Recording Voice by a Beginner

Hi, I use Audacity 1.3.6 on a standard typical use HP laptop that does not have any advanced sound card at all. I run a 1/8" sterio line out of the microphone jack on the front of the laptop. It goes to a Y adapter which incorporates two 1/8" to 1/4" adapters and then plugs into the L&R Line Input to the CD/Tape channel of a very inexprensive Europower PMH1000 mixer. I am recording weekly sermons from out pastor who is mic’d and fed into the mixer on another channel. Everything works ok except for some reason there is a constant hum or buzz that is detected during any and all recording via this setup. It doesn’t matter whether there is any actual sound input or not, just as soon as I start to record the noise is there and the blue line in audacity is not just a thin straight line as it should be it shows the constant detection of the noise. What would be the reason for this noise and is there a way to rid our simple inexpensive system of it? Or are we just expecting more from the equipment we have then we should be?


Did you have any problem getting the signal level to a reasonable level in Audacity?
I thought the “tape out channel” on that mixer was a pair of RCA sockets?

No I get plenty of signal coming through the mixer to the laptop. And sorry about the mix up your comment made me remember, I use the CD/Tape channel to play audio coming out of the laptop, and I use the Monitor Send channel to record from. So the laptop mic port is connected to the L&R input for Monitor Send and then I turn up the dial for Monitor on whatever channel I am trying to record at the time, and leave all of the others turned down.

But you don’t need to turn the levels down really really low to stop it distorting?

No they are not set really low. I run the Monitor dial for the input channel at about 4 and the slider for Monitor Send is about -15.

In that case I suspect the problem may be your audio lead.
Audio leads for low level signals need to be made with “shielded” cable. I suspect that either the lead is not shielded, or there is a bad or broken earth connection in the lead. Are you able to test the lead or do you know anyone that can?

So can I just go out and purchase a “shielded” 1/8" sterio cable in a 6 foot length, and a Y adapter also?

I usually buy my cables in bulk, but for a one off cable you might be best going to a music shop. Do you have any local shops that sell keyboards and electronic music gear? If you speak nicely to them they may even be able to test your old cable for you.
It should not be expensive.

ok thanks, I will give that a try.