Old Dog, New Tricks

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Member Since: Jan 27, 2010

Sorry gang - been out of it for a looong time. I'm an old multi-track tape and razor blade guy, trying to get back into some simple voice recording. Electrovoice RE20 mic - no mixer - HP laptop - free sample download of SONY Audio Studio. Using accoustic amp to feed mic to laptop, with xlr converter jack into laptop. Maybe there are too many variables to figure out here. The amp output sounds great, but the recorded sound is literally like a tin-can from out in the yard. Is this a no-brainer fix that I'm missing? Thanks.

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Prince CZAR-ming
Since: Apr 08, 2004

Jan 27, 2010 03:08 pm

Very well could be the converters in the laptop soundcard. Often they are of very cheap quality, to keep the price of a laptop down. Also if you're plugging into the MIC input, then you're using the preamp built into the soundcard, which also could be very low quality. So that would be preamp + converters dropping quality.

Most people end up getting an audio-interface type of device, to use instead of onboard sound. Something like a line6 UX2, or 2 channel device (USB or FIREWIRE) would do the trick, i'd think.

Personally, I use a Tascam us122 (older model) on my laptop, and it does pretty well. 2 channels, xlr inputs, phantom power, MIDI in/out. on USB1.1.

I'd be interested in what you're using as a XLR converter, as that may be a problem area too. And also, the mic could be a problem, but you could test the mic on other setups, i suppose.

If the mic is good, you could also improve the quality by working on mic placement. This will have a grand effect on recorded quality. Your ears are in once spot, but having the mic somewhere else could accentuate the highs or lows, etc.

just looked, that mic is dynamic, so no phantom needed. and it's a spendy mic, so it's probably not the mic that's a problem.

Also, the room can trash an otherwise good recording. If there are close walls, or the room is square-ish, then standing waves get into the mic and muddy things up good. If you hear echo when you clap your hands, then you've got problems. Recording lower volume to get less echo / slapback may help, as hanging heavy blankets on the walls could too.

These should get you thinking, and if you provide more detailed info, then we may provide more detailed answers =).

Good luck.

Since: Jan 27, 2010

Jan 27, 2010 06:33 pm

absolutely has me thinking. not having done this digitally before, i wasn't sure how key an interface would be - just wishful thinking, i guess. as i said, it's been awhile, but i've used tascam mixers before - mostly to reel-to-reel machines. yeah, mic is great, but the connection gives me the willies. it's xlr out of the mic to 1/4 inch input on the amp. xlr out of the amp to 1/4 inch stereo jack (which is where the converter is) to the laptop mic input. I'll continue with the trial and error - and really appreciate the direction.

Prince CZAR-ming
Since: Apr 08, 2004

Jan 27, 2010 07:36 pm

er, yeah, the onboard mic preamp will certainly be a concern. Not that is 100% IS the cause, but I'd certainly look there first.

The UX2 i mentioned is a nice bit-o-kit. A lot of people use them, and have great results. The device gives you preamps, phantom power, good converters, and modeling to tweak up your sound to new areas. I haven't used one, but I do play with it's little brother, the guitar-port, i think.

The additional modeling really gives you some new stuff to work with, instead of searching for help from other software.

The converter I was speaking of is inside the laptop; converts analog to digital. This is usually written as AD conversion. The converter you mentioned is probably the 1/4" -> 1/8" type. That's probably not a problem, unless it's all raggy or something.

But the conversion (A/D) can be done with very cheap parts, as mentioned above. Also, the preamp is one of the most important parts of the chain (as you know from the analog world), so relying on a .50$ circuit from taiwan/other in the onboard soundcard is really putting your trust in an unknown. At least with audio type interfaces, I feel better that the conversion and preamps are geared for actual audio work, not just a quick add-on for webcam chats.

Of course, they aren't on par with some real nice outboard preamps or converters, but I'm pretty happy with my pro-sumer grade components.

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