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Buying a PC microphone
Richard Phipps
Member #1,632
November 2001
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Hi Guys,

I want to buy a proper PC microphone. I have a Philips Microphone that's not built for computers so the signal is really weak. So, although I can use it I have to boost the signal a lot and then get hissing. Even with filtering you can't get rid of it completely without affecting the sound.

So, I had a look at some PC microphones. But I'm not an audio person so the only specs I could see on the back was the frequency range and the amount of ohms (?)

One Microphone was also advertised as a digital USB mic, as it plugged straight into a USB port. But doesn't this just mean that the signal is converted from analogue to digital in the mic itself rather than the PC?

I don't want a top of the range mic, just a decent PC one.

Any advice on what to look for? :)

jhuuskon
Member #302
April 2000
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A USB microphone sets up its own device instance in the driver list, you're bound to have problems. I'd recommend against it.

If you don't use it to record things, just, say, skype and such, any desktop mic advertised for computer use will do.

You don't deserve my sig.

Richard Phipps
Member #1,632
November 2001
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Thanks JH, I'm looking more to record things rather than use it for skype or messenging.

Does the amount of impedence matter for all these low-impedence microphones?

Mark Oates
Member #1,146
March 2001
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what type of phillips mic do you have? The hissing may be the result of a low volume setting somewhere in your signal chain.

What types of things do you want to record? Just your basic talking in a normal noisy room?

Johan Halmén
Member #1,550
September 2001

I have a Logitech Quickcam Fusion webcam. It works as a mic, too, and rather good one, compared to most mics meant for the 3.5 mm computer input. Probably it's the AD inside the webcam that is better than the AD inside the computer.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Years of thorough research have revealed that the red "x" that closes a window, really isn't red, but white on red background.

Years of thorough research have revealed that what people find beautiful about the Mandelbrot set is not the set itself, but all the rest.

Richard Phipps
Member #1,632
November 2001
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Mark:

I have no idea, it's a basic mic and there are no settings on it apart from a on/off switch. Even with full volume settings in Windows it's still very low.

Just normal talking in a normal room without hiss and with a decent (doesn't have to be amazing) sound quality.

Mark Oates
Member #1,146
March 2001
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hmm.. if the mic is a "powered" mic and it doesn't have any power (its battery is drained) then you'll typically get a very soft sound, after which you boost the volume it becomes very hissy.

I'm not sure if the mic you're using is a "powered/unpowered" mic or if that on off switch is for something else.

Is it a battery or plugin or something else?

Richard Phipps
Member #1,632
November 2001
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No battery plugin, just a normal gold plated jack.

Mark Oates
Member #1,146
March 2001
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hmm... any idea what the switch is for?

Something makes me think you could get that one to work well. Otherwise I'd recommend buying a mic that has some kind of battery or power plugin/charger to give you a strong, clean signal.

Richard Phipps
Member #1,632
November 2001
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Just an on/off switch..

So the powered mic have an amplifier in the mic before the signal goes down all the cable and into a computer/hifi?

Mark Oates
Member #1,146
March 2001
avatar

Exactly. Some are better than others. Recording studios typically prefer mics without power so they can run it through a higher quality amp.

The speakers I have are amplified, because it was cheaper than buying unpowered with separate amp+cables.

Richard Phipps
Member #1,632
November 2001
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So there is nothing in terms of the technical specs which will help make a clearer signal as much as having a powered one?

Mark Oates
Member #1,146
March 2001
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not to my knowledge. I wish there was some way I could research the mic you're using. Maybe it's a custom mic trying to draw power from the mic port.

It's the power button which perplexes me. :P

Richard Phipps
Member #1,632
November 2001
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Mark Oates
Member #1,146
March 2001
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Looks like a decent microphone.

I say try messing with your sound card settings, then. Make sure it's in the right mic port (you might be getting cross-talk with another port). A hissy sound could also be caused by a low level (mic volume way down) being mixed into a high level (windows global volume way up).

