(XLR --> Line in)?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by TigerPRO, Oct 1, 2004.

  1. TigerPRO macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2003
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    #1
    I recently purchased a Shure SM-57 microphone that I'm just thrilled with. The thing I would like to do it use it record an acoustic piano and a acoustic guitar via a PowerBook. Since the microphone has an XLR cable, and the PowerBook has a "Line In", I'd like to know the best way to connect the two. It is my understanding that you need some sort "preamp" to amplify the signal coming from the microphone so it will work with the "Line In" port.

    I've been searching the internet and all kinds of forums all evening trying to understand how this works, but I'm still a little confused. So it would be helpful if someone with some knowledge could just "lay it on the line" for me. All I need is a simple, conclusive explanation.

    So the sum of my question is how to record from this Shure SM-57 micronphone to a PowerBook's "line in" port. I don't need anything fancy, but I do want professional quality. Any help would be wonderful. Thanks.
     
  2. gwangung macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2003
    #2
    Buy a XLR (female) to stereo mini (male) connecting cable. Available from BH Photo (B&H # HOSMMRAXF1) for about ten bucks or so, made by Hosa, the same company who makes patch cables and connecting cable for pros.

    That's the inexpensive version of Griffin's GarageBand microphone cable.

    Do NOT mess with adapters; the wiring often doesn't match up well

    (SM 57? Not a SM 58?)
     
  3. TigerPRO thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2003
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    #3
    It's an SM-57. Is that cable all I need to make it work? I thought for sure I'd need a preamplifier since the mic isn't "powered".
     
  4. mateo macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2004
    #4
    preamping

    Personally I use a Mobilepre-usb (200$) wich can accomodate two XLR (with phantom power if you want to use a condensator mic) or two jack1/4. I think it sound much better than the soundcard in my Ibook G41-Ghz and you can do stereo micking. Too bad you cant separate those two tracks on Garageband...
     
  5. Peyote macrumors 6502a

    Peyote

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2002
    #5
    good choice in mics btw...


    I've got an SM58 that I've used to record voiceovers in the past with a notebook. I used a cable that was XLR on one end and 1/4" stereo on the other. Then I used an adapter to get to 1/8" mini stereo. No amp was needed, and it recorded fine.

    I've used the SM57 in the past, plugging it into the 1/4 jack on sound boards with nor problem. You won't need an amp.
     
  6. WinterMute Moderator emeritus

    WinterMute

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2003
    Location:
    London, England
    #6
    Pre-amps raise the level of a mic to line level, it's called impedance matching, a mic has a lower level than a synth for instance, and will often need to be amplified in order to be recorded at the correct level.

    Low levels from mics can lead to noisey recordings (it's called a signal-to-noise-ratio problem) and all recordings benefit from this level correction (often referred to as Unity Gain).

    You can buy a cheap mixer from a company like Behringer (£50 will do it) and that little console will provide a proper mic-amp on an XLR connection, and will output line-level to the line-in on your Mac on a standard mini-jack to stereo phono connection.

    Plugging your SM57 into the line-in will work, but the range of recording you'll be able to do will be limited to close, reasonably loud sounds, and you won't be able to use a condensor (or capacitor) mic as they require powering using the 48volt (phantom power) system. The little desk will supply that too.

    I use a Digidesign M-box for the same purpose, but it's a bit expensive for the general home recordist, even if it does come with ProTools software attached...

    The SM57 is my favourite mic for recording electric guitars and it also sounds great on snare drums, it's a dynamic mic and is very nice in the mid range.

    Using an interface like the M-box DOES allow seperation of the two tracks in Garageband, I recorded bass and an acoustic guitar similtaneously last week.
     
  7. TigerPRO thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2003
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    #7
    Thank you, thank you, thank you! That makes everything perfectly clear now. You just put all the scattered parts of my understanding into one solid piece. So I need to plug my mic into an amplifier so that it can output a "line level" signal compatible with my Mac's "line level" input. Got it!

    Now if I could ask you two additional questions, it would be most helpful. Is there any quality differences in using a "mic to amplifier to line in" approach as opposed to using a digital based USB or Firewire input? Because I've been looking at devices such as the M-Audio Firewire 410, and wondering if that will be the same quality as using a simple amplifier through my PowerBook's line in port. Secondly, do you know off hand if this Firewire 410 will be able to record simultaneous tracks in GarageBand as with the M-Box device you were referring to?


     
  8. WinterMute Moderator emeritus

    WinterMute

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2003
    Location:
    London, England
    #8
    Good job too, I lecture in this stuff... :D

    Boxes like the M-audio 410 ARE pre-amps, and in addition they do the A-D conversion as well, using the line in means you are using the Mac's A-D converters, which aren't the best. The 410 passes the audio to the Mac as digital not analouge signal.

