cards (brand/model)? Failing that can anybody advise me on how to find them (I've Googled & contacted Creative regarding their products)? Beyond that, if anybody has experience with recording via USB sound cards & MacBook do they have any advice? Is that any clearer?
    – pmilligan57
    Commented Dec 9, 2011 at 19:28
  • Oh, that's no worry - this site is collaboratively edited, so it's expected that we can modify questions and answers to improve them. I've edited your question based on your comment, please do modify it further if you see anything that needs correction.
    – Warrior Bob
    Commented Dec 9, 2011 at 23:26

1 Answer 1


I'm assuming that this MacBook does not have a firewire port, so you're limited to USB.

An external soundcard for recording is usually called an audio interface, and you may have more luck searching using this term. I usually start with major site known to carry them, such as Amazon, Musician's Friend, Zzounds, or Sweetwater. There are many such sites, but these are some of the larger ones.

Since you've already been recording a mixed signal through a PC's line in port, I'm presuming that:

  • You aren't concerned about recording multiple instruments to separate tracks simultaneously
  • You also aren't overly worried about the quality of the digital converter (the majority of "line-in ports" on PCs are not famous for their fidelity or quality)
  • This is mostly "for fun"

This means that you don't necessarily need more than two channels (since you're only recording stereo), and you don't need preamplifiers or XLR jacks, since you've already got the mixer.

Ordinarily, shopping recommendations aren't a good fit for this site, but given the assumptions above, I'd have a hard time not recommending a Behringer UCA202:

enter image description here

It not great (stero in and out, no preamps, so-so brand), but the one I have sounded better than any of my computers' line-in ports up to that point, and it's generally found new for around $30 US. It'll get you going for cheap and I can confirm that it works on both a G4 Mac Mini and on last year's Macbook Pro. It is class-compliant so you do not need to install drivers.

But if you want something a bit better but still in that range, here are also a variety of $100 interfaces available from many manufacturers with various improvements (better quality, better preamps, more features, whatever) but I can't really make a recommendation in that space that won't be irrelevant in a few years(and therefore not really useful on this site). I recommend going to any of the sites I mentioned above, or any like them, and browsing the "audio interfaces" section, sorted by price. Take the ones whose qualities you like and read reviews from people who have used them.

Once you've got an interface for the MacBook, the recording process should be exactly the same as it was on your PC.

  • Thank you. This is exactly the information I was hoping for. You have recommended particular hardware that you know works and you have provided advise on how and where to find information about similar and related hardware. In addition you have commented about the quality I should expect and where to look to improve the quality.
    – pmilligan57
    Commented Dec 10, 2011 at 1:22
  • You're most welcome! We were lucky in that there was a piece of hardware that I thought best addressed the situation. Usually that isn't the case.
    – Warrior Bob
    Commented Dec 11, 2011 at 17:57

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