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Old August 2nd, 2005, 12:25 PM   #1
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AT 897 connector

I am trying to set up my AT897 to record audio straight into my computer but I need to know what type of connector I would need to go from my mic (standard xlr) to my computer (standard mic plug). Is there a better way?
My friend and I are working on a podcast and are looking into options for starting it.
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Old August 2nd, 2005, 12:51 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph Ivey
I am trying to set up my AT897 to record audio straight into my computer but I need to know what type of connector I would need to go from my mic (standard xlr) to my computer (standard mic plug). Is there a better way?
My friend and I are working on a podcast and are looking into options for starting it.
You didn't say what the computer had in it so just guessing. The mic is balanced output, most computer soundcards I'm aware of are unbalanced mic inputs. You'll need at the very least a balanced XLR to unbalanced miniplug adapter. Far better would be to install a quality audio interface, either a card with breakout box or a Firewire interface, that has mic preamps. Or go with a mixer with mic preamps to give you more flexibility. Either was will give you better sound than plugging the mic directly into the soundcard through an unbalancing adapter. OF course, the best would be to feed the mic into a mixer and then on to an audio interface, replacing or at least bypassing your existing soundcard.
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Old August 2nd, 2005, 01:09 PM   #3
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I have a Dual 2.0 Mac G5. Sorry for not mentioning it. If I can't run it through the mixer and everything, would it work better to record it to a mini dv through my xl-2 and then dump it onto my computer?
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Old August 2nd, 2005, 02:22 PM   #4
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Steve's advice is good, but if you want to give a straight connection a try, it's not expensive. This is the direct answer to your question:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...ughType=search
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Old August 2nd, 2005, 03:57 PM   #5
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I mean no disrespect to Steve because his advice sounds solid but I am on a tight budget and am looking, for now at least, for the cheapest yet best sounding route.
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Old August 2nd, 2005, 06:55 PM   #6
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Fred,

Is it really that easy? Just a Mini Male to 3-pin XLR Female Cable? Length can't matter right, I mean it doesn't have to the the 10' one you point to at B&H right?

Do you have to do anything in the Windows Audio Control Panel to tell the computer this is a balanced powered mic instead of the $2 mic normally plugged in?

I've got a really expensive lav I'd love to hook up to the computer for some lengthy speech recognition work (I suspect the poor performance from my previous work must be the crappy mic, it can't possibly be my accent, colloquialisms, or break-neck speed of dictating). But I'm not willing to fry my lav to experiment.

So Fred, walk me through it again (now I feel like Daniel Stern in "City Slickers" asking Billy Crystal to explain again how to program the VCR to record on one channel and watch another: O.K., if you want to watch one show but record another show at the same time, the television set does not have to be on channel 3...).
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Old August 2nd, 2005, 07:01 PM   #7
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Joseph, recording into your XL2 would work. You should try it.

If you upgrade to a better analog-->digital converter + preamp, you will get less noise in your recordings (*not to be confused with background noise, which will stay the same). But, you may find the XL2 good enough for your needs.

2- There's a few programs which can record audio from firewire. Scenalyzer on PC is one of them... I'm not sure which Mac programs can do it.

3- If you use a simple adapter which Fred suggests, you'll be using your G5's analog-->digital converter. My guess is that it's lower quality than what's on your XL2.
*I believe you should plug that into line-in and not mic-in on your computer. Mic-in may put out "mic plug-in power", which can cause lower quality audio. I'm not sure what's on G5s.
**Some XLR cables will have a blocking capacitor to block "mic plug-in power".

4- Set your XL2 to 16bit audio if you haven't done so already. 12bit is a lower quality recording mode which allows 4 channels instead of 2. 12-bit bit depth, 32khz instead of 16-bit, 48khz.
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Old August 2nd, 2005, 07:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Is it really that easy? Just a Mini Male to 3-pin XLR Female Cable? Length can't matter right, I mean it doesn't have to the the 10' one you point to at B&H right?

Do you have to do anything in the Windows Audio Control Panel to tell the computer this is a balanced powered mic instead of the $2 mic normally plugged in?

I've got a really expensive lav I'd love to hook up to the computer for some lengthy speech recognition work (I suspect the poor performance from my previous work must be the crappy mic, it can't possibly be my accent, colloquialisms, or break-neck speed of dictating). But I'm not willing to fry my lav to experiment.
Patrick:
Your lav probably needs power, which the mic or line-in jack on your PC won't do. If the lav runs off some sort of battery-power, you'd be ok.

You don't need to tell the computer it's a balanced mic.

The lav may need a little preamping if it puts out a weak signal.

Probably the easiest thing to do is to get a Behringer UB802 (not the 502, unless you are ok with no phantom) and a dual RCA to mini-plug/3.5mm cable (male-male). You can get a second one to hook up the computer's line-out/speaker output to your mixer.
The mixer will have a preamp, which can help to maximize your sound card's S/N ratio. Some motherboards have built-in sound that is kind of atrocious though... depends on your motherboard.

