USB Mic Suggestions

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Morlock
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Post by Morlock » March 7th, 2018, 4:02 am

Hi! Daryl here (Yes, the "nut-job" returns...)

I got a semi-new laptop with one of those inputs that "means" to be a double entendre for both headphone and microphone, but when I've tried to record to it all I get is that it is a headphone jack and nothing else. (Open mic works but that is crappy for book reading.)

I tried to order a USB mic from Amazon but I had to send it back because there was no USB adapter attached.

I figure I could get back to book-reading here on the side while working on this doofus "magnum opus" I fell into. In order to do that I should probably use a separate machine to book read and this one to perform my audio drama "refuse".

I'd love a list of USB microphones I have the potential to either order or purchase in-store somewhere. We have an Office Depot nearby and I've learned that ordering things to be bought via a physical store is the better bargain these days.

Thank you in advance and sorry about any trouble I may have caused.

Daryl

tovarisch
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Post by tovarisch » March 7th, 2018, 6:21 am

Daryl,

However cheesy it might sound, figuring out your budget is actually a good start. You can get a reasonable recording device for ~$30 (Samson Go Mic, CAD U9). For ~$70 you can get something that sounds better yet. For a hundred bucks you are venturing into a "prosumer" area (Blue Yeti, Audio Technica).

Also, don't discount the possibility to get something second-hand.

There are so many of those items that have been reviewed on Youtube that it makes little sense to start another thread about it here, really.

If you're not aiming so high as creating a home studio to record music and vocals, you can always get away with a USB mic for "podcasting". Check out our "Microphone shootout" projects and see what USB mics are represented there.

Good luck!
tovarisch
  • reality prompts me to scale down my reading, sorry to say
    to PLers: do correct my pronunciation please

sjmarky
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Post by sjmarky » March 7th, 2018, 11:51 am

Audio-Technica ATR2500. $80. Add a foam wind screen - $1.59. Amazon.
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Algy Pug
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Post by Algy Pug » March 9th, 2018, 6:50 am

Algy Pug

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sjmarky
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Post by sjmarky » March 9th, 2018, 7:03 pm

CAD makes excellent mics. I have an E100se myself.
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Algy Pug
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Post by Algy Pug » March 9th, 2018, 8:09 pm

sjmarky wrote:
March 9th, 2018, 7:03 pm
CAD makes excellent mics. I have an E100se myself.
As a rule the cheaper CAD mics are not so excellent. However, the GXL2400 USB is a remarkable exception. It has amazingly low self-noise for a USB mic.
Algy Pug

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k5hsj
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Post by k5hsj » March 11th, 2018, 12:10 am

Daryl,

I can't really add much to the excellent advice Mark and Algy have offered, other than to say that the best reviews of both dynamic and condenser USB mics I've seen on YouTube are done by a guy named Bandrew who posts under the title of Podcastage. He somehow manages to come up with most of the mics I've seen suggested on LibriVox and tests them separately and side by side. Listening to the same voice in the same acoustic space going over the same material for each mic makes it easier to tell differences. At any rate, it's worth a look and Bandrew's enthusiasm is contagous! :D

Winston
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Algy Pug
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Post by Algy Pug » March 11th, 2018, 12:36 am

I can heartily second Winston's recommendation - Podcastage is an excellent channel, and Bandrew, in spite of his phobia about stickers (or perhaps because of it) is very entertaining and informative.

Here is his review of the CAD GXL2400 USB:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVYN5_fTEDY

Another Youtube channel which is well worth investigating is Booth Junkie (Mike del Gaudio) although he tends to focus rather more on high end gear.

Cheers
Algy Pug

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JayKitty76
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Post by JayKitty76 » October 24th, 2018, 3:13 pm

I recommend a Logitech headset...they are really good-quality and have brilliant audio. Plus, you only rarely need to noise-reduct with them, since they are noise-cancelling! You can get a good-quality one for under $30.

SkyRider
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Post by SkyRider » November 21st, 2018, 10:05 am

(Late to the discussion, but...) Once you get a certain quality of microphone, it's not worth paying for the marginal increases you get at the top end of the market - the heavy MP3 compression will quickly eliminate any of the subtle nuances,

What constitutes top-end? Well, there's the rub. There's a lot of Yeti love round here though.

lpeders
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Post by lpeders » December 17th, 2018, 4:25 pm

I'm so glad I found this thread! I have been using an intro level USB Insignia microphone from Best Buy. I'd like to move up and get something with less power-noise. (not sure that's the right term) Two guys at local stores recommended Blue Yeti and I see here that Audio-technica is also recommended. I think those are more in my price range right now than the CAD. Also, I was looking on ACX and their "gear you'll need" list includes an audio interface. I'd appreciate some feedback: yeti vs audio-technica and is an audio interface critical?

Algy Pug
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Post by Algy Pug » December 17th, 2018, 5:43 pm

Hello

A good USB microphone will serve you well for any work you do for Librivox.

