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Help using Behringer C-1 with Nady SMPS-USB audio interface

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by Christopher Long, Feb 14, 2015.

  1. Christopher Long

    Christopher Long Active Member

    I have my Behringer C-1 condenser microphone plugged into an XLR cable, that XLR is plugged into my Nady SMPS-USB audio interface with phantom power, and a USB is plugged into the Nady and my Windows laptop.

    The Nady SMPS-USB is being powered by a replacement AC adapter for now with only 12 volts for testing purposes. An 18v AC adapter is the original requirement.

    The Behringer C-1 is lighting up red. The Nady lights are all on (USB and Power).

    When I record through Audacity, it has a really loud constant hiss. Turning up the recording volume just increases the hiss. I am able to record my voice, although it has very low volume.

    This audio interface doesn't have any knobs for gain or volume. Does it need a preamp software?
    Is this all because the AC adapter simply isn't powerful enough?
    Is it the audio interface itself? There's not many reviews on it.
     
  2. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    You could certainly benefit from a better interface, and better mic too for that matter…. BUT….

    According to the C1 manual online - the C1 requires 2.5mA of between 36V - 52Volts to operate to its full potential (be that as it may). If you're starving the interface for voltage, and/or running an adapter that doesn't put out enough amperage to support the full function of the Nady - it would be very likely to cause all kinds of noise. I'd recommend you stop using the Nady until you have the correct power supply, in terms of output voltage AND amperage. Make sure the replacement power supply matches the voltage exactly (and note whether it's 18v of AC or DC output). And make sure the output amps or milliamps of the replacement is rated at least as high as the original. The voltage has to match, and the amperage is safe if it exceeds the old one. If you keep using it like you have been, bad things can happen. Under-voltage can cause electronic components to run excessively hot - which they won't tolerate for long.

    FYI: This should be fairly obvious, but in case this is all new to you, 1000 milliamps = 1 amp. It can be expressed either way on the adapter.

    Good luck.
     
    Christopher Long and Kurt Foster like this.
  3. Christopher Long

    Christopher Long Active Member

    I'll test out the Nady when my AC Adapter comes in. Thanks for your help.
     
  4. Christopher Long

    Christopher Long Active Member

    Hello folks,
    I tested out the mic with the correct AC adapter and there's still a hiss. Although, vocals are a louder now. The hiss is just as bad as recording with a dynamic mic through the auxiliary input.

    Would getting a better interface, such as an M-Audo Fasttrak, fix this? Basically, is the problem the audio interface itself?
    The hiss is very noticeable.
     
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    @Boswell @Christopher Long @dvdhawk

    It could be several things...

    The lack of an input gain control on the Nady is kinda weird, most preamps - even the cheap ones - allow you to adjust the amount of input gain, either through a variable control like a dial, or with fixed-step increments.

    Have you checked the mic through another mic pre/interface to rule out the mic as being the problem?

    If the mic works fine through other preamps, it might be the phantom power in your preamp. Does the noise "ramp up" after you turn the phantom power on?

    Does this noise go away if you shut the phantom power off and plug a dynamic mic into it? And, when you do this, is the dynamic mic working? If it does work, do you still hear the noise?

    I agree with Hawk that a better preamp would be in order. If the phantom power isn't the problem, and the mic isn't the problem, then it's possible that the preamp is defective... it's also entirely possible that there simply isn't enough gain in that Nady pre to optimally power the mic without also introducing noise... I took the liberty of looking up the specs for your preamp - there wasn't much info about it, but I was able to find that the amount of gain on the Nady is rated at only 30db... that's low. Your average, run of the mill mic pre generally offers between 45 - 65db of gain. So, while that 34 db is possible to use with a condenser, it's on the very low side of what most preamps deliver and you run the risk of noise accompanying the signal. And, if it can't optimally gain a condenser mic, it won't be nearly enough gain for a dynamic or ribbon mic, both of which have lower outputs and require more gain to operate than condenser mics do. For example, Shure's SM7 mic requires a minimum amount of 60 db.

    FWIW, I recommend either a Focusrite 2i2 or a Presonus AudioBox (single or 2 channel). Both are very affordable, and IMO, both make the best mic pre's in their price class. Actually, IMO, they sound better than some preamp- I/O's that are more expensive. Both are USB, both come with headphone jacks and mixing/routing software that can prove to be very useful.

    If you find that this lack of gain is the main culprit, for a cheaper resolution, you could try adding a Cloudlifter to your chain - this would increase the gain by around 25db.... but my recommendation is to look into another preamp altogether.

    I'd say the same thing for your mic as well. I think it's time to up your game a bit. I'm not suggesting that you drop 2 large on a Neve or Millennia mic pre, or buy an $800 AKG 414 (although you wouldn't regret buying either of those ;)) but there is certainly such a thing as too cheap as well.
    You are now experiencing the "joys" (said sarcastically ;) ) of using ultra cheap, low budget-level audio gear.
    It's built cheaply, the components are cheap, so, accordingly, it's also cheap in price (the price of your Nady is around $35, and that's about as rock-bottom as you can get in mic preamps) , and there's usually reasons why that it is, and unfortunately, I think that you are now experiencing exactly what those reasons are. ;)

    FWIW

    d.
     
