Q. Why won’t a microphone work when I plug it into my Mac Mini?

This is because the Mac Mini’s input jack is a Line input not a Mic input (this is true of some other models as well).

A microphone produces a signal that is many times weaker than a line level signal.
CDs, stereos and electronic music instruments output a much stronger Line level signal

To use a mic with a line input, you need to preamplify the mic signal, with a preamplifier, a mixer or similar.

Alternatively you can get a USB connected audio interface

or you can get a USB microphone

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