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 Post subject: Re: Equipment Suggestions
PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 12:31 pm 
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Still looking for some good mic suggestions as I'd like to pick one up in the next week or so. The pawn shop idea is not viable for me, so if anyone can point me to other sites or auctions (or has a mic they want to sell/trade), let me know.

neist wrote:
From a pure mastering standpoint, and considering you are using Audacity, I'd seriously suggest using the Normalize filter. Audacity is a very decent tool considering that it's free.

Normalize takes a recording and evens out the levels so everyone is consistently the same volume.


I did apply the normalize filter, though the original levels of different segments were varied enough that it still didn't quite even out like I wanted. I also played with the amplitude of the first segment - this was about the best I could do. I do know the basics of audio editing, but I think that better equipment is probably the first step...

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 Post subject: Re: Equipment Suggestions
PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 4:05 pm 
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Even just getting something dirt cheap (by pro audio standards) like an Shure SM58 (a little desk mount for it, unless you want to hold it) one of the cheap USB m-audio interfaces (you need to have XLR inputs) the act of using an XLR connection lends itself to remove noise/hiss since the XLR is balanced. Unlike a 3mm or 1/4" jack, which is unbalanced and prone to being noisy. This is going to be ten times better than your current set up, the difference will be like night and day.

Something like an SM58, XLR cable and M-Audio Mobile Pre should cost you around £150, which probably means you lot could get it for about $150. The beauty of this setup is that if you want to improve the microphone later on, such as getting a nice phantom powered condenser microphone, you can.

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 Post subject: Re: Equipment Suggestions
PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 4:31 pm 
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Niode wrote:
Even just getting something dirt cheap (by pro audio standards) like an Shure SM58 (a little desk mount for it, unless you want to hold it) one of the cheap USB m-audio interfaces (you need to have XLR inputs) the act of using an XLR connection lends itself to remove noise/hiss since the XLR is balanced. Unlike a 3mm or 1/4" jack, which is unbalanced and prone to being noisy. This is going to be ten times better than your current set up, the difference will be like night and day.

Something like an SM58, XLR cable and M-Audio Mobile Pre should cost you around £150, which probably means you lot could get it for about $150. The beauty of this setup is that if you want to improve the microphone later on, such as getting a nice phantom powered condenser microphone, you can.


That's probably $75-100 more than I really want to invest just yet...are the results not possible with cheaper mics? Where can I find high quality used mics for a good price, if anywhere?

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 Post subject: Re: Equipment Suggestions
PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 10:03 pm 
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Probably ebay.

The thing is, there's only so much you can do with a passive input and a passive microphone. There just isn't enough current going through the thing to do an accurate enough job. You have to resort to things like microphone boost which adds distortion and clipping as well as increasing the noise floor.

the key to nice clean vocal records is having a nice warm wide diaphragm condenser microphone, but these run into hundreds if not thousands of pounds, a nice microphone pre-amp, again running into hundreds if not thousands and a good analogue to digital converter.

The system I use for vocals/speech at home is a MOTU 828 with an Audio Technica 4050 + pop shield. This lot cost me about £600 in total and was worth every penny since it's my main interface for all my microphones and I can record whatever I want with it. That's because I'm a sound engineer by trade though so I understand that this kind of stuff is way out of most people's budgets.

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 Post subject: Re: Equipment Suggestions
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 11:02 pm 
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I have a sennheiser e815s That I'll sell you for fifty bucks. It's a great mic for this price range. It uses an XLR connection. I'll toss in a pouch to keep the mic clean and dust-free.

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 Post subject: Re: Equipment Suggestions
PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 1:18 am 
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I realize this is pushing your listed price range but I really like this Audio Technica USB condenser mic which Amazon has for $100. I used to use an old $10 nobrand mic and the difference is night and day. I don't have a ton of experience using computer compatible mics though so I'm unsure if something in the more affordable range exists that will give you the kind of even fidelity that you'll want. XLR is preferable but you'll need to either get an adapter which cost $50+ in order to get it to a format your laptop can utilize. There are semi-pro sound cards that you can get for reasonable prices that have XLR but again that's just another expense.

