Connecting a microphone to your home theater system is surprisingly easy, although most people won’t have tried it before. Doing so allows you to have a wild karaoke night or even record some vocals.
So, how do you connect a microphone to a home theater?
Your AV receiver will most likely have a “mic in” slot, and all you need to do is plug it in. If not, then check your speaker system for a similar input. Failing that, you can always connect a microphone through your computer. Just make sure that your speakers are turned off before you plug anything in.
Providing you’ve got all the right tech, connecting a microphone to your home theater really is that easy! However, it’s worth knowing all the options available in case your AV receiver doesn’t have a mic input for some reason.
I’ll cover these methods in this article, along with how to connect a microphone wirelessly, and some common troubleshooting tips.
How to Connect a Microphone to Your Home Theater
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After all, your AV receiver is the central hub of your home theater system, and you’re definitely not the first person to think about connecting a microphone. In my article on the role of AV receivers in home theater, I explain this in detail.
Depending on the age of your kit, your AV receiver should have a 3.5mm audio jack, but if it’s older it might have a slightly larger one. If that’s the case you’ll most likely have to use some kind of adapter, as pretty much all modern microphones will be 3.5mm.
Connecting your microphone is pretty simple, and all you need to do is follow these easy steps:
- Turn off your system before starting. Connecting a microphone to live speakers can make some interesting, and often horrible, noises.
- Plug the microphone into the “mic in” input on your AV receiver. Much like all other inputs, this should be clearly labeled, often with the abbreviation “mic”.
- Providing everything is plugged in and looks correct, turn your system back on and try talking into the microphone. You should hear your voice come out of the speakers, but be careful, it might be really loud.
- Most AV receivers don’t have built-in audio equalizing for microphones, so you might need to adjust it separately from the master volume, particularly if you’re doing karaoke.
- If you’re happy with everything, then you’re done! Enjoy your karaoke session.
Most AV receivers are built to make things really easy for you, so connecting a microphone should be of very little problem. If it doesn’t have the right input, chances are you should be able to connect a microphone to your speakers or another device with an amp. However, there are other ways around this, which I’ll cover in more detail later.
The most important thing to remember is that if your system isn’t designed for karaoke then you’ll probably have issues with the volume equalization. If that’s the case, it might be worth looking at a slightly more complicated (and expensive) method, but it’s one that’ll give you much more control over the microphone.
How to Connect a Microphone without the Right Input
While the method described above is the easiest way to connect a microphone, there are other ways around it. One thing worth considering, particularly if you’re only just starting your home theater, is how often you think you’ll be using a microphone. If the answer is a lot then it’ll definitely be worth investing in equipment designed for karaoke.
For example, an AV receiver such as the Yamaha TSR-5830 has the ability to automatically detect a microphone and adjust volume levels accordingly.
Yes, this is a more expensive piece of equipment, but it’s ideal if you’re planning on using a microphone frequently because it saves you from having to invest in more technology.
If you don’t have that kind of budget, however, or you’ve already got a receiver, there are ways around not having control over your microphone.
One of the easiest is to buy a small microphone mixer or audio interface that connects the microphone to your AV receiver using RCA or digital audio, just like any other device. Just follow these steps.
Most mixers also allow you to connect more than one microphone at a time, which can be helpful, and they give you complete control over volume (as a mixer does). If you want to integrate a microphone into your home theater and use it regularly, particularly for karaoke, this will be the best way to do so.
Realistically, a small mixer won’t be too expensive, and while you might not want to invest in any more bits of equipment, I’d really recommend it.
I’ve tried connecting a microphone to my home theater both with and without a separate mixer, and it really does make a difference. After all, the last thing you want is bad audio balance in your sing-along sessions!
How to Connect a Wireless Microphone to Home Theater
Perhaps you’ve decided to have a karaoke night in your home theater and have decided to opt for a wireless microphone. If you have, good choice, because as with all technology, the lack of wires makes things much easier, especially if there are going to be a few people in the room.
