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ichadwick
07-02-2009, 10:19 AM
Just picked up a mic to attempt some recording with something better than the standard PC mic. This is a dynamic mic, 60-15Khz response, output impedance is 500 Ohms (+/- 30%). Plug is 1/4". Standard audio unidirectional mic.

Can I simply get a 1/4" to RCA converter plug and run it though my soundcard (standard generic Soundblaster clone)? Or do I need something fancier? Like a preamp? An impedance converter?

I was even thinking of a Lightsnake converter that lets me use the USB port, but it's another $55+ taxes, so I'd rather not spend the extra if I can avoid it.

seeso
07-02-2009, 10:26 AM
If there's no preamp on the mic or the soundcard, then you will have to get one. You have to boost the mic's signal up to line level, or it will be waaaaaayy too quiet.

ichadwick
07-02-2009, 11:34 AM
Thanks - It's just a mic, no built-in pre amp (and I meant to say 3.5mm plug converter, not RCA - although it has both I believe, but it's a 3.5mm at the front). Any suggestion for a pre-amp? Or what sort of output it needs to produce? I think the Lightsnake may include a preamp in the USB connector, but am not sure.

I am hesitant about the USB connection because I have several items already usings USB and I suspect the audio signal may break up.

Spooner
07-02-2009, 11:49 AM
If there's no preamp on the mic or the soundcard, then you will have to get one. You have to boost the mic's signal up to line level, or it will be waaaaaayy too quiet.


You could always use a free audio editing program to boost the volume up after the fact no?

ihavenotea
07-02-2009, 12:04 PM
You could always use a free audio editing program to boost the volume up after the fact no?

Sometimes. For vocals, if I hold the mic right in front of my mouth I can get enough of a signal that post processing is sufficient… but to pick up a ukulele you are probably going to want a pre-amp.

I am stuck using the internal mics on my laptop most of the time, as I have no preamp or mixer with phantom power. Very sad. (but if I had cash I would by an Ukulele that doesn't suck… )

If you can get set up with a mic that uses phantom power and a mixer with gain control you will be really happy. Being able to control the gain is extremely valuable when trying to get a optimal signal.

Spooner
07-02-2009, 12:16 PM
Sometimes. For vocals, if I hold the mic right in front of my mouth I can get enough of a signal that post processing is sufficient… but to pick up a ukulele you are probably going to want a pre-amp.

I am stuck using the internal mics on my laptop most of the time, as I have no preamp or mixer with phantom power. Very sad. (but if I had cash I would by an Ukulele that doesn't suck… )

If you can get set up with a mic that uses phantom power and a mixer with gain control you will be really happy. Being able to control the gain is extremely valuable when trying to get a optimal signal.


I am guessing that post processing is in order in any event if recording vocals with a mic. So why not just do two tracks?

On one vid I did on my YT channel, I used my Zoom recorder, plugged my uke in direct and layed down that track. Then I used the Zoom's outboard mics while playing the uke track on my pc speakers, playing and singing while recording. The audio came out rather swell but I lip synched the video with my webcam. I was primarily concerned with just capturing the sound of my uke.

My point being, is that why spend extra money on pre-amps if you have to do post production anyway? I'm not sure why you would need one for a uke. The mic he mentioned sounds decent enough to capture it with good results. Of course, direct inputs do make things easier.

That's why I like Zoom products. You can plug your uke and/or mic in direct and record away! It's a beautiful thing.

ihavenotea
07-02-2009, 12:48 PM
My point being, is that why spend extra money on pre-amps if you have to do post production anyway? I'm not sure why you would need one for a uke. The mic he mentioned sounds decent enough to capture it with good results. Of course, direct inputs do make things easier.


Fair enough. I am king of making due with odds and ends… (but as you can tell, I pine for something better)

In the end you just have to experiment with the gear you have and figure out what works.

seeso
07-02-2009, 01:00 PM
You could always use a free audio editing program to boost the volume up after the fact no?

