Absolute beginner with some questions

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by jamesmetham, Dec 9, 2009.

  1. jamesmetham

    jamesmetham Guest

    I have a mic that I use with my computer, but it's a really little, cheap one, and there's loads of background noise. I can cancel some of the background noise using Audacity, but it's never good enough, and the audio quality isn't great to begin with.

    So, I'm wondering... is this because of the sound card, or the mic?

    If mic, what is the cheapest mic I can get where I'll get good audio quality and no background noise? Thanks. This is really just for talking into, so I don't need any special one for types of vocals etc
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    Home Page:
    It depends whether you actually mean background noise (acoustic noise being correctly picked up by the mic) or electrical noise (noise in the circuit that would be present even if there were no acoustic noise).

    If the former, you need to use a directional microphone, put some acoustic treatment in your room, and cut down the level of extraneous noise sources such as computer fans. If the latter, you need a better microphone and/or sound card or interface.

    If you went for one of the cheap M-Audio or Edirol USB interfaces plus a Shure SM57 or SM58 microphone, you would almost certainly get better quality than you are getting now.

    What's your budget?
  3. jamesmetham

    jamesmetham Guest

    Let me attach what it sounds like, and maybe you can tell:

    http://h1.ripway.com/MrMoney/background noise.mp3

    What's an interface? The only interface I have now is a pink jack and a mic that goes into it.
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Your cheap microphone is a cheap stereo microphone. It does a wonderful job of picking up stereo room noise. Part of this problem is due to the fact that you do not know how to set the recording level. You are adjusting playback levels not recording levels. You need more than a $.98 microphone and that little microphone input which isn't worthy of the silicon it's built from. Your application is speaking but for what purpose? Talking books? Commercials? Listening to your own voice? Either way, this is not the microphone nor the audio input you need to use. That's why people use professional audio interfaces that will cost you $150 US and up. An interface is a professional audio option to plug into your computer. The microphone input on your computer is designed for a $.98 microphone that is supposed to sound just as it does which is not professional. So you need a $100 microphone and a $150 audio interface at the minimum. Wow! You are just going to have to save your lunch money, lose a few pounds and get better audio stuff.

    I'm fat and I have good audio stuff
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  5. jamesmetham

    jamesmetham Guest

    I have the recording for the mic on 100% with 30dB microphone boost. I don't know what that has to do with anything, but yes, it is a little mic.

    1) What does the interface do, exactly?

    2) How does it connect to the computer? USB?

    3) How does the mic connect to the interface?

    All I'm looking for is the cheapest possible rig to get a clear sound and no background noise.
  6. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    1) The interface is what converts electrical audio line level signal into digital information the computer and DAW software will understand.

    2) It can connect to your computer via USB or Firewire (400 or 800) or if a desktop also via a PCI(e) slot interface.

    3) The microphone normally connects to the interface via an XLR female to XLR male cable.

    Shure SM57 + a USB interface by any of several manufacturers including M-Audio, Digidesign, TC Electronic, EMU, and others. You get what you pay for.
  7. apstrong

    apstrong Active Member

    Feb 13, 2009
    So essentially you are taking a crappy microphone through a crappy built-in-soundcard and amplifying all of the built in noise as much as possible. That's why you have a problem.

    1. Think of it as an external soundcard (although it can be an internal one via PCIe too) that's much, much better quality than the 10$ unit built into your computer.

    2. Can be internal, often external using USB or Firewire. If you have a choice, I'd suggest Firewire, but in your case I think any of them would be fine.

    3. A cable. Depends on the jacks on the interface, usually XLR.

    Expect to spend maybe 200$ at the very low end of the possibilities available including interface, mic, and cable, 300-500$ to get something quite reasonable for beginner use, and somewhere between $600 and your immortal soul if you want to get really serious about it.

