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How should I connect an instrument mic to my PC?

Discussion in 'Computers / Software' started by tomc3, Jul 10, 2009.

  1. tomc3

    tomc3 Guest

    hey,
    wonder if you could help me...I am trying to record myself playing drums.
    At the moment, I've got one single mic over my kit with a lead with a mic connection at one end, and a 1/4inch jack at the other end. I then have a little converter from 1/4inch jack to 1/8inch jack going into the 'mic in' port at the back of my PC. (this is on board sound on the motherboard rather than a physical sound card)
    I have found the record quality is very poor doing this...is there a better way to connect the mic to the PC?

    I have a guitar amp, would it be better to connect the mic to the amp then have the PC connect to the amp's output so that the amp works as a pre-amp? or would that not work?

    Or would it be be more worth getting a PCI sound card with a 1/4inch jack port on?

    Or perhaps a totally different method to increase record quality?

    By the way, my mic is a cheapo instrument mic I picked up for about £20 so part of the problem is probably that.

    Cheers,
    Tom
     
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    A standard computer sound card is never the right tool. First off the jack is an unbalanced input and second it is designed for video messenging and not audio recording.

    A standard soundblaster or similar PCI card will not help you. It will just be more of the same. You need either a PCI card built for recording (RME/M-Audio/etc) or an external recording interface.

    Most drum recordings are a minimum of a pair of overheads and up to several mic's per drum and cymbal + overheads. So, you will need an interface with at least two mic preamps up to whatever you ultimately require.

    Brands to look at are RME, M-Audio, Mackie/Tapco, TC Electronic, EMU, Digidesign, etc.

    Is it cheap? Depends on what you get and how realistic your expectations are.
     
  3. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    "designed for video messenging"

    Where do you get this stuff from?

    I need that manual too!
     
  4. bcs_tim

    bcs_tim Guest

    nah Jack, one mic is plenty for a kit! what are you talking about! mind, it's gonna sound real dirty after you compress the hell out of it, but my ears are telling me it's awesome, so it's awesome.

    If you were going to spend money, i'd recommend the cheatest 2 channel interface you can get (needs two preamps) an sn57 and one of those behringer pencil mics. the little 4 inch ones. then, 57 on kick and little condnser poking at the snare from the opposite side of the drum kit, behind the drummer. OR, from under the ride, just about the floor tom, pointed directly at the snare!

    Might be an issue if you actually hit the ride cymbal though....hmmm.

    I reckon try the guitar amp. Bung the mic in between the mick and the snare, bout the same distance, but up near the top of the snare. then, into the guitar amp and line out. then either in the guita amp or your somputer, compress the mother. a lot.
     
  5. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    I know you folks "down under" speak a different English then we in the US do...but you should hand out a dictionary when you post messages bcs_tim:)
     
  6. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Well it surely ain't designed for balanced audio Space!!!

    I've never seen a purpose for the built in mic jack other than those cheesy mic's everyone used to buy early in the decade to do their AIM and ICQ and whatever kids use these days-especially after the web cams started to become popular. Let me know if you have a better use for it.
     
  7. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    I used to wonder exactly why a mic in was on a sound card, it seemed like something you would find on a cassette recorder. I didn't spend any time with it then and I guess I already spent too much time with it now?

    Back when others where doing video messenging I ran a small mixer stereo out into the sound in port. I had to make my own cables and do some things to make this happen, but it was productive for a while :)

    Moving the cable the OP had to the sound in port would help markedly.

    But a purpose built cable would be better then the reducers that make more opportunity for noise to be introduced.

    The gear he is using will work for recording but as you have said the mic in port isn't the way to do it.

    The stereo sound in port is.
     
  8. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    if you just want to record yourself practising and not spend too much money, then try something like this
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00001W0DT/?tag=recording.org-20

    we used to record ourselves in the practice room, e.g. to capture new songs or ideas, with a similar sony-mic (maybe it was the same, don't remember) and it sounded quite good (for a one-mic recording).
    i even used it for the demo recording as a room mic.
    but you have to plug it into the line-in port, not the mic-in, because it has it's own preamp built in.

    if you want to record songs with a more professional sound you will need more (quality) mics and a multi-track audio interface.
     
  9. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member


    BZZZZZZZT... WRONG!

    Thanks for playing... Try again.....

    They didn't have big multitrack operations in the 30's, 40's or even really in the 50's... usually just a single 77, 44 or some other big ribbon for an entire orchestra... and many of those recordings still stand up to today's quality standards.

    Multitrack is only really a convenience. They just mean you don't have to make solid decisions and commitment until mix.
     
  10. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    BZZZZZZZT... WRONG!

    Thanks for playing... Try again.....

    They didn't have big multitrack operations in the 30's, 40's or even really in the 50's... usually just a single 77, 44 or some other big ribbon for an entire orchestra... and many of those recordings still stand up to today's quality standards.

    Multitrack is only really a convenience. They just mean you don't have to make solid decisions and commitment until mix.[/quote]

    it depends on the sound you're after. i don't think he's playing orchestra music. try to do a rock or metal drum recording with only one mic... might sound "interesting" but not really suitable for this style.
     
  11. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Don't get me wrong, I don't totally disagree that multitrack is essential to today's modern mixing techniques.

    However, with knowledge of your room, gear and mic placement, you can get a perfectly acceptable two track recording of just about any band, regardless of genre.

    When you get down to it, philosophically, I think a lot of bands really should do live 2 track sessions.... so they'd find out what they REALLY sound like.
     
  12. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    Having a great room, the right gear and the skills and time to find the right place for the mic(s) i'm sure you can make a wonderful recording.
    but without any of the above (especially the great room) it will sound like a garage recording.

    i do agree with you in that point. that's why we were recording our practice sessions. you will hear how and also what you and the others play! ("oh, is that a G you're playing in the bridge?!?") it helps alot tightening your performance.
     
  13. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    HA! You're pretty spot on with that statement...

    Actually, there's a plethora of "pro level" studios with multitrack capabilities that end up with that garage recording sound as well.

    But to actually address tomC3's question...

    A basic 2 channel converter and a pair of good mic's are what would be a good starting point.

    Mic's are as much of an investment as a good drum kit. So, invest in mic's. Get a decent budget together, and get a pair of the same type of mic.

    What's a "decent" budget?... More than $500... less than $5000.

    Same for a decent pre/converter... between $500 and $5000.

    Invest in good quality cables too.

    If you buy cheap, you'll buy more often and still not have what you want. Buy quality the first time, and you'll be far better off, as you'll get years of great service out of your investment.
     

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