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Old October 5th, 2006, 04:09 AM   #1
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USB interface & VO mic for pro use

I'd like to get some impressions of the various USB mic preamps out there to find out which are working well and have good sonic performance. Accuracy, dynamic range, low noise and of course price are all major considerations. I need one that can do phontom power as well, stereo inputs preferred. Who has the best pre-amps? BTW, I need it to work with audition, not pro tools.

On that same note, what VO mics under $200 are proving popular these days? I've read some good reviews of the Rode NT1A and know there are some fans of the AT 2020 out there. One thing I'd like to hear comments on are how the various mics perform with male and female voices. I prefer condensersover dynamic mics. I've used an RE20 and it was OK, but I'm looking for a richer sound.

The intended use is for industrials, doc and commercial projects that have nat sound and music beds.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 11:11 AM   #2
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Mic Pres for VO

Jay,

As far as mic pres, I'll give you my opinion based off of my audio engineering experience. If you are looking for a good voice-over setup then you have to think signal chain from analog beginning to digital end. The chain is as follows:

1. Microphone
2. Preamp
3. Analog/Digital Convertor(commonly known as hardware interface)

All of these are important to the finished product. A vast majority of the time when any of these are combined into one product then the result is budget gear. For example, samson makes a USB microphone for $100. Think about how much of that $100 was spent on each part of the signal chain. I'm not saying there isn't good budget equipment, but you asked for pro use.

With that being said, I know you probably don't have the budget for a Millenia or Grace Design pre but look for something transparent(doesn't add a lot character) and that only has one or two channels because this means they probably spent more money on the design and parts of the individual pre. I have a two channel pre by FMR audio called RNP(Really Nice Preamp) that I've found works well for around $500. Presonus makes some units that are around $100 for one channel. One more thing...an RE20 through a piece of budget gear may sound thin, but through the right signal chain can take on a whole new life.

As far as digital to analog interfaces, don't try to get one with 16 inputs that is priced close to the one with two inputs. Again think...how much was spent on each? If you are shooting for professional then Apogee is a great brand and they have a unit called the mini me, but it's around a grand. MOTU is kind of moderately priced around $700-$800 and bang for the buck. I know you were wanting to use Audition, but if you were going M-Audio then ProTools M-Audio I hear is good stuff for around $200-300.

As far as mics, one of the high end standards is Neumann which is typically over $1000. I used the TLM103 on a project and the voice over was good and full. I've used the MKH 40 by Senheisser and it had a great movie trailer deepness to it. Note: pop filters are a must. Also, I really enjoy my affordable($200) Studio Projects C1.

I'm aware that you might know all this stuff and want just a quick reccomendation, but if that's the case then maybe someone reading this post will benefit.

Jon Bufkin
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Old October 5th, 2006, 12:02 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Lee
I'd like to get some impressions of the various USB mic preamps out there to find out which are working well and have good sonic performance. Accuracy, dynamic range, low noise and of course price are all major considerations. I need one that can do phontom power as well, stereo inputs preferred. Who has the best pre-amps? BTW, I need it to work with audition, not pro tools.

On that same note, what VO mics under $200 are proving popular these days? I've read some good reviews of the Rode NT1A and know there are some fans of the AT 2020 out there. One thing I'd like to hear comments on are how the various mics perform with male and female voices. I prefer condensersover dynamic mics. I've used an RE20 and it was OK, but I'm looking for a richer sound.

The intended use is for industrials, doc and commercial projects that have nat sound and music beds.
Sound Devices is a company with a very strong reputation in profrssional film and video production. Their USB Pre is a professional quality combination of a two-channel mic preamp and USB interface.

http://sounddevices.com/products/usbpremaster.htm
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Old October 5th, 2006, 04:33 PM   #4
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Another mic to consider in that price range is
the Studio Projects B1. From what little I've
heard of the NT1A I wouldn't go that route.
Seemed a bit raspy. The B1 is supposed to not
have the hype in the high end like many of the
budget large diaphragm condensers do.
Maybe someone who has used both 2020 and
B1 would have some thoughts.
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Old October 9th, 2006, 02:41 AM   #5
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For 100 more you can get the shure sm7 ...fantastic mic...not recommended nearly enough on these boards for whatever reason...but google it and try it out for yourself...definately a keeper mic and worth adding to your tools...

