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External microphone not detected on MacBook Pro 15-Running system macOS Catalina

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Last Modified: 2020-06-02
Hi there,

I am experiencing major difficulty getting my new RODE NTG4+ microphone to be recognised as an external mic with my MacBook Pro.

I have recently attempted to resolve the problem by watching youtube solutions and it has resulted in me buying a number of cables which at present has not solved the situation.

Firstly I purchased an XLRF to 3.5mm TRS Jack for the mic so that I could physically plug the mic in.
This did not change the status in SOUNDS from internal mic.

I then purchased an old set of headphones with the TRRS Jack and a Headphone Mic splitter with a TRRS Jack as a tutorial suggested this mixture of cables would solve the problem. It did not.

Fearing I had the wrong mixture of TRRS Jacks I then purchased another splitter with a TRS Jack. This did not work either.

I am unable to get an answer from Apple support at this time as they are experiencing problems with their tech support and as we are on lockdown still, I cannot visit a shop.

I should say that I am in no way an expert with technology and have very little experience so could any advice be put in layman's terms.
Thank you, your help will be most appreciated.

NTG4  MICROPHONEIMG_9354.HEICIMG_9355.HEICIMG_9356.HEICIMG_9357.HEIC
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Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
Fearing I had the wrong mixture of TRRS Jacks I then purchased another splitter with a TRS Jack. This did not work either.

Your problem is not related to TRRS Jacks at all as you have bought the wrong mic and it will never work no matter whether you can connect it via a number of cables to 3.5mm TRS Jack for the mic of your MacBook.

Why?

Your new mic has only digital output whereas your MacBook has only analog input. You need a XLR-to-USB Signal Adapter like the one below to do the magic.

https://www.amazon.com/Shure-X2U-XLR-to-USB-Signal-Adapter/dp/B001PPXFAG

In layman term, your new mic only offers a digital output whereas the 3.5mm TRS Jack of your MacBook only accepts analog input and they will never understand one another no matter what cables you have got.
David FavorFractional CTO
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Commented:
Quick glance at specs say this mic requires a 48V power source, so you must use active power with this mic for this to work.

Some mics requiring active power will be recognized when a simple conversion cable is used + they won't work (level too low).

Other mics won't even be recognized.

https://www.amazon.com/NUOSIYA-1-Channel-Condenser-Microphone-Recording/dp/B082NVTB39 or similar (sky's the limit on price) is required for this type of mic to work.

The one I mention is cheap + sufficient.

Jackie's suggestion will also work.

Whatever you use, 48V is required for this mic to have sufficient level to work.
David Johnson, CDSimple Geek from the '70s
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Commented:
That is why it has a battery, David Favor
@Jackie: XLR is not digital it is analog .. It does have a digital filter though.
David Johnson, CDSimple Geek from the '70s
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Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
go to your local dollar store and buy a cheap microphone and test. It could be either a problem with your macbook audio settings or a broken microphone input.

Author

Commented:
Hi Guys

Thank you for all your comments and suggestions. Apologise for the delayed response, I was travelling with work.

I am very grateful for your responses but I notice that there seems to be some contradicting advice regarding analog vs digital and power sources.

"That is why it has a battery, David Favor
@Jackie: XLR is not digital it is analog .. It does have a digital filter though."

As you can tell I am a total self-confessed novice in this area and I do not really wish to rush out and start purchasing more equipment that may not be necessary or resolve the situation, therefore, I was wondering if there was a solution that everyone agrees upon?

I shall be attempting to use another microphone to see if it is a problem with my MacBook audio settings
but is the piece of equipment suggested by @Jackie a recommended solution or are you @David saying that this will not resolve the problem?

Thank you for your time.
CERTIFIED EXPERT
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
XLR is the interface only which could be digital or analog but the microphone must be digital if you read its spec.

https://factorysound.com/products/ntg4plus

Reference:
https://www.analog.com/en/analog-dialogue/articles/understanding-microphone-sensitivity.html
David Johnson, CDSimple Geek from the '70s
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Commented:
from the specs of the microphone
Output Impedance 200Ω
Maximum SPL 135dB SPL (@ 1kHz, 1% THD into 1KΩ load)
the Microphone uses digital processing but since it cares about impedance it is analog.  Digital doesn't care about impedance. 

Author

Commented:
I really appreciate all your feedback, but I am not sure where to turn.  With the cost of the Rhode microphone, I have spent over £260 so I would like, if all possible (I'm not able to return the microphone) to utilise the Rhode mic.  I will therefore attempt the 'cheap mic' option suggested by @DavidJohnson to establish if it is:

(a) MacBook input issue/fault; or
(b) MacBook audio settings.

With regard to (a) could you advise if the cheap mic should have 2 or 3 bands and with regard to (b) please advise on what settings on the MacBook my solution should be set to.

Thanks, David

Author

Commented:
Please also advise if there is a way of testing whether the MacBook has an input/fault to isolate the issue. Thanks again, David
Simple Geek from the '70s
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Commented:
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Author

Commented:
I've just had a response from Rode to say that their AI-1 would provide the interface to allow connection directly to the Mac.  What do you think?

Author

Commented:
I have had the best advice from David Johnson on this thread.  I've also solved the remaining element of the problem by finding an audio interface with phantom power which addresses the issues most recently mentioned by David Johnson - If you buy a Rode Mic, use the AI - 1 to use as the audio interface to connect the mic to the MacBook Pro or any Windows based computer/device.
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