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Old 08-07-2011, 05:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Microphone and recording issues

Hi, guys! I`m new here and I wanted to ask you a few questions to see your opinions and find someone who knows more about this stuff and who could help me.

Well, I`ve been taking singing lesson for few years now, been singing my whole life... and in the past few months I started thinking about recording some stuff and maybe put it on YouTube or my FB... and I have been searching for a microphone. I have narrowed down my choice to 2 or 3... but I don`t know which to choose. First, I don`t know if I should go for a condenser one (Behringer is my choice for starters) or a dynamic one (Shure)? At first I decided to buy a dynamic mic - I can do a decent recording with it and still use it for performances... but than I switched to a condenser mic - better recordings... then again, I would record it in my room, don`t have an isolated booth or something like that and the condenser one is quite sensitive as I heard, it picks up more background sounds... or not? Please help... does anyone have advice which way to go according to the purpose for which I plan to use the mic? I would definitely like to buy both but can`t do it at the moment... in the future I will have both but at the moment I have to choose.

And second... I`m quite a computer geek and know my way around computers but wanted to hear how people do it... because I don`t have a lot of experience with recording. Which software does the job decently and is free for download? And about recording... people who do it maybe for YouTube or something like that... do they record separately the video and audio.. match it up later than add the backing track? Do they hear themselves when recording? How can I pull everything off?


A lot of questions... but I hope that you guys will have time to spare to answer with few sentences... I would greatly appreciate! Thanks in advance!

If I ever manage to put up a video, I`ll definitely thank everybody LOL
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Old 08-07-2011, 05:58 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I have no idea about microphones and whatnot, but the recording software to use is Audacity

Audacity: Free Audio Editor and Recorder

Easiest to use by far
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Old 08-07-2011, 07:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Singstar View Post
Hi, guys! I`m new here and I wanted to ask you a few questions to see your opinions and find someone who knows more about this stuff and who could help me.

Well, I`ve been taking singing lesson for few years now, been singing my whole life... and in the past few months I started thinking about recording some stuff and maybe put it on YouTube or my FB... and I have been searching for a microphone. I have narrowed down my choice to 2 or 3... but I don`t know which to choose. First, I don`t know if I should go for a condenser one (Behringer is my choice for starters) or a dynamic one (Shure)? At first I decided to buy a dynamic mic - I can do a decent recording with it and still use it for performances... but than I switched to a condenser mic - better recordings... then again, I would record it in my room, don`t have an isolated booth or something like that and the condenser one is quite sensitive as I heard, it picks up more background sounds... or not? Please help... does anyone have advice which way to go according to the purpose for which I plan to use the mic? I would definitely like to buy both but can`t do it at the moment... in the future I will have both but at the moment I have to choose.
You're on the right track with the general situation. A dynamic would serve you better for performance, as its pickup pattern and sensitivity threshold lends itself to that scenario. A condenser is usually strictly a studio fixture, for the same reasons, only in contrast to the characteristics of a dynamic.

A couple of considerations need to be made. First, if you're leaning toward a condenser microphone, you're going to need a phantom power source. If you don't already have a mixer or audio interface with phantom power, then that's another purchase.
Secondly, you're not going to be using a condenser in a live setting. So, for performances, a dynamic is another purchase.

But, there are very good dynamic vocal microphones that can be sufficient for both scenarios. A Shure SM58, for example, is perfect for performance, and does well in the studio. It's a well-rounded microphone, and an industry standard in terms of general vocal performance mics. In the studio, you'll get good results. Not the same crispness and clarity of a condenser, but it's no slouch.

Also, with a 58, you're not going to have to worry so much about shoddy studio acoustics like you would with a condenser, which (yes) picks up a LOT more ambient noise and room characteristic if you're not singing in an isolation booth (or a makeshift one, like a closet full of clothes).

So, ultimately, I think you would be better off with a dynamic for now.

Quote:
And second... I`m quite a computer geek and know my way around computers but wanted to hear how people do it... because I don`t have a lot of experience with recording. Which software does the job decently and is free for download? And about recording... people who do it maybe for YouTube or something like that... do they record separately the video and audio.. match it up later than add the backing track? Do they hear themselves when recording? How can I pull everything off?
Like EvilChuck said, Audacity is one of the more well-known free multitracking softwares around. It's simple, has the basic features, and will fulfill your needs until you're ready to grow.

