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spots
11-02-2009, 03:23 AM
I searched the archives and didn't find a thread with recommendations covering what I am looking for.

I want to get a microphone for recording ukulele, bagpipes, and voice. I will be recording using a minidisc player and also the PC. A USB mic is not an option because of recording with the minidisc player.

This can be a mono mic setup. I am fine going with an XLR to 3.5mm mini mono plug. I am trying to keep the price of the mic at $50 or less.

The uke is quiet, the bagpipes are between 87-105 dB.

I am trying to avoid anything that uses phantom power because I want to carry as little stuff as possible when using the minidisc player. I had a small condensor mic powered by a AA battery, but the frequency response range wasn't that wide.

I have been considering the Behringer XM8500. This is a cardioid pattern dynamic mic with a frequency range of 50-15kHz (the Shure SM57 is 40-15kHz).

I have never used a dynamic mic before.

Aside from it being directional, can anyone think of any problems or limitations I would be running into using a dynamic mic with a PC and minidisc?

Thanks.

Ukulele JJ
11-02-2009, 07:41 AM
I say just get the SM57. Built like a tank. Versatile. Handles enormous sound pressure levels.

Yeah, it's more than you want to spend, but you'll have it for the rest of your natural life.

JJ

spots
11-02-2009, 09:07 AM
Thanks JJ.

I hear you on spending more for the SM57.

The big question I have is how responsive the SM57 would be working with a generic PC soundcard and something softer like the uke. That's part of the hesitation in shelling out the extra money. I'd hate to spend the money on the 57 only to find the PC/uke/SM57 combo doesn't have enough gain and so doesn't record well.

Any thoughts about how it might work with the PC and uke?

Thanks.

buddhuu
11-02-2009, 11:40 AM
I'd go with the SM57, or maybe a small diaphragm condenser. What I wouldn't do is rely on the soundcard alone to do anything worthwhile with the signal from it.

Key to versatility with mics, IMHO, is a good mic preamp or a mixer. With those you an have the phantom power to drive a condenser if you want to use one, and you get control over the gain and sensitivity.

I have a couple of decent mics, but neither of them would be as useful to me without my mixer. A good little mixer is one of the best things I ever bought. I use it live and for recording.

You mention Behringer mics, which are surprisingly good for the money, but personally I'd still go with a Shure SM57 or maybe a PG81.

Behringer's Xenyx mixers, however, are a great (budget) way to get a decent preamp between your mic and your recording device.

buddhuu
11-02-2009, 11:45 AM
A note on sensitivity.

I recently recorded a website promo video for the day job. Rather than record the actress's voice with the video camera's mic, I set up a Shure condenser about 4 feet from her, and put that through the mixer into my laptop.

It took some time to set the levels right to make sure it wasn't too sensitive, as we were gettng the sounds of traffic from outside and of phones ringing several rooms away.

You want sensitive, you can have sensitive. :D

phanzo
11-02-2009, 11:59 AM
I'd go with the SM57, or maybe a small diaphragm condenser. What I wouldn't do is rely on the soundcard alone to do anything worthwhile with the signal from it.

Key to versatility with mics, IMHO, is a good mic preamp or a mixer. With those you an have the phantom power to drive a condenser if you want to use one, and you get control over the gain and sensitivity.

I have a couple of decent mics, but neither of them would be as useful to me without my mixer. A good little mixer is one of the best things I ever bought. I use it live and for recording.

You mention Behringer mics, which are surprisingly good for the money, but personally I'd still go with a Shure SM57 or maybe a PG81.

Behringer's Xenyx mixers, however, are a great (budget) way to get a decent preamp between your mic and your recording device.

This is absolutely true. Go with a 57. Most durable and responsive thing you can buy. And a good pre-amp makes a WORLD of difference! Many mixers have decent pre-amps already installed which kills two birds with one stone.

I dont own a mixer myself (I only record through Pro Tools) but I use an 8ch Mackie at work all the time and it has very decent pre-amps built in. I would suggest buying a 57 and a "budget mixer" and when your budget allows for it, step it up in the pre-amp department before you go out spending tons on a new mic. Just my :2cents:

ukecantdothat
11-02-2009, 12:07 PM
I say just get the SM57. Built like a tank. Versatile. Handles enormous sound pressure levels.