    I'd expect the 410 to be able to deliver 2 inputs to GB, but I've never attempted it, however it is designed to be independant rather than stereo input so I think you'll be OK. As to quality, I have friends who use the M-audio interfaces and speak highly of them, they aren't going to be near the quality of a Neve or Focusrite unit, but they are a fraction of the price. Certainly they will be better than a small mixer and the line-in route, plus you'll get the benefits of hardware monitoring and low latency.

    I'd also recommned that you look at buying a decent condensor mic to complement the SM57, something like a Rode NT1 or 2 or an AKG C3000. You'll get better results from voices and the like from a condensor.
     
  9. mateo macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2004
    #9
    Using an interface like the M-box DOES allow seperation of the two tracks in Garageband, I recorded bass and an acoustic guitar similtaneously last week.[/QUOTE]
    When I record with the mobilepre-usb (same thing as M-box??) with two instruments plugged in I cant manage to split them latter as they both record on the same and only highlightened track; I think I missed a think, how can you achieve that. ?? :confused:
     
  10. WinterMute Moderator emeritus

    WinterMute

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2003
    Location:
    London, England
    #10
    When you select a new track, select basic track from the menu, and you'll be able to select either input if you choose Mono rather than stereo, choose input 1 then get another new track and select input 2.
     
  11. mateo macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2004
    #11
    When I do this only one track, the one that is "highlightened" (is this an english word?...I'm french speaking), anyway the one I clicked on, is recording, even if I do as you say, mono etc. If I click on the other track then it will record it. Maybe the software as changed? I'm using the new OS Panther 10.3.4 wich came with GB already installed. If anyone as the same problem please help me! I really need this feature

    Ibook G4 1Ghz/768 ram
    interface m-audio mobilepre usb ,bass channel 1 guitar channel 2
    self-made guitar and bass!
     
  12. Mark W. Lewis macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    Location:
    Southern California
    #12
    Agree with most of what has been said - Additionally...

    I think the Behringer small mixers are a nice way to record mic to computer. A couple of additions to what has been said so far:

    1. The smallest Behringer Eurorack mixer *DOES NOT* have phantom power. Dynamic microphones do not require phantom power. Condenser mics do, for the most part.The smallest model is the "502' which costs about 35-40 bucks. The next one up, the "802" is only about $15 more. I would go that way. (I have both.) In terms of quality, Dynamic=lower quality, Condensor=high quality, generally speaking.

    2. Some headphone mics are condensor mics, but still don't require phantom power. Phantom power sends juice to part of the mic to "energize" that part of the mic that pics up the signal. The largest studio mics have a completely separate power source, smaller mics (but not all headphone mics) that are condensor require phantom power that comes through the XLR (large 3-pin) connector. Many, but not all, headphone mics, due to the small size of the mic's surface area, are "pre-energized" at the factory and require no additional power (ever) to work correctly. They are still condensor mics, technically, but unlike larger mics (handheld for instance) do not require phantom power. Check the spec sheet for the microphone.

    3. Depending on your set-up, another thing you may need is a "direct box." This little gem can remove a common "Humming" sound that often intrudes from the electrical system if you have a lot of mechanical junk hooked up to your electric system and the grounding of the system is not perfect for recording. If you need this (and you will probably be able to tell quickly that it is a problem) you can buy one at a music store, like Guitar Center. The feature you need is actually called "ground lift." which is only one thing that a direct box does, but the other stuff may not matter to you. They can be bought for about $25 bucks.

    4. Using the "audio in port" on your Mac may produce mixed results. They are known to be "noisy" and you may start to notice it when you have better equipment up to that point. Additionally, some Macs have no audio in port (like mine.) You may find you need a USB audio input device. I recommend the Griffin Powerwave. I have others, but they require buggy drivers to work and the Griffin does not. Believe it or not, a decent USB to audio input can be better quality than the audio in port. Plus I hate using mini-plugs for anything due to their fragility and unreliability. IMPORTANT: you CAN NOT plug a USB audio input into a HUB or keyboard, etc, of any kind and just expect it to work. It can be highly unreliable and flaky hooked up that way, because sound is streaming and constant and hubs work with packets of information, so can destabilize the signal. GRIFFIN has created a hub engineered to work with audio devices properly. It is available from them and is reasonably priced. They (Griffin) can also be a great source of advice on hooking up their equipment to other pieces. Smart, friendly people.

    All of this is general info, of course, and your experience may differ...
     

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