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Microphone for laptop/audacity?


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#1 clavecin

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 07:11 PM

I wish to make some learning cds for members of my choir. I've installed Audacity onto my laptop as I will be making multi track recordings - recording all the choral parts or accompaniment played on the piano then singing in the individual vocal parts required. I need a decent quality microphone that will plug directly into the 1/8th inch mic socket on the laptop, costing on the right side of £100. Has anyone any experience of this sort of thing and can make some suggestions.

#2 Colin Pykett

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 06:53 AM

You might not be asking the right question, as it is many-facetted with lots of aspects to consider.  So I will suggest two approaches.

 

Trying to answer the question as posed first, I have used a pair of Behringer C-2 capacitor/condenser mics successfully.  They fall well within your price range and are excellent value for money.  However you will also need to buy a set of leads with XLR connectors, a small mixing desk which can supply phantom power to the mics, another set of XLR leads to go from the output of the desk to the PC and finally some sort of adapter system to match the XLRs to the stereo jack on your PC.  An alternative to the mixing desk is a small stand-alone phantom power unit.  You will also need at least one microphone stand.  But the whole lot can probably be obtained for around £100 if you shop around on the web.  (A simpler option would be to simply use dynamic mics rather than capacitor ones - these would probably plug directly into your PC.  But I've never used them so cannot suggest a type or brand).

 

But you can see how complicated things can get.  Hence my second suggestion, which is to invest, not directly in microphones but in a small stand-alone digital recorder.  The Zoom H1 will probably fill the bill at somewhat less than £100, but other makes can be obtained (e.g. by Tascam).  The advantage with these devices is that they have built-in mics, they are battery powered, and you upload your recordings as WAV files to your PC using a USB lead.  Once in the PC you can then use Audacity or any other wave editor to tweak them up.  If you go this route, you can also buy a dinky little accessory set for the Zoom at around £25 which includes a small tripod, the USB lead just mentioned, and a wall-wart mains adapter (but make sure you get one with a UK plug - many come with a US one!).  Finally you will also probably need a micro-SD memory card to expand the internal memory in the Zoom because it does not have much of its own.  These are tiny and they just slot in, much as with cameras, car dashcams, etc.

 

Both approaches work for me, but reading between the lines of what you said, I suspect that the second one might be best for you.  It has the incidental advantages that a backup copy of your original recording is retained within the recorder itself until you erase it, and you could also easily take it to choir rehearsals/performances and let them hear how they are doing.

 

Hope this helps.

 

CEP


"You can never know everything about something. But you can always know something about everything" - Amit Kumar

 

www.pykett.org.uk


#3 Tony Newnham

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 08:21 AM

Hi

 

Colin's scond suggestion is probably the best way to go for simple stereo recordings - it's what I often do.  However, the question involves multi-track recordings, building up a part at a time - and obviously, the various parts need to be in sync.

 

Personally, I'd forget about the 1/8th inch input on the computer - audio quality usually leaves a bit to be desired.  The simplest way is probably a USB mictophone - Maplin offer a number of lternatives, some under the £100 mark (http://www.maplin.co...usb-microphones) - Amazon or a pro audio dealer are other sources - or even your ocal music shop if they cover home recording equipment.  I can't make any reccomendations as I use an external soundcard and mics that cost rather more than £100 when I do need to record direct to computer.  I think my son told me that he uses the Blue Snowball for his podcasts - but it was a while ago.

 

Going back to the 1/8th in. input, dynamic mics are indeed another option - although some computer inputs have a small voltage on them to power electret mics, so some care might be needed (that said, I've used dynamic mics into a MMinidisc trecorder that has plug-in-power with no problems).  I sue AKG D190's - but they were over 50UKP when I bought them some 30 years ago!  Long discontinued - last price I saw was around150UKP new.  I have some cheaper dynamic mocs by Shure & Audio-Technica but I primarily use them for sound reinfrcement (or I did when health allowed!)

 

Good luck with your project.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony



#4 Deinonychus

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 05:48 PM

I use a Zoom H4n for similar purposes, and it has multitrack capabilities like Tony mentions. This is however rather more than your budget. (I paid £180 for mine - you may be able to get it for less) The Zoom H1 is an excellent piece of kit for its price, but doesn't have multitracking or full size inputs. I did use a borrowed one before I bought my H4n, and from memory it does have a 1/8 inch input, but this is obviously no better than a computer.