As far recording with a video, I need you to be more specific.
Are you asking about the recording itself, or how it relates to a video?
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Old 08-08-2011, 04:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freebase Dali View Post
You're on the right track with the general situation. A dynamic would serve you better for performance, as its pickup pattern and sensitivity threshold lends itself to that scenario. A condenser is usually strictly a studio fixture, for the same reasons, only in contrast to the characteristics of a dynamic.

A couple of considerations need to be made. First, if you're leaning toward a condenser microphone, you're going to need a phantom power source. If you don't already have a mixer or audio interface with phantom power, then that's another purchase.
Secondly, you're not going to be using a condenser in a live setting. So, for performances, a dynamic is another purchase.

But, there are very good dynamic vocal microphones that can be sufficient for both scenarios. A Shure SM58, for example, is perfect for performance, and does well in the studio. It's a well-rounded microphone, and an industry standard in terms of general vocal performance mics. In the studio, you'll get good results. Not the same crispness and clarity of a condenser, but it's no slouch.

Also, with a 58, you're not going to have to worry so much about shoddy studio acoustics like you would with a condenser, which (yes) picks up a LOT more ambient noise and room characteristic if you're not singing in an isolation booth (or a makeshift one, like a closet full of clothes).

So, ultimately, I think you would be better off with a dynamic for now.

Like EvilChuck said, Audacity is one of the more well-known free multitracking softwares around. It's simple, has the basic features, and will fulfill your needs until you're ready to grow.

As far recording with a video, I need you to be more specific.
Are you asking about the recording itself, or how it relates to a video?
Hi.. thanks guys for answering! Especially to you Freebase... it seems you know your way around microphones and that kind of advice is just what I was looking for! In fact... I was thinking about Shure SM58... heard a lot of positive things about it and read a lot of good reviews. Now that you said that I can use it both for performances and for doing quite good recordings I am 95% percent sure I am going for the dynamic one. The condenser like you said will have additional costs because of the phantom power source... just one question... because I would like to know for future reference... what is that?

And one additional question regarding the Shure SM58... I know that there are two versions, with an on/off switch and without. What is your opinions about that? Is it better to get the one with the switch or without? Is there a bigger possibility of technical malfunctions or similar as time passes by with the one that has the switch?


And second... regarding the recording... I have Audacity and have been using it for quite some time now.. few months ago I got Transcribe! and it`s quite good. I asked because I wanted to see what others are using... thanks

And for the recording question... I asked if someone could walk me through the procedure of doing it... both audio and video recording... but especially audio... I mean obviously you record video with a cam... sound with the mic... and you have your headphones through which you hear the backing music/track (instrumental or whatever..) and my idea was that I record a video without the sound while singing... match it with the recorded sound and than add the backing track... is that a good idea or is there an easier way of doing it? I mean can I record the sound directly with the backing track... or something... like I said, I don`t have experience with recording so I don`t know how people who post on YouTube match the video and audio...


Finally last but not least... you should hear yourself while recording, is that right? So how to do that? To hear yourself and the backing track at the same time?

Thank you again!
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Old 08-09-2011, 09:41 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Singstar View Post
The condenser like you said will have additional costs because of the phantom power source... just one question... because I would like to know for future reference... what is that?
Well, very basically, a dynamic (passive) microphone doesn't operate with electrical components. It's more about vibrations, magnets and stored energy, to put it very generally. Dynamics don't need a power source. But condensers, on the other hand, do. And their electrical components require a DC voltage. So with phantom power, the power source (usually in a mixer or audio interface with PP) will send the needed DC current to the microphone through the XLR input, and to the microphone.

Quote:
And one additional question regarding the Shure SM58... I know that there are two versions, with an on/off switch and without. What is your opinions about that? Is it better to get the one with the switch or without? Is there a bigger possibility of technical malfunctions or similar as time passes by with the one that has the switch?
On/off switch is really a matter of convenience. If you're going to be in proximity to your recording device, or if in performance, you have someone to mute/unmute the channel you're on, then it's not really necessary. Conversely, it might come in handy for obvious reasons.

As far as the switching component wearing out, I wouldn't worry too much about that. It's a passive device that simply gates the signal, from what I understand. My dad has had several 58's with switches for years and years, and they all still work. Besides, it's a solid mic. They're built to last.

