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carol m

Noise & Interference When Recording

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Phantom power - it seems to be 'desirable' but what is it really and how desirable is it? Does it mean you have to plug it in to a separate power source? (I have learned in my travels through Techy Land that if you want to refer to a wall socket, you call it a wall wart - which works for me on so many levels :winkthumb: ).

Very different than a wall wart.

Phantom power is only used with condenser mics. It basically provides a voltage (48V) down the mic cable that the condenser mic needs to operate. You have to have phantom power to operate a condenser mic, but it is not necessary for dynamic mics.

PC and PCI - are these terms interchangeable?

PC = Personal Computer - it is the whole computer unit.

PCI = Peripheral Component Interconnect - it is a type of slot on the motherboard that your peripheral cards (sound card, video card, network card, etc.) will plug into. There are various types of slots, so when you buy peripheral cards to put into your computer you will need to pay attention to what type it is and make sure you have one free in your computer.

ASIO Drivers - do I have one, how would I know, and do the numbers (I assume = versions) matter? Presumably if the device requires ASIO 1 and I have ASIO 2 that would be OK, but not the other way round.

I haven't ever really payed attention to the number. I think ASIO 1 is really old, I just read that Krystal supports ASIO 2 and it hasn't been updated in forever. LOL So I'd image that any program that supports ASIO will be ASIO 2. Which should support ASIO 2 and ASIO 1 devices.

Analogue and Digital - do I need both, and do devices that have both have the ability to change one into the other. Does it matter if it is referring to Input, Output, or both?

If you're recording on your computer, you'll always have both.

Analog is a continuous signal, like your guitar, or microphone. Where digital represents the analog signal with 1's and 0's (not continuous) that the computer can process. Here is a good picture I found that shows these two type of signals:

The top image is an analog signal and the bottom image is a digital signal.

f4-1.gif

So basically, analog = real world and digital = computer.

Devices such as sound cards or audio interfaces convert analog audio signals to digital for recording and then convert back to analog for your speakers.

XLR inputs - it seems to be desirable to have this, but how desirable is it, and do you need special cabling or adapters to connect to guitar and/or mic if the device has this? Do XLR outputs exist, and if so, how desirable are they?

XLR are by far the most common mic connector. Just about any microphone you get (I'm not counting "cheap computer store" mics ;)) will have XLR. So XLR is very desirable.

There are XLR outputs, and this is common on pieces of equipment (such as mic preamps) that will plug into other equipment. XLR provides the best data transfer because it has higher volume and it rejects electrical interference that the cable may pickup. In other words, it's LOW NOISE!! :clap:

USB 1.1 connection on a device - a couple of the devices I am looking at have this connection as opposed to USB 2.0 which is what I have on my computer. I think it is likely that this won't matter for me because I am running Windows 2000, and, am not looking for very high qualilty audio (don't need it and it makes the device too expensive), just to get rid of the interference (and have a new toy with lights and knobs to play with if possible)

USB 1 is what I've heard bad things about for audio. I believe USB 2 is closer to Firewire, but I've still heard that Firewire is the best.

A preamp would likely reduce the noise problem because you wouldn't be using the sound card's mic input, but you'd still be using the standard sound card so it'll still be the weak link in the chain.

I don't think any of those interfaces are really going to warrant spending the money.

- The two Creative sound cards are still in the realm of the standard PC sound card and aren't audio recording cards.

- M-Audio Transit I don't think is actually for recording, more for transporting audio from one device to another.

- M-Audio Mobile Pre is USB 1 which I've heard enough bad things about that I can't recommend it.

Getting a preamp would likely be the best bet. The I haven't heard much about the Audio Buddy, but the M-Audio preamp that I've heard really good things about is the DMP-3. It's a little more, but I've heard it's very, very good for the price.

This way you can always upgrade the interface at a later time without having to do away with the entire unit. These preamps will work with any interface you get.

When you decide to upgrade the interface (it'll happen just wait, once you get bit by the recording bug there's no going back :D), the M-Audio Delta44 is the one I'd go with. It doesn't have any preamps, so you will need to use the DMP3 (or whichever preamp you decide on) with this.

OK, I think that's everything. Good luck on your recording adventure. :winkthumb:

-tkr

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Carol,

I was going through the same exercise of trying to record acoustic with a Mic last week. My first setup was like yours with mic directly to the sound card. Results very low levels or loads of noise with the mic boost enabled.

The key to resolving this for me was a mic-preamp on a cheap mixer.

Here's the setup I ended up with:

Behringer EURORACK UB802 Mixer - 40 US$

Shure SM57 - 99 US$ (Could probably have went with a cheaper mic)

Audacity - free

Griffin iMic USB Audio Interface - 30 US$ (could probably have just used the line-in on my laptop)

Mic stand and misc cables I already had - free

My existing Laptop

The 40$ mixer looked the cheapest route. The guy at the music store was trying to push the nicer mixers with the firewire output, but I figured I would go cheap first and upgrade later.

