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Hello! Thank you for reading. :)

I'm sorry if this question is similar to other questions asked, but I couldn't find an answer that worked exactly for me. So, I am very bad at basically everything to do with recording, it seems. I am trying to record some of my songs, which are typically vocals and piano (maybe with a few other instruments like cello and flute). I bought some equipment hoping that it would be sufficient to just record my ideas decently, but I have encountered a problem.

I have a Shure SM58 and a Behringer Xenyx 302USB thingy. I bought the Behringer thing because I somehow figured out I need a preamp and it has one and the reviews had looked decent and I don't know what I'm doing and it was cheap so I bought it. But after looking around more, I see that people tend to frown upon it (and/or Behringer products in general maybe?).

That said, the specific problem I am having with recording with this equipment is that there is so so much noise in my recordings. A very noticeable amount that I don't think can be ignored. But the recording itself sounds good, if that makes sense. I do make sure that I am in a very quiet setting, turning off all things that would make noise and such. The main thing is that I tried plugging my equipment into my friend's macbook and, using Garageband, there was not nearly as much noise! Of course I don't expect it to be perfect, but it was at least clear. (I have been using Audacity, by the way, but I just downloaded the free trial of Reaper to try out.)

So I think I can conclude that the problem is my computer? Would it be my soundcard? This might be totally wrong. I'm just speculating. I think some preamp/mixer/things come with soundcards in them, but are there just plain soundcards that I can buy to use with the equipment I already have? I can give information about my laptop if it would help. Another thing is that a few years ago, using this same laptop, I made a few recordings with just a microphone (directly through the microphone jack, no less) and they came out with not nearly as much noise. I don't know what changed.

Another huge thing is that I can't spend a lot of money. I really don't want to spend more than $100 on anything. Do you guys think I should replace the mic or the mixerthingy? Or could I add something on to them to make it better? Ooorrrr do you think the problem is something else that can be fixed without spending money? I don't know if this makes a difference, but I do have access to Pro Tools (on the computers at my university) but I would need to get a clear recording first to really use that...right?

I'm not looking to make any epic professional quality recordings and I know my budget limits me very much, but I would just like to be able to make a decently clear-ish recording. :)

I am so thankful for any help I can receive! Because clearly figuring this out on my own isn't working... :p Also sorry for the long explanation.

Thank you,

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Boswell Tue, 09/25/2012 - 03:14

You have made a good start by getting the Shure SM58. It's about the best mic for you doing the sort of thing you describe. In contrast, the Xenyx 302 is a real entry-level device, but it should work OK with the SM58. The important point is that using a device like this by-passes the inbuilt sound card in your computer. I'm assuming you are using a standard XLR-XLR microphone cable.

With an external interface like that, the make and type of computer used does not in principle make any difference to the sound quality as long as the software is set up correctly so samples are not dropped. However, low-cost interfaces can be susceptible to things like the USB digital data breaking through to the audio input in the form of noise. You would have to do some tests to see if the noise you are getting is acoustic noise coming in via the microphone or electrical noise getting in via the interface. For example, is the level of noise affected by the gain control on the mic channel? Do you get similar noise if you unplug the mic cable at the interface?

Eaglion Tue, 09/25/2012 - 05:54

I am not a veteran as many of the guys here and i do not want to sound priggish. Sometimes blind leads blind really helps. Here is my 2c.

I do not have [=""]Behringer[/]="http://www.behringe…"]Behringer[/] Xenyx 302USB. I have Eurorack the one before Xenyx. The only difference is USB recording, and all the engineering is same. Behringer choosed to target consumers instead of Pro audio. I may say that they are one of the best price/performance gears for consumers. As The reviews you have read are written by these groups it is normal that it recieves high ratings. Though if you want quality recordings they are not built for it. I am not using it at any time for recording or mixing. Only for level control in daily rehearsals.

Compared to other Pro gears, Behringer is indeed noisy. But it should not be at a leave that will distrub you much or at a level that you can not clean in DAW. You have already labeled the mixer as the source of problem but there may be several thing you may doing wrong also.

When one first starts to use a mixer, s/he can easily get lost in details like, what goes in? what its routed to where? which output is right for the work? etc. It is normal. Read the manual. Behringer mixer manuals are usually very helpful for beginners. First read to understand the basics. Then take the manual and try everything step by step. when you did once, problems become much easier to spot.

Although this is true for many mixers, with Behringers, annoying noise is usually not caused by the challen you use but from unused channels. As they are not used there is a high possibility that one can forget to control them.

Some tips to avoid
- Always start will neutral settings ie Pots set to 12 o'clock volume at 0.
- No buttons pressed
- Phantom power or additional gain turned off.
- Check if built in FX are off.
- Decide what you want to do
- Check manual
- Make appropriate connections
- Check manual
- Make appropriate adjustments, Phantom power, gain control FX and main routing
-Check manual
-There should be 3 or 4 buttons that tells mixer which output will be send to where. Only press the ones you need.
- Leave any unused channels at neutral position, volume knobs to 0 and mutes are on, nothing routed to nowhere (othwerwise with Behringer, they will bleed more than your original sound).

