Help!!! What Microphone/preamp should I buy?
Posted on Dec 11, 2007 01:06 pm
Member Since: Dec 10, 2007
Folks, I am on a very limited budget, but want to produce some decent sounding vocals. I have an EMU-404 sound card in my PC (3 Ghz Intel clone,XP SP2, 2 Gig of RAM, and 1.5 terrabyte disk space)and currently have Sonar producer 4 (but am thinking of upgrading to 7).
I have tried using a Sennheiser E835 microphone, and when using it in Sonar Producer, the amplitude is very low. It is my understanding that I need a different kind of mike as well as a preamp, to go between the microphone and the sound card.
Does anyone have any suggestions for decently priced equipment for a small home studio? I'm not a professional,nor intend to be one, but would like to add some nice vocals to my piano arrangements for family and friends.
Thanks so much in advance for your help!
[ Back to Top ]
Dec 11, 2007 01:10 pm I recently bought the Art Tube Preamp (search it there are lots of options) I chose the $29 one. Does a great job.
There's an audio review of it here with lots of samples.
Without a preamp the dynamic will always be low volume. If you want a dynamic than an SM58 would be fine. For a condenser, budget, I like the Studio Projects B1 and this low price MXL gets well reviewed www.zzounds.com/item--MSEV57M
Probably all you need, on a budget, is the Preamp and any mic.
I'm a budget gear guy by the way :)
Dec 11, 2007 02:07 pm That mic should be fine, and like Tony said, you'll need a preamp.
Since: Apr 08, 2004
The one linked should do well. Not top-o-line, but works. There's numerous ones out there, with varied prices to go with them.
Dec 11, 2007 04:51 pm Thanks so much, folks, for your great advice and help. I looked at that Microphone, and it said something about needing 48 volt phantom power. From where would I get that to go to the Microphone? I know that the EMU card won't supply it. Would it get that power from the preamp?
Dec 11, 2007 04:55 pm Yes most preamps, and definitely the ART Tube Preamp, provide the phantom power. But this is only needed for condenser mics which is not a requirement for you unless you want it.
Dec 11, 2007 05:29 pm I have always hears that a condenser mike is better for vocals, but do you all think I could decent sounding vocals by just purchasing the preamp, using my Sennheiser E835?
Dec 11, 2007 05:38 pm Best for vocals is what you're used to. Many people use dynamics, including me. I was just never comfortable with the condenser and it effected my already pathetic performance.
The issue with condensers is they pick EVERYTHING up, every lip smack, dog barking down the street, heating system coming on, every flaw in your voice. Dynamics are more forgiving.
I think your MIC is fine. Start with the preamp and go from there. You can always buy more stuff later.
Dec 11, 2007 05:59 pm Thanks so much for your encouragement. I looked on Amazon and found they also have the ART Tube MP Studio V3 Mic Preamp - Is it appreciably different from the preamp listed in the link above? I guess they are from the same company. Also, would you be able to tell me what kind of cable I need to run from the preamp to the EMU card? I already have a cable that I run from the microphone to the EMU card (I don't know what the connection is called that snaps into the microphone, but I have a quarter inch adapter at the other end that I use to plug into the EMU card), I know that I need,another cable, but what kind of cable goes from the preamp to the EMU card? I'm sure that I can plug my cable into the preamp, but does the preamp have the same kind of connection as the microphone has so that I can just get an identical cable to go from the mike to the preamp, and use my existing cable from the preamp to the EMU card? Thanks so much again!
TadpuiI am not a crook's headMember
Dec 11, 2007 07:22 pm I own the ART Tube MP Studio and I can't really recommend it. Makes a great bass DI but it really sucks the highs out of whatever you put through it. It sounds especially dead with a dynamic mic through it.
Since: Mar 14, 2003
I'd much rather recommend a solid-state mic pre in this price range, like the M-Audio AudioBuddy or a small mixer with built-in mic preamps.
Just a thought
Dec 11, 2007 08:04 pm Thanks so much, Tadpui, and all others, I will look up the M-Audio preamp. I have an M-Audio MIDI to USB connector that seems to work well. I also figured out that the microphone connection is called an XLR connection. I think that I am stuck with the XLR to 1/4" male jack for the EMU card, as I don't think it takes an XLR cord.
Will these work well with Sonar? I tried using Sonar PE 4 but it had a pretty high learning curve, and I didn't learn as much as I should, and just gave up on it ~1.5 years ago. I'm a computer engineer, so I am a pretty technical guy, but I just didn't understand how all the plugins, VSTs, and filters worked out. I had it working with Garritan Personal Orchestra, but really could have used 1-2 hands-on sessions with someone knowledgeable about MIDI and Sonar stuff.
Thanks again, and I certainly appreciate all of your input and advice as I get back into making music!
Dec 11, 2007 09:34 pm It's much easier to listen to the audio examples on my site with the Art Tube.
Every one has an opinion and there's a lot of people who like the Art Tube (and don't believe it sucks out the highs) and there are probably plenty who don't like it.
Listen yourself or buy from a place you can return it.
Dec 11, 2007 11:03 pm Quote:
Since: Apr 08, 2004
I think that I am stuck with the XLR to 1/4" male jack for the EMU card, as I don't think it takes an XLR cord
er, no, you still need a preamp. Yes, that is XLR connection.
