Got some decent equipment but I`m totally lost.

So, I just got a couple of nice recording stuff for the holidays because Ive always wanted to get my musical ideas down on my computer, problem is, Im struggling with this whole process.

Here is a detailed list of what I have, and what I`ve tried:

-Shure SM57
-Alesis io2 express (connects to computer via USB)
-Monster XLR cabe (I guess for the mic into the mixer)

Here is how it went. I took the 3 things mentioned and hooked them all up. Mic to mixer via XLR cable, and mixer to laptop via the USB chord that came with it. Unfortunately, I could not get the mic to pick up sound with this setup. So I looked around and dug up a VERY SHORT cable that had a headphone sized plug on both ends. I then took one end and snapped on a piece that made it larger and stuck that into the mixer into a port called “insert.” Then I took the other side and plugged that into the mic port on my laptop. It was actually picking up the Mic now through “realtech high definition audio,” and I started recording. However, I must be doing it completely wrong because the quality is pretty damn bad, it sounds compressed, muddy and the volume level takes crazy drop offs during notes held for a long time.

With the equipment I have so far, can anyone tell me what else I need to do proper recordings? And if I have everything I need right now, would anyone know how to set these things up properly? Thanks.

I found a nice video made by a musician who hit some bad patches with this thing.

I think you wired the mixer wrong. You should only have two cables not including your headphones.

An XLR cable between your SM-57 and the Alesis.

…and then the USB cable between the Alesis and the computer. Disconnect everything else.

Open up or restart Audacity 1.3. Audacity 1.2 is outdated and may not work.

Go into Audacity 1.3 Preferences > Devices > Input and see if you can see and select the Alesis.