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Best setup to get my Shure SM58 to PC *WITHOUT* hissing/noise?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by BCMusic, Feb 21, 2010.

  1. BCMusic

    BCMusic Guest

    Basically, I have a Shure SM58 attached to a home-made XLR-->1/4 Adapter-->1/8 Jack going into a SB Audigy (yes, the card sucks, I know)... The recordings sound clear and crisp (when I boost the recording a whole 60%) but then you get audible noise/static when the backing track is muted...

    I've seen videos of the SM58 with people recording vocals with no effort (not forcing the vocals, or talking AT the mic, so to speak)...

    So, in other words, how do I get my SM58 to record clear vocals without effort or boosting the signal during every take?

    Should it be like this (from sound card to mic):

    Sound Card-->XLR (or 1/4 to 1/8 adapter)-->Preamp-->*NEW* XLR Cable-->Microphone?

    That's all I want, no static, and loud and crisp vocals...

    Thanks for your help!!
     
  2. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    You already state it but your soundcard as a recording device sucks. The cards are simply not designed to do what it is you are trying to do, they are designed to allow the spoken word to be minimally audible when using something like skype.

    There are many different solutions but perhaps the least expensive quality solution is an audio interface.
    USB Audio Interfaces | Sweetwater.com
    You can IMO skip over the ones that are less than $70.00 as they are better than your soundcard but still pretty poor. You can spend anywhere from $80 to several thousand. If you have more specific questions re: individual units talk to Sweetwater or any other retailer regarding the many options and once you have narrowed it down a bit you can post back with questions.

    I don't know what software you are using to record now but most of the starter interfaces come with a pro DAW as a bonus.

    So your final chain would be mic>xlr cable>interface>USB or firewire>PC. These systems bypass your present soundcard altogether and allow high fidelity playback through the interface.
     
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Here is the fix that will give you adequate gain into your crappy soundcard. You simply need a crappy microphone transformer available at Radio Shaft or a transformer DI box run in reverse/backwards. These transformers typically have a 10 to 1 to a 15 to 1 winding ratio. You go into the low impedance side and it steps up to the higher impedance. In the step up process it is a passive amplifier providing from 10 to 15 DB of free gain. Transformers will cost you between $10 to $100 depending on the quality and the manufacturer. So use the crappy transformer with your crappy soundcard and you will be happy with the better crappy levels. Transformers with different primary & secondary winding ratios can step up gain or step down gain and can be used as passive amplifiers. DI or direct boxes are used in the opposite manner. They take a higher level higher impedance input to create a lower level microphone output. Transformers can be used both in balanced & unbalanced configurations. It depends on the applications they are used in.

    Like the previous poster indicated, you would certainly be better off with a low-cost USB professional audio interface that includes a XLR microphone input. You can get these starting at about $100 US on up and will yield a far superior product to your current crappy soundcard.

    I generally utilize lesser expensive USB audio interfaces that have no microphone inputs at all. They do however have decent analog to digital and digital to analog converters. I then feed them with high quality microphone preamp's that cost upwards of $500 per channel. I don't like the microphone preamp's built in to most computer interfaces. They might be clean, transparent, neutral but that's not the sound I like. I like plenty of character and color and my microphone preamps provide that coloration and character. It all comes down to what you want things to sound like.

    I can make nice recordings with crappy preamps and crappy transformers, when I have to.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. FlyBass

    FlyBass Active Member

    Remy, what are the USB audio interfaces that you use. I've been looking for an external interface (USB or Firewire) without preamps and so far have been coming up empty.

    Thanks.
     
  5. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Remy has recommended this before
    "Edirol UA1ex

    EDIROL UA-1EX USB Audio Interface :: Overview

    I love mine.
    Mx. Remy Ann David "
     
  6. BCMusic

    BCMusic Guest

    Hmmm.... Speaking of (fairly) cheap interfaces, do you think I would get pretty good results from a PreSonus AudioBox? I would rather use full XLR instead of utilizing an adapter, because one would think that the quality of the signal would be degraded, correct? If this is not the case, then judging by the issue described in my first post, would that UA-1EX be fine? In fact, I was looking at an M-Audio 1010LT which, if you ask me, looks to be pretty damn minimal, with all of the features one would expect from an interface... Maybe I'm just misunderstanding this whole setup deal... I wish I knew what the hell I needed, and how everything coalesces... Would anyone be willing to fill me in??? Microphone to Software... That's all I need... This subject seems to not be for the lower IQ folks (me)...

