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Old March 9th, 2008, 10:10 AM   #1
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computer mics question

Good Morning,

I am looking to purchase a mic for my computer for doing voice overs.

I was wondering what mics would do a high quality job.

I tried my video mic hooked to the computer and that did not work at all.

Last time i did the voice over to my camera (xl2) then split the audio from video and used it, but i do not want to have to do that!!


#2 on my newer computer, still xp, I can not find the microsoft audio recorder. It is not represented in the frop downs under entertainment in the accessories!!! How would I round that up??



any help would be appreciated!!


thank you
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Old March 9th, 2008, 10:32 AM   #2
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Dale, I do a lot of VO. You will need a good preamp, I use a PreSonus, XLR cables, a good stand with a shock mount and pop filter, and the mic. I use a Rode NT1-A and have been extreamly happy with the sound quaility. Go back and listen to some of the narration I did for the past Challenges. Oh, you will also need a quiet room where you can cut of the AC/HV. Hope this helps. Bob
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Old March 9th, 2008, 11:20 AM   #3
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If your plugging in to the soundcard, be aware some soundcards use a bias voltage that outputs on the "ring".You'll need a special adapter that "opens" the ring connection.I think Shure explains this on their website.
I would suggest something like Sound Forge to record with and not sound recorder.
If you want sound recorder, do a search for " sndrec32.exe " .It should be in windows/system32.
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Old March 9th, 2008, 01:12 PM   #4
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Instead of MS Sound Recorder use the downloadable freeware application "Audacity." A quick Google will turn up the site address and it's lightyears ahead of Sound Recorder.
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Old March 9th, 2008, 01:16 PM   #5
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You didn't mention what your price range was. You can go to Radio Shack and spend $30 or, at the upper end, the sky is the limit.

Like most things related to video or TV, the more money you spend, the LESSER the quality upgrade. From the Radio Shack special to a 'decent' mic, say $100, you will find a large difference. Going from a $500 one to a $1000, you'll find much less of a difference. I know I wouldn't be able to hear it.

For ease of use in the computer realm, you may consider the mics that have a USB output. Mic, preamp, and digital conversion in one package. B&H has several options.

Also, pay close attention to your environment when recording. That will probably affect the sound more than the mic!
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Old March 9th, 2008, 01:42 PM   #6
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Voice overs

As luck would have it I've been doing some voice over experiments this afternoon as I was unhappy with the quality I got on a project I'm working on at present.

I'm using Sony Vegas 7e and was doing VO's right into the timeline at the appropriate video points with a cheap (ten quid/$20) Philips SBC MD150 mic plugged directly into my Dell Dimensions 4600's sound card mic in socket. Quality was pretty horrible...predictably...hence my investigation of the alternatives.

I then tried hooking up my Zoom H2 as a USB mic. Quality was not that much better! One thing I noticed is that this muted the audio out from my PC whilst the mic is connected (I guess they do this to prevent feedback issues) and so made instant checking/listening awkward...I had to disconnect the H2 each time I wanted to check what I'd just recorded directly onto a soundtrack in my Vegas timeline. Then, when you reconnect the Zoom you have to set the H2's recording frequency again (it defaults to 44.1 KHz every time, I want 48 KHz as I'm editing HDV.) The Zoom records stereo so it's best to combine the L & R tracks to mono for narrative - which is a simple 2 second job in Vegas anyway. With care it would be usable and a step up from the Philips but still not what I'd call good enough. This H2 is much better for stand alone music recording I think.

Next I tried my Rode Videomic, again plugged into my soundcard. This time I had to use a 3.5mm female to male extension lead - taking care not to route it near power leads/transformer bricks etc. as this is of course an unshielded cable/mic system, not XLR. Turned it on but did not use low cut or my deadcat for it. Mounted it on a small table top tripod stand on the desk to get postion correct. Quality is light years ahead of the other options I tried.

Then I read Steve's post about Audacity. This is an EXCELLENT sound program that I've used at various times. So tried recording directly into the Audacity timeline with same physical set up as above (Rode on Tripod + extension lead and plugged into soundcard.) It's a close call but I think the Audacity recording is very slightly better quality ...maybe....than the Vegas recording...but they are both very good (I understand the origins of Vegas was in sound recording.)

I was a little worried that the (albeit fairly quiet) fan on the Editing PC might get picked up but it's so low in level I'm OK and I made sure the mic is pointing away from the PC box.

Next on the list was to try using an XLR Sony shotgun mic into a Fostex FR2-LE as I'm pretty sure that would be the best route quality wise....but I'm happy with what I've got so far and will now do my narrative with the Rode directly onto the Vegas timeline on the PC as it's the simpler route to getting what I need done in the time I've got to finish this one.

