I was looking into the ‘audio only on one channel’ issue in Audacity from a mic running into one channel of a Focusrite Scarlett USB box and a question prompted from some of the material I’ve read.
Would it be a plausible solution to run the mic to a female-to-male y-adapter and plug into both channels of the Scarlett, or would it be better to simply change the setting in Windows 10 for the Scarlett to record in 1 channel/24 bit/480000 hz?
I’m only using the mic (Shure SM7B) for voice recordings. Looking for the setup that’ll result in the best quality. Also noteworthy to mention the Shure mic is running into a DBX 286s, which then connects to the Scarlett (4i4). So, the proposed y-adapter solution would be running from the DBX to the Scarlett.
A Y-splitter probably won’t have any effect on quality. It might be “easier” because you’ll get full-volume when you record in mono. But it’s good practice to leave some headroom so you’ll probably be adjusting the volume after recording anyway.
Especially at 24-bits, half the digital level doesn’t hurt quality. (Low analog or acoustic levels reduce your signal-to-noise ratio, but reducing the digital level doesn’t.)
Thank you for the insight. I’ll try the Windows setting first and see what kind of results I get.
Aren’t you supposed to put a Cloud Lifter between the SM7b and the first preamp?
It’s the peanut butter and jelly of the microphone world. Skippy and Smuckers. The SM7b is a terrific dynamic (moving coil) microphone. Terrific sound quality, almost impossible to overload, and very nearly zero electronic noise. It’s a coil of wire and a magnet inside a heavily shielded enclosure.
It’s quiet. Dynamic type microphones are quiet straight out of the gate and this one sacrifices some volume for it’s frequency contouring and directional baffles.
It’s not unusual to plug your SM7b into a home interface or mixer and “run out” of volume almost immediately. So, in product-speak, SM7bAndCloudLifter, is one word.
Can you get enough zot (technical term) from the DBX? Can you clip the input of the DBX if you wanted to? I’m going with maybe not. Never blow into a microphone, but you can yell as loud as you want. Can you ever get that clip light to come on?
Oh. The DBX is pure analog which explains the need for the Scarlett. I would use the “Y” cable between the DBX and the Scarlett. I guess two associated guitar inputs??? Depending on how you convert to mono later, the analog noise either won’t care if you slice one channel off, or in the case of a channel mixdown, noise may come out about a third quiter. That’s the one I’d use. Home performers never pass noise.
There is a caution. The Lifter “uses up” the preamp’s 48 volt phantom power. So by definition, the preamp has to have 48 volt phantom power available. The SM7b is not a condenser microphone and doesn’t need phantom power. It’s a good combination.
I’ve read opinions that support both beliefs (needed vs not needed). So, in short; I don’t know.
However, the consensus seems to be it is not needed if the preamp isn’t a POS. Whether or not the DBX 286s is considered up to par or not in that situation is something else I cannot readily answer. My main expertise lies in video. I’m a relative novice to the audio world, and am just wanting to create the best voice recordings possible for things like audiobooks and possibly a podcast at some point.
What happens if the device is set to record 2 channels stereo in the Windows sound control panel, and you set Audacity to record 1 channel mono in the Device Toolbar?
not needed if the preamp isn’t a POS.
Also see: Home Equipment.
Getting to mono from a stereo system isn’t hard. Doing it with no damage is a trick. There is a Usual Suspect. Many systems “help you” by reducing each channel to half volume to keep the grand total from going over 100% after the summation. Same voice arriving on both channels, right? Digital systems, in general don’t “do” 200% volume.
You can go with that for a long time with a quiet microphone and process later.
Note this recommended voice recording never gets louder than -6dB (Half).
Until that one magic day you discover that your live voice recordings will never go over -6dB (0.5, half) no matter how hard you yell.
OK, so Stereo Summation may not be the best idea. You can just drop the Right channel and use Left for everything. That’s not dreadful if you can convince one of your systems to do it.
Why the 4i4? you already had one? Those are aggressively Stereo or Multi-Track. Mono need not apply. One note. Did the 4i4 come with a software package? That may have provision for producing a mono recording. It’s not like nobody on earth has ever recorded an audiobook.
There is one way-out-there possibility. Some multi-track devices naturally deliver stereo plus a bunch of mono tracks. So you could use and record the 4i4 track 3.
the best voice recordings possible for things like audiobooks
And just like that you’re in the running for quiet background noise. Other applications and clients may not care, but ACX (for one prominent example) has very serious specifications for what happens to the sound channel when you stop talking (background sound). They also care how you fix it if it’s too noisy. They have a submission failure called “Overprocessing.” Nobody is going to buy your audiobook if you sound like a cellphone or air traffic controller.
A forum note. Do post back if you do get everything to work. We make lists so we can get others out of trouble.
I will try this and report back. Thank you for the suggestion.
This was recommended to me along with the DBX. Well, actually, the 2i2 was the recommended one. But, when I went to buy it, it wasn’t available and the 4i4 was listed as the “newer version”.
I wish the makers wouldn’t do that. Actually, I think the makers cranked out a nice interface, Marketing needs to be taken out and shot.
“4-In and 4-out.” So I can plug in four XLR microphones, right? Well…Ummmm…no.
Maybe this is OK yet. Plug the guitar cable …
from the DBX 286s into the 4i4 Input 3 on the rear and see if you can bring up the interface that way in Audacity.
Maybe this configuration will insist on a Tip, Ring, Sleeve cable. I don’t know.
See if the 4i4 will mount as Mono and it will give you a full-range of loudnesses. Can you make it overload (1.0 or 0dB)? If it does, bring the volume back down and that’s your configuration. Does it sound OK?
To be clear, the audiobook people recommend but don’t require mono. They will accept a stereo reading with the idea that the whole book has to be that way. All the chapters have to match each other. Stereo is harder to edit, takes up twice the storage space, takes twice as long to up and download, and produces edit masters twice the size they need to be.
Now you know why people believe the ad to buy a Blue Yeti microphone, set up on the kitchen table, announce audiobooks, and retire rich.
I was able to try this today and although I did get a remedial result to the original issue, I noticed the volume of the recording dropped considerably when compared to leaving the Audacity setting to record in two channels and changing the setting for the Focusrite to one channel in Windows. Correcting the volume of the suggested recording in post was easy enough, but it does seem like the voice isn’t quite as crisp as the recording that used the latter settings.
I may test further and see what results I get, but for now, there doesn’t seem to be a need for me to add extra hardware and run a y-adapter to the Focusrite box to fill out both channels.
The least damage of all the variations could well be leave everything stereo the whole way, Split Stereo to Mono with the drop-down menu on the left, and [X] delete the dead (flat) channel.
Your proof of performance can be your ability to overload the channel intentionally. Never blow into a microphone, but you can yell as loud as you want. If you can overload the one active channel on purpose, then you should have the full dynamic range and good noise of all the variations. Reduce the volume to normal and start production.