    BTW, does a USB Audio Interface actually take the place of the internal sound card?
     
  7. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    The Presonus Audio box is a very decent entry level device and supplies what it is you need now, has some room for future growth, and is better IMO than the M Audio device. Flybass' question re: UA-1EX is in response to an interface without preamps. Your situation requires preamps which the Audio box has built into it. The interface bypasses the computers sound card for recording and track playback, your soundcard will still operate for system sounds, media playback, etc. If you are not a "techie" simply follow the step by step exactly that comes with the Presonus and you should be fine as long as your computer meets the specs needed for the device.
     
  8. BCMusic

    BCMusic Guest

    Ok, just for gits and shiggles, let's say I do get the AudioBox... Would my problems be solved? I mean, right now I get pretty decent recordings when I go on a tweaking spree... Check out my current 10-step, "professional results" workflow, and be amused...

    Here's what I do after I click "stop" when done recording (using Samplitude):

    1. Boost the volume fader all the way to 100%
    2. Apply an "sMax11" (maximizer), and boost the gain by 6.5dB, or enough to be uniform with the rest of the takes... (This is where you get audible static)
    3. I then apply the "Sonic Maximizer" and tweak the knobs a bit until I like what I hear...

    After all takes are satisfactory in it's current state, I then do the following:

    4. I export an "A Capella" version of the track.
    5. I go into Adobe Audition, and anywhere that there are low words, I highlight, then boost...
    6. Then, while in Adobe Audition, I remove static using the "Noise Removal" tool (which, in my opinion, does a dandy job of not destroying the vocals...)
    7. Then I go into "spectrum view", and simultaneously (and carefully) look and listen for any pops or clicks, and remove if necessary...
    8. Then, I re-exoprt as WAV...
    9. Then import back into Samplitude...
    10. Then finally, export the track in it's entirety...

    If it's not satisfactory when hearing the end result, I repeat steps 5-10.

    Approx. time working on vocals = 1 hour (give or take a few seconds...)

    I know I went into a liitle more detail than you probably would have liked to hear, but I needed you to see my workflow using the setup I have as of now... I can get some very decent results using the method above... [sarcasm] Sadly [/sarcasm], I would like to cease and desist from using this method any longer, and move on to something a lot less frustrating and time-consuming... I would also like to knock it down to at least 3 steps...

    Which would be:

    1. Record vocals
    2. Apply necessary effects
    3. Export full track and be done with it....

    Is this possible?

    Not that you didn't understand before, but I'm just trying to get my problem across in a more understandable context...

    P.S. - I have self-taught myself everything I know (except for an occasional tutorial every now and then) about music recording, producing, and mastering, yet I feel I should have went to school for it... I hope I can learn a lot more by using this site.
     
  9. FlyBass

    FlyBass Active Member

    Yes, BCMusic, you should be able to produce an excellent recording in the 3 steps you described if you are using a DAW application. PreSonus supplies a bunch of software with the AudioBox, including their new Studio One Artist DAW software.

    With a Shure SM58, a good cable, a decent computer, and the AudioBox "system" you can do just about everything a more expensive setup will deliver; only with doing it 2 channels at a time.
     
  10. BCMusic

    BCMusic Guest

    Question..... Since it's USB, does that mean it's USB powered? I see on the back it has outputs, which I'm assuming is for external speakers, but can also be used for routing into a recording device, right? Also, this AudioBox has a built-in preamp I assume. If so, would you advise me to use the built-in pre, or buy a seperate one? If you suggest the latter, then I guess since it's from PreSonus, I could get their "TubePRE"? Or should I just suck it up and use the one built-in? I sure would love to have a nice setup with competitive results on an extremely minimal budget...

    On a side note, hypothetically speaking, let's say I have a budget of under $300.... Is there any equipment you would suggest for a home recording setup, that is able to provide quality results?

    Including:

    Microphone + interface + preamp
    Microphone + Interface
    ...