  6. DrGonz

    DrGonz Active Member

    Just a note to those that under voltage the power supply of a device. Many of these computer type devices use switching regulators as way to keep the power rails balanced. When you under voltage these types of appliances it very well can cause the switching regulators to draw more current. Obviously applying higher voltage than specification will burn out a device. Just remember that under voltage of switch mode devices can stress the device by drawing more current to keep the power supplies up. Probably not a big deal but why not just use the correct supply? Now this does not apply in all cases and is just something to think about.

    Also, when you look at a power supply just remember that it is not the power supply that draws current. It is actually the circuit that draws current when it has voltages across it's pathways. So a 1000ma power supply connected to a device is not automatically drawing 1 amp of current. Instead it merely means the power supply is rated (like a fuse) to withstand that sort of current. Some devices will draw nearly what the power supply is rated at and others will be lower. If you have a device that uses a 18v 1000ma power supply then a 18v 2000ma supply is over rated and will work just fine. After all there is usually a fuse in the device that will pop if goes over 1 amp in this case. Don't reverse that logic and use an under rated supply.
     
    DonnyThompson likes this.
  7. Christopher Long

    Christopher Long Active Member

    Thanks everyone. That helped a lot.
    I ended up selling the Nady and getting an M-Audio Fast Track.

    Now the volume is loud. I have to turn up the gain pretty high or else I would have to "kiss" the pop filter.
    With more gain, more white noise is heard.

    No matter how I tweak it, my voice has too much bass much like recording with a cheap dynamic mic.

    You get what you pay for, I guess.

    However, other people seem to got it right. I've looked up YouTube songs in HD made with the exact same equipment and their's sounds good.

    Any feedback on that?
     
  8. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    That's pretty much it in a nutshell. You are using what is considered to be the "bare bones quality" of gain-chains. The mic is cheap, the preamp is cheap. Yes, you can use it and get "passable" results... but it won't get you a sound that most would consider to be "pro".

    I have no explanation for what you are hearing from others who claim to have the same gear that you do. Perhaps they are using other gear in their gain chains as well... maybe something like a cloudlifter, or a better mic...

    The "too much bass" issue that you've mentioned is likely due to proximity effect - in that you are having to get very close to the mic in order to get a signal that is powerful enough so that you don't have to turn the preamp up as high ... and when you get that close to the mic, especially a cheap mic, you'll get proximity-based increased low end response ... and, if you back off the mic to where you arn't getting that proximity effect, you need to turn the preamp up, at which point you're also turning up the noise that cheap preamps are known for having.

    You were given some suggestions on this thread regarding preamp i/o choices, those suggestions were made by people who have actually used those models, and who could accurately comment on their performance and quality.
    You went with an MBox Fast Track instead, which isn't really all that much of an improvement over the Nady that you had, previous to it. The M-Audio you bought has a gain rating of 55db... not as low as the Nady, but still not as good as the others previously suggested, which offer 65-70db of gain - and with far less noise as well.

    The lower the gain a pre has, the more you need to crank the input to bring the mic up to optimal levels ... and, the more you crank the input, especially with cheap budget pre's, the more noise you will incur along with the signal you are recording, and, the fidelity can suffer. This is one of the things about cheap pre's that many fail to realize. For low-to-medium gain applications, they perform "okay"... but when you push them, when you drive them harder to get more output, you end up with noise, which is caused by cheap internal components, ( the amp, the converters, power supply, etc. ) and, you can also get into some nasty distortion and clipping as well.

    Most people will come to the realization - eventually - that using quality gear really does make a huge difference in the results that they achieve.

    Basically, you've ended up with an "expected" quality level that is commensurate with the investment that you've made.

    B.G.B.S -------------> Budget Gear = Budget Sound. ;)
     
  9. Christopher Long

    Christopher Long Active Member

    That blew my mind. That makes perfect sense.
    I will hold on to these for a bit, but I don't see any use in them if the sound quality isn't as good as it should be for 2015.
    I will go with those suggestions of equipment. Looks like I will have to do some more selling.

    UPDATE:
    I just looked at the prices and they are almost the same price as the M-Audio.
    When you said cheap, I was thinking $200 cheap. Not bad, if the quality is that much better. They range from $80-150.
     
  10. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I understand that not everyone can afford to get into a hi-end, top caliber, pro preamp like an RME, Grace, Great River or Millennia.

    But you can still get very good results by looking at preamp - i/o's by either Focusrite and Presonus. Some of these models even offer built-in MIDI as well, if you happen to be interested in integrating that into your workflow at some point.

    Both Presonus and Focusrite offer very good preamps, and solid conversion. Again, while they aren't quite as nice as those upper caliber models made by the manufacturers I mentioned in the first sentence, they are still very good... and a far cry better than what you have been using thus far.