A wireless microphone will, like almost all wireless devices, still come with a base to provide power and connections. Some microphones will use Bluetooth, but even so, they’ll likely still have a base.
I’d recommend doing a bit of research before jumping into a wireless microphone, as you’ll still need a microphone input on your home theater system. The Tonor wireless microphones system is fairly inexpensive and will do the needful (see the diagram below to know how it can connect):
Anyway, to connect a wireless microphone to your home theater system, do the following:
- Make sure the microphone has plenty of charge, if applicable. When connecting, even if it won’t take much time, it’s best to do so on a full battery.
- Start by turning everything off. While it’s unlikely you’ll get horrible feedback, it’s still best to start with everything powered down.
- Take the wireless microphone’s base. This is the device that will still need to be connected to your home theater, so do so now.
- It’ll need to be plugged into a power outlet, and then there will be a connection for your amp or receiver. This will either be a standard microphone jack or a stereo connection. Either way, make sure it gets plugged into the right place.
- Alternatively, buy yourself a mini mixer and connect the base to that. Doing so will mean you can use standard RCA connections, which are more common, and will also give you control over the microphone’s volume.
- Using an RCA connection also means you can plug the microphone base into an AUX in slot on your receiver, which it’s obviously much more likely to have.
- Power everything up and make sure your microphone is connected to its base. Test volume levels and equalizer settings (where applicable) before singing. It’s best to iron any bugs out now.
Connecting a wireless microphone doesn’t need to be any more complicated than a wired one, and follows pretty much the same method. Using a wireless microphone gives you greater versatility than a wired one too, and means that people won’t be tripping over cables all night!
However, wireless microphones do still come with their own issues. For example, you’re reliant on battery life, although it would take a marathon karaoke session to run a microphone down in a single sitting! Similarly, there can be problems with the connection dropping out, but this is a minor inconvenience for the extra benefits.
So whether you choose a wired or wireless microphone, connecting it is really easy. However, the harder part is making sure that it isn’t too loud compared to your master volume, and that’s why it makes sense to buy a small mixer, as this will give you more control over the microphone. The other option is to buy a dedicated karaoke kit, but this option isn’t for everyone.
Common Problems Connecting a Microphone to a Home Theater
Although the actual process of connecting a microphone to your home theater is pretty easy, there are plenty of problems that can arise. Again, these are generally quite easy to solve, but here are some of the most common and best solutions.
I want to do karaoke. Can I use the microphone and my DVD player at the same time?
This will generally depend on the equipment you’re using and how you connected your microphone. If you connected through the standard microphone input, there shouldn’t be any issues as you should just be able to use the microphone over whatever else is happening in your home theater.
However, if your home theater has a specific “DVD mode”, then you probably won’t be able to. Some home theaters will ask you to switch to AUX in mode, obviously depending on how you connected your microphone, and most home theaters therefore won’t let you have both DVD mode and AUX mode going at the same time.
If that’s the case, your easiest solution is to buy a karaoke DVD player as this will feature its own microphone input. Another alternative is to split your system into one for video (for the karaoke track) and another for audio (solely for the microphone). This would mean you’d need 2 speaker systems and is really more trouble than it’s worth.
The microphone is too loud, and the voices sound strange
Problems such as volume, tinny sound, or voices that sound “empty” are often caused by plugging a microphone into a system that doesn’t have the right kind of mixer for this kind of audio. While some speaker systems will be good for dialogue, this will be part of all other kinds of audio.
The best solution to this problem is to buy a mini mixer or audio interface for your microphone. This will give you complete control over the microphone’s volume and audio levels and allows you to do this completely separately from your system’s master volume.
Sure, this is another piece of equipment to add to your system, but it’s worth it. This mini mixer on Amazon is an example of what you need, and it’s not very expensive. However, as with all audio equipment, you will notice a drop in quality by going cheap. Look for a mid-range model if you can’t stretch your budget.