Robert

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Carol - check the simplest things first. Do you have any lights, fans, etc. turned on near your computer when you're recording? I have a halogen desk lamp that is controlled by a rheostat (twist knob to control brightness), and I've found that it induces hum into my setup when it's on. Take a look around your workspace and if you have any such things running, turn them off and see if it helps any.

As far as the soundcard and all that stuff - I use an Alesis Multimix 8 USB mixer, and it works much better than going straight into the sound card.

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Hi Tekker (and friends), once again I only seem to get to this thread when I'm really tired, but I wonder if you can clarify some parts of your post? From what you say above, is it true that none (none????) of my researching came up with something that would bipass/replace my dodgy sound card? :(

I had really decided/hoped that either the M Audio Mobile Pre USB Interface with Mic Pre amp (expensive but cool) would fix the noise (and bipass the soundcard?). Then I read the review of the M Audio Transit which said that the sound it produced was just as good as its big brother which made that a cheaper alternative. But you say

Quote:

" M-Audio Transit I don't think is actually for recording, more for transporting audio from one device to another. AND

M-Audio Mobile Pre is USB 1 which I've heard enough bad things about that I can't recommend it."

I think I read that is actually a USB 2, and what bad things had you heard? Were you referring to the guy (I think at Zzounds) who said that his broke? Or had you heard something else?

As far as the Transit goes, I think if you read the specs and the review that I linked to you would see that it does almost the same job as its big brother for a cheaper price (and less cool).

The main thing that I would like to know is, will these bipass (or over ride) my soundcard? Or are they just pre-amps that will still need to go through my soundcard, and would that matter if they are boosting the input at high SNR?

As far as XLR outputs are concerned (and I'm not sure what an 'output' is in this situation), my microphone doesn't have that sort of connection. It has a plug the same size and shape as my guitar lead, and I use an adapter to reduce its side so it fits the 'mic in' at the back of the computer. Would you have to use a different connector/adapter to use that mic with XLR outputs (and wouldn't they be inputs anyway?)

If I really just have to bite the bullet and buy a soundcard that is installed inside the cabinet and isn't in the least cool, (or mobile) I will do that, but I'd rather spend a bit more and get a proper 'toy' if it will do a half decent job (I'm not producing demos or anything!).

All advice appreciated everyone, and I'm still checking out some of the alternatives that Bones, Marty, Robert and StratRat suggested. Thanks guys :winkthumb:

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Carol,

I hesitated to join this thread due to my total "noobieness" but feel compelled to enter my $.02 worth.

When I first started to record I used a 1/4" to 1/8" adapter into my computer sound card and got terrible results, possibly due to the extra connections causing a problem but I think also due in part to the pressure that the weight of the connection was placing on the computer input socket. I purchased a TonePort (one of several devices that act as a sound card) and most of the problems were solved.

I am sure that Tekker and some of the more knowledgeable members will be able to assist more and I know that you will be able to solve your recording problems to your satisfaction.

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It'll be a fine starter for home recording I reckon (Computer Music mag recomends the interface), the firewire interface works more reliably than usb in my experience ( I run a lot of usb devices that hog the resources).

And a big mention for Thomann for European members here - great prices and fast delivery :winkthumb:

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Thanks for the reply OldG, that's a good starter set up and I was a bit surprised by the price which looks like a very good deal, thanks for the heads up on Thomann as well haven't checked them out before:winkthumb:

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OK, I got a question. I looked at the back of my pooter and I don't have a firewire connector:dunno: So, I would be stuck with usb, I guess, or should I stay with the way I do it. I use my line in on the sound card.

Bob

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Interesting post... it will, of course, be documented... :shifty: ... Bones

Don't hassle him, bones......:winkthumb:

All good things come to those who wait :yes:

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From what you say above, is it true that none (none????) of my researching came up with something that would bipass/replace my dodgy sound card? :(

It doesn't look like it IMO. :(

I think I read that is actually a USB 2, and what bad things had you heard?

I searched google for the MobilePre and USB 2 but nothing comes up mentioning it. It's also not mentioned in the site you posted. If they don't advertise it specifically as "USB 2" then I'd say it's 99.99% likely that it's USB 1.

I don't recall all the specifics, but basically that USB1 is to slow for audio transfer. I could try to dig up some links if you'd like.

As far as the Transit goes, I think if you read the specs and the review that I linked to you would see that it does almost the same job as its big brother for a cheaper price (and less cool).

I did read the specs, but there's no mic preamp mentioned. The review also does not mention any mic preamps. It is "line level" only which is used for A/D (analog to digital) conversion. So it's not exactly the same thing.

