Narration on a laptop: Mic and Sound Card Suggestions? at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

All Things Audio
Everything Audio, from acquisition to postproduction.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old March 24th, 2008, 01:16 PM   #1
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Winnipeg Manitoba
Posts: 96
Narration on a laptop: Mic and Sound Card Suggestions?

Hey all,

Last year I shot a little travel doc on the U.S. cruising the west coast and southern U.S. in my 1973 VW bus. There are quite a few people in the VW community interested in it so I'm starting to edit everything together.

My home computer is an HP Notebook bought last year. I don't have the specs handy but it's fairly new. I was wondering if someone could suggest a decent mic and perhaps a sound card that would plug into my USB ports. I want to use it for narration and realize the on board mic is not really built for anything of quality.

On a side note, should I record the voice overs right into Premiere or use another piece of software and import it? Just curious as I'm fairly new to this. Thanks in advance.

Scott
Scott Thibodeau is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 24th, 2008, 09:16 PM   #2
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Bristol U.K.
Posts: 244
Try a Nuemann TLM103 with an SE Reflection Filter and pop shield.

And I'll let someone else suggest the sound card...

Although I would suggest an Mbox2 with the Bomb Factory compressor and digidesign noise gate plugins in Pro Tools.

Problem is that setting up the gate, compressor and limiter is the really hard bit.

And that implies that the recording and mic placement are at least satisfactory. It is worth trying to do it right though. If you project is a serious one then I hope this serious answer is helpful.
Jimmy Tuffrey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 24th, 2008, 09:43 PM   #3
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Singapore
Posts: 111
For a sound card. Maybe you could consider a M-audio Fastrackusb?
http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_u...kUSB-main.html
Hsien Yong is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 25th, 2008, 03:08 AM   #4
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Posts: 1,538
If you've got a few days to wait, I got a "shipped today" notice from Markertek a little gizmo I ordered that purports to be a phantom powered mic preamp and level control built into what looks like an XLR barrel connector.

They claim zero latency and excellent audio quality.

I'll be trying it with my TLM-103 on a series of voiceovers next week.

Mic plugged into the barrel gizmo then USB out of that direct into my laptop.

As soon as I try it out I'll let you know how it works, but I'm hoping it can make field VO work a WHOLE lot easier since I won't have to take a separate Pre-amp and/or mixer along.

It even has a headphone out built right into the barrel.

We'll see.
Bill Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 25th, 2008, 12:03 PM   #5
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Winnipeg Manitoba
Posts: 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Davis View Post
If you've got a few days to wait, I got a "shipped today" notice from Markertek a little gizmo I ordered that purports to be a phantom powered mic preamp and level control built into what looks like an XLR barrel connector.

They claim zero latency and excellent audio quality.

I'll be trying it with my TLM-103 on a series of voiceovers next week.

Mic plugged into the barrel gizmo then USB out of that direct into my laptop.

As soon as I try it out I'll let you know how it works, but I'm hoping it can make field VO work a WHOLE lot easier since I won't have to take a separate Pre-amp and/or mixer along.

It even has a headphone out built right into the barrel.

We'll see.
I'm not in a hurry so I'll wait to hear from you. Thanks a lot. I really appreciate the info.
Scott Thibodeau is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 25th, 2008, 12:06 PM   #6
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Winnipeg Manitoba
Posts: 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hsien Yong View Post
For a sound card. Maybe you could consider a M-audio Fastrackusb?
http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_u...kUSB-main.html
Looks interesting and the price is right as well. Cheers.
Scott Thibodeau is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 25th, 2008, 12:07 PM   #7
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Winnipeg Manitoba
Posts: 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmy Tuffrey View Post
Try a Nuemann TLM103 with an SE Reflection Filter and pop shield.

And I'll let someone else suggest the sound card...

Although I would suggest an Mbox2 with the Bomb Factory compressor and digidesign noise gate plugins in Pro Tools.

Problem is that setting up the gate, compressor and limiter is the really hard bit.

And that implies that the recording and mic placement are at least satisfactory. It is worth trying to do it right though. If you project is a serious one then I hope this serious answer is helpful.
Bit pricey for me although it looks groovy. Something for me to look into if I actually make a few bones off of these DVD's. Thanks for the info though!

Scott
Scott Thibodeau is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 25th, 2008, 01:17 PM   #8
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Tartu, Estonia
Posts: 579
I`ve always wondered how one can have laptop or any computer humming alongside narration. You need some isolation from the fan noise but if you leave the laptop to another room and monitor via headphones you might get quite noiseless sound...
I have Editol FA 66 that has quiet pre amps and 48V phantom but I must run cables to another room to get rid of the fan noises my PC creates.

T
Toenis Liivamaegi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 25th, 2008, 03:18 PM   #9
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 475
anyone of the inexpensive USB mics might do it for you. and a small collapsible box lined with acoustic foam in which to place the mic while recording will elimnate much of the room sounds(pc fan).

i.e. Blue's Snowball, the Samson, or AT's 2020 is now USB.
Bill Mecca is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 25th, 2008, 05:52 PM   #10
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Winnipeg Manitoba
Posts: 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toenis Liivamaegi View Post
I`ve always wondered how one can have laptop or any computer humming alongside narration. You need some isolation from the fan noise but if you leave the laptop to another room and monitor via headphones you might get quite noiseless sound...
I have Editol FA 66 that has quiet pre amps and 48V phantom but I must run cables to another room to get rid of the fan noises my PC creates.