Get a mini-plug to mini-plug cable (male male) and check out http://audio.rightmark.org/index_new.shtml to test your sound card.
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Old August 2nd, 2005, 10:48 PM   #9
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There's a problem with using a straight thru XLR to TRS miniplug adapter to connect a balanced mic to a soundcard mic input that expects a stereo plug (though the adapter Fred referred to in his link was a TS mono plug so it may not be such a problem with this one). As discussed in another thread, the soundcard expects to see signal hot on BOTH the tip and ring of the plug and ground on the sleeve. This way a mono signal will be sent to both the soundcard's left and right channels in phase and this is how the mics bundled with the soundcard is usually wired. But a straight through XLR to miniplug adapter puts the signal hot to the tip, signal cold to the ring, and ground to the sleeve. This means the left and right channel in the soundcard get the same mono signal but they're opposite in phase and can cancel each other out. At the very least, if anything at all is audible it will sound very weird, just like you have when stereo speakers are wired out of phase with each other.

Whilke Beachtek adapters are built of cameracorder inputs I see no reason one wouldn't work equally well to interface a balanced mic like the AT 897 to a computer soundcard's inputs.

Joseph, I can appreciate the tight budget but even a cheap Behringer mixer, costing under $100, would probably sound better and give you far more control than just plugging the mic into the computer.
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Old August 2nd, 2005, 11:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
There's a problem with using a straight thru XLR to TRS miniplug adapter to connect a balanced mic to a soundcard mic input that expects a stereo plug (though the adapter Fred referred to in his link was a TS mono plug so it may not be such a problem with this one). As discussed in another thread, the soundcard expects to see signal hot on BOTH the tip and ring of the plug and ground on the sleeve. This way a mono signal will be sent to both the soundcard's left and right channels in phase and this is how the mics bundled with the soundcard is usually wired. But a straight through XLR to miniplug adapter puts the signal hot to the tip, signal cold to the ring, and ground to the sleeve. This means the left and right channel in the soundcard get the same mono signal but they're opposite in phase and can cancel each other out. At the very least, if anything at all is audible it will sound very weird, just like you have when stereo speakers are wired out of phase with each other.
Do you know of any XLR adapters wired like that? I can't think of a use for something like that, unless it was XLR to TRS (the quarter-inch one, not the mini size).
ANyways, it may not be a big deal to delete a channel in post and center the remaining channel. Or just capture one channel, which some programs can do (i.e. Audacity, which is open source; pretty sure it can).
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Old August 2nd, 2005, 11:41 PM   #11
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Steve, what you say is true of taking an mono XLR mic signal via a straight-through XLR to stereo mini plug adapter into a camcorder's stereo input. But I don't think that most computer mic jacks expect a stereo signal. When they are stereo jacks at all, it's because the ring is needed in schemes that supply mic power. I know you have a multimeter and you're not afraid to use it :>) Try pluging a stereo mini male to stereo mini male cable into your mic jack and I think you'll find a few volts between the ring and ground. Using a TS plug shorts out that voltage and doesn't apply it to the mic.

The lack of sensitiviy of the computer's mic input is the problem theses guys will probably be up against.
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Old August 2nd, 2005, 11:55 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Chan
Do you know of any XLR adapters wired like that? I can't think of a use for something like that, unless it was XLR to TRS (the quarter-inch one, not the mini size).
Yes, the majority of XLR to stereo mini adapters at B&H are wired that way. Hence a lot of people wind up with one when trying to adapt their battery powered XLR mics to their camcorder mic inputs, and they don't work. I don't know what the common usage for them is either, but it must be either to carry an unbalanced stereo signal or a balanced mono signal from something to something.
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Old August 3rd, 2005, 05:48 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Chan
Do you know of any XLR adapters wired like that? I can't think of a use for something like that, unless it was XLR to TRS (the quarter-inch one, not the mini size).
ANyways, it may not be a big deal to delete a channel in post and center the remaining channel. Or just capture one channel, which some programs can do (i.e. Audacity, which is open source; pretty sure it can).

Though that's a very clunky way to operate. Yes there is such a cable. Hosa and others make it.

http://www.hosatech.com/hosa/products/XVM-100.html

I discuss it and lots of other audio things in my Audio Field Guide book.

Most computer soundcards are crap, so don't expect great fidelity from their preamp or A/D conversion. In most cases, that feature on a computer is the equivalent of a camera mounted mic.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old August 3rd, 2005, 08:19 AM   #14
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I don't know if the quality would be acceptable for you, but it seems like the Samson CO1U

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/C01usb/

was developed for podcasters. You would be relying on the quality of your computer's AD conversion and do the mixing on the computer. But if your recording voice, $80 might be worth the risk for a very simple solution.
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