Just some notes for anyone in a similar dilema!
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Last edited by Andy Wilkinson; March 9th, 2008 at 01:55 PM. Reason: typos!!!
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Old March 9th, 2008, 03:55 PM   #7
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Andy and others,

First, thanks for the help.

I have a rode video mic. Could you explain in a little more detail on how you did this. I believe my hp has a sound blaster sound card. I do not know if you can plug in the back. If that is not good enough what would you recommend putting in??

If you could itemize in point form I would find it easier to follow.

I have adobe audition and have recorded through it but only with a 30 dollar desk mic.

I also have Vegas 6.0 (waiting on upgrade) and this would be great to go to the time line, but do not mind doing so on a stand alone program.


As for price, well I do not want to go past the point of diminishing returns!!

I do some recording of instrumental stuff but primarily solely voice over work!!


dale
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Old March 9th, 2008, 04:33 PM   #8
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Look on the back of your PC. Most sound cards should have a 1/8th socket for accepting a microphone as well as an 1/8th audio out socket next to it (for plugging in a PC speaker system for example.)

So, in my case as described above, it was just a matter of connecting the (very short) mic lead of the Rode to the PC using an extension cable with a socket on one end and a plug on the other.

It works for me. Don't know if it will work for you with that particular sound card though. Anyone?
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Old March 9th, 2008, 04:48 PM   #9
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You should be able to get excellent results with Audition, Vegas, Audacity, or any of a number of other programs - at the recording stage the differences between the software options you have has little to do with the quality of the resulting sound file once you get above the minimal windows recorder. Software differences come into play when looking at the tools they have for editing, mixing, tracking, sound processing, etc. Of much greater importance is the quality of the A/D converters (ie, your soundcard or audio interface), the preamps, your microphone, and (too often overlooked by newcomers) the acoustic quality of your recording space.

"Sound Blaster card" covers a lot of territory - it could be anything from their minimal entry-level OEM card of marginal quality costing about $20 up to their top of the line cards costing several hundred dollars and of capable of fairly good results. The next step up is to an external audio interface that interfaces with your computer through either firewire or usb ports. They're available from a variety of manufacturers, range in price from a few hundred dollars up to the sky's the limit depending on features and the number of channels they have, and are capable of fully professional results.

For voice recording there are a number of options - for VO one generally looks at large diaphram cardioid condenser or dynamic mics. Bob mentioned the Rode NT1a and I'll second his mention as an example of an economical, decent quality, studio mic of the type that is well suited for VO work. Your Videomic could be used but the characteristics of shotgun mics don't really make them as well suited for closeup VO/narration work as are other types.

So there are a couple of questions you need to address. First is just how good does it need to be? Are you shooting for personal interest, as a professional wedding or corporate videographer, aiming for broadcast or theatrical release, or what? And second, just what budget are you realistically willing to spend? High quality sound gear is as just as pricey as video gear and has similar trade-offs in price versus quality.
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Old March 9th, 2008, 06:06 PM   #10
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Steve,

Thanks for the input so far.

1st I do event videography, everything from baby dedications to hockey games. Seem to be doing morre of these as time passes. Have done half a dozen weddings to date as well.

My primary intrrest and pursuit is wildlife videography. I am working on a few different projects that will likly go into dvd production.

I have been requested to produce two 30 minute tv shows or a single on hour special. This is underway but going slowly.

So I want the narations to be acceptable. How much I have to spend depends on current jobs, but I can always cough a few hundred here and there.

I went to b&H and there alre all kinds of pre amps. Do I really need two inputs?

It would be great to have it be usb for ease of use. Looking at the list is kind of like reading hebrew for me!!

A suggestion for economical and a suggestion for a medium range price systems would be highly helpful!! I can then at least research them with a little more knowledge.

I am pretty ignorant in this audio area!!

Thanks
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Old March 9th, 2008, 08:46 PM   #11
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I use a Tascam FireOne. Advantages are:
Direct monitoring with ability to mix the computer output.
2 XLR - 1/4 inch balanced inputs with gain control, pad switch and 48v Phantom
2 - 1/4 inch headphone outs with separate volume controls (quiet amps, too)
2 - 1/4 inch line outs with volume control
Assignable buttons, shuttle wheel and foot switch.

It uses firewire and not usb.

What stands out for me is that is has quiet preamps and headphone amp as well as being flexible.
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Old March 9th, 2008, 09:04 PM   #12
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I cheat. I record to my MicroTrack digital recorder, then plug it into a USB port and suck down the audio file. 96khz 24 bit stereo sound, plus phantom power for my AT2020 mic.

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Old March 9th, 2008, 09:58 PM   #13
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I would recommend the AT2020 usb.
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/AT2020USB/
It's about US$150?
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