You probably do want some enclosed headphones to keep from feeding back into the mic but I don't think you'll need anything terribly expensive. You also won't want to go bottom-end because you want to be able to hear what those of us with high-end headphones will hear so you can clean it up. This is usually just a fan or fridge or something running in the background but Sennheiser seems to be a reliable brand. I've only had one crap out on me and I've owned several. You really just want to keep the noise in the cans and keeping noise out is the current market push. "Studio" usually means its fully enclosed and "open air" is a no-no. Check the pics and make sure it looks nice a puffy around the ears. You'll probably find one around $20-30 and be OK.

Hope these tips can help. I enjoyed the subject matter of the first one and look forward to a more NPRtone podcast in the future ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Equipment Suggestions
PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2009 8:37 pm 
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Can't get any better than Beyerdynamic DT250. Wonderful headphones, fully closed (to the point that if you are monitoring you can hear nothing but the sound you are working on) perfectly flat frequency response and they're really comfortable to wear. Plus they're built to last and are completely self repairable, every single part can be bought as a replacement direct from Beyerdynamic, so if any thing should fail (mine haven't after 4 years of constant abuse, I use them almost every day) it's easy to fix.

I'd avoid Sennheisers, they're cheap for a reason and the expensive ones are expensive for no real reason at all especially compared to ones by Beyerdynamic or Audio Technica in the same price bracket.

IF you aren't going to upgrade your audio interface then there's not much point in going any further than a 'pro-sumer' USB microphone (such as those podcast mics, a half decent one is going to set you back at least a hundred bones though, due to the integrated audio interface, so bear in mind that a hundred dollar podcasting mic, is only going to have a microphone quality of a $60~). Anything better will use XLR, and getting an adaptor to convert it to a line level signal completely removes any advantage of using a better microphone in the first place.

I would personally advise against USB mics since the only upgrade path is another USB mic.

Also to improve the quality of your recording you really should start to use some sort of pop filter or pop screen, if that's not an option use a de-esser process on your audio, since this will achieve a similar (but not as clean as getting the sound right at source) result. Something like Izotope RX audio restoration software will do a fairly good job, with a bit of work you can even recover heavily clipped audio (signal level that goes past the threshold of the analogue to digital converter your laptop uses, therefore artificially cutting the top and bottom part of the wave off and causing digital distortion, AKA the high pitched cracking sound you hear on certain vowel/consonant sounds in loud speech) I've used this software a few times professionally to save takes that it just isn't an option to ADR them.

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 Post subject: Re: Equipment Suggestions
PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 6:08 pm 
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Ok, I am revisiting this thread in the hopes of getting some more suggestions and, perhaps, finding something more specific....

I am going to be heading to PAX East and will have media credentials. I hope to do a number of interviews at the show, but I don't want to lug my laptop around. So, I would like to find a mic/recorder set up that will allow me to have decent voice quality, transfer easily to a PC afterward, and not be exceptionally heavy or large. I am thinking that a digital recorder/mic setup would work best, as I could detach the mic afterward and use it for regular episodes of the show as well. I don't want to spend a fortune, but will consider whatever people think is worthwhile!

EDIT: Also, I have an HTC Touch Pro Cell Phone (Windows Mobile), so maybe there is an external mic option for this?

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 Post subject: Re: Equipment Suggestions
PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 7:04 pm 
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Here are a few possibilities - anyone have any thoughts?

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001QJ ... WRPGDW2Y70

http://www.amazon.com/Zoom-H2-Portable- ... B000VBH2IG

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 Post subject: Re: Equipment Suggestions
PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2010 3:25 pm 
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I've heard good things about the Behringer UCA (and the price is right):
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Behringer-U ... 1438093.gc
If you're recording through a laptop, this will reduce the recording noise a lot.
You could get one of those and a good under $100 mic:
http://homerecording.about.com/od/micro ... atmics.htm
http://www.tweakheadz.com/mics.htm
and phantom power supply
http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/pr ... sku=336830

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