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Tech: USB Microphones

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GUEST,Ed 14 Jun 16 - 08:20 AM
gillymor 14 Jun 16 - 08:35 AM
punkfolkrocker 14 Jun 16 - 08:46 AM
Joe Offer 14 Jun 16 - 10:56 AM
Backwoodsman 14 Jun 16 - 11:36 AM
GUEST,Folk Hands 14 Jun 16 - 12:04 PM
punkfolkrocker 14 Jun 16 - 12:05 PM
Stim 14 Jun 16 - 12:09 PM
Stim 14 Jun 16 - 12:41 PM
Joe Offer 14 Jun 16 - 12:50 PM
Backwoodsman 14 Jun 16 - 12:53 PM
GUEST,Brian May 14 Jun 16 - 01:05 PM
punkfolkrocker 14 Jun 16 - 01:18 PM
Stanron 14 Jun 16 - 02:35 PM
Stim 14 Jun 16 - 02:38 PM
Stim 14 Jun 16 - 02:50 PM
Joe Offer 14 Jun 16 - 10:19 PM
Stanron 15 Jun 16 - 05:27 AM
GUEST,Stim 15 Jun 16 - 09:50 AM
punkfolkrocker 15 Jun 16 - 10:04 AM
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Subject: Tech: USB Microphones
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 14 Jun 16 - 08:20 AM

I'm looking to buy a USB microphone for home recording purposes. Will largely be used for recording my own guitar and vocals. Nothing fancy.

The Snowball iCE gets good reviews and fits my budget, but I'm half wondering whether to spend a bit more and get one of the cheaper Zoom recorders, which I believe can also be used as a USB microphone.

I don't need the portable recording facility at the moment, but going forward it might be nice to have.

Any thoughts appreciated.

Thanks,

Ed


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Subject: RE: Tech: USB Microphones
From: gillymor
Date: 14 Jun 16 - 08:35 AM

I've got one of these, Samson CO1 Pro it's about $90 U.S. and works pretty good, of course it's the only USB mic I've owned. It looks like they're producing some more compact models now.


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Subject: RE: Tech: USB Microphones
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 14 Jun 16 - 08:46 AM

I've not personally used one, but I believe the latest products may be more reliable
and less prone to digital noise and random disconnection problems than the earlier versions...???

The main advantage would be convenience and simplicity.

Comparing prices, I'd say the affordable digital recorders eg Zoom H1
would be preferable, as you can eventually find good use for the recording functions...


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Subject: RE: Tech: USB Microphones
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Jun 16 - 10:56 AM

Is a USB microphone superior to an analog microphone plugged into the microphone input of a good computer sound card? If so, why?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Tech: USB Microphones
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 14 Jun 16 - 11:36 AM

I'm a member of PFR's club - for 'Quick 'n' Dirty' recording, I prefer to use my Zoom H2 hand-held with its built-in mics, but for 'proper' recording on my computer I use standard condenser mics, via a mic pre-amp (Focusrite Scarlett 2i2), into Reaper.

I believe a USB mic has its own built-in pre-amp, which gives it a stronger signal than a mic just plugged in to a sound-card (not sure how you'd do that?), but almost certainly not as strong as an external device such as the Scarlett.

That's my understanding anyhoo. If others know better, I'll be happy to be educated!


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Subject: RE: Tech: USB Microphones
From: GUEST,Folk Hands
Date: 14 Jun 16 - 12:04 PM

Ed - You can also use the Zoom H1 / H2 etc. as quality USB microphones. Never tried it but there's plenty about it online.


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Subject: RE: Tech: USB Microphones
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 14 Jun 16 - 12:05 PM

I don't get to use my gear much since family matters took over priority 4 or 5 years ago...

However.. any mic connected to a PC will need to contend with close proximity to environmental noise generated by the computer itself..

Maybe not so bad these days with solid state drives and quieter fans, better case insulation..

but a lot of us still stubbornly cling to aging PCs...

Portable recorders are ideal for recording in quieter rooms, then transferring to PC editing software..

My prefered setup would be combination of high quality audio cards I bought years ago,
USB audio interfaces and desk top mixers I still occasionally acquire
through habit and poor self discipline at low prices in sales,
and the Zoom R8 & H2n..

Unfortunately, all this gear is put to one side while we come to terms with coping with mum's dementia and all other health related family concerns...

Yet I was still daft enough to buy a zoom H1 in the recent Amazon deal of the day...?????? 😕


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Subject: RE: Tech: USB Microphones
From: Stim
Date: 14 Jun 16 - 12:09 PM

The Snowball is intended for home studio recording, meaning it is intended to be plugged into your computer so you can record and edit audio files in Digital Audio Workstation software such as Audacity or Logic--the Zoom is a stand alone recording device which creates audio files and basically contains it's own(very limited) DAW. Basically, the Snowball plugged in to a computer and the Zoom are different recording options, one portable, one not.

