Newbie microphone question

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chocoholic
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Post by chocoholic » January 22nd, 2007, 9:09 am

Anybody have any advice on choosing a microphone? Or do I even need a new one? Currently all I have is the pinhole mic on my little mp3 player, which actually is kind of convenient since my computer is near the washer/dryer; and with the portable player, I can record in another room. Here is what it sounds like, in case anybody is interested:
http://librivox.org/sympathy-by-paul-laurence-dunbar/
(Mine is version 10)
or
http://download.yousendit.com/443AAFD97BDF4C04 (currently waiting for acceptance on Short Poetry 020)

I am not completely computer illiterate, but I know nothing about audio/recording stuff. There is a round port on the front of my computer with a little microphone symbol above it; that is all I know about my computer's recording capabilities. :lol: My voice is naturally soft, so I feel like I have to yell into the mp3 player (even with the volume all the way up when I record). Would a bigger mic pick up a soft voice better? Would the sound quality be that much better, especially if I get one of the $20 ones?

Sorry so long and thanks for any advice. CC on my recordings is welcome too.
Laurie Anne

Cori
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Post by Cori » January 22nd, 2007, 9:44 am

You have a lovely voice, choccie, and I don't think your MP3 player mic does it justice, though it's certainly good enough to hear you clearly!

You might like to have a browse through the Wiki page on Equip't Reviews ... what would the $20 one be -- a headset one..? A brand that's listed there already..? And, do you have a Mac, Linux or Windows-based PC..?

For a data point ... all my 2006 recordings were done with a Labtec Stereo headset, which was both cheap and cheerful and simple. [You can hear a sample at Sonnet 23. Smallest recording I've done, I think.] Now I have a more expensive Samson C01U, but it's proving a lot of work to get a set up that works for me *and* the mic.
There's honestly no such thing as a stupid question -- but I'm afraid I can't rule out giving a stupid answer : : To Posterity and Beyond!

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Post by kayray » January 22nd, 2007, 10:09 am

Hi!

You do have such a nice reading voice, but your little mp3 player is not doing it justice -- there's so much background noise and fuzz...

I think you'd be really happy with a cheapie ($20-$30) USB mic! You'd just have to not be doing the laundry while you record, heheh (I have the same restriction)

Logitech makes a USB desk-mic and several USB headsets that work fine, all under $30. The MacMice USB flexmic is attractive and works fine. Just make sure you choose a USB mic -- not a line-in mic -- and you'll get better sound quality right away.
Kara
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"Mary wished to say something very sensible into her Zoom H2 Handy Recorder, but knew not how." -- Jane Austen (& Kara)

a.r.dobbs
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Post by a.r.dobbs » January 22nd, 2007, 10:21 am

Hey hi,

I agree, very nice voice, very nice. I'd be willing to listen to a book read into the little mp3 player. But indeed, to begin to do you justice, move to a mic at the computer.

I recently looked at LogiTec headsets in a store, and they've gone Way Up in price. The desk mic was $30. The dreaded 250 was not even on the rack -- dreaded because it is SO uncomfortable (I had one, gave it away).

My strong recommendation is to get a LogiTec USB desk mic -- it has (in the past anyway) had a more pleasant, less digitized (sharp-edged) sound than the headsets have. It looks like a little wand. It's cute. It also has the advantage (over headsets) of not picking up -- of all things -- little pops from the unavoidable movements of your jaw as you're talking! And you can rig up a little windscreen* using an old bit of nylon stretched over a plastic lid with the center cut out, attached with cardboard and rubberbands (have I mentioned chewing gum, yet?).

*this is a pop screen; this and the correct placement of the mic so it's not in direct line with your breath will sharply reduce plosives -- the puffs of popping sound with P, TH, F sounds.

There may be some excellent headsets by other manufacturers. And the latest LogiTech headsets might be glorious, but they're nearer $60.

I'm feeling chatty.
I'd better get back to work.

Lovely voice. Microphone and other audio adventures ahead!

Oh, just one question -- the mp3 recorder has no other input for a microphone, right? Only it's little pinhole, yes? If it can take a mic, what's the plug-in? little jack, like for Walkman headphones?
Anita

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Post by chocoholic » January 22nd, 2007, 10:50 am

Thanks for the compliments and advice! I didn't have a particular $20 mic in mind, I just knew that was the starting price.

Further specs since y'all obviously know a lot more about this than I do --

--PC is Windows-based

--mp3 is a Creative Zen Nano Plus and it allows line-in recording. I have very little idea of what that means :) but there is a port that says "line in" which is separate from the headphone jack, and it came with a cord that plugs into that hole.

So I should get a USB mic to connect to the computer anyway? (Which also would be convenient, so I could read straight off the screen instead of printing everything out.) And headset vs desktop -- do desktop mics have generally better sound quality, or just that brand?

Thank you all again!
Laurie Anne

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Post by kayray » January 22nd, 2007, 11:06 am

Well, if you can borrow or buy very cheaply a line-in mic that would plug into your mp3 player, you'd have portability -- but I'm still not sure how good the sound quality would be. Probably better than the built in mic, though.

