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solution for audio input on mac mini

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by hbb, Jun 22, 2009.

  1. hbb
    macrumors newbie

    When I bought my new mac mini, I had no idea that I couldn't use a standard mic included on typical headsets with the audio input. I talk a lot of skype (or I used to on other computers) and have to have some sort of mic hooked up. From what I've read, I can either:
    1. Get a USB headset
    2. Get a blue tooth headset
    3. Get a USB mic
    4. Hook up a conventional microphone via a preamp
    Either way, I will have to buy something new. I lean towards options 3 and 4 because, besides using skype, I also want to use the mic for doing quality movie voice overs and, maybe, podcasts. Honestly, I don't know much about high tech audio equipment. But I want to be able to get as much bang for my buck as possible and would prefer to spend less than $100. If it makes a big difference in quality, I'm willing to spend more so long as the cost is justifiable. Having something sort of portable (easy to ship, easy to pack and carry, small footprint, sort of light weight) is very important to me too, as my living/working/travel habits require this. I don't know if I need all the capabilities of a fancy preamp, since I don't really know what they are and I've gotten fine without them so far. And I can probably get away with tweaking my audio as needed in soundtrack pro or other programs as I've been doing, right?
    So what type of set-up should I get to input audio to my mac mini? What products can anyone recommend that work for them and may meet my needs? I have a regular dynamic microphone right now, would I also have to get a transformer (if I use option 4) because of the mic's low impedance?
  2. macrumors 65816

  3. macrumors G4

    If you just want to use Skpe buy a USB headset. This is an "all in one" solution that minimize the numbers of wires and boxes you have to plug together. Cost is low, $30 to $40 should do it.

    If you want "quality" voice recording then the rock bottom price for a decent mic starts at about $100 and then you'd need a mic cable for that mic and a mic stand and an audio interface that connects to the computer with USB or Firewire. You $100 budget is unrealistic.

    Don't try to mix telephones and quality audio. They do different jobs. Kind of like looking for a sports car that can be used to tow a boat trailer.
  4. hbb
    macrumors newbie

    Well, I don't see why I can't have a quality mic set-up and still use it for talking on skype. Obviously, my highest-priority is to be able to use skype for communicating again, but in the very near future, I need a good set-up for simple, quality voice-overs. On amazon.com, there are a few usb mics (like the snowball) for under $100 that claim to have great quality, so I was more of wondering if someone who uses one of those or another affordable system or mic can recommend what they use or have used. And as I was saying, I would prefer to spend under $100 (since I'm new to investing in audio equipment) but am willing to spend more if it's worth while. Why not explain why I should spend more and what's worth spending that money on?
  5. macrumors regular


    Look no further than the Audio Technica AT2020 USB Microphone. I have one and it is a handy little bugar. They are conventional condenser microphones, so they are ideal for voice and a lot of home-studio/self-producing musicians use them for vocals as well as for podcasting. And the good thing about them is they are USB, so there is no need for an interface. The whole package for $149, which includes a desktop mic-stand. And it's only one more cable than if you had one of the Skype headsets

    Here is one of the first songs I ever made (kind of embarrassing but oh well lol), and I used that microphone for the vocals. Not bad, considering I have no mic technique and back then I didn't know how to process vocals. And it's also just in my room with no acoustic treatment.


    Oh yeah, I also used a pop filter
  6. hbb
    macrumors newbie

    LOL on the song. Thanks for the info. The research I did yesterday brought me to the same mic and I think I will buy it (especially after having another positive review courtesy of yourself and hearing another good sample of how it sounds).

    Are all pop filters the same, or can you recommend a particular one? One of the people whose voice I will have to record frequently will definitely need one when he speaks!!!
  7. macrumors regular


    As far as I know, they are pretty much the same. There is probably some ridiculously overpriced brand that are in all the big time studios, but I just got some random $29 model don't even remember what size. I'd go with atleast a 6" diameter though.
  8. macrumors G4

    The trouble is that "quality" is relative. Is 44.1 kHz, 16-bit sample "good enough"?

    A lot depends one how you process the data, and how good both yor playback equipment is and how good your ear is.

    If you like the sound from typical "computer speakers" and don't see any reason to replace the earbud headphones that Apple ships with iPods then the Snowball will seem to be of exceptionally good quality. But if you are the kind of person who has preference for one brand of studio headphone over another and you've started to think about room acoustics and speaker placement for your stereo system then you will be wanting to upgrade you recording system.

    People who record music may have need to care more about mics. Musicians likely have a good ear. They'd get upset if they took the effort to (say) change the strings on a guitar only to find the mic couldn't even pick up the difference.

    Listening takes some experience and skill. If you can't heard it why pay for it. Later when the sound starts to matter more you buy new equipment.

    I think the Snowball is marketed to peoplewho want a step up from a computer's built-in mic but are not ready to make the move to pro audio gear.
  9. hbb
    macrumors newbie

    Well, if I actually was recording music, I think I'd get pissed off with a usb mic and have to go out of my way and budget to achieve outstanding results. But I don't deal with recording music--I simply edit films and don't have much use at the present for an overly complex and, for my situation, cumbersome set-up.
    And yes, listening does take experience and skill (as does reading comprehension. . .), but one doesn't need to spend a lot of money on hardware to showcase their listening skills. However, if one wants to demonstrate their recording skills and musical precision, then I guess they'd have to drop some serious change.

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