You can actually plug the Zoom into your computer to use the microphones only, and you definitely can upload the audio files to your computer to edit in your DAW--but the Snowball, which is made by Blue(who make professional studio mikes) will give you much better sound quality. It's become kind of a standard for home audio recording for this reason.(and it comes with a mike stand and can be mounted on a boom, which is really important).

A handheld recorder is really handy to have for everything from recording live sessions to saving ideas, but if you want to do multitrack stuff, it is so much easier to work on computer.

And Joe--a USB mike will be much superior to an analog plugged into "good" computer sound card--you'd need a professional soundcard to get a comparable sound--


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Subject: RE: Tech: USB Microphones
From: Stim
Date: 14 Jun 16 - 12:41 PM

Joe--The Scarlett interface that Backwoodsman mentions is the sort of device I mean.

Backwoodsman-You don't need to pre-amp the USB--you can do whatever you want, with volume or anything else, in your DAW-


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Subject: RE: Tech: USB Microphones
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Jun 16 - 12:50 PM

Stim, let's say I'm using Audacity - would a USB microphone bypass the sound card and go straight to Audacity?
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Tech: USB Microphones
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 14 Jun 16 - 12:53 PM

Thanks Stim, I thought it might be the case (but wasn't sure, so didn't want to look a numpty!).


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Subject: RE: Tech: USB Microphones
From: GUEST,Brian May
Date: 14 Jun 16 - 01:05 PM

I've got one of these, Samson CO1 Pro it's about $90 U.S. and works pretty good, of course it's the only USB mic I've owned. It looks like they're producing some more compact models now.

I've got one of these too and it plugs into Audacity on my Mac, all works as advertised.


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Subject: RE: Tech: USB Microphones
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 14 Jun 16 - 01:18 PM

The latest range of Scarletts are now hitting the shops at approx the same price as the previous equivalent models..

Which means the older ones are getting discounted at knock down prices....


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Subject: RE: Tech: USB Microphones
From: Stanron
Date: 14 Jun 16 - 02:35 PM

Joe Offer wrote: let's say I'm using Audacity - would a USB microphone bypass the sound card and go straight to Audacity?
A microphone is an anologue device, as are speakers, but a computer is digital. The sound card has analogue to digital and digital to analogue convertors, to connect everything together. It would need the sound card.


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Subject: RE: Tech: USB Microphones
From: Stim
Date: 14 Jun 16 - 02:38 PM

Well, kind of, Joe. You need to select the USB input in preferences(the device name will appear there when you plug it in) because otherwise Audacity uses whatever is built-in as a default.
Not sure how it works on a PC, but in Mac you have to make sure to select the USB device in both system preferences and in the Audacity window. Also make sure to set the slider for recording volume. This I learned the hard way;-)


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Subject: RE: Tech: USB Microphones
From: Stim
Date: 14 Jun 16 - 02:50 PM

I will mention that I've connected the USB mike and been surprised by the poor sound, only to realize that I had recorded from the built-in. Also beware if you're monitoring with USB headsets that has a mike or the iphone earphones, because you could default to that.

And, in case anyone missed it, a USB microphone is not an analog device, it's a digital device.


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Subject: RE: Tech: USB Microphones
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Jun 16 - 10:19 PM

I'm wondering if that's true, Stim. Is a "digital" microphone truly digital? Does it produce a digital signal right from the point where the sound is received, or does it simply have an internal analog-to-digital converter?
Is the advantage of a "digital" microphone that it shortens the length of analog cable transmission, or is it digital from the very creation of the signal?
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Tech: USB Microphones
From: Stanron
Date: 15 Jun 16 - 05:27 AM

I've learned a bit myself from this thread. A digital microphone is in fact a hybrid. The microphone is an analogue device coupled with a dedicated analogue to digital converter.

The stated advantage is, as Joe says, the reduced length of analogue cable run from the microphone to the recording device. You pays your money ...


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Subject: RE: Tech: USB Microphones
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 15 Jun 16 - 09:50 AM

Fair point, Stanron and Joe-there really is no such thing as a "truly digital" microphone, because a transducer of some sort, somewhere, is always needed to convert sound waves to digital information.


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Subject: RE: Tech: USB Microphones
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 15 Jun 16 - 10:04 AM

I don't have any, but I can see the sheer convenience of using a USB mic.

The factory equipped mic input in any computer will not have high quality D/A converters, and only allow use of dynamic mics.

I have older high quality sound cards, and 'semi pro' project studio quality USB audio interfaces
that supply phantom power to Condenser mics as required.

USB Condenser mics bypass the need for additional hardware,
which would suit many more casual users
who just want decent sound quality from easier to use plug and play products.


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