logitech usb mic clipping

I’ve used Audacity for a few years but only for general internal audio recording or spoken voice. Now I’m trying to record my jazz big band rehearsals through my laptop. I’m not looking for CD quality, just something decent to rehearse with or possibly even put clips of on my blog. I have just a general Logitech desktop USB mic. I’m pretty new at all this but I couldn’t find much info online or in the forums.

I am getting a huge amount of clipping. The band volume is extremely loud and we’re not mic’ed so I don’t have a board I can plug into.

I’ve brought the input volumes of the mic way down but rather than getting a softer and cleaner signal, I’m actually getting a softer clipped signal. It seems to me that the mic itself simply can’t handle volume that loud. Is that the case? I know this isn’t really what the mic was made for. Again I don’t know all that much about audio recording.

Here’s what it looks like when I have the input volume at %75:

Here’s at ~%50:

If someone can give me some tips, or even a recommendation on an inexpensive (<$50) mic that would work well for just a general recording of our big band that would be great.

Thanks!
Matt

Yeah, you’re clipping at the mic itself. You’ll need a mic that’s capable of picking up much louder sources than that little mic.

Samson makes two of them that will probably work:
http://www.samsontech.com/products/productpage.cfm?prodID=1879
http://www.samsontech.com/products/productpage.cfm?prodID=1810&brandID=2

They’re not quite the price you were looking for, but $50 mics are really poor quality as a general rule. I really urge you to spend at least $80. That’s the price point where quality shoots up disproportionately to price.

Thanks alatham! That really helps.

I did a search on Yahoo Shopping and found quite a few places offering the Q1U for ~$50. The C01U is ~$80, which isn’t prohibitive if it will do what I need.

I live in the Temecula, CA area and I’ve had a hard time finding either of these mics at local stores such as Guitar Center. I’d really like to have the ability to return it if it doesn’t record my band well or find a place I could try it out in the store with my laptop.

Guitar Center has the Blue Snowball for $99, which is more than I wanted to spend, but they’ll let me bring in my laptop to try it out. The general reviews look pretty good as long as I don’t try it with Windows Vista.

Anyone have any comparisons between the two? Alatham, I know this is outside the range I originally asked. Sorry!

Thanks for the help!
Matt

I did use the Samson C01U for about 2 hours once. I bought it because I didn’t want to deal with buying a mic pre-amp but still wanted a condensor. But I returned it the same day. I found two major problems with it:

  1. As of now, you will be limited to using one USB mic (and no other sources) at a time in Audacity. So if you want a stereo USB mic, you’ll have to wait for drivers that will list them as a single source (I’m not sure if these exist). This shouldn’t be much of a problem for you though (but think about the future too, there’s no point in spending $80 on a mic if you’re going to want to record in stereo in 2 months and have to replace it).

  2. It had noticeable self noise and limited bit depth. The self noise problem could have been that I had a defective unit, but it was almost as bad as my $30 Nady Starpower piece of crap. But the limited bit depth is really annoying. You’re better off getting a mic that can record at 32-bits, you’ll get much nicer resolution (aka dynamics) out of it (especially important given that you’re recording a live jazz band).

I can’t compare it to any other USB mic as it’s the only one I’ve ever used.

I would recommend trying out that Blue mic though. They’re a very well respected mic company (much more so than Samson). That Blue mic also looks like it comes with a mini tripod, that’s a $15 deal if you ask me (moot point if you already have a mic stand).

Thanks alatham,

I have a friend who’s a videographer and he has the C01, which apparently is a non-USB version of the C01U. He really likes it but made the point that it may not be the best for what I want to do. He did mention that condenser mics, like the Q1U, seems to work the best when you’re talking or playing directly into them since they aren’t self powered. Knowing this they’re probably not the best for my situation since I want more of an ambient room recording. He also suggested trying out the blue snowball.

I don’t really have a need for stereo, but as always with this stuff, once you get in you want to go deeper. I do have a very basic version of Sony Acid XMC. I don’t know if that might end up serving me better. Audacity has always been very easy to use and I’ve always been happy with the quality.

Anyway, I’ll leave stereo to another day. The snowball is already pushing my budget just for a “would like to do” task. I doubt I have the budget for stereo mics.

Thanks!
Matt

I disagree. The thing that makes the biggest difference in this regard is the Polar Pattern. For your uses, I would look for a mic that has an omnidirectional or subcardioid pattern. Condensors really are the most accurate affordable mics around, I highly recommend them for recordings with a sense of ambiance.