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View Full Version : are USB mics any good ?




loneshark
Apr 16, 2008, 08:37 PM
I want to bring my mac to my friends band show and record them to my MBP. I read this thread (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=179296&highlight=record+live+audio+from+a+mic)a bit mostly just the first post, and it was awesome ! it should be updated !

so i look at this mic http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/C03UCW/

and it seems nice ! exactley what I want for specs... ...but hows the quality of the mic ?

i might go with a midi mixer, but for now, how bout just a USB mic.

They play a few of the local clubs and bars and they are loud, Id like to plug into the sound board, but that just gets more complicated.

all i want is to get the sound of the whole club, people talking clapping screaming, everything.

thanks for your help

werd



AviationFan
Apr 17, 2008, 09:32 AM
all i want is to get the sound of the whole club, people talking clapping screaming, everything.Sure, it'll do that. It'll be mono, though.

The quality of the components (mic, pre-amp, and audio interface) is going to be what you pay for, but that may be good enough for this specific recording you were talking about. USB microphones are very affordable, but I consider them "dead end" solutions. What I mean by that is they don't offer any growth path towards a higher end audio setup, so if a year from now you want something a little better, you'll have to throw away (or sell) your USB mic. This is unlike other professional audio equipment, where high quality mics, speakers, pre-amps, etc. have a very, very long useful life compared with computer or video equipment.

- Martin

bagelche
Apr 17, 2008, 09:44 AM
I essentially agree with Martin. well put. I have a few additional thoughts.

I have a Blue Snowball USB mic...it's a bit bulky, but I like it. I've lent it to a friend who has been recording practice and jam sessions of old-timey musicians in his kitchen. The mic is on the table and they gather around -- just like the old days. The quality of the recording is remarkably decent and it's very easy for him to set up with just the usb cable. This highlights the key advantage of a USB mic--simplicity of setup, however by the same token it leads to its limitations as Martin mentioned. You cannot alter the signal chain..it is what it is.

For the situation you're describing, I'm not sure how well it will meet your needs. Where would you place the mic? Too close to the speakers and it'll be blown out; too far away and I fear your crowd noise, room noise mush may take over. I think a board feed would be great, especially if you are able to get a separate mix output which would allow you to tweak various levels for playback which are likely to be different for the live sound of the venue, plus you could add a channel of an audience mic that need not be sent to the main outputs. This, of course, requires a very sympathetic board operator who is willing to work with/for you plus the technical capability to achieve it.

depending on your needs and resources there are other alternatives. Have you considered one of the many portable flash recorders that are available in the $299-499 range? It would likely have a lower cumbersomeness rating and be cheaper to replace than a MBP that could have drinks spilled on it, get knocked over or stolen.

RedRedBlockhead
Apr 17, 2008, 12:53 PM
To get a sensible mix from the board you need a very good board with seperate controls for a second mix to do it right. For a quick and hissy solution a usb mic will do fine, in fact the loud volumes will help overcome a little of the noisefloor. You can't really expect to get a usb mic with good s/q though.

hakukani
Apr 17, 2008, 02:56 PM
http://www.samsontech.com/products/productpage.cfm?prodID=1901

Zoom H4.

This'll do exactly what you want, and you won't have to take your MBP.

Sesshi
Apr 17, 2008, 04:43 PM
The standalone recorders make a lot of sense. But for your use, either will work. The only problem will be that while you can hand-hold a portable recorder, it's a tad hard to juggle a laptop and a USB mic in a mobile situation without some sort of stand/case.

However I think USB mics are nice little problemsolvers to have on hand for computer-based recording use, regardless of whether you have a 'proper' recording setup or not.

hakukani
Apr 17, 2008, 06:29 PM
The standalone recorders make a lot of sense. But for your use, either will work. The only problem will be that while you can hand-hold a portable recorder, it's a tad hard to juggle a laptop and a USB mic in a mobile situation without some sort of stand/case.

However I think USB mics are nice little problemsolvers to have on hand for computer-based recording use, regardless of whether you have a 'proper' recording setup or not.

You can use the mikes in the H4 as if they're usb mics, and connect them to your mac. It's a truly versatile device.