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Can I connect a microphone to line-in?

In Questions on January 23, 2010 at 11:55 AM

These are a few notes from reading articles on the web trying to answer this question.

A simple sound card usually has line-in, line-out, and mic connections. Line (line level) refers to the strength of the signal. Signals from microphones (or pickups from guitars) are typically weaker than line level and have to be amplified.

The mic input on a sound card probably has some amplifier but I was not able find out exactly how this worked. There also seems to be a difference between “computer microphones” and more advanced microphones. If you use a more advanced microphone you probably plug it into a mixer which has a preamp. The output from the mixer can then be connected to the line-in on the sound card.

Or is the only difference between a “computer microphone” and a more advanced microphone the connector? It feels like a more advanced microphone requires a better preamp than the one that (presumably) sits behind the mic input on sound cards.

Furthermore, the difference between a sound card and an audio interface only seems to be that an audio interface is a more advanced sound card: better AD/DA converters, lower sampling latency, and better sampling rates and bit depth. It is also common for audio interfaces to be external. Maybe because they often provide more inputs and outputs.

If you know anything about how the mic input on regular sound cards works I would be happy to read your comments about it.