Preamp microphone or a plug and play

What must I use? a preamp microphone or a plug-and-play one? I want to start recording vocals to my demos but I’m not sure what kind of mic I have to buy (whith the little money I have). Help! Please.

What sort of music/vocals are you recording?
What is your budget?
What sort of sound card do you have?
Do you want to use the microphone for anything else other than recording vocals onto your computer?
Windows or Mac?
Desktop or Laptop?
How have you recorded the rest of the music?
Any other information that you think may be relevant?

This is probably the most important question that Steve asked:

Do you want to use the microphone for anything else other than recording vocals onto your computer?

If the go the USB route, it will probably be cheaper, but you won’t be able to take that mic to a gig and you’ll always be limited to recording within 15 feet of a computer.

Steve / alatham :

It’s Pop/rock
Very limited budget, I’d say no more than $ 200-250
SoundMax Integrated Digital Audio
Only for vocals
Windows XP
I have recorded the music with
Anymore relevant? I have an old computer:
Compaq presario
Intel(R) Celeron™ CPU
1400 MHz
1.40 GHz, 128 MB of RAM (used 23%)

Thank you guys

This is a good post to read, it’s got a few recommendations that will fit in your budget. Most of the equipment I list is not needed, the post is also out of date since I have a new mic (an MXL V-69).

For things like this, I try to direct people to this website:

There’s a boatload if info there for setting up a recording studio in your home. This page in particular will be helpful for you:

Personally I went looking for a new vocal mic about 5 months ago. The search took me a month, I think. It’s not easy picking one out. The best advice I can really give you is to read all the reviews you can find and listen to any audio clips you can get a hold of. I must have read 50 reviews of mics in my price-range and changed my mind just as often before I finally settled on an MXL V-69 with a Studio Projects VTB1 pre-amp ($400 all told, but worth it).

All of this info deals strictly with non USB mics, so the signal chain looks like this: Mic → pre-amp → sound card. If there’s a bottleneck anywhere along that chain, quality will be compromised. So you’ll have to budget for a pre-amp as well and possibly a new sound card. But you have the flexibility of using it wherever you can plug in a Line level signal.

In my opinion, USB mics can be just as good as regular mics, the advantage of going with a USB mic is that you might get more for your money than going the other route and that the mic is the only thing that affects the quality (provided your computer can handle the recording, it almost certainly can). But the disadvantage is that it’ll only work if there’s a computer handy and you have far fewer options.

I’ve tried to avoid pointing you toward specific mics because I don’t want to poison the well. If you’re just looking for a list of available mics, I suggest going to or or and browsing their mic selection. Then start looking for reviews.

Remember, the more research you do before you buy the less likely you’ll slap yourself on the forehead 6 months from now when you learn about a great mic that costs less and sounds better.

A “Behringer XENYX 1204FX mixing desk”, a “T-Bone MB85 beta”, and a few leads should fit your budget and allow scope for future expansion, and give you some hardware effects as well.

The mixing desk has great features, good sonic quality and remarkably well built for the price. It also includes a small USB interface that is similar to the UCA202 so if your sound card is lacking, you can use USB instead. Unfortunately it does not have “Phantom Power”, but the microphone that I suggest does not need that.

The “T-Bone MB85 beta” (make sure it is the “beta” not the regular “MB85”) is quite awesome at the price - they are very robust and make excellent stage microphones - for rock vocals you can be as loud as you like without fear of overloading the microphone.

T-Bone microphones are available from “Thomann” in Germany - they also sell “K&M” microphone stands which are very good value - the more expensive K&M mic stands cope well with years of hard gigging use, but even the cheap ones should last well for home use.