Introduction: Make a Stereo Microphone for $15

How to make a decent sounding stereo microphone for $15. This is useful for recording ambient sound, or using with a video camera that has a microphone input.

Example of the sound quality you can get out of this:

Step 1: What You'll Need

1 Female RCA to Male 3.5mm Cable:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002J1LEI/ref=oh_o01_s00_i00_details

2 Male RCA to Female 3.5mm Adapters:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002891YNI/ref=oh_o01_s00_i00_details

2 3.5mm Microphones:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00284VD02/ref=oh_o03_s00_i00_details

As user Rogue Agent pointed out in the comments, you should take a look at the frequency range of the microphones you're buying. The ones I linked to are made for voice recording, so they aren't the best for recording music/sound. Human hearing range is about 20Hz - 20kHz, so microphones closer to that range would work better.

Step 2: Put It Together

There really is no wrong way to do this.

Protip: Use the picture as a guide.

Step 3: You're Done. Now Put It to Use

Well, this instructable went by pretty fast. Probably because the whole "assemble it" part was incredibly simple.

Anyway, enjoy your new stereo microphone. Use it in place of your camera's horrible sounding built in one, or to record ambient sounds. Did I say that already? Oh, whatever.

Comments

author
gwynnebaer made it! (author)2012-04-05

Could you save a step and parts by using a Female 3.5mm cable and skip the RCA->3.5mm conversion?
Like: http://www.amazon.com/RiteAV-3-5mm-Splitter/dp/B000V1O1KS

author
Snaffle J. Bean made it! (author)Snaffle J. Bean2012-04-05

It's possible. The problem with 3.5mm splitters is that there are two kinds: ones that split a stereo signal into two stereo signals, and ones that split a stereo signal into the left and right channels. The former are the most common, while the latter are a bit hard to find. The reason I used an RCA to 3.5mm converter was because that kind of cable is definitely one that splits a stereo signal into the left and right channels.

As long as you find a 3.5mm splitter that states it splits a stereo signal into the left and right channels, it will work the same as the one I built.

author
bobosos11 made it! (author)bobosos112012-04-05

Since the sound is incoming rather than out, would that matter?

author
Snaffle J. Bean made it! (author)Snaffle J. Bean2012-04-05

Yes. It would record stereo, but both the channels would be the same. Since it's splitting it into two female stereo plugs from one male plug, they would both get combined on the way to the male plug.

If you want to use a 3.5mm splitter, this might work
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000068O5H/ref=ox_sc_act_title_2
From the reviews, that looks like it would split into the two separate channels.

author
JornB3 made it! (author)2016-06-16

I made it but you need a line input and on mac you need a USB AUDIO ADAPTER to get it to work with the computer so i orderd a 3 dollar one and it arrived and the mic works great thanks for the DIY i was looking on websites for stereo mics and i found the price to high than i saw this DIY

author
sunwukong1947 made it! (author)2016-01-29

I did something like this and found I get better results if one of the mics has opposite polarity from the other. This creates a better stereo effect. Also some suggestions I have seen on this say that strapping a small ceramic cap across the leads will improve the sound quality. It would be nice to see someone post a schematic diagram of their connections.

author
Rogue Agent made it! (author)2012-04-09

Great, project! One thing to be aware of is that people will want to look at the frequency range on the mics they end up using depending on the intended application. The ones on the link are probably not an ideal range for music (100Hz - 5kHz), but would be fine for voice only. Human hearing range is about 20Hz - 20kHz. Many good sounding (but low cost headphones) reproduce 10Hz - 22kHz. The great thing about it is that it is modular, and with no soldering you could upgrade mics at any time.

author
Sketch_Boardz made it! (author)Sketch_Boardz2015-01-16

Hey Rogue, what type of microphones would you use to capture acoustic instruments and guitar amplifiers. I want to record the ambiance of areas as well as the music I play in these areas.

author
Snaffle J. Bean made it! (author)Snaffle J. Bean2012-04-09

I'll add that in; Thanks.

author
Krayzi99 made it! (author)2012-04-07

I didn't know there was such a thing!!! love it!!! although, there are probably easier methods... or, in my case, more lowcost, considering i dont have any mics laying around.

author
Snaffle J. Bean made it! (author)Snaffle J. Bean2012-04-08

Yeah. I think the cheapest you could go would be to buy two condenser microphone elements and one 3.5mm stereo cable and just solder each microphone element to each channel wire in the cable. That would only bring the price down to about $10 and would take more work, though.

author
Krayzi99 made it! (author)Krayzi992012-04-12

Yeah, whether it save money or not, i love to solder

author
elangovan made it! (author)2012-04-09

what is this ..................................

author
andragairdna made it! (author)2012-04-07

Great stuff!
Here's another solution. I used a 3.5 splitter from belkin,

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Belkin-3-5mm-Headphone-Splitter-White/dp/B0000UV2AW/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1333846347&sr=8-11

I haven't a clue about electronics and expected it to work with two, mono, telephone mics.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Olympus-Telephone-Pickup-Hands-Free-Cable/dp/B000BTC8C8/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1333847004&sr=1-2-fkmr0

I had to cut the ends from the splitter and fiddle with the connections till I got a proper stereo signal. I then hot glued it into a right frankenstein's monster but it works!
The disadvantage is the cost. £25. The advantage is a proper set of binaural mics which normally cost a fortune. Sorry no photo but here's the juice

http://www.freesound.org/people/Andy_Gardner/sounds/127798/

(If you cup your hands behind your ears with binaurals, you can actually hear the difference in the recording)

P.S. I faded the piece for free with Audacity - http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

author
Snaffle J. Bean made it! (author)Snaffle J. Bean2012-04-07

Nice. I tried to do what you described, but the inner cables for the stereo splitter I used had some sort of colored coating on the wires that I couldn't remove. Did you have to deal with that?

author
Fred_T made it! (author)2012-04-06

Hi, sound quality is amazing! Do you think any "cheap" (more or less 10$) microphone would be similar in quality?

author
Snaffle J. Bean made it! (author)Snaffle J. Bean2012-04-07

Mine were about $2.50 each, so it's possible. Just read the reviews on them to make sure; I skipped over 3 other microphones in that price range before I found the ones I ended up ordering because of bad reviews.

author
dasirrine made it! (author)2012-04-05

The dog barking part of the demo video was good enough to make my cat freak out and run! :-)

author
grundisimo made it! (author)2012-04-04

Mind=blown.

author
rimar2000 made it! (author)2012-04-03

Very good idea!

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