Audio newbie looking for tips

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by Sammy Cat, Aug 20, 2010.

  1. Sammy Cat macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2010
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    North America
    #1
    The problem:

    Need to know what I need to record narration for use in video projects for web and TV.

    All I need to do is record narration (needs to come across as semi-professional). Could somebody recommend a setup to accomplish this GOAL?

    Currently have iMac i3.

    Thanks.
     
  2. diazj3 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2008
    #2
    What's your budget?
     
  3. Sammy Cat thread starter macrumors member

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    North America
  4. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    Location:
    toronto
    #4
  5. diazj3 macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 19, 2008
    #5
    I agree... zimv20's is a great semi-pro setup. If you can afford it without too much trouble, get it.

    Nevertheless, I'd like to recommend something in the lower end of your budget, as sometimes it's also a good idea to start small.


    That'd be a very simple setup, but can get the job done - specially if your recordings don't need studio quality (eg. web audio). As for noise, you can always save some $ if you are willing to build a simple booth yourself with the basic materials, or get a simple noise attenuator. As for recording/editing software, you can start with Garageband and move to something more sophisticated later. Also check out the podcasting packages offered in major audio gear sites, as they also offer nice alternatives.

    That said, if voice over is something you'll do regularly, go with a higher setup and some extra considerations.

    The SM7b mic is one of the greatest for such work, but I'd also suggest you also try others - both condenser and dynamic - as different mics will work differently depending on ones voice, mic technique and setup.

    Three more things to consider are a) the software you'll use to do/edit the recordings, b) a pop filter, depending on your mic technique and mic you get, and c) a voice processor also depending on your setup - not useful if you go with USB mic.

    As a side note, I wonder if Presonus has fixed the noise filtering in the preamp when powered via USB, and if it now delivers a bit more gain - the two reasons I ditched my 1st gen unit. I suggest some further research in this issue and to test the unit thoroughly if/when you get it.

    Cheers!
     
  6. Sammy Cat thread starter macrumors member

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    Jul 28, 2010
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    North America
    #6
    Thank you guys very much. You have pointed me in a direction...that I know nothing about! Thank you for sharing your ideas!:)
     
  7. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    Jul 18, 2002
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    #7
    yeah, that's the weak spot in my suggested setup, as the sm7 does enjoy a quality preamp. had to cut corners somewhere, though :)
     
  8. Sammy Cat thread starter macrumors member

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    Jul 28, 2010
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    #8
    I viewed videos of it being run over and stomped on, but the sound from a guitar/singer seemed to be not very impressive.

    If that is the weak spot what would you suggest if I had an extra $250-$500 to add to my budget?
     
  9. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #9
    a lot of people here like the Apogee Duet. i've never used that piece, but i have other Apogee gear.

    imho, mic pre's start getting really good around $1k/channel, though i am a fan of the $500 FMR RNP. but getting a dedicated mic pre means you'd still need a dedicated a/d & d/a converter, and then you'd still have to address monitoring.

    wrapping those 3 things up in one unit (an interface) is pretty handy.
     
  10. Angelo95210 macrumors 6502a

    Angelo95210

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    Paris, France
    #10
    For software go with Protools (you can get a cheap version with m-audio interfaces) or Audacity (open source)
     
  11. diazj3 macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 19, 2008
    #11
    ....don't get me wrong: zimv20's setup is a great recommendation. The presonus USB box is quite good, and it will do a good job in your specific task - and the price is very nice. Some of us here are very picky about sound, so we'll pick at any small thing :D. Also, zimv20 is right: really really clean-professional-pristine, almost perfect preamps start at around $800 per channel... but trust me: in internet / flash audio, any small leak over the preamp will be barely noticeable... and you can fix it's gain via software in the final mix, specially if you have a good microphone and software to do it.

    Keep in mind that when it comes to prosumer audio, and specially portable gear, it's a balancing act between budget, number and config of I/O's, portability, flexibility, sound quality, etc etc etc.... it really helps to have a budget - but most important is to stick with it. Don´t worry too much about everything - no piece of equipment is perfect, specially in the prosumer portable segment.

    So,
    • don't discard the USB Presonus box lightly - it's a great deal for the money. Also, Presonus makes a firewire box of which I've heard good things. Check it out.
    • +1 for the Apogee duet... had one for a while - great preamp. If you are OK with limited inputs and outputs, it's a great deal in the $500 range.
    • Lately I've been using a MOTU firewire as my portable interface. I really like it for its flexibility... but - as all portable interfaces - the preamps are not perfect, specially when you compare them with desktop/studio gear.
    • If portability is not an issue - desktop mixers are a whole other ball game when it comes to quality, I/O's and prices. Mackie has a nice range of very good sounding desktop USB and FW mixers, from basic U420 series to more sophisticated Onyx mixers.

    • If you plan to strictly do professional voice overs - just 1 microphone - need great sound, a nice studio-grade tube preamp, have a mac with optical sound input (combined jack; any intel mac from 2006 to date), this Aphex 230 VP is what I use for such tasks. It's a one trick dog, but a great one for that matter. This will make your VOs sound studio-like - totally worth it (you can get it $100 cheaper w/other sellers). Check the demo video out here and here - and it'll also will clarify some terms involved... It will deliver digital sound directly to the computer, has a nice gate, compressor, de-esser, etc. Monitoring has to be done with a separate box - either a headphone amp box or a simple interface to avoid latency- the price range for this is very flexible. An Aphex230 + Shure SM7b mic package + headphones + headphone amp... still within your new budget.
    IME, if the voice-overs you're doing are not yet professional (e.g. you'll get paid good money for them), I'd also consider the USB mic route for starters. A good USB mic (such as the Rode Podcaster) is always helpful - even if you later decide to get more sophisticated gear. It'll also help you develop your microphone technique, which when it comes to VOs, it's just as important.

    And if you plan to jump into a more sophisticated setup right away - XLR mic, interface, etc etc - just remember the microphone is the beginning of the chain, so try get a nice one, such as zimv20 suggested... you can´t go wrong with the Shure SM7b.... I found this great deal with the mic, boom and cable.

    Hope this helped,
     
  12. diazj3 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2008
    #12
    Audacity is OK, but why go with it when your mac has Garageband? Plus, Garageband lets you sync audio-video right into it. As for ProTools, sure, if you can afford it as a starter :p... plus M-audio interfaces are sub-par IMO
     

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