What is a good mic that won't die or cost a million dollars?

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Kangaroo692
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Post by Kangaroo692 » November 7th, 2016, 3:28 pm

I use a Samson Q1U. It works well, I've had it for almost a year.

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Post by gypsygirl » November 8th, 2016, 5:03 am

I used a Samson CO1U for several years, and it was a solid mic, but had a constant background hiss that I had to do a fair bit of post-processing to get rid of. I upgraded to an AT 2020 about three years ago and have been much happier with my overall sound. The MSRP on both these mics is above US$150, but I was able to get them on sale for a bit under $100.

I record in my closet. The clothes all around cut down on echoes and it's the furthest away from any windows or exterior doors, so it muffles outside sounds very nicely.
Karen S.

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Post by knotyouraveragejo » November 8th, 2016, 8:41 pm

Good to hear that you are happy with the AT2020, Karen. I have a Samson C03U and have been thinking of trying the AT2020 for the same reason. I would love to find a mic with a lower noise floor so I don't need noise removal post processing! :)
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Post by gypsygirl » November 9th, 2016, 6:18 am

knotyouraveragejo wrote:Good to hear that you are happy with the AT2020, Karen. I have a Samson C03U and have been thinking of trying the AT2020 for the same reason. I would love to find a mic with a lower noise floor so I don't need noise removal post processing! :)
The first couple of books I recorded through ACX I did on my Samson, and I got comments from their post-processing department about my hiss. Since I got the AT2020, I haven't had any comments. I do one pass of very light noise cleaning, but that's it.
Karen S.

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Post by lurcherlover » November 12th, 2016, 4:17 am

Personally I find that using USB mic's and anything recorded into a computer (apart from high end DACs in use) can lead to some noise being recorded. The computer is full of electronics alien to good sound.

For this reason I use a stand alone recorder (Tascam) which has high quality and this is fed by a DAV pre-amp and DPA mic's. I acknowledge that this is expensive stuff amounting to about £2,000 and it can of course be done somewhat more cheaply with adequate mic's and perhaps no pre-amp.

The normal recording level for professional recordings usually allows headroom of about 8-12 dB at 24 bit - but of course for 16 bit recordings it has to be about 4dB higher i.e. a headroom approaching 4-8 dB. (Recording at -12dB at 24 bit and -8dB for 16 bit) (Meter levels).

Once the recordings are reduced to .mp3 at 128 and constant bit rate, then inevitably the sound is quite a lot worse - so the recordings should be made at the highest quality reasonably possible at the outset.
Last edited by lurcherlover on December 11th, 2016, 4:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by lurcherlover » November 12th, 2016, 8:24 am

knotyouraveragejo wrote:Good to hear that you are happy with the AT2020, Karen. I have a Samson C03U and have been thinking of trying the AT2020 for the same reason. I would love to find a mic with a lower noise floor so I don't need noise removal post processing! :)
You have to be sure that the mic is causing the noise, as many other things can contribute, including the computer itself, if you are recording into it. In situations where you have mic into a pre-amp into either computer, or stand alone recorder, you have to eliminate each item. This includes leads that can be the biggest problem. If the noise is 50Hz (60 Hz in the USA) then you might have a mains lead touching or even close to a mic lead. Even with expensive balanced mic leads with good connectors there is always the chance that they act as ariels. When someone phones me on a mobile and I'm on the computer I hear a rhythmic low noise on the speakers if the gain is up, before the phone actually rings.

There are so many radio waves, Wi-Fi and other disturbances which can mess up your recording, including those awful jet planes.

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Post by knotyouraveragejo » November 12th, 2016, 10:14 am

You are right that there are many things that contribute to background noise in digital recordings. However, I've been recording for LibriVox for 10 years now and have gradually eliminated all other possible sources of noise, so I know the low level background hiss that remains has to be from the microphone itself. :) This is a common complaint with these Samson condenser mics, which otherwise have a very good sound.
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Post by k5hsj » November 12th, 2016, 7:28 pm

lurcherlover wrote:For this reason I use a stand alone recorder (Tascam) which has high quality and this is fed by a DAV pre-amp and DPA mic's. I acknowledge that this is expensive stuff amounting to about £2,000 and it can of course be done somewhat more cheaply with adequate mic's and perhaps no pre-amp.
Dare I guess that the primary use of this gear is not for recording audiobooks? :D

Winston (an old analog audio guy)
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Post by lurcherlover » November 13th, 2016, 2:19 am

k5hsj wrote:
lurcherlover wrote:For this reason I use a stand alone recorder (Tascam) which has high quality and this is fed by a DAV pre-amp and DPA mic's. I acknowledge that this is expensive stuff amounting to about £2,000 and it can of course be done somewhat more cheaply with adequate mic's and perhaps no pre-amp.
Dare I guess that the primary use of this gear is not for recording audiobooks? :D

Winston (an old analog audio guy)
Yes, I have been making audio recordings of classical music for many years - going back to the 1970's. I have been recording poetry and readings - short stories etc. for the last year or so, but also an audio diary for the last 11 years. So I grew up in the analogue reel to reel days and learnt tape editing when i worked in broadcasting as a musician, here in London.

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Post by lurcherlover » November 27th, 2016, 5:58 am

gypsygirl wrote:
I record in my closet. The clothes all around cut down on echoes and it's the furthest away from any windows or exterior doors, so it muffles outside sounds very nicely.
The AT mic's are very good. I've had a couple for 20 years and they are still good.