I would highly advise against it. A microphone preamp is an essential piece of any studio. The better your front end fidelity, the better your recording quality will be. You can't shine a turd.


Any suggestion for a pre-amp?

I like M-Audio's MobilePre, a great low-cost solution for the hobbyist. I've never had any problems with it. I haven't tried any other preamps, because I haven't needed to. I bought the MobilePre and haven't looked back.


Or what sort of output it needs to produce?

I'm not sure what you're asking here. It is a USB connection. The main function of a preamp is to boost low-level signals (guitars, mics) to line-level signals (cd players, iPods).


I think the Lightsnake may include a preamp in the USB connector, but am not sure.

It is not a preamp per se, but it does boost your signal 20dB. It houses an analog to digital converter within the cable. I have heard of latency problems with the Lightsnake. Some by as much as one second.


I am hesitant about the USB connection because I have several items already usings USB and I suspect the audio signal may break up.

If you have reservations about your other USB peripherals, I would just disconnect them.

DaveVisi
07-02-2009, 01:01 PM
You're always better off if you have a good signal from the start. Recording a low level without preamp and boosting it later means all the line noise and background gets amplified with it. I have a Behringer mixer that I bought at Guitar Center for only $50 or so. I actually bought it so I have a portable audio station for my wife's dance performances. It works great for instrument recording too! I can equalize, adjust levels, even monitor the signal with headphones before sending to the Line In input of my sound card. Plus, I can mix up to 8 channels (2 mics, the rest a combo of L+R line inputs and tape) It really adds to the quality of the sound to have two mics positioned differently and mixing the results. I can either mix onboard, or separate them into left and right channels so I can postprocess later.

Do yourself a favor. Spend a few dollars and get a preamp, or better yet an inexpensive mixer. You'll sound a LOT better.

I think seeso's first comment sums it up best:

You can't shine a turd

I bought the 802 for $20 more, but this little gem only costs $45
http://images.guitarcenter.com/products/optionlarge/Behringer/408130jpg.jpg

RevWill
07-02-2009, 01:15 PM
Actually you CAN shine a turd (http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/mythbusters-polishing-a-turd.html). Don't you watch Mythbusters?

DaveVisi
07-02-2009, 01:27 PM
:eek: I must have missed that episode. :cool:

Spooner
07-02-2009, 02:31 PM
I would highly advise against it. A microphone preamp is an essential piece of any studio. The better your front end fidelity, the better your recording quality will be. You can't shine a turd.



A "studio" yes. Our friend above is talking about keeping his costs low and another $55 is not in his budget. It doesn't sound like there's much of a studio involved here. It sounds like he's looking for the quick fix. The quick fix...if your volume is too low in the initial recording is to boost it after the fact be it with a free (and that could mean something you get off of a torrent site) software program or otherwise. My assumption is that this is going to be something for YouTube in which case...how "professional" does it really need to be? It's YouTube. If it is something you are doing for something other than hobbyist purposes than yeah..gitchoo some qwipment!

You'd be surprised at what I can "shine" up after the fact. I do it all the time. ;)

Spooner
07-02-2009, 02:35 PM
You're always better off if you have a good signal from the start. Recording a low level without preamp and boosting it later means all the line noise and background gets amplified with it. I have a Behringer mixer that I bought at Guitar Center for only $50 or so. I actually bought it so I have a portable audio station for my wife's dance performances. It works great for instrument recording too! I can equalize, adjust levels, even monitor the signal with headphones before sending to the Line In input of my sound card. Plus, I can mix up to 8 channels (2 mics, the rest a combo of L+R line inputs and tape) It really adds to the quality of the sound to have two mics positioned differently and mixing the results. I can either mix onboard, or separate them into left and right channels so I can postprocess later.

Do yourself a favor. Spend a few dollars and get a preamp, or better yet an inexpensive mixer. You'll sound a LOT better.