Yeah, it's more than you want to spend, but you'll have it for the rest of your natural life.

JJ
Yes! Yes! Shure! Shure! The 57 & 58 are both great. The 58 is a tad mo' bettah (IMO) for vocals, because it's got the ball screen, not quite as sensitive to sibilants and p-popping, but either one can be used in heavy combat. I've had mine for 30yrs, and it's all dinged up, but sounds as good new.

scottie
11-02-2009, 12:14 PM
Why mini disc? is it that you or someone with whom you're doing this already has a mini disc recorder?

You can get a field recorder that'll record to solid state flash media. M Audio makes one with phantom power that'll handle many pro mics. It'll record MP3 or .wav at a variety of resolutions and sample rates. It'll set you back about $250.00 - 300 give or take (plus the cost of a mic or pair if you choose) Additionally the M Audio unit comes with a T mic that actually works pretty well for what it is. you may find it acceptable in terms of quality. I have one that I use as a sketch pad, I originally bought it to record myself practicing. It's the size of a pack of 100 mm cigarettes, fits right in the guitar case. . . it's a great little tool. I don't have to set up the mics and computer, all I have to do is turn it on, hit record and I've got my idea down.

Dynamic mics generally require lots of preamp gain to work well. Additionally, I don't know if people use dynamic mics for ambient or distant mic'ing in combination with other mics, I think that's a job for an omni condenser mic. Since you're recording to mini disc I'm guessing you're recording the whole ensemble at once and the dynamic will likely not do too well.

If the overall quality of the recording isn't an issue don't worry too much, I'd still think you'd be best off with an electret condenser mic or the included mics on any of the small field recorders you can easily get.

scottie
11-02-2009, 12:21 PM
Those SM 58s are tanks. There's a vid somewhere on YouTube of a couple of guys abusing one, they dropped it, used it as a hammer, buried it, froze it, submerged it in water AND beer. . . ran over it with a car. . . still worked.

buddhuu
11-02-2009, 12:30 PM
Those SM 58s are tanks. There's a vid somewhere on YouTube of a couple of guys abusing one, they dropped it, used it as a hammer, buried it, froze it, submerged it in water AND beer. . . ran over it with a car. . . still worked.

After that list, this is going to sound like a weak gag... :( but it's true.

I had an SM58... and I lost it.

I think I left it at a gig. Couldn't afford a new one so I got a PG58 which impressed the heck out of me as, in all practical ways, it's pretty close as far as I can tell. Shure's PG range is bargain heaven.

spots
11-02-2009, 12:49 PM
Thanks guys. This is exactly the type of information and explanaitions I was hoping to find while working through a decision.

The minidisc was mentioned because I have one, but I realize technology has moved along quite a bit since I got it... and since the mic for it was destroyed.

Studio grade recording is not as important to me as portability and field use. The minidisc used to give me that portability of recording and playback.

I was looking at the Zoom Handy H2. For the cost of the SM57 and mixing board I could get the Handy H2. This can also be used as a USB mic.

The H2 route would give me the portability or recording/playback, ease of moving sound files, ability to use a digital mixing board with it as a USB mic. What I sacrifice is the studio setup and sound. But that is a trade off I'm willing to make given how I will be using the equipment.

Can anyone think of a serious downside to something like the Handy H2 besides lack of studio quality recordings?

scottie
11-02-2009, 12:58 PM
Here's (http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/MicroTrackII.html) a link to the M Audio Microtrack 24/96.

Useful little thing.

spots
11-02-2009, 01:06 PM
Scottie,

Thank you for that link. Thats a good looking, and feature packed, device.

A bit more than the Handy H2, but you get nicer controls, XLR inputs (a whole host of I/O), and two channel recording.

Thanks.

scottie
11-02-2009, 01:15 PM
The only downsides are:

1. that it isn't built like a tank so you have to be careful. If you use pro mics you have to be aware that the weight of the cords will be seriously wagging the dog. If you plug in the cords and then set it on a surface, yanking the cords will likely pull the unit off whatever surface it's on causing. . . untold destruction:eek:

2. After you kill the battery you'll have to send it back to have a replacement put in. I've had mine for a couple of years tho' and it's still workin' just fine.