As it has been said, the room acoustic as well as other factors all add to the noise on a recording. Recording in a closet is a great idea as the clothes all around damp the reverberations, and outside noises are kept at bay.

If you do not have a closet, you can still record under a blanket or duvet. If you do not want to be under it, duvets are excellent for damping room reflections. Just hang one or more close to you (one behind the mic is good, as well as one behind the reader). You can use mic stands, music stands, a clothes horse, in fact anything that will hold the duvet up. Then record close miked at about one foot (30cm) from the mic. Sometimes pointing the mic up or speaking across it rather than into it will stop explosive syllables or breathing sounds from causing problems. Experimentation is always a good idea.

Hope this helps.

Peter

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Post by lurcherlover » November 27th, 2016, 6:13 am

knotyouraveragejo wrote:You are right that there are many things that contribute to background noise in digital recordings. However, I've been recording for LibriVox for 10 years now and have gradually eliminated all other possible sources of noise, so I know the low level background hiss that remains has to be from the microphone itself. :) This is a common complaint with these Samson condenser mics, which otherwise have a very good sound.
Your recordings are excellent and I hear no hiss even when using headphones. My equipment is excellent but I do out of laziness sometimes record using a cheap WebCam where the background noise is a bit higher. Mostly though I go into my "studio" as I call it and use the really good recording gear.

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Post by TriciaG » November 27th, 2016, 7:44 am

I don't care if there's a little hiss in my recordings. If someone wants to buy $$$ equipment and re-record all the works I've done solo (or all my recordings in group projects), they're welcome to do so.

I'm not going for professional quality, and LV's ethic is the same. Our mission is to make all PD books into PD audio. We won't be able to accomplish that mission if we require (or give the impression of requiring) studio-quality recordings. If I hear a little background noise or hum, or even a passing vehicle once in a while, I'm not going to be disgusted at it, because at least that book has been recorded. If left to the professionals, there's a 99.9% chance it wouldn't have been.

That said, I record in my living room, on my recliner, using a Samson C1U (I think; I'm not at home right now to double check) USB mic. It cost me about $100 CAD on sale. It has native hiss and some room white noise, which I do light cleaning to reduce. I've never listened to my recordings through headphones to see if it makes my voice tinny or causes artifacts. I don't hear them on my regular speakers, and my DPL hasn't commented on it (but then, she's my biggest fan, being my mother), so I'm not going to put up blankets or invest in more pricey equipment. If listeners think my setup is sub-par (which I do not, as they sound good to me), they can spend the hundreds of dollars and invest the (tens of?) thousands of hours to redo my recordings.

So there. :P
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Post by lurcherlover » November 27th, 2016, 7:54 am

I'm not saying you have to have expensive equipment to make good recordings. I was just suggesting that if people had problems with room acoustics then there were easy ways of improving it. Many of the great musicians of the mid 20C were recorded on what would be considered sub-standard equipment these days. But their recordings still stand out because of their particular sound or incredible musicianship. The content is more important than the media it is conveyed on. So I think you have misunderstood my comments.

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Post by knotyouraveragejo » November 27th, 2016, 10:35 am

lurcherlover wrote: Your recordings are excellent and I hear no hiss even when using headphones\
Thanks for the compliment, Peter. I currently run 2 passes of noise reduction using the Noise Reduction plug in for Sony Sound Forge. I would like a mic with a lower noise floor so that I can eliminate this step and still get the sound quality that I want. :) I found the AT2020USB+ for a great price for Black Friday so I've ordered one and will see if there is a difference over my Samson.

To Tricia's comments - no one, least of all me, is suggesting here that LV recordings require a professional sound quality. We are just discussing the pros and cons of different microphones and recording set-ups for those who think their system needs tweaking or could be improved. Nothing wrong with that!
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Post by wildemoose » November 27th, 2016, 11:53 am

TriciaG wrote:I don't care if there's a little hiss in my recordings. If someone wants to buy $$$ equipment and re-record all the works I've done solo (or all my recordings in group projects), they're welcome to do so.

I'm not going for professional quality, and LV's ethic is the same. Our mission is to make all PD books into PD audio. We won't be able to accomplish that mission if we require (or give the impression of requiring) studio-quality recordings. If I hear a little background noise or hum, or even a passing vehicle once in a while, I'm not going to be disgusted at it, because at least that book has been recorded. If left to the professionals, there's a 99.9% chance it wouldn't have been.

That said, I record in my living room, on my recliner, using a Samson C1U (I think; I'm not at home right now to double check) USB mic. It cost me about $100 CAD on sale. It has native hiss and some room white noise, which I do light cleaning to reduce. I've never listened to my recordings through headphones to see if it makes my voice tinny or causes artifacts. I don't hear them on my regular speakers, and my DPL hasn't commented on it (but then, she's my biggest fan, being my mother), so I'm not going to put up blankets or invest in more pricey equipment. If listeners think my setup is sub-par (which I do not, as they sound good to me), they can spend the hundreds of dollars and invest the (tens of?) thousands of hours to redo my recordings.

So there. :P
I used to record sitting on the floor of my closet with foam baffling positioned around, and I had my background noise level down to basically nothing. At a certain point I decided that being physically uncomfortable while recording (and therefore not being able to record for more than 15-20 minutes at a time) wasn't worth the improved sound quality. We live on a busy street now so there's no getting around some mild road noise, and I record sitting up at my desk with my Blue Snowball plugged into my laptop. One thing I have noticed with this setup is that any echoey room sounds are greatly reduced by propping a pillow up behind my microphone, so I'll do that if I remember.

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