USB Microphones

The Situation

I bought myself some USB microphones over ebay, I couldn’t see any with USB type A connectors (the original USB connectors) and bought ones with USB-C connectors. I thought it would be good to have microphones that could work with recent mobile phones and with PCs, because surely it wouldn’t be difficult to get an adaptor. I tested one of the microphones, it worked well on a phone.

I bought a pair of adaptors for USB A ports on a PC or laptop to USB-C (here’s the link to where I bought them). I used one of the adaptors with a USB-C HDMI device which gave the following line from lsusb, I didn’t try using a HDMI monitor on my laptop, having the device recognised was enough.

Bus 003 Device 002: ID 2109:0100 VIA Labs, Inc. USB 2.0 BILLBOARD

I tried connecting a USB-C microphone and Linux didn’t recognise the existence of a USB device, I tried that on a PC and a laptop on multiple ports.

I wondered whether the description of the VIA “BILLBOARD” device as “USB 2.0” was relevant to my problem. According to Big Mess O’ Wires USB-C has separate wires for USB 3.1 and USB 2 [1]. So someone could make a device that converts USB-A to USB-C with only USB-2 wires in place. I tested the USB-A to USB-C adaptor with the HDMI device in a USB “SuperSpeed” (IE 3.x) port and it still identified as USB 2.0. I suspect that the USB-C HDMI device is using all the high speed wires for DisplayPort data (with a conversion to HDMI) and therefore looks like a USB 2.0 device.

The Problem

I want to install a microphone in my workstation for long Zoom training sessions (7 hours in a day) that otherwise require me to use multiple Android devices as I don’t have a device that will do 7 hours of Zoom without running out of battery. A new workstation with USB-C is unreasonably expensive. A PCIe USB-C card would give me the port at the back of the machine, I can’t have the back of the machine near the microphone because it’s too noisy.

If I could have a USB-C hub with reasonable length cables (the 1M cables typical for USB 2.0 hubs would be fine) connected to a USB-C port at the back of my workstation that would work. But there seems to be a great lack of USB-C hubs. NewBeDev has an informative post about the lack of USB-C hubs that have multiple USB-C ports [2]. There also seems to be a lack of USB-C hubs with cables longer than 20cm.

The Solution

I ended up ordering a Sades Wand gaming headset [3], that has over-ear headphones and an attached microphone which connects to the computer via USB 2.0. I gave the URL for the web site for reference but you will get a significantly better price by buying on ebay ($39+postage vs about $30 including postage).

I guess I won’t be using my new USB-C microphones for a while.

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