The main thing that I would like to know is, will these bipass (or over ride) my soundcard? Or are they just pre-amps that will still need to go through my soundcard, and would that matter if they are boosting the input at high SNR?

The M Audio Buddy Pre-amp is just a preamp and will go into the line input on your sound card. If you'd like to go this route, I'd suggest getting a higher quality preamp and upgrade the sound card at a later time.

The two Creative cards are standard sound cards. So these would just be replacing the current stock sound card with another of the same quality.

The transit does not have preamps and is "line input" only.

The only option left is the USB 1 device.

As far as XLR outputs are concerned (and I'm not sure what an 'output' is in this situation),

The output would be the "output of the preamp" which plugs into the sound card.

my microphone doesn't have that sort of connection. It has a plug the same size and shape as my guitar lead, and I use an adapter to reduce its side so it fits the 'mic in' at the back of the computer. Would you have to use a different connector/adapter to use that mic with XLR outputs (and wouldn't they be inputs anyway?)

Yes, there are adapters for it.

CBI XLR Male To 1/4-inch Female Connector from zZounds.com!

If I really just have to bite the bullet and buy a soundcard that is installed inside the cabinet and isn't in the least cool, (or mobile) I will do that, but I'd rather spend a bit more and get a proper 'toy' if it will do a half decent job (I'm not producing demos or anything!).

By mobile, do you mean you want to be able to move it from one computer to another?

BTW, A new sound card would be more of a proper "tool" instead of a "toy". ;)

-tkr

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OK, I got a question. I looked at the back of my pooter and I don't have a firewire connector:dunno: So, I would be stuck with usb, I guess, or should I stay with the way I do it. I use my line in on the sound card.

Bob

You can get PCI Firewire hubs for your computer, which will add firewire capabilities. Here are a couple I found on google:

PROVANTAGE: Ultra Products ULT31342 3-Port PCI Firewire Card (2 Extended/1 Int)

FireWire 3+1 Ports PCI Card

However, getting a PCI card with an interface would be the cheapest route, you'll pay extra for the firewire feature. Firewire is really only necessary if you want something portable.

-tkr

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Hi Tekker, don't bother to do the searching for those links, I'll check it out some more. I'm still digesting the new info. Thanks for all your efforts.

By the way 'toys' have lights and knobs and come gift wrapped at Christmas, whereas 'tools' come from a hardware store and usually involve screwdrivers......except here in Australia, where a 'tool' can also be a sort of person, usually male, and is never a good person to have as a friend. Do you have 'tools' of that sort in USA, or do they all live over here? :winkthumb:

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However, getting a PCI card with an interface would be the cheapest route, you'll pay extra for the firewire feature. Firewire is really only necessary if you want something portable.

-tkr

I just had a look at those (JF-30's links), and they are really cheap (ie of interest). So when you say getting a PCI with an interface (with or without firewire) can you suggest what sort of thing that might be? I realise that you may have already covered this earlier in the thread, but if you did, I didn't realise it (due to ignorance of the topic)?

Don't bother to research and link up the links (unless you are looking for a distraction from homework or something) but a name or two would be good for me to check out. Thanks (anyone). :winkthumb:

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By the way 'toys' have lights and knobs and come gift wrapped at Christmas, whereas 'tools' come from a hardware store and usually involve screwdrivers......

Yes, "toys" look flashy but are generally not useful for "serious" applications.... And I think we all know that there is no more serious application than music. :yes:

except here in Australia, where a 'tool' can also be a sort of person, usually male, and is never a good person to have as a friend. Do you have 'tools' of that sort in USA, or do they all live over here? :winkthumb:

Yep, sure do. :D

I just had a look at those (JF-30's links), and they are really cheap (ie of interest).

Not sure what you mean by JF-30's. Google turns this up as a type of acoustic guitar (Guild).

So when you say getting a PCI with an interface (with or without firewire) can you suggest what sort of thing that might be?

The M-Audio Delta44 would be a PCI card is a good example.

M-Audio Delta 44 from zZounds.com!

In that image, the card on top is the PCI card and the box underneath is the interface. The PCI card goes inside your computer and the interface plugs into the card with a special cable that comes with it.

Don't bother to research and link up the links (unless you are looking for a distraction from homework or something)

I'm ALWAYS looking for a distraction from homework.... ;)

Here's the only article I could find, the whole thing is right up the alley of this thread. The USB/Firewire part starts about halfway down.

Soundcards for the Home Studio

-tkr

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Anything you can do to boost the signal strength before going into the computer will help your noise problems. The mic port has a preamp that can be turned on or off (on most computers). If you want to record a mono signal then the mic port should be fine if you turn off the 20DB gain boost from the mix record panel (see the advanced button by the mic level control).

