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Choosing mic connection

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Ben10, Jun 2, 2010.

  1. Ben10

    Ben10 Active Member


    I have an iMac and Beyerdynamic TG-X 81 mic (wired, XLR).
    My goal is to record song demos: music for songs is done in Reason and I need to record voice over it.

    What is the best way to connect my mic:
    1) buy an XLR-to-USB adapter and that's it?
    2) buy an audio-interface (not sure if I need it for demos - it seems internal Imac's audiocard is enough)?
    3) buy another mic with USB, like Audiotechnica AT2020 USB for example? But what to do with my amazing Beyerdynamic?...

  2. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    By far the best way is to use an audio interface if you want good quality song demos IMO. THe internal sound card of the computer is not really designed for full bandwidth recording. You could also buy a USB mic though that would be my second choice as the purchase of the correct interface will allow you to use nearly any mic you want and the technology in USB mics is rather limited as they really are not the choice of pros so the demand for high quality ones is not driving the market.
  3. Ben10

    Ben10 Active Member

    Thank you for the answer!

    OK. What kind of interface could you advise for my needs?
    I got music ideas in Reason.
    I need to record my singing in quality good enough for a demo.
    I use only headphones to listen to the music, no speakers/monitors.
    I'm not going to use any special feature of the card, I just need to get to the mic, sing, and then listen to it, and that's it =)
    As for the price.... well, i would say "several hundred maximum" =) Sure external interface with decent quality will not cost 100, but 500 is too much i suppose... What do you think?

    (I got iMac, C2D 3.03Ghz, OSX 10.6.3, Beyerdynamic TG-X 81 mic, wired, XLR).
    Well... I'm baritone if that makes sense for the theme =) Music - half-rock, half-electronic. Smth similar to Depeche Mode i suppose.
  4. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    You need an audio interface that not only can record your microphone but will replay existing tracks to headphones in sync with the recording.

    At around the $400 mark, the TC Electronic Impact Twin is reasonable quality FireWire audio interface, would suit your needs, and has expansion capabilities. I'm assuming your iMac has a FireWire interface port.

    The Beyer mic you have is not in the top league, but will be adequate for getting you started on this journey. The Impact Twin interface is up to the job of handling a higher-quality microphone when you feel ready to trade up, but don't do that until you have more experience with your present one.
  5. Ben10

    Ben10 Active Member

    Boswell, thank you!

    What could you tell me about Apogee Duet? Does it OK for me and does it worth all the bravo's about it?
  6. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Some people like the Duet, but on this forum we have had to help several Duet owners who have not been able to get it to work well for them. I'm not trying to put you off it if you have your heart set on it- it does at least have the advantage of being targeted at Mac owners - but it does not have the expandability of the TC device, nor, many would say, the sonic quality.
  7. Ben10

    Ben10 Active Member

    Hi, Boswell, I've spent some time trying to clarify all the questions above and I have come to the following conclusions.

    My goal - to make a demo with really good vocals over it (let's think I'm singing OK and talk about the "hardware" part of the question).

    Would not it be wiser for me to spend some money on a mic preamp, but buy a simpler audio-interface? ( I do not need Twin's preamp as far as I'm buying an external one, I do not need 2 inputs as far as I'm working alone, and maybe Twin has some more "unnecessary" features or "excessive" quality for THIS case)?
    If I am right, what mic preamp and interface would you recommend?

    I understand that thinking about decent mic preamp I'm already over $500 for the whole system, but I prefer to pay more now and get much better sounding vocals. It will give me more motivation, etc. etc. etc.

    I do not need all the bells and whistles on an interface and a preamp - just record the voice with best possible quality.

    Thank you again!
  8. Cuy

    Cuy Guest

    Please be aware that you won't be able to mix a demo using only headphones. You lack the physical response of the bass frequencies (you mix more bass in) and since there is pretty much no dissipation of higher frequencies between your speakers and your ears, you will turn down the highs more than is good for the mix. You also won't be able to clearly set reverb, because the natural room response, that would normally add to the music, is missing.
    Long story short: Almost every interface out there should provide you with a preamp and A/D conversion that is sufficient for your need. I really like the Tascam US-line of interfaces, but that's taste.
    You'll run into problems once you listen to your music not via headphones but on a normal stereo.
  9. Ben10

    Ben10 Active Member

    Thank you for the tip.
    Do I understand you correctly, that you advise not to worry about preamp, but rather buy speakers/monitors, that would contribute to the whole "process" of creating my demo?

    (What I need: to show collaborators my song demos in a good, acceptable quality. I was thinking of just recording my voice over my song sketches. Sure, they will be FAR from professional studio quality and I know nothing about mixing.)
  10. Cuy

    Cuy Guest

    That's exactly what I'm saying. But of course, there are different philosophies out there. I'd rather get relatively inexpensive gear, that does what you want from it, and once you outgrow that stuff and you know what you're doing, sell your old gear and purchase a set of really good tools.
    The more widespread philosophy about audio stuff is: You buy cheap = you buy twice, so it's good to save up a little and get good gear from the start.
    What is right for you depends on what you can afford and how early in the process of building your home studio you are, but you can still sell your "el cheapo" interface for half of what you paid for it later. Same goes for speakers, mics, midi controllers... In my opinion, that's better than spending several hundred dollars on features, you'll never use (for years, I wanted an interface that would allow me to mix surround sound - until I realized that I'd never mix in surround anyway).

    So - as long as you're happy with the quality of your microphone, I'd suggest investing 150-200€/$ in a good interface and get a pair of speakers for the same money. You could easily spend twice of that total amount on the interface alone, but your demos would sound horrible.

    Just my 2 cents.
  11. Ben10

    Ben10 Active Member

    Cuy, thank you!
  12. Cuy

    Cuy Guest

    You're welcome!
  13. Ben10

    Ben10 Active Member

    Boswell, I have received my Twin today... Is is AWESOME! Spent several hours singing...
    Thank you VERY MUCH!

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