    And, you don't have to break the bank to get into them, either. If you are only looking at a couple input channels, then you could get into either of these for less than $200 :

    Presonus 22VSL:
    USB, 2 in, 2 out, ( both XLR/Mic and Instrument ( 1/4"), XMAX Class A Mic Pre's, Phantom Power for condenser mics, with MIDI, HP jack and volume control, Input/DAW mix control, software mixer and StudioOne DAW platform, supports recording at up to 96l/24 bit.
    http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/AudioBox22

    Focusrite Scarlett 2i4:
    USB, 2 in, 4 out, (both XLR/Mic and 1/4" Instrument), Focusrite Mic Pre's, Phantom Power for Condensers, MIDI, HP Jack, mono/stereo monitoring, supports recording at up to 96k / 24 bit.
    http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Scarlett2i4

    Both of these offer gain levels that are even sufficient enough to use Ribbon mics, which are traditionally of a very low output... most Dynamics are a bit better, with Condensers generally needing the least amount of gain out of the three. I guess that what I am saying to you, is that you won't have any problems with either of these in terms of available gain, if you would also choose to use dynamic or Ribbon mics at some point in the future, along with Condensers.

    As a final suggestion, I would also recommend an upgrade in your mic at some point. Preamps do make a big difference in your sound quality, particularly in regard to their available gain levels and conversion, but microphones are the first link in your signal chain, and you could do a lot better than the Behringer Condenser that you are currently using. I would wager to say that there are even some pro engineers here on RO who might suggest to you that you'd be better off - and might get better sounding results - using a good dynamic like a Shure SM57/58 instead.

    (If you really want to hear a huge difference, get one of these preamps mentioned above, and an AKG 414 condenser mic.) ;)

    FWIW

    -donny
     
  11. Christopher Long

    Christopher Long Active Member

    I have decided to save up for a Shure SM58. I'm using this for Rap, not just for myself, but a bunch of people. Here: is one of my peoples Rap, using the:
    M-Audio Fast Track II USB interface
    Behringer C-1 Condenser
    HP Laptop

    in a garage.

    What do you think of the quality? Is it my error in use, or my equipment? I'm in no way an expert on recording. I just like to help people make music.
     
  12. Christopher Long

    Christopher Long Active Member

    Sorry if you're not into Rap. I know there's a lot of hate for Rap but bear with us.
     
  13. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    There's nothing at all wrong with a 58. It and its brother - the SM57 - can be found in virtually every recording facility in the world. They are good, solid dynamic mics that have many purposes; vocals, guitar amp miking, snare and toms, etc.

    Now... what will make a huge difference in how either of these mics will sound, is the mic pre that you plug it into.

    Your current preamp - The FastTrack - is considered to be an entry level, budget mic pre/I-O, aimed at the "hobbyist" market. It is what it is... it will get your signal from point A ( the mic) to point B ( your DAW).

    What it is not - is the choice of most professionals, who prefer preamps and converters of a higher, more professional caliber/quality. Some of these manufacturer would be Millennia, Great River, SSL, Dangerous, SPL, Neve, Grace... along with upper level Focusrites and Presonus models. ( Both FR and Presonus also make entry level preamp / I-O's, but they make higher caliber models, too).

    The Behringer C1 Condenser mic is also considered to be entry/budget level. It's "okay". Again though, not the choice of those who desire good- great quality. Mics in this pro range would include models by Neumann, ADK, Schoeps, Cathedral, AKG, Royer, DPA, Earthworks, Mohave ... priced at anywhere between $1000 to $7000 ... each.

    It really all depends on what you are doing and what you expect. If you are using mostly samples / VSTi's as your instrumental tracks, both the FastTrack and the C1 may fall short... because generally, today's samples are of a very good audio quality, so when using a mic and mic pre to add tracks to these samples, it's best to have a higher quality signal chain so that what you are recording through the mic can sound as good as the high quality sounding samples you may be using for your instrumental tracks.

    The list you've posted is definitely of the "hobby" caliber. If you were to go to a real commercial recording facility, you're likely to see preamps and converters that are priced in the 4 figure range, and it's a safe bet that you probably won't see a FastTrack or a C1 mic anywhere.

    But, for what you are doing, what you have just may suffice. That's up to you to decide. Personally, I don't consider rap to be of a musical style where hi-fidelity is a major concern...as with the sample you posted, you're likely to hear loops lifted from scratchy LP's, ( which is usually intentional... we call this "lo-fi" and it is used as a production texture ) along with mostly spoken word where things like "silk" and "air" are not usually something they care about getting - and which is what a really nice mic and pre are capable of providing... although, commercially successful rap artists do generally record at studios of a professional level.. and that's because they can afford to, or because their producer or label sets the location ad the date for them.

    As with anything in this great big world, you usually get a level of quality commensurate to what you pay. The question is, is high fidelity something that concerns you? ;)
     
  14. Christopher Long

    Christopher Long Active Member

    Thanks for your input, Donny. I'm trying to stay under the $200 range and I know there's not much I can do at that budget, but I was wondering if I could at least get something that doesn't have that vibrating bass sound we get on our voices, especially during voice overs/harmonizing
     

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