You would plug your XLR cable from the mic to the preamp (which will have an XLR jack), then the output of the preamp will be on a 1/4" jack, which you then connect to your EMU via 1/4" patch cable (guitar cable will do, but not speaker cable).
You can get something like a hosa 1 meter patch cable set, with (2) 1/4" plugs on both ends. That will keep your run short, and help keep out interference.
here's one: www.zzounds.com.../item--HOSCPP20
Also, usually dynamics are not needing 48v phantom power. I'd check to be sure that mic needs phantom. I checked Senn's site, but didn't find any callout for phantom power on that mic. It won't hurt a dynamic mic to have phantom sent to it, but I don't like to power dynamics if there's no condensor needing it.
Dec 12, 2007 08:03 am Yes, it is my understanding that the condenser mikes need the phantom power, but I have used my dynamic mike without phantom power. Would these Preamps have a way to turn off the phantom power? Thanks so much again for all of your help!
Dec 12, 2007 08:27 am Sure, should be a switch on it somewhere, turns phantom power on/off.
Since: Apr 08, 2004
if you look next to their logo, there's a phantom button. Turns it on and off.
Most will be similar.
Dec 13, 2007 12:47 pm Great, folks, so, it is your consensus that I can get good sound from the Sennheiser mike and a small preamp, or should I bite the bullet and buy the condenser mike? I don't have a studio - just a small corner of a small bedroom - perhaps I could move the mike into our closet and record there - I'm sure there is a lot of noise coming in the window, the AC/Heat duct, TV noise from the living room (very small house), etc., - am I to believe that the dynamic mike is better for this environment, because it won't pick up as much ambient noise? Will it still pick up my voice well enough? What exactly does the condenser mike buy me? Thanks so much in advance again, for all your help and advice, as I make my final decision!
Dec 13, 2007 01:43 pm I'll throw some ideas out there.
Since: Apr 08, 2004
Condensor mic is certainly more sensitive, picking up small sounds you don't notice when you're making them, like chair squeaks, foot rustling, paper rustling, etc.
I've heard my drummer breathing, inside drum hits, as well as hearing his throne creaking when he moves around.
Dynamics are good for when you have your sound source close to the mic.
So if your source is 80db, with both mics, at 1 foot, the signal will be 75db. But at 6 ft, the signal on the condensor will be 60db, where the signal on the dynamic will be 45db. Condensor picks up room sounds great, where the dynamic won't so much.
If your source is close to a dynamic, the sensitivity is similar. So you shouldn't have a problem with signal strength, if you stay close. You just don't want to sing 2~3 ft away, like you can with a condensor.
If you turn down the gain on your condensor, you will get less room noise, but also you won't get the sizzle and airyness that a condensor can impart.
Condensors often give a recording an extra depth to it, like removing a screen door when looking out a window. You still see the item, but the screen may 'dull' the details a little.
Condensors also impart a level of 'airyness' to a recording, making it sound more lifelike, and more accurate.
This analogy may not be accurate for all condensor VS. dynamic comparisons, but for the most part, I'd say it's fairly true.
As far as using a condensor and recording in a house, I often record when there's nothing else going on in the house. On friday nights in summer, I have to record in between the race track races, .5 mile away. Often I'll record at night, when the kids are quiet or upstairs (2nd floor, i'm in the basement).
TallChapAnswer:On a good day, lipstick.Member
Dec 13, 2007 02:08 pm I have the Behringer MIC100, and I use the EMU0404 card. The 1/4" ins/outs on the card are balance (TRS) so you could, conceivably put an XLR/TRS cord in there and have it work. Personally I use a small mixer (also Behringer - I have had no problems with their stuff so far) both for the pre-amps and as an overblown patchbay (no dancing with plugging/unplugging all the time).
Since: Jun 24, 2004
Now I like my little tube pre, but sometimes the pres in the mixer work fine.
Your mic should work fine either way.
Dec 13, 2007 02:52 pm Mics are very personal. Certain mics will be good for your voice certain others not so. For years I used an SM58 copy, everyone told me to get a condenser, so I did. I hated it, it picked up everything and it pointed out all the flaws in my technique, lip smacks, breaths etc. It made me self conscious in that I was thinking more about that stuff than I was singing, is a dog barking, is the AC on, am I breathing too heavy. etc. My performance suffered. I ended up switching back to the SM58 copy and my confidence returns.
On my podcast we frequently talk about separating the tech from the art. If you are thinking about tech stuff when recording then you are using the wrong part of your brain and your performance will suffer.
Dec 14, 2007 06:52 pm Well,folks, I stopped in a little guitar shop today and bit the bullet. The folks in there convinced me to not just get a preamp, but to go all out and get a sound board, so I purchased the AMX-140 sound board. Has anyone ever heard of these? Please tell me whether I did right or wrong - I haven't opened this up yet.
Thanks again so much for your help and advice!
Dec 14, 2007 10:10 pm I'm not sure if you did right. You spent way more than you needed to and this kind of product never came up. For that price I think you could have got a better solution.
This will however solve your current problems. It's fine but just seems like overkill. The salesman's job is to sell of course and he certainly "upsold" you in classic manner :)
If you would like to participate in the forum discussions, feel free to register for your free membership.