This means either a mixer w/preamp or a preamp unit will do to boost your signal. A better sound card might help but you'd probably do better buying a preamp/mixer.

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Thanks Fly, I'll look into that.

That link for Soundcards in the Home Studio (above) has heaps of info and I'm going to go throught it now, thanks Tekker.

Meanwhile..........Nathan (pity da fool!).......one of the techy's from a local store is 'helping' me to part with some cash. I'll keep you posted, but you will be glad to hear,Tekker, that he is pretty much on your wave-length (tools vs toys especially) :winkthumb:

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I have been doing my homework on this (over the last 3 weeks) and I think I'm beginning to understand some of the basic concepts.

The thing which is really proving to be the biggest hurdle is that I am using Windows 2000 and not XP. If I used XP it would be easy, but buying XP and swapping all my stuff over to the new system (and not to a new computer, and XP is about to be obsolete anyway) is beyond what I'm prepared to do at the moment.

I think what I need is a PCI with an interface! :laughingg: I know you said that Tekker, but now I think I know what that means! Because it's not referred to, (or called) 'a soundcard', I didn't realise before why they were actually equivalent (but not the same). I have also decided that since we have an unused Yamaha keyboard in the attic, it would be sensible to buy something with MIDI connectivity.

I also would like something with an outboard box (which sounds so much better than 'a toy with knobs and lights') but is really an advantage because then you don't have to keep diving down the back of the computer to change plugs etc.

So I have narrowed my search to:

Tascam US-122 USB 2CH Audio/Midi interface - (not the US-122L which is the currently available version but requires XP) The older US-122 is actually now unavailable, but there's a second hand one on ebay at a fraction of the cost of a new item, and I am the current highest bidder. (I like to think that Fate has had a hand in this, and I am destined to be the new owner! :winkthumb: )

If I don't get that, my other choices are

M AUDIO USB AUDIO MIDI - it turns out that there is currently no importer of MAudio products into Australia at the moment and so MAudio products are in very short supply. A local company has tracked one of these down for me if I want it, but its probably the last one in the country. I hope it is still available after Monday when the ebay item bidding ends in case I get out bid there.

The next choice is

Edirol UA-4FX USB Audio/Midi Interface which is even more expensive because it comes with all sorts of FX which I don't really need.

Yes I know they are all USB1.1, but people in the recording sections of the stores I have been grilling tell me that USB's have come a long way, and probably won't be the weakest link in the chain anyway. All of the choices involve some sort of compromise, but any of them I believe, would do the job.

For all our American friends, you should be grateful for the sorts of prices you have to pay for your gizmo's and guitars etc. The price of these recording toys (and guitars) here is about 4 times what you pay for them over there. :mrgreen:

I'm off to watch over 'my baby' on ebay......wish me luck :winkthumb:

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Yes I know they are all USB1.1, but people in the recording sections of the stores I have been grilling tell me that USB's have come a long way, and probably won't be the weakest link in the chain anyway.

Yes, USB2 has come along way, but USB1.1 is still USB1.1, which hasn't changed and is still the worst protocol to use for recording.

Are you going to be using any other USB devices? Such as keyboards/mice, etc? USB1.1 has very limited bandwidth, so if you are using multiple USB devices that it is very easy to clog the bandwidth and start getting audio dropouts and all kinds of problems. The article above mentioned this and higher latency for USB1.1. But it's a good reason enough to be VERY careful with USB1, as you could likely end up with something worse that what you have now (ie, won't work at all).

I just found a USB2 device that may fit the bill. It supports Windows 2000 also, has mic inputs with preamps, line inputs, and MIDI.

Buy E-Mu 0404 USB 2.0 Audio/MIDI Interface online at Musician's Friend

I tried to find one for sale on the Australia google, but it seems to be much harder finding equipment there. LOL See if you can track one of those down as it looks like it'll work nicely.

* NOTE: There are TWO kinds of the EMU 0404. One is USB2.0 (the one that I posted above) and the other is a PCI card with no breakout box, it looks like this:

The Electric Room - E-MU 0404 Digital Audio System

And there were a few times that I clicked on an image for the USB2 interface and was taken to a link to buy the PCI card. So just be very careful that you find the USB2 device before buying.

-tkr

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Thanks for the response Tekker. I don't use any other USB equipment, and I also don't have a USB 2 'thingy' on my computer, so I would still be using USB1.1 if I have understood the technology properly.

I have checked out those Emu devices, but I will check them again. I think from memory that they were in the next price league. The beauty of getting the ebay toy is that it costs peanuts compared to anything else, and if I get it I can see how well it works and if I need a major upgrade (or a non-USB) device. At least then I will know if I have to go that route.

I still have the leading bid! - $80 whereas buying a new device would be more than $350.

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