If you are interested in the Blue Yeti, the model I would recommend is the Yeti Nano:
https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Yeti-Premium-Recording-Streaming/dp/B07DTTGZ7M
It is cheaper than the standard version, more compact and easier to use.

The other two USB mics which are generally recommended are the AudioTechnica 2020+ USB:
https://www.amazon.com/Audio-Technica-AT2020USB-Cardioid-Condenser-Microphone/dp/B00B5ZX9FM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1545092596&sr=8-1&keywords=at+2020%2B+USB

and the Rode NT-USB:
https://www.amazon.com/Rode-NT-USB-USB-Condenser-Microphone/dp/B00KQPGRRE/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1545092698&sr=8-3&keywords=RODE+NT-USB

The CAD GXL2400 USB is an amazing model for the original price of about $30 but is very hard to find these days:
https://www.amazon.com/GXL2400-USB-Diaphragm-Condenser-Recording-Microphone/dp/B013RSD3R8%3FSubscriptionId%3DAKIAJ2JMONGJDH5NBBIA%26tag%3Djenfrecou-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3DB013RSD3R8

An USB interface/XLR microphone combination is the usual choice for professional narrators, and offers better quality recording and more versatility. As a rule, these combinations are generally more expensive than standalone USB microphones. However, the following setup would be very good value:

MXL V67G condenser microphone:
https://www.amazon.com/MXL-Large-Capsule-Condenser-Microphone/dp/B000JRPYGE/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1545093228&sr=8-3&keywords=mxl+v67g

Behringer UMC22 USB interface:
https://www.amazon.com/Behringer-UMC22-BEHRINGER-U-PHORIA/dp/B00FFIGZF6/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1545093272&sr=8-4&keywords=behringer+USB+interface#customerReviews

XLR cable (not supplied with interface):
https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-Male-Female-Microphone-Cable/dp/B01JNLTTKS/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1545093424&sr=1-1-spons&keywords=XLR+cable&psc=1

There are plenty of good instructional videos on Youtube about using setups like these.

Have fun.

Cheers
Algy Pug

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SkyRider
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Post by SkyRider » December 18th, 2018, 3:52 am

Just to clarify, a USB microphone already contains a rudimentary audio interface - that's what provides the USB connection. It's basically an all-in-one package - you can plug it into your computer and go. This makes getting started easy, but upgrading harder as you effectively have to upgrade everything at once. n particular, if self-noise is what you're concerned about you won't have as much latitude to tweak each part of the chain. For Librivox, a USB mic will be fine. You mention ACX though and their noise standards are more stringent - my Yeti is too noisy for that. I sometimes do some on-line teaching and my University is even more draconian (probably more so than makes any sense).

The interface has two main jobs - it converts the analogue signal from the microphone to a digital one and it presents you with a connection (USB or Thunderbolt) that you can plug into your computer. This digital-to-analogue conversion (often abbreviated to D-to-A) introduces more noise than the microphone itself, so if you go for a more component-based chain you can deliberately select for low noise options. The Scarlett 2i2 and the Audient iD14 have a lot of traction in the voiceover world. I have a 2i2 and am very happy with it.

While Algy Pug has given you some good suggestions of microphones, I'd strongly emphasise that you should find a local store and try them out before buying anything. Different voices suit different microphones. For example, I bought a Yeti because everyone told me to get one, but it makes my voice sound very thin and reedy. Others have suited me better. My current setup is an Aston Origin for the microphone and the Scarlett 2i2 for the audio interface but I wouldn't recommend them to anyone whose voice doesn't sound like mine. It's worth getting it right because although good audio kit costs a good chunk of change, it'll also pretty well last you forever.

Again, if noise is an issue, it's worth looking at dynamic microphones. These use a different technology from condenser mics which makes their sensitivity to sound drop off more rapidly. If you're recording on the kitchen table rather than surrounded by soft furnishings or if next-door's dog is always barking then that's worth considering. They get a bad rap as cheap dynamic mics can be made very cheaply and poorly, but the good ones can be very good indeed. Most live music is played on dynamic mics to minimise the risk of feedback. I'm only aware of two USB dynamics - the Rode Podcaster and the Audio-Technica ATR-2100USB - no first hand experience of either to comment on though, I'm afraid.

Fortunately, the Yeti wasn't wasted - I also run a podcast and it suits my co-host just fine. :-)

lpeders
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Post by lpeders » December 18th, 2018, 11:53 am

I just have to say that I love the collaboration and team mentality here :!: Everyone is so willing to help with suggestions! Thank you Algy and SkyRider for your excellent and thorough responses that offer me more opportunities to learn and grow! :clap:

Algy Pug
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Post by Algy Pug » December 18th, 2018, 3:01 pm

The Samson Q1U is also a dynamic USB microphone:
http://www.samsontech.com/samson/products/microphones/usb-microphones/q1u/
Like many Samson microphones this unit is noisy and also is not noted for its durability.

The Rode Podcaster is an excellent microphone - but may be a little expensive if you are on a tight budget.

Cheers
Algy Pug

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