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I would like to have a solution to equip an average Windows 7 / 10 laptop with line-in input (stereo, 250-500 mV). All the USB sticks I found at Amazon have only the microphone input (2-5 mV).

A microphone input has another voltage level, is a mono input, the signal goes through preamplifier with the curve suitable for microphones.

I need a normal stereo line input with voltage level ten times higher than for microphone and without the preamplifier.

Formerly there were very cheap ($10...$25) ISA/PCI/PCIe/PCMCIA/ExpressCard card devices with line in and a good quality. Nowadays laptops do not have any of these connectors inputs except USB. Even ExpressCard seems to be retired.

Do you know some solutions except buying a super huge professional external sound card of suitcase size for $250 ?

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  • Some laptops do have line inputs. My MSI has it too. But what you will need is an USB soundcard. They do exist with line input that are not big and expensive, but given that asking for a hardware shopping recommendation is outside of the scope of what SuperUser is intended for, all I can advise is to do more research. They do exist.
    – LPChip
    Aug 24 '21 at 9:25
  • Which of StackExchange websites is suitable for such kind of a question?
    – Paul
    Aug 24 '21 at 9:26
  • A quick google for usb soundcard line-in gives me this amazon.com/usb-sound-card-line/s?k=usb+sound+card+line+in
    – LPChip
    Aug 24 '21 at 9:35
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My recommendation would be a full external soundcard that has line-in support, that is not super big.

The best I can do that actually does have a line-in and is more or less plug-and-play is this:

image https://www.amazon.com/Optimal-Shop-External-Recording-Compatible/dp/B07BGS2BS1/ref=sr_1_35?dchild=1&keywords=usb+sound+card+line+in&qid=1629833572&sr=8-35

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  • Yup. I've a few of these with different plug configs. They're cheap as chips, maybe 10 - 20 bucks/quid/euros. They 'just work' because the chipset design was perfected 15 years ago or more & so cost nothing to make. You're pretty much paying for the metal box;)
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 24 '21 at 16:02
  • May be you know one that is able simultaneously record on parallel digitally connected channels?
    – Paul
    Aug 24 '21 at 16:46
  • If you provide precise details of what you consider "parallel digitally connected channels" - you mean to totally separate stereo streams, presumably over TOS-Link or S/PDIF?? tbh, that should be a new, separate question, but some clarification would help in either case.
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 24 '21 at 16:51
  • It sounds like you want way more than just simple line-in recording. In that case, it is going to be a very good decision to save up some money and get a proper USB Sound card. This would then be my recommendation: Creative Sound Blaster G3 (amazon.com/Creative-Blaster-External-Nintendo-GameVoice/dp/…) It has what you hear to combine several audio sources to record. If you want to record from several line-in sources, you can always buy a mini-jack splitter cable.
    – LPChip
    Aug 24 '21 at 19:42

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