Hi … I have recently upgraded some recording equipment, one part of which has seen me replace my USB mic (a Samson C01U) with an XLR mic (Audio-Technica broadcast headset with boom mic). I made the change mostly for convenience—I record frequently, and setting up the Samson on a stand with a boom and pop screen, well, it was just taking a ton of time. I plug the AT XLR into a Zoom H5 multitrack DAR.
Anyway, for some recording sessions, it would be handier to just plug the AT XLR mic straight into the laptop, but I find that going through the laptop soundcard adds noise and changes vocal timbre in a way that I can’t easily fix with Audacity’s EQ and NR effects. I thought about getting an XLR-USB converter box, but when I went looking online, many of them had user comments saying the box did not/would not interact with Audacity.
Anybody had an XLR-USB that did work well with Audacity?
Any that are “usb audio compliant” should work fine.
The problem comes with devices that require 3rd party ASIO drivers. ASIO is closed source (proprietary) software, and software that is distributed with support for ASIO has to agree to not making the source code public, which directly violates Audacity’s open source license.
AT XLR mic straight into the laptop
There is no good, simple analog adapter between an XLR microphone and the Mic-In of the computer. The XLR is 3-wire and the computer is 2-wire, and that’s over and above needing to supply phantom power or other considerations.
When you start using the computer to record, you need to make sure all the computer voice processing, level setting, echo cancellation and noise reduction are turned off. If you use Skype, chat or conferencing, that’s more processing you need to turn off. Also games.
Any USB service can’t be separated from the computer by more than one 6’ (2M) USB cable and you can’t use a USB hub, ever.
Now you know why one of the recommendations if you have trouble recording with the computer is to stop using the computer. See: H5.
If you insist, The Behringer UM2, UMC22 and the Scarlett Solo are good, single XLR microphone systems that easily adapt to almost any computer and will supply phantom power (if needed).
That’s my UM2 on the left.
You should know that those adapters come with baggage. They are all assumed to be used by inexperienced people and tend to produce low volume whether you want them to or not. Low volume is the least likely error to get you into trouble if you have no idea what you’re doing.
Hey Koz … Thanks for this … I have an XLR-to-3.5-mm male, which I have been using to jack into the mic input. I also have a little 3.5-mm-to-USB connector that is actually meant for use as an output device—plug it into a USB port and get audio output that is cleaner than soundcard audio. Could I use this device as an input? That is, reverse the process by plugging the XLR-to-3.5 into the device, then plugging the device into a USB port?
Also, I’m familiar with USB-purposed mics. I had the Samson C01U and used it successfully for years.
I have an XLR-to-3.5-mm male, which I have been using to jack into the mic input.
And, you said you’re getting noise and it’s changing the timbre.
The XLR microphone is balanced and the mic-input on a soundcard/laptop is unbalanced. “Pro” XLR mics are not (properly) compatible with laptops/soundcards.* Similarly, computer mics don’t work properly with pro audio interfaces, mixers, or PA systems. Plus the mic preamp built-into most laptops/soundcards is usually low-quality. And, you have to be “careful” mixing & matching 3-wire balanced mono connections with 3-wire unbalanced stereo connections.
A [u]transformer[/u]** can convert between balanced and unbalanced but you’re still stuck with the low-quality mic preamp.
I also have a little 3.5-mm-to-USB connector that is actually meant for use as an output device—plug it into a USB port and get audio output that is cleaner than soundcard audio. Could I use this device as an input?
No… An analog output won’t work as an analog input. I’ve never seen a device like that… I have seen the opposite… Input-only devices… For example, I have the [u]Blue Icicle[/u] and there are guitar-to-USB devices, etc. (The Icicle is a little noisy in my setup and it would probably fail for audiobook production.)
Win 7 Audacity 2.3.0: Anybody have an XLR-USB converter that plays [nice] with Audacity?
There are LOTS of good-quality [u]audio interfaces[/u] and virtually all of them come with Windows drivers, so they work with Audacity, except for multi-channel interfaces… Audacity is NOT great at multi-track recording. You can sometimes get noise with USB powered interfaces (like I’m getting with the Icicle) so it’s usually best to get one that has it’s own separate power supply.
- Studio condenser mics also require 48V phantom power (supplied by the interface, mixer, or preamp) so they don’t work with a regular consumer soundcard or laptop mic input.
** That’s not the right transformer… The output impedance of that particular transformer is too high for a soundcard and it’s got a 1/4 inch plug… It’s made to plug-into a guitar amplifier.
In the past (8-10 years) I have used an M-audio presonus USB preamp and laptop for podcast and audio book recording. It went out of production years ago and there are no win 10 drivers for it and recently it started getting glitchy but thats not a bad life for a piece of gear. I then bought a behringer UMC204HD that I use the same way that works just great for me and with audacity. The behringer has a lower noise floor and is a bit cleaner sounding to my old ears and for ~$100 not a bad deal at all.
It did take me a bit to find the right settings to get the behringer to work well with audacity but that was just windows sound settings.
Frankly I like the sound of a good REAL microphone (non-usb) and good usb preamp over a USB mic, but that’s my own call.
I prefer XLR too, but sometimes it’s handier for the pod recording to just jack into the laptop directly. It works OK. Mostly I record .wav through the XLR input on my Zoom H5, then transfer the files to the laptop and use Audacity for editing and production.