#5 clavecin

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 06:43 PM

Thanks for the advice gents.
Just to clarify my intentions, I'm looking to be able to give my singers a CD with the accompaniment (or in the case of unaccompanied anthems a representation of the ensemble) together with their individual vocal part, so the ability to multitrack is essential to the task.
When I was in secondary education I did this sort of thing regularly on a professional standard recording device (can't remember exactly which one it was) on which you could burn the finished results directly to CD. I also used the hand held Edirol recorder for run of the mill recordings.
As sound recording per se is not something I really want to get into, I'm not wanting to purchase any expensive equipment which I'm not likely to use very much.

#6 davidh

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 03:50 PM

Colin Pykett recommended a Zoom recorder and he mentioned that similar devices are available from Tascam. I go on annual organ tours with the same group of people, a few of whom have very high-spec recorders, but several have Zooms and Tascams. I bought a Tascam DR-05, currently about £85, and had little time to play with it before the last trip, and certainly no time to work through the extensive options in the manual, so I just did the minimum amount of set-up, put it on a camera tripod and set it to record. 

 

I am very pleased with the results. It is easy to transfer them to a PC where they need little editing, other than cutting the pieces from a recital into separate tracks.



#7 innate

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 11:33 AM

On a Mac the built-in Garage Band software should do the multi-track recording you need just fine, with plenty of edit features should you need them. Just using the built in mic would be good enough for practice tracks, I’d have thought.



#8 Colin Pykett

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 07:25 AM

Organists' Review has published some interesting information about making recordings in recent issues, though it also illustrates the enormous disparity in cost of items such as microphones.  In the penultimate edition (March 2017) Paul Derrett wrote a useful article pointing out that good results can be obtained using quite cheap equipment of the sort which has been discussed in the posts above.  In the latest edition (June) Gavin Barrett responded to this in the 'letters' section.  He agreed, but also suggested the use of professional microphones for the highest quality work.  As he omitted to mention their cost, I thought that forum members might like to know that those he recommended can easily set you back thousands of pounds for a pair.

 

We are all aware that a Rolls is a better car than the average runabouts most of us can afford, so I'm not sure that Mr Barrett's suggestions tell us more than what we already know!  On the other hand, Mr Derrett's article contained a lot of sensible and practical advice in my view.  If I could venture to add an extra tip, he implied that when making a recording one can play a passage over and over again until one gets it right.  One then selects the best version for inclusion in the finished product.  While this is self-evident, do ensure that you leave enough silence between each attempt to allow the reverberation of the building to die away completely.  Even in a relatively 'dry' auditorium this can take a surprisingly long time, typically several seconds.  Otherwise it can be next to impossible to do a subsequent edit which sounds natural.  There are several CDs in my collection (not by Mr Derrett I hasten to add!) which are quite clearly and inexcusably marred by this defect.

 

CEP


"You can never know everything about something. But you can always know something about everything" - Amit Kumar

 

www.pykett.org.uk


#9 Contrabombarde

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 01:15 PM

To add a further consideration, don't expect to spend a fortune on a microphone and get outstanding quality without consideration for how you mount it. I bought a fairly expensive mic for my camcorder's camera shoe and was most disappointed with the amount of noise it picked up from people walking around the room and such extraneous vibrations.

 

The solution was surprisingly simple and cheap - a little plastic tube (from Ebay) that clips to the camera shoe and has four elastic bands stretched over it to create a square in the centre of the tube that the mic slips into. Result - no transmitted vibrations and outstanding sound recording.



#10 Peter Allison

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 08:50 AM

well A very good friend of mine, has recorded Mr, Derrett a few times, and the cds, that were produced, received very good reviews from OR, a few years ago. And nothing more expensive was used than an old pair of "Tandy" PZM mics and a tascam DAT (at the time) recorder. So like has been said, one can use just a basic minimum of expense, all the way to a "£8500 Neuman "dummy head  plus associated cables recorder etc






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