Quote:
And for the recording question... I asked if someone could walk me through the procedure of doing it... both audio and video recording... but especially audio... I mean obviously you record video with a cam... sound with the mic... and you have your headphones through which you hear the backing music/track (instrumental or whatever..) and my idea was that I record a video without the sound while singing... match it with the recorded sound and than add the backing track... is that a good idea or is there an easier way of doing it? I mean can I record the sound directly with the backing track... or something... like I said, I don`t have experience with recording so I don`t know how people who post on YouTube match the video and audio...
It would depend on whether you want to have the video of you recording yourself, or have a video of you singing like in a music video, where the video and recording were clearly two separate events, but in sync.

Scenario 1:
A vid of you with your headphones on, at the microphone, recording, while the vid plays both the recorded vocals and the instrumental in sync:

- First, you'll plug in your headphones to the headphone port of your audio interface. You'll also plug in your microphone to one of the XLR ports on your audio interface. In your recording program, you should be able to insert a track and assign the microphone port to it. This will be your vocal track. Also, insert another track and drag the .WAV or .MP3 file into it, lined up at 00:00. This will be your instrumental track. They are both separate entities.
- Test to ensure that you can hear yourself through the mic, into the headphones. Also ensure you can hear the instrumental track. Adjust the level of each so that you get a good balance. ENSURE THAT YOUR MICROPHONE LEVEL DOES NOT EXCEED 0DB IN THE METERS.
- Arm your vocal track to be the track that records, then start recording. Your instrumental track should play back, while your vocal track records you singing along to the instrumental. It will all be synced up.

Meanwhile, you have set up a video camera to record you recording the vocal track. The audio on the camera will be trashed. The video is what you want. When you have done a complete take that you're happy with, go ahead and save that. Make any changes to the levels and add any effects on the audio recording, then export as a .WAV.
Also, import the video from your cam to your computer.

Using a video editor (like Windows Movie Maker), import the video to a video track, then import the recording to an audio track. THEY WILL NOT BE IN SYNC YET. You can use the audio from the video to sync the video to the audio recording you made (since it will have picked up your voice when singing). Once it's synced up, ungroup the native audio from the video and delete it. Now the audio recording you made will be the audio track to the video.

When you're satisfied, export the video according to the recommended guidelines for Youtube.

Scenario 2:
A vid of you singing like in a music video, to the recording:

Same steps as above, except first do the audio recording without videorecording it. When you've exported the audio recording, then dress up all pretty, play the recording on speakers, and video tape you singing (or lipsyncing) along with it. Then repeat the video steps above, get rid of the video's audio, and use the audio recording you made.


I can be more specific about certain parts if you need.

Quote:
Finally last but not least... you should hear yourself while recording, is that right? So how to do that? To hear yourself and the backing track at the same time?

Thank you again!
Yes. You should. You will have (ear covering) headphones on, and they should be playing the backing track in a comfortable level to your vocals as they come through the headphones.
How to get the vocals to come through the headphones will depend on your audio interface and its software mixer.

btw... you really should let me know what audio interface you're using. I'd be able to help more.
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Old 08-10-2011, 06:51 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freebase Dali View Post
Well, very basically, a dynamic (passive) microphone doesn't operate with electrical components. It's more about vibrations, magnets and stored energy, to put it very generally. Dynamics don't need a power source. But condensers, on the other hand, do. And their electrical components require a DC voltage. So with phantom power, the power source (usually in a mixer or audio interface with PP) will send the needed DC current to the microphone through the XLR input, and to the microphone.

On/off switch is really a matter of convenience. If you're going to be in proximity to your recording device, or if in performance, you have someone to mute/unmute the channel you're on, then it's not really necessary. Conversely, it might come in handy for obvious reasons.

As far as the switching component wearing out, I wouldn't worry too much about that. It's a passive device that simply gates the signal, from what I understand. My dad has had several 58's with switches for years and years, and they all still work. Besides, it's a solid mic. They're built to last.

It would depend on whether you want to have the video of you recording yourself, or have a video of you singing like in a music video, where the video and recording were clearly two separate events, but in sync.