Sound from the microphone isn’t coming out of my surround sound system
Standard microphones output in mono audio (1 channel), as opposed to music, which outputs in stereo (2 channels), or surround sound (3 or more channels). This means that when you come to sing and you’re using surround sound speakers, the audio from your microphone will only come out of one speaker.
Which speaker this is will depend on your system, but it’ll generally be one of the main channels (the front 2 speakers), most likely the left. If you’ve set up your speaker system you should have a good idea of which are your main speakers, as this is something you have to figure out when setting it up.
If you’re unsure, however, the easiest way to test (aside from plugging the microphone in) is to play a music track. This will only ever output in stereo, which will be your main 2 speakers, and so they will be the only ones that play the audio. From there you can have a better idea of which speaker your microphone audio will come from.
While you can get stereo and surround sound microphones, these are both expensive and most likely completely unsuited to your purpose. The easiest way forward is to continue using a mono microphone and just make sure you know which speaker the audio will come from.
The microphone is constantly getting feedback from somewhere
Microphones are particularly prone to feedback, especially if you’re playing music at the same time, or using a powerful speaker system. The easiest way to combat feedback is to either move further away from the speakers or turn the volume down.
This might seem like an obvious suggestion, but some microphones are sensitive enough that you can be what you think is far enough away, but actually isn’t. During setup, spend some time playing around with volume and distance until you find a combination that’s loud enough to hear, but not too loud that it gives you all that horrible feedback.
Using a Karaoke Machine in Your Home Theater
If you’re thinking about connecting a microphone to your home theater specifically for a karaoke session with your friends, I’d highly recommend making the jump and buying a dedicated karaoke machine. This generally makes things much easier and means you can play DVDs and use the microphone at the same time.
Although setup will vary depending on the karaoke machine you buy, namely whether it has built-in speakers or not, the connection method is largely the same. I don’t have a preference or recommendation over which is better, again because they follow the same connection method. Either way, you’ll be able to use an RCA connection, and the setup is as follows:
- As ever, make sure everything is turned off before you start. Locate all the necessary connection ports and wires to make the next steps much quicker. Your karaoke machine will have RCA output on the back regardless of whether it has built-in speakers or not.
- Connect your karaoke machine to your AV receiver using the RCA cables. Make sure your karaoke machine is plugged into a power source, but hold off on turning everything on just yet.
- Now is the best time to make sure your microphone is connected and your speakers are turned down. I’d recommend turning the volume down on both your home theater system and the karaoke machine in order to avoid any surprises.
- Turn on both systems and switch your home theater source input to the correct setting, which should be RCA. Now, spend some time playing around with the volume on both pieces of equipment until you get the balance you’re happy with.
- That’s it. Happy singing!
Considering each karaoke system will be different, you’ll need to play around with the audio settings slightly to get something you’re happy with. Luckily, many karaoke machines will come with some kind of mixer, allowing you to control the audio directly from it.
Another piece of advice I can give that’s helpful in this situation is to try and keep the volume low on the karaoke machine and adjust it on your home theater speakers. Doing it the other way round can lead to some strange audio balances, which is the last thing you want when preparing for karaoke. Again, every system will be different, so see what works best for you.
What Kind of Microphone is Best to Use in a Home Theater?
There are several different kinds of generic microphones that all have their own benefits and drawbacks. When it comes to which one is best for you, it’ll depend entirely on what your actual needs are. For example, if you’re only planning on a bit of karaoke, then you don’t need to splash out. If you’re recording music, or something similar, then it can make sense to invest in some better tech.
As a general rule, you’ll probably be choosing between either dynamic microphones or condenser microphones. It’s likely that we’ve all come across one type, if not both, in our everyday lives, but not many people know the difference. Here are some facts that should help you make the decision.
- Dynamic microphones (like this one on Amazon) generally don’t need an external power force. The only exception is active dynamic microphones, but it’s unlikely you’ll be coming across one of them in your search.