Paul
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Old October 9th, 2006, 12:38 PM   #6
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Good Call...

Good call on the sm7. Great mic for the price. Great for guitar cabs too.

Jon Bufkin
http://www.jonbufkin.com
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Old October 10th, 2006, 08:52 AM   #7
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yes, it seems condensors get all the hype these days, but there are standards like the SM7, the Electrovoice RE20, Sennheiser MD421, that don't get the respect just because they are dynamics. but just like voices each mic is unique and they need to be matched up, and a large part of that equation is your recording space, do you have an iso booth, if so a condensor could be the ticket, if not, a dynamic might work better for you as they are better at rejecting background noise.

One size does not fit all.
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Old October 10th, 2006, 06:13 PM   #8
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These are not shipping yet - but may be worth considering. The RODE USB Podcaster

http://rodepodcaster.com/
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Old October 10th, 2006, 07:31 PM   #9
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Well so far, from what I've gained from my research, I'm leaning towards the M-Audio Mix Pre and Rode NT-1A. I like the idea that the Rode is not a specific VO mic, so I can use it for location audio as well (though I'll end up having to get another one for stereo). From what I've learned, these seem to be good values and won't make a huge dent in my budget.

I do think the RE-20 is a good mic, but I'm thinking the proximity effect of the condenser will help ad some bottom umph to my voice.

I would caution against going with real budget equipment when it comes to audio. the USB mics, Azden and Behrenger stuff might be OK for consumers, but if you're surfing these boards, you'll probably be happier with saving up for the next level at least. Going used is also a good option. I got a Beyer Dynamic MCE-96 shotgun as well as a Sennheiser wireless set-up through ebay for a reasonable price and couldn't be happier with the results for the money spent. Don't buy junk guys!

BTW, Sennheiser 421's rock on toms if you're ever micing a kit. Add a Shure SM57 between the snare and high hat and you'll be suprised how good it sounds. Another trick for the budget concious on pianos is to use a PZM mounted on a large plexiglass square and place it under the soundboard, you get a pretty full sound and decent isolation without a sound blanket.
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Old October 10th, 2006, 07:43 PM   #10
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I have a Tascam, US-428 that I'm quite happy with...also provides a control surface for running the recording software which is nice...they also have a Firewire version out that is really nice and has flying faders :) and blinky lights!
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Old October 11th, 2006, 02:34 AM   #11
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I bought the Maudio firewire solo for a steal of a deal on ebay sans software (I'm not going to use Live to record VO stuff :) ). I think it came to 120 or less for a great firewire two input recording device. Used the money saved and got a SM7 and am blown away by what you can do. This will be my VO mic for a long time...

Paul
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Old October 13th, 2006, 03:42 PM   #12
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USB and Firewire audio interfaces

As far as computer interfaces go, there appears to be an endless variety of choices. The more you search the more you'll find, it's all very overwelming. The firewire interfaces are generally more expensive and appear to be more reliable, while the USB are generally cheaper with poorer preamps. Whether USB or firewire, I'd take a look at PreSonus.

There is one option that is rarely mentioned which seems to give excellent quality for the price. Behringer (Xenyx 1204) and Alessis (Multimix 8USB) both make excellent small mixers with very quiet pre-amps and USB conenctions at surprisingly low prices (cerca $180.00), probably made possible by the sheer volume of their sales; Behringer alone has sold over a million mixers worldwide.

Guy Cochan's Rode USB Podcaster link was a new one for me, I think it's rather ingenious and may just be the best solution for me. Thanks guy.

Like most things in audio and video production, I suppose there is a point where you just need to make a choice and work at your craft.

best of luck

Kalunga

A man with one watch always knows what time it is; a man with two, is never sure.
chinese proverb
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Old October 14th, 2006, 12:57 AM   #13
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There is a podcaster type deal from maudio I believe that's already on the market and can be had very cheaply on that auction site...

Paul
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Old October 16th, 2006, 08:07 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalunga Lima

Guy Cochan's Rode USB Podcaster link was a new one for me, I think it's rather ingenious and may just be the best solution for me. Thanks guy.

The Rode USB mic also has the advantage of no latencey because the headphone jack is on the mic!

I heard it at AES in SF. Nice.

Ty Ford
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