Behind the console there is an additional ground pin. Make use of it. Warp a long pieace of copper wire to it and tie the other end to a good grounding source (Do not use the power outlets). It really helps a lot to clean the excessive noise.

One other problem is cliping. When you are alone you can not check clipping warnings all the time. During the performance players usually play harder that tests and cause clipping. Ask someone to watchout these leds for you untill you figure out your safe level settings.

In Computer problems.
I never used Mac. I am not sure if USB recording infact bypasses soundcard by default. In PC some soundcards (especially for gamers) have a tendency to interfere with everthing. Unless they are disabled in Windows and also disabled in sound settings of DAW they can be interfering in the background even if you send the signals to DAW directly. I would check it once to be sure if i were you.

One last note, if you use the computer for watching videos too. Some applications install the codecs as resident in the memory which effects both in and out in PC. It may be also true for Macs.

Last but least, if you have chance, try and other [[url=http://="http://www.behringe…"]Behringer[/]="http://www.behringe…"]Behringer[/] Xenyx 302USB to control if yours is defective.

Rest of the technical problems mentioned in Boswell's post.

RemyRAD Thu, 09/27/2012 - 22:17

I've made plenty of recordings with Behringer PA/mixers. We are talking about your basic six input mixer with a pair of output Speaker amplifiers and some built-in effects. They can make a beautifully adequate recording. If your mixer has a USB connector on it, that actually makes it an external, professional, computer audio interface. However your computer may continue to default to its own onboard computers sound card gizmo? So this could pose some problems. The multitrack software will give you the opportunity to select from what input devices you want to record on whichever tracks you want to record on. And you can tell the software to utilize both sound devices, in any capacity you want them to work with the software. So while your software may follow your lead as to what devices you are using for Reaper, it may automatically assigned things like Windows Media Player to play through the internal sound card. And that has to be changed in control panels, system, etc.. Then you can use that miniature USB mixer as a higher-quality computer sound input and output device than the crappy one inside the computer. But with the Reaper software, you can also utilize the line or, god for bid microphone input on the internal computer soundcard to record up to 3-4 simultaneous audio tracks, should you so desire to.

As you well know by now, the internal sound card is just fine for personal listening enjoyment. Multimedia headsets are really the only intended microphones to be used with an extremely abysmal pre-amplification section. Although if you have line level input capabilities, the line level input, which could be fed from say, an electronic keyboard synthesizer thingy. And of course your vocal microphone on your completely professional Behringer USB mixer. Though there will be monitoring issues you will stumble upon. But that's for another day. So the line level inputs are useably poor where the microphone input is unusablably awful. Though totally adequate for the Internet babble.

Yeah that 58... you really can't do better. One of the greatest all-around PA and recording studio microphone of all time. It just sounds right. There is a reason why you see them on the president of the United States for so many years. They are still made in the United States where Electro-Voice was formally from Buchanan, Michigan. Not an American product anymore. So you likely won't be seeing those on the president ever again? And if it's good enough for Democrats and Republicans, it's good enough for you.

If a microphone were to run for the presidency, which one would win?
Mx. Remy Ann David

Aberrant Bliss Sat, 09/29/2012 - 19:25

Hello, thank you for the replies! Sorry my late response (so much schoolwork :( )!!

Boswell --

Thank you for the information! Adjusting the gain and unplugging the mic does not change the noise level. I don't know if this changes anything, but I get the same amount of noise when I plug my keyboard into the interface. Also, I am actually using an XLR-1/4 inch plug thing, if that makes a difference. Thanks for your help!

Eaglion --

Thank you!! All right, it seems that I have followed the manual's instructions and your suggestions, but to not much avail. I am not sure what you mean by ground pin...maybe mine doesn't have one?

Do you know how to disable the sound cards, then? Sorry to ask so many questions! I am so thankful for your help.

RemyRAD --

Thank you too!! I think I have set Reaper to use the mixer as the "input device" and my headphones as the "output device," is this what I'm supposed to do? Should I set the mixer as the output device as well? Do you know if the "Audio System" setting has anything to do with it? It was set to "WaveOut" when I first started using Reaper.

Oh! Here's a development. I have no idea what this means, but when I set the "Audio System" options to "WDM Kernel Streaming," the recording did not come out with nearly as much noise! It was a small amount of noise, but definitely different. The noise I had been getting had this weird like little (I don't know how to describe it) tone in the background, but when I switched it, it was just like plain static-y stuff. It was recording more quietly, though. Does anyone think this could have something to do with my problem?
Thank you everyone for your help!!! I really appreciate it!!

Boswell Sun, 09/30/2012 - 07:20

Aberrant Bliss, post: 394194 wrote: Also, I am actually using an XLR-1/4 inch plug thing, if that makes a difference.

Yes, it could do. I don't know whether the Xenyx 302USB attenuates the jack input signal relative to the XLR input, as the manufacturer of that interface box does not see fit to put any technical information about it on their website. I would try to borrow a true XLR(M)-XLR(F) cable and see if there is any improvement in the microphone noise level when using that rather than an XLR-jack cable.


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