    I have no specific recommendations in the 150-200$ range because I mortgaged my soul years ago and now there's no going back. But you know it really depends on what you want to do. If you just want to reduce that noise but aren't really looking to do any serious recording, a cheap solution like a decent all-in-one USB microphone might be the way to go. It's a mic with a built in interface. But again, I can't recommend one. Get one from a dealer with a no-questions-asked return policy and give it a shot. It will not be as good as more expensive solutions, and it will definitely not scale up to more serious recording if you ever change your mind, but it will probably be a lot better than what you've got.
  8. jamesmetham

    jamesmetham Guest

    First of all... all this talk of selling souls... lol. It can't be that bad. $200 is hardly a lot of money.

    Now, onto my questions

    1) Regarding the mic-interface setup: What is an XLR cable and will it come with the mic I buy?

    2) Regarding the all-in-one setup: Do you have an example of something recorded with an all-in-one USB microphone? I'd like to hear that to see what it sounds like, because I'm really not looking for something great here.

    3) Let's say I buy this USB mic. Do I just plug in into my USB port, open Audacity and start recording? If it's that easy, I may just buy this, because it says it records in CD quality.
  9. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    That will be marketing hype to mean it records stereo 44.1KHz/16bit. Which your onboard soundcard will do, but probably in mono.

    "Quality" is one of the most subjective words I know of, and I think it should be banned.

    You say $200 isn't much cash, how much do you intend on spending? "As little as possible" is not a valid answer, though it's one I find myself face to face with a lot.

    If you want something with little background noise, make sure it's not made by Creative, Trust, Logitech, or anything similar.
  10. jamesmetham

    jamesmetham Guest

    All I want is a mic that records my voice to an acceptable level and has no background noise. Price shouldn't really be above £50, which is $81.2 as of now, so I guess anything up to $100 is OK.

    For the mic I posted it, says:

  11. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    Well, go with some USB whatever then. Keep the receipt.

    (FWIW I have a £16 headset that does an OK job for recording zombie noises).
  12. jamesmetham

    jamesmetham Guest

    Hey, I'm not trying to be offensive here. There's just loads of different info out there on mics and it's hard to decipher it.

    I am looking for a recommendation, whether it be USB or interface, with a total cost of $100 or less. If that's not possible with the later, it might have to be USB. I would consider up to $200 if you could prove it's worth it, with some kind of example of the difference in sound that I can hear.
  13. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    A decent interface with a decent microphone is not going to come in at $100 or eve $200 unless you are good and lucky ebay shopper.

    Good luck.
  14. jamesmetham

    jamesmetham Guest

    OK, then. Maybe I should go for an all-USB with noise cancellation (which I assume they have).

    Do you have any recommended USB one?
  15. jamesmetham

    jamesmetham Guest

    By the way, I've found a really good line of USB microphones. They're by Blue Mic, and they are as follows, from lowest to highest




    I've been watching YouTube videos of the snowball (Yeti isn't out quite yet, or at least doesn't have reviews yet. The release date is "sometime in December 2009")... and the snowball is fantastic in quality from the YouTube videos. Just what I want.

    Here is a video of the Snowball from YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vdfyt3FwbNA ... and another here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSd_1hi3dPw

    I will either get the Snowball or wait for the Yeti. It should be available anytime soon. Thanks for all your help, people.
  16. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    Home Page:
    If you're intent on keeping your budget and acheiveing low noise, you're in a pickle.
    An interface is one of the most important parts in improving on built-in soundcards and mics.
    Like the others have said, SM58 + an interface + cable, $300.

    However, I've used a few Blue mics and am very happy w/ them. Like apstrong, I too mortgaged my soul, so I have no experience w/ USB mics. I am guessing/hoping that Blue makes better than average USB mics.

    Perhaps that is what you are looking for?
    If so, follow Boswell's advice on limiting background noise at its source. Make your room as SILENT as possible.
    Also, trying EQing out the top and bottom ends - that's where the noise is, and speech isn't.

Share This Page