time for a new mic??

Wow, what a resource and a great cite to have to post to. I am using windows vista and a focusrite 6 usb with 2 inputs and 4 outputs. I have just downloaded the new version of Audicity 2.0.0 and have made some attempts at recording. Channel one is a guitar pick up channel and 2 is a microphone of questionable quality of my music days dating back to the 70’s. Even thought the recorded levels from the guitar pick up are good the mic seems very weak . I have used this mic for both instruments and vocals and it can only be heard after either sliding the volume cursor all the way over or editing amplify.
Has anyone out there purchased a mic they really like with audacity/, and if so which one…and how much?? ps the interface does have 2 pre-amps!!
Thanks, mandolin player

Does your mic have an XLR connector? (All good studio/performance mics are low-impedance balanced with XLR connectors.) If it’s the right “kind” of mic, it might have a broken connection inside. But if you can’t repair it yourself, it’s probably not worth paying to get it repaired. I assume you’ve tried a different mic cable?

The most popular mic of all time is the [u]Shure SM57/58[/u] (~$100 USD). The 57 & 58 are essentially the same mic, except the SM58 has the ball wind/breath screen (for vocals). These are mostly live/performance mics, although the SM57 is used frequently on electric guitar in pro studios. A Shure 57/58 should last you a lifetime! You can get a better mic, but “you can’t go wrong” with an SM 58. (I own one.)

In “the studio”, large diaphram condenser mics are used for vocals and almost everything else. Again, you’ll probably need to spend about $100 USD (or more). A popular inexpensive condenser mic is the [u]AT2020[/u] (I’ve never used one.) If you spend more, you can get a multi-pattern mic and some extras like a pad (to reduce the output level with loud sound) and a high-pass filter, etc. And of course, if you spend more you might get better sound. The AT2020 comes in a USB version, but I would not recommend that since it limits what you can do and you have the Focusrite.

The SM57/58 is a dynamic mic (with a voice coil like a mini-speaker). Studio condenser mics require phantom power, which your Focusrite can provide.

Condensers usually have more high-frequency sensitivity for a more “crisp-clear” sound, and dynamic mics tend to have a “softer” or “duller” sound… But, you can always adjust that with EQ. Pros with access to a “mic locker” can choose a different mic for every situation. Amateurs c an’t do that but we can compensate (to some extent) with EQ.

Has anyone out there purchased a mic they really like with audacity?

FYI - The quality of your recording doesn’t depend on the software. The software is essentially just selecting a digital source and routing the digital data from your interface to your hard drive as a file. If you wanted to do multitrack recording, or multitrack post-production mixing and things like that, you’d probably want to give more consideration to the software…

As DVDdoug mentioned, for using a typical recording microphone you need to have an XLR input socket with (nominal 48 v) phanthom power.

I’ve used one of these for many years and considering it’s very low price, the sound quality is surprisingly good (and a nice carry case too).

They also do a USB version, but if you have a reasonably good mic pre-amp in the sound card I’d recommend sticking with a conventional (non-USB) microphone.

Regarding the signal level and noise level, it largely depends on what you are recording. There’s a huge difference between recording a powerful voice at a distance of 10 cm, and recording a finger-picked mandolin at 30 paces. For the latter you would probably need a very high quality (expensive) and very sensitive microphone with a (expensive) low noise, high gain microphone pre-amp - or get a lot closer.

I use the SC 450 microphone with a Behringer mixing desk and find that the signal level is high enough for such things as spoken voice, acoustic violin, acoustic guitar, etc,

Many thanks to Steve and Doug for their timely reply to my questions regarding a new mic.
Best regards, tomas