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Hi everyone,
I'm new to the audio world and I want to record some voice-overs and videos spending between $ 50-100.

The best options I found so far (maybe I'm wrong):
1) An USB mic such as "Blue Microphones Snowball USB"
2) A normal mic, such as "Shure SM48-LC Vocal Dynamic Microphone"

But in the second case I need something to connect it to my laptop. It could be XLR to USB adapter but I'm not sure about their quality.

To sum up, what is the best choice you think I have to record voice to my laptop spending between $ 50 and $ 100 ?



RemyRAD Wed, 01/02/2013 - 15:30

You've basically already answered your own question. With a budget between 50-$100 US, the best you can hope for is one of those USB enabled microphones. Not a bad choice. And as a voiceover announcer type, you may want to look into AudiotTechnica and others. But then I also like the idea of a SHURE SM58 and a $50 USB computer audio interface. The 48 might work but the 58 can sound like that $3300 US German-made Neumann U87. And where all other large diaphragm condenser USB microphones will just have this crispy nondescript black luster sound. This dynamic microphone can make you sound way better than your competition using similar inexpensive USB microphones and other similar inexpensive condenser microphones. That 58 will give you a truly ballsy, Muncho Profoundo quality you won't get from anyone else's cheap large diaphragm condenser microphone. But if ya have to have that condenser sound, get the condenser. The 58 can sound like a condenser but it's so much more. Less trouble to work with. Picks up less extraneous interfering outside noises. No phantom power necessary. Can be used and extremely humid climates. Condenser microphones don't do well and very humid environments. In fact they have a tendency to sound crappy and actually short out in tropical environments. A 58 can work in a hurricane. And if you could save your pesos up and get yourself something like a PreSonus Audio Box USB audio interface, you would have a very nice professional system and it will include some absolutely mind blowing multi-track and commercial production software. So if you're going to do it, do it right as good things come to those who wait.

So for the time being, you use a very cheap multimedia headset with a built in microphone. And you put a large piece of foam on that microphone. And you don't eat the microphone. With free Audacity and/or Reaper software, you can still obtain professional results. Because that cheap little $.98 condenser microphone is every bit as good as the ones you find in the + $300 American-made Crown condenser microphones. And I got that from the lips of a Crown design engineer. They were using the same Taiwanese condenser capsule as the ones we could get in our local electronic hobby shops for $.98 in their 300+ dollar US microphones. Then our electronic hobby stores here are primarily Radio Shack a.k.a. Radio Shaft as it is all crap. But actually some of it is no different crap than what you're spending over $300 for. The rest comes under how you use the software where it makes all the difference in the world in what you deliver. And you can already have that software for free. So you really need to spend nothing more than than what it costs at your local supermarket food store for a soft open cell foam sponge. And you cut it up with a razor blade carefully. And that pop filter costs a heck of a lot less money than someone else's ball of foam pop filter would. And you can keep saving for that nicer audio interface that will improve your sound along with that 58. And then you can also purchase a large and small diaphragm condenser microphone that does not have to have a USB connection but simply one of those professional 3 pin XLR connectors like a 58 has. And what any professional microphone computer converter would have which are XLR inputs for microphones. This gives you much broader options and the ability to have a pair of microphones on for two announcers simultaneously or, a guitar playing vocalist. All important stuff to be able to accomplish. So all you really need to is to save for an additional 50-$100 US to have a really dynamite professional production system with incredible software. And you'll already have this other incredible software as well. There won't be anything you cannot deliver. Well at least up to a point at any rate.

Blue, MXL and others make some very inexpensive XLR to USB recording adapters. The only problem with these particular adapters is that you can not monitor that microphone while recording it. And that can be extremely awkward for an announcer as you really need to hear yourself. A USB microphone will actually have a headphone output because it actually is a complete external USB audio device with a built-in microphone hiding inside the microphone enclosure. So you'll need that 100-$150 US external USB computer audio interface along with a $100 microphone. But you can also purchase some of these items used for about half that much money on eBay and other similar auction sites on the Internet. These microphones are almost impossible to kill or destroy. Condenser microphones are easily damaged. And an external USB audio interface will offer you much more versatility, higher quality, the ability to change out for a different computer audio interface without having to change your preferred announcer microphone.