T
Thanks for the advice. That's a very good point and something that I'll look into as well.
Scott Thibodeau is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 31st, 2008, 02:35 AM   #11
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Posts: 1,538
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Thibodeau View Post
I'm not in a hurry so I'll wait to hear from you. Thanks a lot. I really appreciate the info.
It took a while to arrive but the Centrance MicPort Pro came via UPS on Friday.

Initial impression is that it's pretty well built.

I've been on delivery deadline on a video so I haven't had the chance to do more than unpack and look it over yet, but hopefully I'll steal time on Monday.

I have high hopes for this. Up to this point, I haven't found anything that does a single channel of mic to laptop recording in a simple and convenient form factor.

Perhaps this is it.

Stay tuned.
Bill Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 31st, 2008, 10:07 AM   #12
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Winnipeg Manitoba
Posts: 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Davis View Post
It took a while to arrive but the Centrance MicPort Pro came via UPS on Friday.

Initial impression is that it's pretty well built.

I've been on delivery deadline on a video so I haven't had the chance to do more than unpack and look it over yet, but hopefully I'll steal time on Monday.

I have high hopes for this. Up to this point, I haven't found anything that does a single channel of mic to laptop recording in a simple and convenient form factor.

Perhaps this is it.

Stay tuned.
Looking forward to hearing all about it. Thanks for taking the time to post a reply.
Scott Thibodeau is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 31st, 2008, 10:11 AM   #13
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Winnipeg Manitoba
Posts: 96
I got some info from a local video/audio specialty store. The guy in the audio department seemed fairly knowledgeable. I did tell him that I was on a limited budget and that this wasn't some BBC documentary or anything so he pointed me in the direction of:

a) M-Audio USB preamp. Something like this:

http://www.m-audio.com/images/en/cal...B_callouts.jpg

For a mic he recommended an AKG Perception 100 or 200.

http://www.akg.com/site/products/pow...nguage,EN.html
Scott Thibodeau is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 2nd, 2008, 03:27 AM   #14
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Posts: 1,538
OK, I said I'd do a quick review of The Centrance MicPort Pro when it arrived.

This isn't formal testing, just initial impressions.

The unit is about 4 inches long and about an inch in diameter –like a typical XLR barrel pad or connector. The unit’s got a nice matte black finish and feels weighty and substantial in the hand.

At one end is a standard XLR-female connector, ready to plug directly into the base of a balanced microphone. No cables, no adaptors, no power supply, no hassles.

At the base of the XLR connector is a clear plastic collar. When the unit has a proper connection to a standard computer USB port – this collar glows telling you the unit is receiving USB power. That power is then adapted by the unit to provide 48V phantom power to condenser mics should they require it.

On the body of the mic there are two pots – one for mic level control and the other for headphone gain.

The base of the unit is a bit crowded with a mini-USB connection, a tiny 48v phantom power pushbutton switch with a tiny LED to show when it’s on, and a standard mini-headphone jack.

It makes for a VERY compact package that can replace a small mixer and a slew of cables for basic VO or other single channel recording.

It’s a very clever design.

But how does it work?

Very well, actually.

It has some design quibbles I’ll mention later, but after plugging it into my main VO mic – a Neumann TLM-103 - and hooking the provided USB cable to my MacBook – I was able to launch Audacity and was tracking voiceovers less than two minutes after I opened the package.

The headphone gain is ample – driving a pair of Sony 7506s to robust volume with the knob set well under the halfway point.

The unit’s web and paper descriptions also trumpet zero latency monitoring and it delivers just that. What goes in the mic is in your cans instantly, clearly, very cleanly, and without delay.

The mic gain is similarly robust.

I used not only my Neumann, but a Sony ECM-672, and a variety of lower output dynamic mics including a Shure SM-57 and Sennheiser MD-421U and the MicPort had no problems with each.

I was going to post some samples, but I've been having some issues with some hiss on the USB input port of my MacBook - I don't lay these on the MicPort Pro because I was hearing this recently with another USB input device, so I'm betting I've got a laptop input issue.

I'll try the new MacBook Air I bought for my wife when I have time, and I'm betting this particular issue goes away.

So in terms of its basic function and design, the MicPort Pro appears to be a winner.

This thing is ideal for VO work on the fly and I expect it will also find use in other field recording situations.

I mentioned that I did have some quibbles and I’ll admit the unit’s current design might not be perfect.

The base is crowded. If you forget to hit the Phantom power button before you plug in your headphones, you have to unplug them to get at the button. A minor distraction.

Also, while the mini-USB plug fits firmly enough, I found myself inadvertently knocking it out a at least twice while I was using the mic. So if you use this a lot, you might consider looking for a way to provide some strain relief for the hanging USB and phones cables, perhaps judiciously wrapped rubber band or something similar to take the cable stress off.

But the unit is clearly designed for quick field recording and none of these factors diminish the fact that this is a new tool and, for me, a very welcome one.

If anyone else goes this route, I'd enjoy hearing your experiences.
Bill Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 2nd, 2008, 10:06 AM   #15
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Winnipeg Manitoba
Posts: 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Davis View Post
OK, I said I'd do a quick review of The Centrance MicPort Pro when it arrived.

<SNIP>

If anyone else goes this route, I'd enjoy hearing your experiences.
Hi Bill,

Thanks for the detailed and comprehensive review. I'm hoping to hit the road again within the year and with the limited amount of space on my little VW campers table something like this would really come in handy. Nice to know that there isn't a huge loss in quality due to its size. I'll be asking the local AV people about this one. Thanks again for the detailed review. Much appreciated.
Scott Thibodeau is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:30 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network