Equipment advice for recording!!! HELP!


I am looking for equipment advice for some simple recording.

I am a brass player (tuba specifically), so I am recording acoustic instruments (mainly brass quintets and solo brass with piano), nothing electronic.

I have an iBook G4 with a 512 ram which can be upgraded to 1.5 GB of ram if that would help out, and a 1.33 ghz processor, running OS X 10.4.11.

For the last several years I have used Audacity with a Sony mic (mini plug) and the iMic interface into the USB port (no line-in on an iBook). I have used this for mainly rehearsal purposes and a few competitions with OK results. There is a definte “hiss” in the background on everything I have recorded.

I am looking to upgrade and would love to simply use two mics and be able to record those simultaneously controlling them in Audacity (Left-Right, Volume, etc) during recording and playback.

Is any of this even possible with my equipment? I do have a firewire port, so I figured that helps my chances. My knowledge of this stuff is very basic.

Just looking for suggestions on mics, but mainly an interface that would allow this.


<<<(no line-in on an iBook).>>>

Actually, the iBook has a high-level, stereo Line-In. No mono Mic-In, pretty much the reverse of a Windows laptop.


There is no “simply use two mics.” Two microphones is usually the place you graduate to an external mixer. There are ways to force a system to use two microphones, but they don’t lend themselves to production. Someone posted they were going to try a “Y” cable and jam the two microphones together. We didn’t think much of the idea but urged them to try it anyway. They never wrote back.

Yes, the iMic isn’t the greatest way to get a microphone into a Mac. You’re lucky you only got the hiss problem. Mine had that plus computer noise leaking into the performance. We’ve had pretty good luck with these…

I do very good quality recordings using one of these…

…plugged into one of these…

…which will plug right into an iBook, PowerBook, MacBook.

Independent control of four microphones or combinations of microphone and high-level stereo sources like tape and guitar direct.

There is the split between pro microphones and computer microphones. Computer microphones have plugs like this (scroll down)…

…while pro microphones have a much heavier three-pin arrangement like this…

If you decide to be happy with one microphone, you don’t need to go the mixer route, you can use one of the higher quality/pro microphone USB sound devices we reviewed here…


Which Sony mic? The stereo single-point mic or a mono one? for a discussion of two-microphone recording techniques.

I’ve never used this but I’ve generally had good luck with M-Audio gear although others might disagree.

Microphone are another story. How deep are your pockets? $400 a pair versus for $99, versus $850 each.

– Bill


It claims to have a stereo mini-plug on the end of the cable. Is there a line amplifier inside the mic? If not, that won’t plug into anything. It will be mono in a Mic-In connection and impossibly low level in a Line-In connection.


I have effectively no top end for a microphone purchase, but I don’t know what I would buy if I had to. I’m using the Shure SM58 because I didn’t have to buy it. I’ve got other unexciting microphones that were bought for other projects and then just stayed around – so I don’t have an intentional microphone purchase.

Those test voice clips on my site were recorded with a microphone made in the sixties.

I don’t know if I dared to show up at a commercial sound shoot with that…but it would work.

It’s a ribbon and that complex assembly under the fork mount is a rubberized shock column.


The Sony mic in question works with the iMic (it really does have a stereo mic input) and the M-Audio MicroTrack II (these from personal experience), and probably with the Edirol portable flash recorder as well.

– Bill

So, let me get this straight…

I could use the Peavy mixer and two mics, plugged into my iBook via USB, which can record with Audacity?? Does the computer/Audacity recognize that I have two different mics plugged in, how would that look in Audacity? Can I control the two mics separately… Ch.1/Ch.2 in Audacity as I am recording/playback?

I have been using a Sony ECM-MS907. Does an XLR mic give you better quality than a 1/8" plug? Also, does Firewire give you better quality than USB as far as connecting an interface?

Sorry for the questions… thanks for the helpful responses by the way!!

Using Koz’s setup with the Peavy, you connect the two mics to the Peavy (using the Peavy as a mic pre-amp), pan the two mic channels hard left and right then record the stereo signal in Audacity. You get a single stereo track, with one mic on the left and the other on the right channel. If you want to process/adjust those mic signals separately you can split the stereo track in Audacity into two separate tracks.

When recording you cannot control them separately within Audacity but you can control them separately using the controls on the Peavy mixer before the signals enter the computer.

XLR does not give better quality than 1/8". But mics with XLR connectors are generally of higher quality than mics with 1/8" connectors. The ECM-MS907 is a nice little mic for the price. As I said before, you get what you pay for. The iMic is notoriously noisy (hissy). A pair of Neumann KM184’s ($1700) and a super low noise pre-amp ($??) will sound better. The question is, will it sound twenty times better?

Firewire is faster than USB, so is more appropriate for multi-channel interfaces. It does not give better audio quality - it’s all digital at that point.

– Bill

Thanks Bill… Yes, the Sony does a pretty good job for the $. You’re explanation of the logistics makes sense. Do you have suggestions on mics for around $200 for a pair?


Just for clarification…does the Peavy PV6 mixer use USB to connect to the computer? I looked at a couple of product descriptions but it did not specify.