Hi everyone, I’m pretty much a fresh newbie when it comes to this stuff so please excuse any mistakes I make:
When using Audacity (2.0.5) and a wired Audiotechnica lavalier mic I can record audio (voice) on my desktop PC with no upgraded soundcard (just what’s on the motherboard/chip) and the result it’s absolutely acceptable. I input the voice recordings into videos for an instructional site that I have, and I’m very happy with the results.
However now I need a much more mobile option for video and audio recording on the go and so I’m using a MS Surface Pro 2 w/ 64 bit Windows 8, Logitech HD webcam for the video, and that part of it all works great, however when using the same mic as mentioned above, well the result is horrifically bad (I’m not sure of the technical terms sorry, but it sounds all scratchy and distorted, heavy background noise/hum and my voice can’t be heard well at all). All of my Surface drivers are up to date so I gather the soundcard in the machine is garbage and there’s probably a lot of interference from all the ‘stuff’ jammed into such a small casing.
The Solution I think…
I’ve been soaking up as much audio/recording info I possibly can in the last two days, and I’ve come to the conclusion that Audacity isn’t the problem (or the solution) and that I need an external USB sound card with a 3.5mm mic jack to help clean up the audio. I assume the mic is still suitable as it’s been working perfectly fine on my desktop PC.
I’d like to keep things as portable as possible without breaking the bank, and I’ve narrowed it down to either the Sound Blaster X-FI GO! PRO or the Behringer UCA202 Audio Interface (or maybe the UCA222, I’m still trying to work out the difference).
My main question: which one of these would be better suited to fix the problem I have?
From all the reviews and information I’ve read I have a feeling that the Behringer would give superior results, if for no other reason that it records at 48 kHz as opposed to the 44.1 of the Sound Blaster unit. However I’ve not been able to confirm if the Behringer has a 3.5mm mic jack or records at 24bit (does anyone know?)
If anyone can provide any input into either of these units and which they think would provide me with the best solution I’d be very grateful.
NO, no, no. Stop.
Which Audiotechnica Lavalier microphone? Model numbers. We live on silly fine details.
We maintain a probably unhealthy close relationship with the UCA202, but it does not have a microphone amplifier inside.
I use an external USB device that simulates the old connections in a Windows laptop. That’s a Startech ICUSBAUDIO.
That’s it being used with an Olympus TP7 or TP8 for recording cellphone calls – both sides. I expect it to work very nicely with any microphone that has a 1/8" plug including that one which demands the adapter provide battery. It also provides a connection for headphone, but I don’t know that I would trust it for high volumes.
We have a bunch of these at work and we did get one that failed out of the box, so this is not the Porche of audio devices.
Ah! I thought I listed everything… lol Here’s the exact mic I’m using : link
Do you see any significant problems with this one? I figured that as my desktop PC handles it fine with great results that it should still work ok with the Surface.
You mention a ‘microphone amplifier’ - is this the sort of thing that I must have, or that it’s just a nice addition if I can get it?
The Startech product looks quite similar to the Sound Blaster product and the writeups on each seem to indicate they do the same job - would you agree with this, or am I missing something critical?
Thanks for the help so far, much appreciated.
That’s the Radio Shack 3013.
I think I have three of them. They do not require that the interface do anything other than amplify the show and digitize it. The battery (to run the microphone) arrives as part of the microphone. Highly recommended. For crisper sound, try running it without the fuzzy foam ball on top. Be careful not to get any dirt in the head if you do that.
A microphone produces a signal 1000 times smaller than the signal at your headphone connection or the stereo line-out of your cassette machine or CD player. So yes. Somewhere you have to provide a 1000X boost to the signal to get it loud enough for the computer and that’s what the microphone amplifier does. That Startech unit has one inside. The UCA202 doesn’t.
Sound Blaster product
The Blaster product web page goes on for ten minutes about how it “enhances” the 3D headphone experience and provides sound services and addendums you will probably spend most of your time finding and turning off.
Content creation is the very last place you want fancy equipment “helping you.” Plain and predictable are good. We had a Windows machine destined for one of our communications systems and it drove me crazy because I couldn’t get it to run plain and straight. Turns out someone had left “opera house simulation” running and it was coloring and distorting all my tests.
Do you have any idea what Blaster “SBX Pro Studio High Definition” is?
They don’t say anything about the microphone side of the unit other than it exists. It’s up to you. If you feel up to managing the Blaster unit – I’m sure it takes software drivers and software packages to get it to run. Then go for it.
The Startech is very simple and plug 'n play. Startech isn’t the only company that makes these simpler units. It’s entirely possible the Blaster unit will run plain and simple if you don’t install the software.
There may be another consideration. The microphone connection in your deskside machine was adjustable. These may not be. They have no physical knobs on them although the Blaster unit may have something in software. Hard to know. You are in that slim canyon between fully USB microphones which are relatively well understood and full-on sound mixers which have published specifications.
Oh, there’s one more. Google your product name and "complaints. Nobody is interested in the comments that the product is perfect in every way, but the complaints tend to be real.
Thank you very much for all the useful info Kozikowski!
After taking it all in I believe I’ll go with the Startech product.
I ended up going with the Startech product, plugged it straight into my Surface Pro 2 without needing to load any drivers at all, and it works PERFECTLY!
The only word of caution though is that you should not use the small USB extension cable that comes with the Startech unit, it kept putting a very high pitched whine in my recordings but once the cable was removed and the unit plugged straight into the Surface everything worked great.