Scenario 1:
A vid of you with your headphones on, at the microphone, recording, while the vid plays both the recorded vocals and the instrumental in sync:

- First, you'll plug in your headphones to the headphone port of your audio interface. You'll also plug in your microphone to one of the XLR ports on your audio interface. In your recording program, you should be able to insert a track and assign the microphone port to it. This will be your vocal track. Also, insert another track and drag the .WAV or .MP3 file into it, lined up at 00:00. This will be your instrumental track. They are both separate entities.
- Test to ensure that you can hear yourself through the mic, into the headphones. Also ensure you can hear the instrumental track. Adjust the level of each so that you get a good balance. ENSURE THAT YOUR MICROPHONE LEVEL DOES NOT EXCEED 0DB IN THE METERS.
- Arm your vocal track to be the track that records, then start recording. Your instrumental track should play back, while your vocal track records you singing along to the instrumental. It will all be synced up.

Meanwhile, you have set up a video camera to record you recording the vocal track. The audio on the camera will be trashed. The video is what you want. When you have done a complete take that you're happy with, go ahead and save that. Make any changes to the levels and add any effects on the audio recording, then export as a .WAV.
Also, import the video from your cam to your computer.

Using a video editor (like Windows Movie Maker), import the video to a video track, then import the recording to an audio track. THEY WILL NOT BE IN SYNC YET. You can use the audio from the video to sync the video to the audio recording you made (since it will have picked up your voice when singing). Once it's synced up, ungroup the native audio from the video and delete it. Now the audio recording you made will be the audio track to the video.

When you're satisfied, export the video according to the recommended guidelines for Youtube.

Scenario 2:
A vid of you singing like in a music video, to the recording:

Same steps as above, except first do the audio recording without videorecording it. When you've exported the audio recording, then dress up all pretty, play the recording on speakers, and video tape you singing (or lipsyncing) along with it. Then repeat the video steps above, get rid of the video's audio, and use the audio recording you made.


I can be more specific about certain parts if you need.

Yes. You should. You will have (ear covering) headphones on, and they should be playing the backing track in a comfortable level to your vocals as they come through the headphones.
How to get the vocals to come through the headphones will depend on your audio interface and its software mixer.

btw... you really should let me know what audio interface you're using. I'd be able to help more.
Oh, God... thanks so much! I really cannot thank you enough.

I had a pretty general idea about everything I asked but you clarified and explained the details in such concise and easy to understand way... especially with the recording stuff. It`s not often you stumble upon someone who explains something just the way you wanted... And regarding the recording stuff... I was thinking about the 1. scenario... don`t have a fancy cam and not into video making... just want to record myself singing... want it to be natural not specially made for that purpose like a video or something. But who knows... maybe I broaden my aspirations in the future..

You don`t have to be more specific about certain steps, I got it all, you couldn't have explained it better!

Now about the audio interface... Now I`ll come off as a total ignorant fool but.. you mean the hardware stuff? Do I need some additional hardware stuff besides my lap with a soundcard?
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Old 08-10-2011, 07:12 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I'm glad I could help.

Anyway, about the audio interface... if you're going to be even mildly serious about recording, you're not going to be doing it on a laptop's soundcard. Those soundcards don't have the proper converters on them (which will diminish sound quality), they don't have the necessary inputs, nor the features.

An audio interface is simply an external piece of gear that is specifically designed for recording purposes. They can be USB or Firewire. Depending on the type you get, they can be multi-channel, meaning, you can record multiple things simultaneously while keeping them separate in your recording program.
They record in 24bit, and usually have a range of sample-rates you can record in. They can also include the necessary inputs you will need to connect your microphone.

Here's is a recommendation for a very affordable interface:
Alesis iO2 Express Audio Interface: Shop Pro Audio & Other Musical Instruments | Musician's Friend

It's by no means the best on the market, but for your purposes, it will do just fine. Best on the market is going to put you in the hole for upwards of 2 grand. This one is just 99 dollars. IT IS WORTH IT.

It simply connects to your computer via USB. It will also give you clear and easy monitoring options like we were talking about earlier, as any audio interface does. This one also comes with Cubase LE, which is by far a better software than Audacity, but you'll still be able to use Audacity with the interface.

Also, it features phantom power, should you ever buy a condenser.

Look through the features, specs, and reviews.
I just recommended this interface in general, meaning, definitely look around and see if other interfaces would suit you more. But the interface I recommended is the bare minimum of what you should be looking for, but is a baseline standard of what you need.