I think seeso's first comment sums it up best:


I bought the 802 for $20 more, but this little gem only costs $45
http://images.guitarcenter.com/products/optionlarge/Behringer/408130jpg.jpg

That looks like a handy dandy gadget there. :)

seeso
07-02-2009, 02:52 PM
A "studio" yes. Our friend above is talking about keeping his costs low and another $55 is not in his budget. It doesn't sound like there's much of a studio involved here. It sounds like he's looking for the quick fix. The quick fix...if your volume is too low in the initial recording is to boost it after the fact be it with a free (and that could mean something you get off of a torrent site) software program or otherwise. My assumption is that this is going to be something for YouTube in which case...how "professional" does it really need to be? It's YouTube. If it is something you are doing for something other than hobbyist purposes than yeah..gitchoo some qwipment!

You'd be surprised at what I can "shine" up after the fact. I do it all the time. ;)

The man asked for a recommendation. I gave him one. I will never advise recording a microphone without a preamp.

Spooner
07-02-2009, 02:57 PM
The man asked for a recommendation. I gave him one. I will never advise recording a microphone without a preamp.


I hear ya brotha and agree. I was just offering an alternative that doesn't involve him having to spend extra cash that he doesn't have.

ichadwick
07-03-2009, 01:38 AM
A "studio" yes. Our friend above is talking about keeping his costs low and another $55 is not in his budget.
It's not so much about spending another $55 as it is wasting it. I don't mind spending it for the right solution... although personally I'd rather put it into another ukulele.

I think the USB connection might be problematic (lag times). It's not too easy to unplug my other USB connections - the keyboard for example.

However, I've been looking at digital recorders and may swap the mic for something along that line - like a Zoom or equivalent. But I'll also check out preamps.

casetone2514
07-03-2009, 04:29 AM
Just picked up a mic to attempt some recording with something better than the standard PC mic. This is a dynamic mic, 60-15Khz response, output impedance is 500 Ohms (+/- 30%). Plug is 1/4". Standard audio unidirectional mic.

Can I simply get a 1/4" to RCA converter plug and run it though my soundcard (standard generic Soundblaster clone)? Or do I need something fancier? Like a preamp? An impedance converter?

I was even thinking of a Lightsnake converter that lets me use the USB port, but it's another $55+ taxes, so I'd rather not spend the extra if I can avoid it.


You say it is a Dynamic rather than a Condenser mic?

You shouldn't need a pre-amp. I don't use one with mine and have no problems with recording volume whatsoever. However, I find it is best to hook the mic up via a USB connection rather than the standard jack input. There seems to be greater clarity and less static. For this I use a mic to usb lead like this one (http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=225791)

Hope this helps.

ichadwick
07-03-2009, 07:01 AM
You say it is a Dynamic rather than a Condenser mic? You shouldn't need a pre-amp.
Yes, dynamic. And according to several tech sites I checked, a pre-amp is recommended.

However, I chucked the whole thing and ended up buying a Samson G-track USB condensor mic with input jack, Cakewalk software, and stand. I'll experiment with it over the weekend.

ichadwick
07-05-2009, 04:01 AM
Well, it took about two hours to get the Samson G-track (http://www.samsontech.com/products/productpage.cfm?prodID=1917) working properly. Had to change all sorts of settings in my control panel so it would record.
http://www.samsontech.com/images/productimages/GTrack_stand_cw-web.jpg
Seems to be a good sound, especially with the direct input from the instrument. haven't tested the mic yet, though. That's for today, along with a trial video/sound mix.

I managed to get a test track laid down, enough to work with, yesterday. But getting a second track proved more difficult and took several attempts and switch settings in Cakewalk. Talk about non-intuitive software!

Even when I got it working, it seems to have a latency problem - a second or so between the note I hear from the recorded track and the note I play in response. So it sounds wonky and offset.

Anyone here have some experience with Cakewalk/Sonar i can email or PM with some questions?