I think that the first issue is endemic to anything that small and people understand. For some people the second is a deal breaker. The little T mic sounds pretty good tho' and you'll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to use. Just read the manual and the menu structure and controls are easy as pie.

scottie
11-02-2009, 01:16 PM
and you'll need XLR to TRS adapters.

phanzo
11-02-2009, 02:04 PM
I've used a couple "Field Recorders" when I was recording in the "field" making sound effects for video games. They work pretty well after some fine tuning and are, for the most part, very easy to sync up to a computer and transfer your recordings. Much better technology than minidisc too BTW. You should be able to use them for at least a couple years before they become outdated :(. I would go with one of them and see how they do. You can always return it if it sucks ;)

ukecantdothat
11-02-2009, 02:32 PM
If you are doing field recordings, you might consider a good windscreen, like a fur enclosure. It doesn't take much wind to ruin a good take. I'm a sound effects editor, and I can't tell you how many times this happens.

spots
11-16-2009, 12:57 PM
Just a follow up...

Thanks for everyone's input regarding a mic/recording setup.

I ended up going with the Behringer XM8500 mic, an XLR to 3.5mm stereo cable, and staying with the minidisc for recording. The setup is working quite well.

Here is a link to a quick MP3 sample file of the setup. (http://www.mediafire.com/?25y442tjnjz) It was recorded at 44.1 kHz / 32-bit. This was recorded with the mic sitting on the foam in the case and plugged into the mic-in on the minidisc, then played into Audacity, and then saved as an MP3. No editing or manipulating of the file was performed. Played on a soprano Flea using Worth Clear Mediums.

The minidisc works fine. There was no reason to toss it out and buy something new until it fails. It has a mic line-in as well as a regular line-in. The mic line-in has a pre-amp. You can use the MD's automatic recording level, or set the recording volume/gain manually. Both work well with the setup. The mic-in can accept a stereo input. Even with a single mic you get sound out of both channels during playback.

The Behringer XM8500 mic is quite nice for the price. It's ~$35 and is a dynamic cardioid, so there is no need to worry about the phantom power requirements of a condensor. It comes with a plastic foam lined case and a mic clip. The housing is solid metal with a metal mesh grill. There is no on/off switch. The pickup pattern is such that when the MD is placed behind the mic, or off to the side at 90 or more, the mic does not pickup any of the mechanical whirr of the MD. This is a huge improvement over other mics sold for less money. I think the sound is pretty flat.

The sound pressure level (SPL) for the mic is around 130 dB, which is good for the bagpipes, but the mic it is also sensative enough to pick up the uke.

XLR to USB converters are fairly easy to find. So this provides a way to turn the XLR mic into a USB mic like a Snowball, etc. down the road.

Thanks again for all your thoughts.

spots
11-16-2009, 06:13 PM
After I posted the original MP3 sound sample I realized the MP3 bit rate was set at 128. The MP3 sample sounded much worse than the MD recording.

I updated the link above with a new sample at a bit rate of 320. That's the highest I can go with the program. A WAV file of the sample would have been much larger in size.

Now my playing is not world class, but the goal is to try and show the sound characteristics of an inexpensive mic.

Following up on what others said earlier in the thread. The XM8500 mic does not do a good job when plugged into the mic jack of a sound card. Blue makes a reasonably priced XLR to USB preamp with a gain control which will turn an XLR based mic into a USB mic.

buddhuu
11-16-2009, 10:43 PM
Glad you're tooled up, Chris. :)

Yeh, a mixer or preamp is essential - especially if you're using the mic with a computer.

8890
11-17-2009, 09:00 AM
Hey, thanks for mentioning USB mics ;) I had no idea they even existed :o Well, my brother has one, but it came with Guitar Hero, and I never imagined it was any use except with the Xbox. Plugged it into my Mac today, and it came up as "Logitech USB Microphone" right away.

I always wanted to record myself playing. Not for anybody else's ears, but for my own practice. Webcams and cellphones just didn't cut it...