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question about mics/interface/preamp

right now i'm using a m audio mobile pre audio interface that my friend gave me and his old beat up pg48 ..

my question is i obviously want to upgrade this equipment to be able to record the best sound i can at a budget price. my microphone i assume is my absolute weakest link.. so i was going to get a sm57 since i could use it both for recording and live use.. but then i read the sm57 needs a lot of gain to be used for recording.

now i notice a pretty noticeable hissing in my mobile pre pre amps when i turn them past 2/3rds or so . .. will my pre's be good enough to increase the signal on the sm57 without inserting a ton of hiss on my recordings? would it be worth spending 200 bucks for the Focusrite Saffire 6 USB (or similar interface) or would that be more of a step sideways than an upgrade? or would i be better off with a 100 dollar condenser like the v67g at this budget since it needs less gain ?

please recommend me the best solution / order of upgrade for my problem.. ideally i only want to spend a couple hundred .. but not if i won't notice any increase in quality


Profile picture for user TheJackAttack
Member for
13 years 3 months

TheJackAttack Sun, 03/21/2010 - 23:58

The SM57 is the most standard microphone used on the live stage and frequently used in studio too. It takes more gain than a condenser simply because it is a dynamic type microphone. You will not have any problems at all with the 57.

The M-Audio Mobile Pre is not very good, you're correct. On any dynamic mic you will be in that 2/3's range probably. That is the nature of that type of mic. The Saffire will be a step up but your gain knob will be roughly the same which is not a problem unless the preamp itself is sh###y. On high end preamps it is often desirable to have the gain turned most of the way up. Microphones are indeed padded in order to push the preamps in that case.

Save your cash and keep adding to it. You'll want about $150 for a Shure SM57 and somewhere between $200-$400 for a small interface. In the meantime, learn everything you can with the substandard gear you have.

Profile picture for user Boswell
Member for
15 years 2 months

Boswell Mon, 03/22/2010 - 05:48

You would certainly be better off getting an SM57 and putting up with any hiss from the M-Audio unit until you can afford a better interface. In this way you are buying an item of quality that will last you further into your recording career than spending money on a cheap condenser mic that you will have to throw away.

There is just about enough usable gain on the Mobile Pre to use a 57/58 for close miking of vocals or on guitar amps. Acoustic instruments may need gain levels that take you into the hiss region.

Don't forget to put a foam windshield on the 57 when you use it for vocals.

Member for
11 years 3 months

steimlem Mon, 03/22/2010 - 09:48

thanks.. so everyone's saying i will get better sounding vocals froma n sm57 with a bad preamp than a v67 condenser mic?

if that's the case, can someone please recommend my next "upgrade" in terms of interface/preamp that i can aim for? one that will preferably be able to handle the sm57 without any hiss.

Member for
11 years 2 months

Shadow_7 Mon, 03/22/2010 - 19:52

Why focus on the interface? You have MIC -> PREAMP -> INTERFACE. The mobile pre is a decent interface (with preamps). Not perfect, but decent. Stick a decent preamp in the middle and it should suffice. DMP3, Art MPA with upgraded tubes, modded DMP3, naiant littlebox, juiced link, beachetek, SD MP-1, FMR RNP, and other not entirely unobtainable options to get to B from A. Yes a dynamic requires a lot of gain, but you don't have to use the mobile pre to obtain that gain. It does have line inputs. And as far as 16/48 converters, it's not completely hideous.

Just a thought... Probably more than you want to spend, but not really stuff that you have to lose money on if you sell, or replace if you upgrade later.

Profile picture for user djmukilteo
Member for
12 years 6 months

djmukilteo Mon, 03/22/2010 - 21:34


A couple hundred dollars?
How much do you have invested in your setup right now?
What kind or style of music are you trying to record?
Do you have some monitors and an adequate space to listen to your recordings in?
What flavor of DAW software are you recording with?
I think the cheapest test and smartest move would be buy the SM57 for $100 and see if you hear any improvement in your recordings.....
Don't waste time with cheap condensers....if you can't get a decent sound with a dynamic SM57, gain or no gain....a $100 condenser isn't going to be any better! You need a starting point...mic is an excellent starting point....seeing as though it's the first part in the chain and you can't get anything cheaper or better than a SM57 or SM58 mic....
If you don't hear any improvement with the SM57, then take your leftover $100 and save some more money and buy a decent FW audio interface and plug the SM57/58 into that!
You're just guessing and making stabs in the dark my friend....I would take a step back and look at the bigger picture.....