Okay, since I wanted a pro quality mic to record my vocals with, so i got a shure sm58. My computer has a 1/8th inch mic input spot so i figured i could just get two adapters, an xlr to 1/4 then 1/4 to 1/8th. I tried recording with that setup but in audacity the recording volume is so low i can barely hear it when i turn everything up… so im guessing i need one of those audio interfaces with the preamps in it right? The max i can spend is around 200 dollars so what would you guys suggest?
Check out the Behringer range of mixers.
You have two options:
- Buy a new interface with a built in pre-amp.
- Buy a separate pre-amp and use the Line In that you already have (provided you have a Line In, some modern laptops don’t).
The kind of pre-amps you’re likely to find built into an interface aren’t going to be great. Coupled with the fact that you might be buying more interface than you actually need and I’d say you’re more likely to waste money going with option #1 than #2.
The nice thing about option #2 is that you can also take that pre-amp with you and use it in a live sound application. It’s much more flexible. You’ll also end up getting a better value for the pre-amp.
So, I recommend #2. I have an ART Tube MP ($40) which I like and a Studio Projects VTB1 ($120) that I like quite a bit more. A few years ago it was impossible to find a decent mic pre that cost less than $200, but the home recording business has exploded and now there are at least 6 or 7 models you should really look at. Go to zzounds.com or musiciansfriend.com and check out their microphone preamplifiers.
There’s a couple more suggestions in this post: http://audacityteam.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=5049#p19968
Depending on what you are wanting to do, there are other advantages to using a mixer - namely that you can use it with other things as well as a microphone (instruments, CD players, etc.) If you are wanting to eventually set up a “home studio”, the mixing desk is central to it.
Or you can keep digging. Some audio cards/systems have a “20dB Gain Boost” that can go a long way to solving problems like this. We routinely record training sessions and we’re old friends with that 20dB boost. The corporate hardware people got everybody’s attention a while ago by buying sound cards that didn’t have the boost.
'Xcuse me. We sorta need that…
I used an SM-58 with an external sound mixer and my Mac laptop to record all the voice tracks of a theatrical short a while back. I used a Tascam M-06 st which you may be able to get and clean up with a powerful vacuum, Windex and paper towels. I saw one on eBay a while back.