Need advise microphone?

Hi Guys, I’ve just found this awesome forum, woooo so much expertise. I’m a newbie on a steep learning curve, loving it. Have made my first CD, had great fun with it all, music tracks great, but not happy with the quality of the spoken voice track. I’m using a Logitec Premium Stereo headset which uses 2 jacks, one pink and one green and yes I’m putting them into the right places, rather than a USB cable. The other problem I’m having is that I can’t hear my voice though the headphones while I’m recording, though I can during playback.

Can one of you wise ones give me some suggestions as to what sort of mic I should be using to get nice, warm tones for spoken voice? Thanks

whoah, big topic here.

You can ask 100 recording engineers what equipment to use to get the best sound and you’ll get about 95 different answers.

First off, ditch the headset. It’s a terrible way to record a quality voice signal. The mic is way too close to the mouth, or it’s off-axis, and the mic is also of low quality in many cases.

If you’re still with me, then you should know that it’s going to take some money. First I’ll describe my personal setup and then I’ll try to give you some other directions to go in.

My personal mic setup:
A mic stand (I use a boom stand, ~$20).
A Shockmount for the mic (mine’s a universal one that fits my mic, ~$20)
A pop-filter (make one out of panty hose for free, mine is just a pair of tights stretched over a bent up metal clothes hanger)
An AKG C1000s mic (~$150 on ebay)
A mic cable with XLR plugs (~$10)
An ART Tube pre-amp (~$40)
Another short mic cable with XLR plugs (~$10)
An M-Audio Delta 1010LT soundcard (~$200 on ebay)
A decent set of over-the-ear headphones (~$40) (do not use speakers to monitor your recordings, you will be sorry)

All in all, ~$500 for a quality vocal setup. The good news is, you can probably get by with quite a bit less. Personally, I record using several different instruments I’ve got at home, sometimes with 5 tracks being recorded at once. That’s why I have a really fancy soundcard with 8 inputs. You probably won’t need this much.

Any card with a nice quality Line In will work well, depending on the quality you’re aiming for, you might be able to get by with something as cheap as the Behringer UCA202 ($30), or something nicer like the Edirol UA-1EX ($70).

But the things you’ll really need to shop around for are the Mic and the pre-amp. They will do the more to color the sound than any other pieces of equipment. I recommend actually going to a music store and testing equipment; online music stores are great when I know exactly what I need, but please support real-life music stores, they’ll be able to help you out a lot more and you’ll know exactly what your equipment will sound like before buying.

There are many different kinds of mics, but really only 2 kinds you should consider, Dynamic mics and Condenser mics. There are way too many models to even begin a comprehensive list here.

Dynamics include the Shure SM58 and the Samson Q7. I have little experience with Dynamics, but they’re known for being very rugged and reliable. They also don’t require any of the special equipment that Condensers require (more on that later). But they’re not as accurate and can’t accurately re-create the entire audio spectrum, so they tend to be used for specific applications. Both of the mics I mentioned are listed as good for vocals.

Condensers come in two flavors, Large Diaphragm and Small Diaphragm. Large Diaphragm mics are more expensive, but better at capturing nuances in the audio. They tend to be used for picking up vocals directly and picking up “room tone” when micing instruments. Small Diaphragm mics (the AKG C1000s is one) are a little more forgiving if the room is not so great sounding, and cheaper. On the other hand, they aren’t quite as accurate (though still better than a dynamic mic). I only have experience using my AKG C1000s, I really like it for vocals, handheld percussion (shaker, maraca), and acoustic guitar. I haven’t used any Large Diaphragm mics but I would like to purchase one in the future. One of the guys I work with swears by the RODE NT1A, it’s a Large Diaphragm mic. That’s probably the Large Diaphragm mic I’ll buy when I get around to it.

One important thing to know about Condenser Mics is that they require phantom power. Your pre-amp needs to supply this or the mic won’t work. Most pre-amps supply this, but be sure before you buy.

Sam Ash is a pretty good place to look at the various models of Dynamic Mics and Condenser Mics. Look at those links to get an idea of what to look for, but go to a store to try them out.