So while USB microphones and simple XLR in line microphone to USB adapters can work for you, as a professional myself, that's not the way I would recommend to go. It's fine for the home hobbyist/enthusiast. But you need a voice over production system. And that's why you should have an external USB computer audio interface of almost any variety by virtually any manufacturer as they will all be similar. The PreSonus I feel, offers a smoother sounding a higher level of quality than many others costing only $50 less. So that's $150 US for the USB 1.1 version of the Audio Box. Again, for an additional price of an extra $100, you can get the PreSonus Audio Box USB 2.0 version. This offers up other features that you will find extremely advantageous to you for announcing purposes because of what that box can do, in real time, with a computer. It can give you that desirable real-time equalization, real-time compression and limiting, real-time reverb and other effects that you can hear, while you are recording and talking. And you can't have that in the USB 1.1 of the same device. And that's an important thing to have and to be able to hear when you are doing voiceovers as a professional. So don't just take a cheap sideways move by purchasing a crappy USB condenser microphone. You'll never be able to deliver your full best articulate delivery because you won't be able to hear or play off of the dynamic range processing and effects you would only be able to hear, after you've recorded, on playback only.

So these are important things to consider in wasting your money especially with such a tight budget. So download that free software and buy yourself a soft open cell foam sponge. You can tell if it's open cell foam by simply putting your lips on it and breathing into it. If your breath passes through freely, it will pass your speech, freely without pops or blasts. If you cannot blow through the foam? It is a closed cell foam not appropriate for audio. People look at you like you are crazy as you stand around in the store blowing into sponges, I know. LOL. But then you get away with paying only one dollar instead of $10. And that puts you $10 closer to a decent USB audio device and a quality microphone like a 58 that will blow your socks off. I have recorded thousands and thousands of commercials with some of the world's best announcers. And we use a 58 when we don't have an extra $3300 German-made 87 and you really can't hear the difference. But that's only true for the 58 and not anything or anyone else's. And that 58, while it has a nice big metal ball with extra foam inside, we still put on a larger exterior, open cell, foam pop filter because you'll need it. And it actually makes the microphone sound even better because it keeps you from getting too close to it. You will however need to roll off your extreme low frequencies in your software below 80 Hz. Otherwise, the microphone will sound great in your headphones and it will sound like a lump of mud through speakers and especially on the radio. So I hope you also have a small pair of self powered control room monitors or a decent stereo system with good speakers? You cannot rely strictly on headphones without being able to at least proof it on playback through speakers. Even your car stereo would be adequate in that instance.

Hope you're enjoying a great summertime while I freeze my ass off up here?
Mx. Remy Ann David

diegoj86 Wed, 01/02/2013 - 19:17

Wow. Thanks you both for the answers. Unfortunately I'm on vacation in Chicago (not in Argentina), so I'm freezing too LOL ;)

That gives me a lot to think, I'll see what can I do. I think that's enough for now, I will compare the options to my budget and see what fits better. I don't need anything professional, but I want to make the most of my money.

Thanks again for your long detailed answers! :)

RemyRAD Thu, 01/03/2013 - 01:41

Well I think you guys make the best canned corned beef. So you'll probably also make a good recording. If you don't suffer any frostbite from being in Chicago LOL. Then the guy who runs this site lives in the country of North Pole Junior. Down here we call it Canada. When it comes to you Argentinians, I have a beef with you guys. Yup, right there in my kitchen cupboard that's waiting for some eggs. Maybe some bread and mustard?

How many snowballs are you taking home with you?
Mx. Remy Ann David

dvdhawk Thu, 01/03/2013 - 12:09

If you can stretch your budget to $200 you can get something truly worth having, like the [=""]Shure SM58+X2U[/]="…"]Shure SM58+X2U[/] mic with a USB adapter bundled together. This way you get an industry standard vocal mic and a decent USB interface with a zero-latency method to monitor. $199 street-price, don't be afraid to haggle a little.

SM58s are legendary for their sound quality and durability, but I will add, be very wary of cheap SM58s on eBay or Craigslist - if you go bargain hunting, you can easily end up with a shiny new counterfeit 58, or second-hand counterfeit that the disappointed buyer is trying to pawn off on the next guy. The fakes are VERY hard to distinguish from the real McCoy visually, but when you plug it in you'll know something isn't right. Search YouTube for "[[url=http://="…"]Fake SM58[/]="…"]Fake SM58[/]" and see how good the Chinese copycats have gotten at counterfeiting the mics and packaging.

Best of luck!