Laptop background noise - would external sound card help?

Post your questions & get help from friendly LibriVoxers
Post Reply
CarolineNH
Posts: 11
Joined: February 2nd, 2006, 4:43 am
Location: New Hampshire
Contact:

Post by CarolineNH » March 14th, 2006, 5:23 am

I am currently recording on a laptop using a Shure SM-58 mic and a combination of CastBlaster and Audacity. This is the same setup I use to record my regular podcast, and I have the same issues that have been driving me crazy with that, of course.

I get electronic buzz in the recording that I can't stand! I did record one chapter of The Spy yesterday that I liked. The difference? The laptop was unplugged and running on battery power! I have a mixing board, and I have to say that the electronic background noise is *worse* with the mixing board than it is recording without it.

For various reasons, I can't use a USB microphone/headset with this laptop. I'm considering springing for a Creative Labs PCMCIA sound card. Does anyone know if that will help? (I can always bring it back, I know, but to buy it, bring it home, test it out, and return it - which is a 35 minute drive each way, btw - would be a hassle if it doesn't help the problem. )

Anyone use or try one of these? BTW, I'm running Windows XP, if that makes any difference.

Caroline in NH, who will likely get *no* recording done today, because the kids are home from school

ChipDoc
Posts: 1236
Joined: January 4th, 2006, 3:11 am
Location: Tampa, FL
Contact:

Post by ChipDoc » March 14th, 2006, 5:57 am

A buzz is almost always the sign of a bad ground. Your Shure M-58 (at least in its native form) requires a 3-prog Amphenol connector. If this is true with yours, and you have a plug on the end which goes into the standard mic jack found on most laptops, then you have two leads tying into the same post. Your mic is trying to ground to the chassis of the computer - a trick which works better some times than it does others.

It's also an issue which will NOT be solved by getting the (very cool) Creative Labs PCMCIA sound card. If you are out of USB ports, you would be better served to get a PCMCIA USB 4-port hub and plug a USB mic into it. The USB mic bypasses the audio system of your computer entirely, thereby delivering much cleaner sound.

And while those kids may be driving you batty while they're home on Spring Break, the time will come (and it's not too far off) when you will miss the pounding of little feet as they scream up and down your hallway.
-Chip
[url]http://ChipDoc.com/LibriVox/[/url]
[i]The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.[/i]
~Mark Twain

CarolineNH
Posts: 11
Joined: February 2nd, 2006, 4:43 am
Location: New Hampshire
Contact:

Post by CarolineNH » March 14th, 2006, 6:15 am

Thank you *very* much! One thing I did see last time I was at the computer store was a PCMCIA USB hub. I may give that a shot! It's certainly a lot less expensive than the PCMCIA sound card to start with, and I do have a USB headset I could test with it.

ChipDoc
Posts: 1236
Joined: January 4th, 2006, 3:11 am
Location: Tampa, FL
Contact:

Post by ChipDoc » March 14th, 2006, 7:24 am

I'm pretty certain that this will fix your whole problem. Be sure to pick up a card which supports USB-2 rather than the old, slow, and cheaper USB-1. The mic won't need it, but I can pretty much guarantee that you'll find it handy for other things down the road.
-Chip
[url]http://ChipDoc.com/LibriVox/[/url]
[i]The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.[/i]
~Mark Twain

kri
Posts: 5354
Joined: January 3rd, 2006, 8:34 pm
Location: Keene NH
Contact:

Post by kri » March 14th, 2006, 8:19 am

CarolineNH wrote:Thank you *very* much! One thing I did see last time I was at the computer store was a PCMCIA USB hub. I may give that a shot! It's certainly a lot less expensive than the PCMCIA sound card to start with, and I do have a USB headset I could test with it.
If I had known you could get one of those years ago...that would have been so handy.

ChipDoc
Posts: 1236
Joined: January 4th, 2006, 3:11 am
Location: Tampa, FL
Contact:

Post by ChipDoc » March 14th, 2006, 8:45 am

"Years ago" they probably weren't available. We've actually only seen them produced in the last three or four years as the demand for more USB ports has exploded.
-Chip
[url]http://ChipDoc.com/LibriVox/[/url]
[i]The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.[/i]
~Mark Twain

marlodianne
Posts: 332
Joined: December 24th, 2005, 10:53 am
Location: Prince Edward Island, Canada
Contact:

Post by marlodianne » March 14th, 2006, 2:32 pm

It's really annoying that even a brand new computer will still come with ONE and only one USB port. It's completely crazy, because *everything* is USB now.

I have to switch off my printer / scanner / copier / fax with my camera and with my mic. They all want the same port, and it's near impossible to get back there and switch. I need to get way more flexy. Also develop night vision.

And I could be much worse off. I've seen USB keyboards, mice, and every other sidekick you can possibly get for your comp. I imagine some poor lost thing trying to understand why TPTB won't let him use his mouse and keyboard at the same time.

Hubs are very expensive here, and hard to find. Which only adds to the need to stab somebody with a spoon.

Oh, and I know someone who bought a comp recently, paid over a thousand for it, got it home and discovered it has no ports at all. No USB period, and the one PCI port was used by modem that was achored built into the box.

Just one more example of how recent comp designs are achieving new levels of incredible in their useless factor; you might as well buy a few grand worth of paperweight.
Marlo Dianne
Writer, Artist, Wondergeek
forbiddendragon.blogspot.com

"We live as though the world was as it should be, to show it what it can be." --Angel

raouf
Posts: 49
Joined: December 27th, 2005, 4:49 pm
Location: Sunnyvale, CA

Post by raouf » March 14th, 2006, 2:41 pm

marlodianne wrote:It's really annoying that even a brand new computer will still come with ONE and only one USB port. It's completely crazy, because *everything* is USB now.
You can get a USB 2.0 hub, connect that to your laptop and hang all your other devices off it.
4 port hubs go for about $15
7 port hubs go for about $27

marlodianne
Posts: 332
Joined: December 24th, 2005, 10:53 am
Location: Prince Edward Island, Canada
Contact:

Post by marlodianne » March 14th, 2006, 2:59 pm

raouf wrote:You can get a USB 2.0 hub, connect that to your laptop and hang all your other devices off it.
4 port hubs go for about $15
7 port hubs go for about $27
Nah, when I said expensive I meant it. Granted, it's all expensive when you're a small press writer and artist. :)

A 4 hub is over a hundred here, and I've never even *seen* a seven.
Marlo Dianne
Writer, Artist, Wondergeek
forbiddendragon.blogspot.com

"We live as though the world was as it should be, to show it what it can be." --Angel

kri
Posts: 5354
Joined: January 3rd, 2006, 8:34 pm
Location: Keene NH
Contact:

Post by kri » March 14th, 2006, 3:54 pm

marlodianne wrote:Nah, when I said expensive I meant it. Granted, it's all expensive when you're a small press writer and artist. :)

A 4 hub is over a hundred here, and I've never even *seen* a seven.
Have someone who can get them inexpensively buy one and send to you :)

Post Reply