As for pre-amps, the only one I’ve ever used is the ART Tube. It’s certainly not the best, but it’s cheap and it’s got a nice warm tone when coupled with my AKG C1000s mic.

Good luck. If you have any more questions, just ask. If you have questions about specific equipment, please link us, it’ll save time.

What a legend you are ‘alatham’. THANKYOU for taking the time to answer my question with such thoroughness and detail. You’ve made something that was a big mystery into something do-able. Thankyou so much for sharing your knowledge and time with such generosity.

No problem, recording is one of my passions, so I enjoy teaching it when I can.

There is one thing I forgot to mention. Make sure you can plug everything in before you head home (if you buy it all at once). I use 2 XLR mic cables to plug between the mic → pre-amp and between the pre-amp → soundcard. But my soundcard has XLR plugs on it. The vast majority do not, so make sure you buy the right cables.

Few things are more irritating than driving home and realizing you need a $4 piece of cabling to get anything working.

Here is another option; I use mine to record radio spots. Though you can use a 9V battery, I recommend you use 48V phantom power (such as that on my M-Audio Fast Track Pro), either on the audio interface or a preamp.

I plan on adding a tube preamp to my setup soon (either the PreSonus BlueTube or the TubePre).

One easy answer to getting stereo sound into a pc:

Griffin iMic USB Microphone Audio Adapter sound card(pictured above). See

reviews here & here
(US buy from or

But someone says it can’t record stereo in Linux or Vista.

Most microphones will probably have a male 3 pin XLR plug, which means you will need a XLR FEMALE to 6.3mm 1/4" MALE STEREO JACK(see here), unless, your microphone is the “Shure PG58 - QTR” vocal microphone(£35, US$60 reviewed here) which has a 6.3mm 1/4" MALE STEREO JACK.

If you have a 800mhz PC:

Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Roadie(sometimes called the new name SRM) USB Sound Card with built-in stereo microphone US$50(inc post), £66

info here & here
review here, here, here, here & here
manual here(5 Mb)
It comes with a stereo 3.5mm plug to 3.5mm plug cable. you will need a converter plug to convert from 3.5mm to 1/4inch to plug it into a pre-amplifier.

see here

you will need a pre-amplifier(eg. art tube) plugged into the line-in of the USB sound card if you use a microphone, but USB sound cards are better than internal ones for making stereo recordings.

[download a demo in ogg format of the Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Roadie’s built-in stereo microphone recording ability here 218Mb, from the “Buddhist Chants” cd. audacity showed its highest frequency was 17khz, but clearly the card struggles with high volumes. ogg is like mp3 & if Microsoft had used it, the mp3 organization would not have sued them when Microsoft wrongly thought they had paid the correct usage fees!]

the M-Audio Mobile-Pre-USB (US$180 £90) is not said to be that good. reviews here say it is noisy.

a more professional solution is the Lexicon Omega usb
picture here US$200 £140
front picture here
reviews here, here, here, here & here says do not set your buffer settings too low or you get crackling - they have a 2Mb audio file explaining this. has a demo on installation.

or the Lexicon lambda (US$150 £100)
here, here, here

or the Lexicon Alpha (US$100 £56)

only suited to dynamic microphones as it has no phantom power. information here, here, here, here

Lexicon Alpha, with the lambda & omega, the latter 2 have phantom power for condenser microphones. has a lot of information for novices. they recommend the Shure sm57($100 £65) dynamic microphone as a good all-round starter, reviews here,

I just completed a recording studio class (1 semester) so I know just enough to be dangerous. :smiling_imp: I have the class, but no experience.

alatham’s first answer is actually wrong. If you ask 100 engineers, you’ll probably get closer to 1000 answers. The problem is that all mics are good mics, but each one colors the sound a different way. So the question is not “which one is right,” but rather “which one gives this sound the quality it needs?” My instructor is always happy to get new mics; it’s the biggest limitation when working on a budget. And if you start recording other things (piano, drums, live band) you’ll discover that mics come in many different shapes, sizes, and technologies, every one of which is useful somewhere.