What kind of card do you have?

what does the recorded wav look like?

Richard Phipps
Member #1,632
November 2001
avatar

It's not powered though as far as I can tell. It's a normal audio jack for use with different kinds of equipment.

I have the sounds settings to max for the mic and it's still pretty low. It could be the sound card on this machine isn't as good as on my old PC.

Mark Oates
Member #1,146
March 2001
avatar

In my personal experience I've found that a super soft and hissy recording is usually caused by something in the signal flow and not the mic.

check your settings, check your setting's settings, and then after that check their settings. (stupid audio control wrappers>:()

BAF
Member #2,981
December 2002
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My headset has an on/off switch for the mic, which basically seems to just short the mic out to "mute it" at the hardware level. Maybe his is similar?

Paul whoknows
Member #5,081
September 2004
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Buy a Shure SM-58 and an affordable Behringer mixer, and that's all what you need to make some decent recordings.

[Edit]
It seems Shure now is offering a SM-58 USB, so go with this one as this doesn't need a mixer.

____

"The unlimited potential has been replaced by the concrete reality of what I programmed today." - Jordan Mechner.

jhuuskon
Member #302
April 2000
avatar

Instead of a Behringer mixer that is totally useless, an audio interface with an XLR socket is actually useful.

OT: I finally got my Phonic Helix Board 12 FW MkII back from repairs (they ended up replacing it). Works like a charm and I'm loving it.

You don't deserve my sig.

Paul whoknows
Member #5,081
September 2004
avatar

Quote:

Instead of a Behringer mixer that is totally useless...

I disagree. But if you think that it's a piece of crap you can replace it with any pre-amplifier unit.

Quote:

an audio interface with an XLR socket is actually useful.

You have to be very careful with cheap audio interfaces, some of them comes with crappy ADCs. But the expensive ones are great, of course.

____

"The unlimited potential has been replaced by the concrete reality of what I programmed today." - Jordan Mechner.

Richard Phipps
Member #1,632
November 2001
avatar

Thanks. I'll check the settings out next time I use it.

Johan Halmén
Member #1,550
September 2001

Quote:

It's not powered though as far as I can tell

Yeah, it's a dynamic mic. No battery. The switch shortcuts the lines, shutting the mic off. When the switch goes bad, the mic usually stays on in both positions. If the mic had a battery, it would most probably be a condenser mic, where the switch actually turns on something that consumes the battery. But these kind of mics go completely mute when the battery dies.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Years of thorough research have revealed that the red "x" that closes a window, really isn't red, but white on red background.

Years of thorough research have revealed that what people find beautiful about the Mandelbrot set is not the set itself, but all the rest.

Matt Smith
Member #783
November 2000

There are two main kinds of microphone. Dynamic (like yours, built like a speaker without a cone) and electret capsule which are tiny and use a capacitor with a permanently charged plate. The two types have very different impedence and also the electret type needs a small voltage (0.7V) which is supplied up the lead by most soundcards.

Older sound cards had a jumper to select which type of microphone but not all new ones do. I think by default they all support the electret type these days as this type is more common for computers. I would still look for a jumper somewhere (on the mobo or soundcard) or maybe a software setting in the sound driver. This 0.7V feed might be affecting your pre-amp (and would certainly affect a raw microphone, as it would deflect the coil). There is also usually a 6dB mic boost option which is nearly always best turned on.

I too have bought a dynamic mic to try and record sound effects, and I'm planning to use a preamp. I haven't done that yet as I want to get a high quality one to avoid introducing noise. Dynamic mics are naturally more noisy than electrets tho, so the quality of the mic is more critical too.

The final obstacle to good sampling is your computer fan. What sounds like a rumble to your ears can become a hiss on the recording

EDIT: The condensor mic that Johan describes is the electret type. When supplied as hand-held mics for use with traditional equipment they have a battery to supply the 0.7V, and a circuit/pre-amp to bring them close to the charcteristics of a dynamic type.

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