As far as total purchases, you should need:
- 1 SM58
- 1 XLR mic cable (whatever length you need)
- 1 audio interface

That's it.
Most interfaces offer everything this one does, and more, and with better quality components, but Alesis isn't a slouch with its products. Again, use this recommendation as a baseline of what you should be getting, and shop around.
If you decide to get it, great.
If you have any other questions regarding interfaces, feel free to ask.
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Old 08-11-2011, 05:50 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Freebase Dali View Post
I'm glad I could help.

Anyway, about the audio interface... if you're going to be even mildly serious about recording, you're not going to be doing it on a laptop's soundcard. Those soundcards don't have the proper converters on them (which will diminish sound quality), they don't have the necessary inputs, nor the features.

An audio interface is simply an external piece of gear that is specifically designed for recording purposes. They can be USB or Firewire. Depending on the type you get, they can be multi-channel, meaning, you can record multiple things simultaneously while keeping them separate in your recording program.
They record in 24bit, and usually have a range of sample-rates you can record in. They can also include the necessary inputs you will need to connect your microphone.

Here's is a recommendation for a very affordable interface:
...

It's by no means the best on the market, but for your purposes, it will do just fine. Best on the market is going to put you in the hole for upwards of 2 grand. This one is just 99 dollars. IT IS WORTH IT.

It simply connects to your computer via USB. It will also give you clear and easy monitoring options like we were talking about earlier, as any audio interface does. This one also comes with Cubase LE, which is by far a better software than Audacity, but you'll still be able to use Audacity with the interface.

Also, it features phantom power, should you ever buy a condenser.

Look through the features, specs, and reviews.
I just recommended this interface in general, meaning, definitely look around and see if other interfaces would suit you more. But the interface I recommended is the bare minimum of what you should be looking for, but is a baseline standard of what you need.

As far as total purchases, you should need:
- 1 SM58
- 1 XLR mic cable (whatever length you need)
- 1 audio interface

That's it.
Most interfaces offer everything this one does, and more, and with better quality components, but Alesis isn't a slouch with its products. Again, use this recommendation as a baseline of what you should be getting, and shop around.
If you decide to get it, great.
If you have any other questions regarding interfaces, feel free to ask.

Thanks again... I learned so much in these few posts... if I browsed through the internet on my own I would probably still be clueless with half of the stuff I know now and that will definitely help me in the future... so thanks again! just love this smiley LOL where is the one with something stronger than beer

Damn... I was hoping I wouldn`t need additional stuff... the dynamic doesn`t need a phantom power source but needs an interface... but obviously I need the interface no matter which mic I buy... now I can buy a condenser because this thing works as a phantom power source... but I already decided... I`m going for the dynamic because I don`t have the recording conditions for the condenser. But damn... where will I get 200$... yes, I checked... here where I live the thing costs 200$... and the mic doesn`t cost 100$ like I see everywhere but 200$... damn.. or should I say crap...



p.s. had to delete the URL from the quote because I didn`t post 15 posts or more.. so you know...
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Old 08-11-2011, 10:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Is there any alternative equipment that might be cheaper where you live?
It doesn't absolutely have to be an SM58 and an Alesis interface. Perhaps you could find some more reasonably priced items and search for reviews?

Where do you live, btw?
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Old 08-12-2011, 05:35 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Freebase Dali View Post
Is there any alternative equipment that might be cheaper where you live?
It doesn't absolutely have to be an SM58 and an Alesis interface. Perhaps you could find some more reasonably priced items and search for reviews?

Where do you live, btw?
Well, there are some cheaper mics for like 100$ (mostly for karaoke) but I don`t want to waste my money for something not worth it and that won`t have a decent sound... I`d rather invest more and have something that has higher quality and will last... I browsed around and decided that SM58 is a minimum and I won`t go lower than that... it`s quite cheap when you compare it to other "professional" mics that cost over 400$ and also has good reviews... the other I heard that Senheiser e830.. I think... is also good and has a reasonable price but I`m leaning towards SM58 more. I said that I`ll get at least a decent mic for starters...

I could try to find a cheaper audio interface... didn`t expect I`d have to get that to but like you said.. Alesis is the cheapest one... don`t know if there are any alternatives..


p.s. I`m from Croatia...
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