- Dynamic microphones work by using a wire coil to pick up vibrations caused by sound. Soundwaves make the diaphragm vibrate, which is then amplified by the wire coil and recorded. This is about the most straightforward way a microphone can work.
- Due to their “simpler” technology, dynamic microphones are generally cheaper and easier to find. Similarly, they’re more robust and are built for more action than condenser microphones.
- Dynamic microphones are known for their reliability and are particularly suited to capturing loud noises, and for use in live settings. It’s most likely that most microphones you’re looking at are dynamic, including the ones included with karaoke machines.
- Dynamic microphones generally need very little maintenance, aside from the occasional clean, and if treated properly will last you for years. They’re a very versatile piece of kit, and are ideal for using with a home theater.
- Condenser microphones (like this one on Amazon) are easily recognizable for their distinctive shape. While dynamic microphones are also a recognizable sight, once you know what each looks like you’ll have no difficulty telling them apart.
- Condenser microphones need a power source. This is because their preamp needs to be powered, along with some other more complicated components that aren’t necessarily important for this discussion.
- As a result of their external power, condenser mics are infinitely more sensitive than dynamic mics, and they’re much better suited for picking up very delicate and soft sounds.
- Condenser microphones are more commonly used for studio recordings because of their sensitivity and audio quality. Almost all of your favorite music will have been recorded using condenser microphones.
- On the flip side to this is the fact that condenser microphones are also more physically sensitive. They’re not designed to be thrown around like a dynamic microphone, and so will only be a suitable choice if you’re planning on recording vocal tracks.
- Condenser mics also require regular upkeep to keep them in good condition. Similarly, they’re much more expensive than dynamic microphones, but this is because they’re more sophisticated pieces of equipment.
It’s likely that the most suitable microphone for general home theater needs will be a dynamic mic. They’re cheaper and easier to find, will generally last longer, and will be able to withstand an evening of karaoke with your friends.
Again, a karaoke machine will usually come with a microphone included, so it makes sense to just invest in the machine if that’s what you’re going to be using a microphone for.
While there’s nothing stopping you from using your home theater system for recording audio, whether it’s a song or something else, it makes sense to do this on a computer instead. However, there’s nothing stopping you from connecting your computer up to your home theater for that truly immersive home studio experience.
If this is what you’re planning on doing, then it makes more sense to splash out on a condenser microphone. After all, this is the best way to get the clearest possible vocals, even though it does mean spending a bit more money. The most important thing to know about these 2 types of microphones is that they’re both connected in the same way.
Some Final Tips
Connecting a microphone to your home theater is really easy; most of the time it’ll simply be plug in and go. However, it still makes sense to be prepared before you jump in, so here are my final tips for connecting a microphone to your home theater.
- Work out your needs before you go out and buy some equipment. For example, if you’re planning on doing some karaoke, I’d recommend just buying a karaoke machine and connecting that to your home theater.
- Check your AV receiver, firstly to ensure it’s got a microphone input, and secondly to see if it has any microphone mixing settings. More expensive ones might, and knowing this will save you from having to buy extra kit.
- On that note, however, if your AV receiver doesn’t have microphone mixing settings, definitely buy a separate mini mixer. Yes, it’ll set you back a bit of cash, but having control over the microphone is definitely worth it.
- Wired or wireless generally makes little difference, but again put some thought into it. For example, if you’re planning a late-night karaoke session with your friends (including some alcohol), then wireless is clearly the way forward, if only to avoid accidents.
- Check out some AV or karaoke forums to see if anyone has recommendations for a particular microphone that’ll suit your needs. If you’re unsure about something like this, it always helps to ask communities because they’re often more than happy to give you the information you need.
As you can see, connecting a microphone to your home theater is really easy. Even if you don’t have the standard mic in port on your AV receiver there are still plenty of other options available to you.
As with any other technology investment though, even if you consider this one to be quite minor, I’d still recommend doing plenty of research before spending, as this will mean you’ll be in the best position later. Whatever microphone you choose: happy singing!