If you want to read from your computer, go USB. Some folks have acquired very cheap USB headsets by looking in the gaming department in big computer stores. But as Anita says, the Logitech Noise-Cancelling USB Desk Mic is a very nice little mic. I recorded all of A Little Princess and The Secret Garden with mine, so you can take a listen and see if you like the sound quality. :)
Kara
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"Mary wished to say something very sensible into her Zoom H2 Handy Recorder, but knew not how." -- Jane Austen (& Kara)

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Post by kri » January 22nd, 2007, 11:43 am

chocoholic wrote:Thanks for the compliments and advice! I didn't have a particular $20 mic in mind, I just knew that was the starting price.

Further specs since y'all obviously know a lot more about this than I do --

--PC is Windows-based

--mp3 is a Creative Zen Nano Plus and it allows line-in recording. I have very little idea of what that means :) but there is a port that says "line in" which is separate from the headphone jack, and it came with a cord that plugs into that hole.

So I should get a USB mic to connect to the computer anyway? (Which also would be convenient, so I could read straight off the screen instead of printing everything out.) And headset vs desktop -- do desktop mics have generally better sound quality, or just that brand?

Thank you all again!
I have a Creative Zen Nano (no plus, sigh) as well. The line in plug (from what I remember) is to record from a stereo/radio. If you have the proper cable (it should have come with your zen) you can plug it into the stereo/radio's headphone output, and plug the other end into your zen "line in" port, you'll be able to record whatever comes from the stereo/radio. The actual recording happens from a little pinhole next to the "line in" port.

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Post by kri » January 22nd, 2007, 11:44 am

I lied, I have the creative zenV. However, it's probably similar.

a.r.dobbs
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Post by a.r.dobbs » January 22nd, 2007, 11:51 am

My own personal recommendation is against the headsets and for the desktop if you're going with LogiTech. I don't know the other brand headsets, so I can't comment on them.

I gave the reasons above for that recommendation:
--recording sounds less sharp-edged than the headsets
--the headsets are so incredibly uncomfortable you have to add padding
--the headsets record popping when your jaw moves
--the headsets are more expensive than the little LogiTech USB wand-looking desk mic.

That's roughly it.
And if you're editing in Audacity, don't ever use their noise reduction effects, because everybody would rather hear hiss than hear the metallic echo sound caused by Audacity's no-good noise cleaning. :)
Anita

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Post by kayray » January 22nd, 2007, 11:55 am

Yup, yup, what she said :)
Kara
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"Mary wished to say something very sensible into her Zoom H2 Handy Recorder, but knew not how." -- Jane Austen (& Kara)

chocoholic
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Post by chocoholic » January 22nd, 2007, 11:56 am

Great! Logitech desktop USB microphone it is.
Laurie Anne

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Post by Margaret » January 23rd, 2007, 3:28 pm

Tightwad that I am, I picked up a $10 Logitech mic today and tried it out. It is not USB - the connector is like a little nail that slides into the mic hole in the back of my tower. There is sort of a low background hum on my recordings. Is that why everyone says USB? Does that make the difference? Has my tightwaddiness caused my to waste my money again?
Thanks, Margaret

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Post by kri » January 23rd, 2007, 3:32 pm

Margaret wrote:Tightwad that I am, I picked up a $10 Logitech mic today and tried it out. It is not USB - the connector is like a little nail that slides into the mic hole in the back of my tower. There is sort of a low background hum on my recordings. Is that why everyone says USB? Does that make the difference? Has my tightwaddiness caused my to waste my money again?
Thanks, Margaret
It's very possible. The reason everyone says USB is because it doesn't rely on you having a good sound card. If you only have a mediocre soundcard, that's probably where the background noise comes from. If you can return it I would recommend it, and spend 10-15$ more for a USB microphone :) Much cheaper than getting a better soundcard.

kayray
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Post by kayray » January 23rd, 2007, 3:37 pm

Margaret wrote:There is sort of a low background hum on my recordings. Is that why everyone says USB? Does that make the difference?
Yep :)
Kara
http://kayray.org/
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"Mary wished to say something very sensible into her Zoom H2 Handy Recorder, but knew not how." -- Jane Austen (& Kara)

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Post by Cloud Mountain » January 23rd, 2007, 5:10 pm

High Laurie,

It's Alan (Cloud Mountain), who BC'd "Sympathy" for the recent Weekly Poetry collection.

Thanks much for the contribution. Sorry I didn't get around to sending you a PM on this yet, but since it popped up here, I guessed I should clarify things a bit, briefly and then follow up via a PM on Thursday when I can concentrate on it appropriately. Basically, the file on archive.org is different than the one you sent; that is, adjustments were made to it to enhance what you sent. Had to do that quickly because of Weekly Poetry time retraints. There were volume problems and not only a hum but lots of subtle thumps that were evened out. The volume was very low. This means that when you listen to what's in the collection you'll hear something quite different than what's the original. I'll be getting back to you on what was done to it and a few friendly suggestions/recommendations for future recordings. How's that!?!

Did you say this was recorded through line-in or USB?

I'll get to you soon!

Best, A.
[url=http://librivox.org/newcatalog/people_public.php?peopleid=254]Alan's LV catalog[/url]

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