Go Pack!
07-05-2009, 07:38 AM
Even when I got it working, it seems to have a latency problem - a second or so between the note I hear from the recorded track and the note I play in response. So it sounds wonky and offset.

Anyone here have some experience with Cakewalk/Sonar i can email or PM with some questions?


I use Sonar and have a dedicated recording set up.

There are two ways of dealing with latency,one is to monitor through a mixer or "live" as you record another is to reduce the latency of your recording set up.The latter way can be anywhere from easy to impossible depending on your computer.Generally speaking anything below 10ms is acceptable for live monitoring,I keep my computer is at 5.9ms latency.

First off I'm going to suggest opening an instance of your Cakewalk software and then got to options/audio.There should be a slider to adjust latency.The lower your latency the better your chance of hiccups,dropouts or whatever especially if your computer isn't audio optimised.From there it could be a laundry list of things perhaps better answered or already answered in a sticky on this site...


http://forum.cakewalk.com/tt.asp?forumid=5

Go Pack!
07-05-2009, 07:40 AM
There may also be a help file along with the SONAR LE that addresses latency.

Also here's the LE forum....

http://forum.cakewalk.com/tt.asp?forumid=36

ichadwick
07-06-2009, 09:27 AM
Thanks. I don't think my card supports ASIO, so I either need a workaround or a new card. Or some sort of other software... or a mixer. Sigh. It's not inexpensive to do a little home recording...

Go Pack!
07-06-2009, 11:06 AM
Thanks. I don't think my card supports ASIO, so I either need a workaround or a new card. Or some sort of other software... or a mixer. Sigh. It's not inexpensive to do a little home recording...

After reading the G-track web page it seems as though that should be enough to get you going in it's self.The onboard headphone output should get you by for monitoring.

A home computer does multiple tasks and can be set up for home recording but it usually involves a little tweaking.Any audio program is going to want the full attention of your CPU and can't afford to be interrupted,however if you are only recording a few tracks at a low rate it shouldn't be too get going.

ichadwick
07-14-2009, 01:11 AM
Well, I improved the latency (to 10ms, at least in the dialogue box report - but I have yet to try it). That was a simple matter of restoring the sound card's hardware acceleration. I usually turn that setting down or off because it can interfere with some otehr Windows settings - and make for slow or erratic mouse control. When you're playing FPS computer games, you need the mouse more than the sound! Right now, though, sound is more critical.

Sampling rate is 44k by default but it appears I can sample up to 192K. Doesn't seem to change the latency by increasing it, although I would have thought sampling that often would cause some headaches.

Don't recall seeing a bit depth, either, but have to look for that and make sure it's not set to something ridiculously low. Any recommendation for an adequate bit depth for sampling?

Go Pack!
07-14-2009, 11:26 AM
Don't recall seeing a bit depth, either, but have to look for that and make sure it's not set to something ridiculously low. Any recommendation for an adequate bit depth for sampling?
My reccomendation is 44.1/24 bit.
There are articles and threads about this that debate if forever but I can give you a general idea of how it works.

A CD is set at 44.1/16,
increasing sample rate decreases rounding mistakes in calculations and if you can hear beyond the normal human range you might hear a difference.It would mostly matter in music with a wide dynamic range or suttle nuances,think classical music or some acoustic stuff.

Bit rate gives you more 'headroom",which means you don't have to record your signal as "hot".In the old days of tape,the tape itself created noise so you would get the meters to almost clip increasing the signal to noise ratio.The problem with this is that occasionally the sound would "clip" or distort.You can get away with a lower signal level if you use a higher bit rate and adjust it in the mix later.

Increasing either sample or bit rate increases the quality of sound but also uses up moure disc space and CPU.You may be able to record at 192/32 but you won't get as many tracks before your computer craps out.

In the end you'll ned to mix down to a consumer accessable level to so if you sample at a rate not divislble by 44 there may be an extra step involved.Which brings me to dither,which makes me want to stop while I'm ahead.