I am trying to interface a suite of aviation audio headsets to my PC. The headsets use an electret microphone requiring a voltage bias of 8V - 16V for power. Each headset plugs into its own instance of the following circuit and USB soundcard and this seems to work well with a 9V supply.

![enter image description here

I start having problems when I introduce the second headset and USB soundcard, in particular the application of the 9V to the second headset circuit.

When I apply 9V to the second headset both USB sound cards are dropped by Windows on my PC. I was initialy connecting the soundcards through a USB hub with ESD protection. When I connect them directly to the PC however the it causes a fatal error and the PC shutsdown to protect itself from damage.

I think the problem is due to the 9V GND of the PSU being shared with PC/USB GND.

Is there a way to power the electret with the requried voltage and be able to connect the resulting audio signal into a mic input without sharing grounds?

Thanks for your help.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Excuse me, but this looks really absurd. 1) What's the reason for connecting something to the USB connector if you have analog audio? 2) R1 and C3 alone with no connection to USB are enough to pull all audio to its knees (=parallel load) See it? 3)There's no usual way attempt to power up the electret mic without shorting the audio. \$\endgroup\$
    – user136077
    Jul 10, 2020 at 7:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ If it was just the 9V ground being attached, then it would do the same when just one is connected. Do the jacks on the sound card have a bypass pins (4 or 5 pin jacks like commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Phone_jack_symbols.png)? How much current are you drawing? \$\endgroup\$
    – Passerby
    Jul 10, 2020 at 7:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user287001 usb sound card is being used, hence usb. But I believe that OP isn't using the USB 5V rail based on the description. \$\endgroup\$
    – Passerby
    Jul 10, 2020 at 7:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am using a Creative Play 3! USB soundcard which interfaces analog audio. I don't use the USB power since USB only supplies 5V and the electret requires at least 8V uk.creative.com/p/sound-cards/sound-blaster-play-3 \$\endgroup\$ Jul 10, 2020 at 7:50
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Passerby there should be no reason to connect a single wire to USB connector if the device hasn't USB signals. Bringing even digital GND to millivolt level analog signal wiring is = begging troubles. \$\endgroup\$
    – user136077
    Jul 10, 2020 at 7:51

2 Answers 2


Remove R1 and C3. Feed the +9V through a resistor, a good resistance is somewhere between 2kOhm and 20kOhm. Start tests with 10kOhm. Higher resistance increases the sensitivity to some degree as long as it's not too high. Too high resistance causes distortion.

If it happens that you do not use a battery as your 9V source there's a possibility for fatal errors. Many power supplies are not isolated, even mains AC input power supplies can have a capacitive connection between the mains AC input and the output whic output 50% of the mains AC voltage through a big capacitor. Many of them have galvanic contact between the output and the protective ground of the mains AC plug.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the response. What effect will this have on the circuit? Does it address the problem with the PSU and USB grounds being tied? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 10, 2020 at 8:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's no illegal connection between analog and USB grounds drawn.any more in your schematic. Hopefully you do not have a secret wire. What happens inside your USB audio interface is surely OK as long as you do not have your own secret wires between analog circuit and an USB input. R1 would pull the audio down and dry your battery. C1 would only pull the audio down. The inserted resistor allows DC to flow but gives some resistance to the summed audio AC, so you can have an audio voltage. I changed the resistance range to 2000...20000 Ohm due the higher voltage than the usual. \$\endgroup\$
    – user136077
    Jul 10, 2020 at 8:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's not clear to me how the PSU GND, which becomes the Audio GND interacts with the power circuit inside the sound card. the ADC in the sound card will be referenced to the USB GND inside the PC which would be different from the 9V-PSU GND. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 10, 2020 at 9:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Measure separately how much there's AC voltage and how much there's DC voltage between the 9V PSU GND and your audio interface GND. Keep the output wires of 9V PSU disconnected, but let the PSU get its input and let the audio interface be connected to the computer which is powered, both in the same way as in your non-working system. \$\endgroup\$
    – user136077
    Jul 10, 2020 at 10:50

An electret mic needs a minimum voltage of 2VDC across it and uses a DC current of about 0.4mA. Power it like this: powering


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