Im working with a HP laptop. I tested different external mics connected to the audio jacket, and they sound a little bad. I would like to get a more professional sound. After reading some things on the net i believe I have 2 approches regarding a low budget:
1 - buy an audio media like the Usb audio interface ugm 96 and connect an average mic to it → focus on a good audio interface
2 - buy a good mic and connect it to an usb port → focus on a good mic
3 - good mic and good media is out of my buget!
What do you believe is the best approch: 1 or 2?
The microphone inputs on most laptops are awful, so almost any external USB mic interface is likely to be a big improvement. You don’t need to go to megabucks to get one that is reasonably good, but you probably do need to go $75+.
A “reasonable” USB mic preamp and a “not too dreadful” microphone is likely to be a big improvement. If you get a preamp that has “48 v phantom power” available and “XLR” microphone sockets (one or two), then you can always upgrade the mic later.
PS. I recently saw an ad for “Behringer C1 (microphone) and ART USB Dual Pre Vocal (USB preamp)” for $169.95. I’ve not used the Behringer, but I have used an ART Dual Pre and thought it was very good for the price (around $75).
What’s the goal? It’s not recommended to buy equipment in a vacuum. If you decide to update your gamer recordings or provide clearer Skype recordings, almost anything will work, as above, certainly better than a Windows laptop microphone.
If your goal is a good podcast, the options narrow a little. You should provide good volume and reasonable quality. It should be pleasant to listen to because you’re competing with other podcasts. Many of them are a little ratty, so you don’t have to try too hard.
If your goal is an ACX AudioBook, most of the cheap options go away. ACX compliance and broadcast sound are the same. No noise, excellent studio quality, consistent volume and repeatability. There’s no shortage of postings on the forum from people failing to make it through AudioBook compliance testing with their microphone and recording environment.
I don’t know where you live, but for the price of a decent USB mic, you can get something separate too:
In case you’re in Europe, a T-bone USB mic adapter is 26 € and a T-Bone SC140 SDC mic is 48 €:
In the USA, the Blue Microphones iCycle USB adapter is around 49 $ and an MXL991 or comparable is around 40$. less if you take time to shop around.
Most USB mics don’t have an analog gain setting, which is something to avoid, IMHO.
Blue Microphones iCycle USB adapter
The icicle fell off my fuzzy-warm product list when it turns out it doesn’t have a headphone connection. So there goes convenient, no-latency overdubbing. It’s even further from that list by being promoted as “stylish.” In the first sentence.
It depends on what you’re doing.
What are you doing?
First of all thank you for your answers.
Regarding your questions: Im creating voice over for e-learning video. And im in Europe.
Right now I have two microphones that im testing: a very cheap microphone that connect to the mic jacket and a headset microponhe from logitech that connect to a USB port. I realize that the mic jacket, even BEFORE I connect the microphone, makes too noise! After connecting the microphone the noise persists. I even unpluged the power cable of the laptop, but the problem is the same. So, my first problem is not even a microphone problem
So, I tried the logitech USB mic. The static noise decreased alot. So, in a noiseless environment, I believe I will be able to get a better audio. The problem with this mic is that the handset make somes noise if I move just a little bit my head. Also, it captures all the noise from the room. I tried to decrese the db to +10 or 0 as I made with the microphone connected to the mic jacket, however, this usb microphone doesnt give me an option to set this property!
Thus, right now my tests conclusions are these:
To connect a microphone directly in my laptop mic is not an option. There is to much static there, and it will be a waste of money if I try to buy a better mic to connect there. I used Audacity to remove the noise, and it do a good work, but it is never perfect.
A usb mic is an option. However, like cyrano said “Most USB mics don’t have an analog gain setting, which is something to avoid”. So this can be a limitation!
another option: Im looking at a ugm96 audio interface (or I can consider other, with a similar price rance). This connects to the laptop through a USB port, so I will not get the static fom the mic port. This interface is compatible with my cheap mic. Will this mic perform good connected to this interface? The problem with this interface is that it doesnt support XLR mics, but I believe I dont need to go so further to get a good audio.
That is a big problem if you ever want to upgrade your microphone. Basically it would mean that if you wanted to upgrade your microphone you would also need a new mic pre-amp.
As you’re in Europe, you may be interested in the “T-bone MB85 beta”. It’s really designed as a stage mic - very similar to the Shure SM58 but a bit brighter, but it is also a good general purpose microphone and they are very tough and very cheap at 38 Euro.
As a general rule, the better the microphone, the more it will pick up noise from the room.
In addition to the “quality” of the mic is the designed “pick up pattern”. Some mics are designed to pick up sound from all directions. These are called “omnidirectional”. Other microphones are more directional and pick up sound more from the “front” than from other directions. These are called “cardioid” or “hyper-cardioid”. Omni-directional microphones will tend to pick up more room noise than directional microphones, but even a directional high quality microphone will pick up every little room sound - it’s just a question of how loudly. This is why people use recording studios and sound booths.
For good quality recording it is essential that you have somewhere to record that is quiet and free of echoes.
Use a microphone on a mic stand (even a makeshift mic stand) and use a pop-shield (even a makeshift pop-shield).
So you’re closer to audiobook reading than podcasting.
Restricted budget and noisy rooms don’t play well together. I can record in a noisy room, but it’s not cheap or easy. I’ve done production recordings with a very inexpensive microphone, but in a dead quiet, echo-free room.
One recent poster dragged her equipment to work and recorded there. Work turned out to be a very large room office complex and during weekends they shut down the air handlers. The improvement was remarkable even if the convenience wasn’t so good. I know the goal is to set up on the kitchen table at any time, but kitchen tables can give you some very odd recordings.
Do you know anybody who does good recordings? We have posters who used to do radio broadcasts in studios and are trying to duplicate them at home. They know what the problems are and are slowly cranking through solving them. There is also a famous US radio show that left the studio for home recording and two weeks later went back to the studio.
How long do you have? We can talk you through anything. Ian’s been at this for over a year.