    Or without a mic, since I already have one:

    Preamp + Interface
    Interface only
    ...

    If you can even understand what I mean... Thanks.
     
  11. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Remember way back when...............your original question? "That's all I want, no static, and loud and crisp vocals..."

    You are really beginning to overthink this, if you needed a seperate preamp I would have told you that, you do not want to run a preamp through a preamp which is what you would be doing if you got a "TubePre".

    The audio box is USB powered requiring no AC electrical connection.

    It does have preamp outputs in the back could that be used to connect to another recording device? I guess so specifically what recording device because it would have to accept line level signals. If you have other criteria such as a different recording chain you should make that clear in original question.

    "I sure would love to have a nice setup with competitive results on an extremely minimal budget..." Translated: I want a Ferrari but can only afford a Kia so where can I buy the Ferrari with my budget? Duh, you can't. The Audiobox is good entry level recording gear with it a great engineer could make pro recordings.

    Did you read Flybass' post? The mic you have SM58 is an industry standard mic that has been used for recording vocals for years. Are there other better mics for vocals? Not on your budget. Until you can make great recordings using a 58 you really don't need to be worried about mics.

    If you have money left in your budget buy a decent set of monitors, like KRK rockit, M-Audio, JBL, and believe me when it comes to entry level monitors you are opening a can...now there are worms everywhere.
     
  12. BCMusic

    BCMusic Guest

    Haha, point taken... I should have said "I sure would love to have a nice setup that, in a blind test against some random mid-grade hardware, you couldn't tell the difference..." In a prefect world, maybe... Also, using my method, I do get some very good recordings using an SM58, although that is my opinion. Everywhere I go, I hear "It's all about how you want it to sound" so, considering my current equipment (mic, homemade XLR, SB Audigy and computer) I love the way it sounds... What it all boils down to is, getting rid of that nasty mess you hear in the background, and start saving time... That's it.. You are right though, I do think I'm overthinking it, but I am not a professional. I have no Idea what type of equipment is allowed in a chain for vocals and what's not... Same goes for a mastering chain... On software, if it is in the chain, I know when and where to place it... I've never had hands-on experience with real hardware, which is the reason for all of my questions... I am not a pro, but I was always told "there are no stupid questions", so I'm taking advantage of it... I am taking your knowledge to heart.. That was my intentions in the first place... I may sound noobish at times, but it's true.. So please, bear with me... I would love to not have to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to school for something I could learn on my own, albeit very slowly, but on my own nevertheless... I've been an autodidact my whole life... I've dropped out of school and everything... I am much smarter than people think I am. I'm fixing to go to college for web design and application programming... I also plan on making this recording and mastering business a career someday...

    All I'm trying to say is, I catch on very fast, I just need to be shown the way... I appreciate your, and everyone elses, help.
     
  13. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    You might also want to look into the M-Box Transit which can also run ProTools M-Powered. It is 24-bit 96 kHz capable but not on a simultaneous encode decode level. That is you can record at 24-bit 96 kHz or you can play back at 24-bit 96 kHz but you can't do overdub sessions at 24-bit 96 kHz on the same device, at the same time. Sure, it offers a crappy 1/8 inch capable multimedia microphone input which is completely useless. But it also offers optical inputs and optical SPDIF interfaces as well. It comes with some other bundled software but Pro tools is optional. I have one of those also. But because of the 1/8 inch interfaces, I like it a lot less than the Edirol UA1ex with its goldplated RCA jacks. And that has passed through monitoring where the Transit actually has some latency that you have to deal with. But they both have decent converters and so are quite applicable to using with decent outboard microphone preamp's such as API' Neve, etc.

    I'm not that hot on hot converters but DSD is another issue.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  14. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Sorry, I had to address this as I really don't think that Edirol is a good solution in any way. Remy may be able to get decent results from it but with a history in recording, I'm sure she could get decent results out of just about anything.

    The M-Audio Delta series is a very decent if not good A/D D/A converter. The [URL="http://www.m-audio.com 44[/URL] is very good for what it is. That being a 4 I/O balanced line level interface. These are probably the last products M-Audio produced that are anywhere near "Pro" quality. Very inexpensive for the quality you get.

    Sorry, I don't mean to hijack the thread.
     

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