You’ll want to fiddle with the position of the mic. Sometimes you can avoid pop problems by pointing the mic downward at your nose. The pops will shoot underneath, and not mess up the recording. You’ll need to listed to the result to see how it affects the sound of your voice.

You also may want to consider ribbon mics, as my instructor said the analog types think they work much better with digital mixing. Oddly he phrased it that way; I don’t think he believes it, since he’ll use any of his mics with his digital setup.

I just created a post and someone directed me to this thread. I’m looking to record audio books at home. The studio I went to closed and the rest are too expensive. Thanks. Right now, I’m thinking of the Samson C01 mic and the Firepod firewire with Cubase. I think the Firepod could be overkill, but I’m just not sure which other.

My son has a band, so I thought about something he might use too, therefore the Firepod. But it’s expensive for my needs I think.

Of course, I’ll get the pop cover and headphones, etc.


Lyonsden, I used Sanson C01s for a long time and was completely happy (especially for less than $70.00).
For a large diaphram condenser at that price, it’s a steal.

Hoping to enhance my vocals, I recently purchased a StudioProjects C 1 for about $240.00. I read a review where engineers did blind tests of it against the Neumann U 87 ($3,000.00) and actually preferred the C 1.

The C 1 is very nice, but not that much better. I actually have buyer’s remorse for not sticking to the Samsons, which I still have and may go back to.

hey everyone
this helped me out a bit, even though it’s a basic guide - I think it gives a decent breakdown l
in any case, good luck, blackdiamond13 @ Jemsite

<<<You’ll need to listed to the result to see how it affects the sound of your voice.>>>

Which brings us back around to good headphones. Trying to monitor sound from live speakers presupposes that you have a good room with minimum echoes, a good amplifier, etc. etc. etc. Nobody ever has that, so a grand place to start is headphones.

I’ve found that comfortable sound counts more than absolute accuracy. Prop your laptop on your tummy and watch a movie on headphones. If you can make it through two hours of headphone wearing, then you have a winnah. I haven’t figured out a good way to condense that experience into a quick shopping trip to West Side Audio. I have a top grade set of cans where I can’t listen at good volume. I keep wanting to reach over and turn them down–and they’re not that loud. I’m guessin’ distortion or a very non-flat frequency response.

I’ve been known to go back to my original Sennheiser HD-414s which are still running after some 45 years. Sennheiser re-issued the HD-414 and prompted pages of engineering tests and opinions on line comparing the old and new. The new ones are basically a good, conventional Sennheiser headphones in a 414 body. The original 414 was almost an engineering mistake. They put two microphone diaphragms in open air foam cases and slipped them on. They sounded much better (smoother) than most things available at that time except for its slightly weak bass. Still true. I’ve sat through many movies with those things.

Get a young woman to go with you shopping. Those people can detect audio problems before you finish parking the car.


Personally I hate monitoring through headphones - give me a decent pair of speakers any day. Having said that, a good pair of headphones will probably little more than 10%-20% of the price of a good pair of speakers.

Re: headphones vs speakers, it probably depends on what you’re listening to. I do very quiet work, and the difference is enormous. A track that sounds fine on speakers can turn out to have all sorts of little noises when played through headphones.

<<<it probably depends on what you’re listening to.>>>

Or more to the point, what your audience is. If you know everybody is going to be listening in the car, headphones are a complete waste of time.


So do I, and I think good speakers are a swell idea. However, when you walk into a system where you know the speakers would have to improve a good deal to achieve the kind of quality you want to throw in the dust bin, headphones are a good alternative. There’s a posting on here about someone producing a complex series of audio tracks and wondering why nobody’s system sounds like hers does. No guarantee, of course, that her system is correct.

The flat spots on both sides of your head and sweaty ears are a good inpetus to save for speakers. Oh, and be sure to walk away from the computer at least once and forget you have them on.

There’s a standing joke, by the way. Any time you bring up sound problems all the engineers start shopping for headphones. It’s one of the things that makes engineers and production people get on so well.


Topic locked as it is now only attracting spam posts.