usb condensor mics

nickjalder

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 28, 2006
28
0
hey all

i'm looking to record my acoustic guitar and vocals on my mac.

i'm not going super professional but i'm looking for better results than simply plugging my guitar direct into garageband.

now i've been told that a usb condensor mic would be suitable for what i'm looking to do, has anyone else used one and agrees? can you recommend one?

if not is there another way that i am missing. ideally i dont want to have to use external sound cards and mics, but if this is my only option then feel free to let me know.

thanks guys
nick
 

odinsride

macrumors 65816
Apr 11, 2007
1,145
0
hey all

i'm looking to record my acoustic guitar and vocals on my mac.

i'm not going super professional but i'm looking for better results than simply plugging my guitar direct into garageband.

now i've been told that a usb condensor mic would be suitable for what i'm looking to do, has anyone else used one and agrees? can you recommend one?

if not is there another way that i am missing. ideally i dont want to have to use external sound cards and mics, but if this is my only option then feel free to let me know.

thanks guys
nick
Condenser mics are good for recording acoustic, but many of them require an external power source/phantom power. Also you'll most likely need some kind of recording interface to hook it up to your computer. I'm no professional or anything but I've read that using two condenser mics simultaneously is the key to getting the best recording quality out of an acoustic guitar.
 

Killyp

macrumors 68040
Jun 14, 2006
3,860
5
You'll get by fine with one mic. The Blue Snowball is the best option on the market for you :)
 

zimv20

macrumors 601
Jul 18, 2002
4,388
7
toronto
Condenser mics are good for recording acoustic, but many of them require an external power source/phantom power. Also you'll most likely need some kind of recording interface to hook it up to your computer.
USB mics take care of all that. not that i've ever heard a USB mic track i've liked, but that's another story.

I'm no professional or anything but I've read that using two condenser mics simultaneously is the key to getting the best recording quality out of an acoustic guitar.
well, i don't know about *that*, but you do bring up a good point about lack of flexibility when using a USB mic: when you want to record two mics, now you've wasted your entire "investment".
 

zimv20

macrumors 601
Jul 18, 2002
4,388
7
toronto
i'm issuing the USB mic challenge: someone please post or direct me to something recorded w/ a USB that will pass my "goodness" test (whatever the heck *that* test is).

as i mentioned above, i've yet to hear a USB mic track that i thought was good. now, i have unfavorable opinions of them both because of that, AND i don't think it's possible to offer a good solution at that price.

of course, maybe everything i've heard wasn't good because of, for lack of a better term, user error, or bad room or whatever. maybe in the hands of a great engineer, with the room and talent all sorted, the samson and snowball and whatever else would shine.

so someone change my mind. ideally, i'd like to hear the track solo'ed and in the mix.
 

odinsride

macrumors 65816
Apr 11, 2007
1,145
0
Sorry, I missed the USB part in the thread title :p

I've never used a USB mic but I suppose if you're just looking for something better than a line-in recording, a USB mic would fit the bill without costing too much.
 

JobsRules

macrumors member
Jun 4, 2006
67
0
hey all

i'm looking to record my acoustic guitar and vocals on my mac.

i'm not going super professional but i'm looking for better results than simply plugging my guitar direct into garageband.

now i've been told that a usb condensor mic would be suitable for what i'm looking to do, has anyone else used one and agrees? can you recommend one?

if not is there another way that i am missing. ideally i dont want to have to use external sound cards and mics, but if this is my only option then feel free to let me know.

thanks guys
nick
I have a small home studio, which I'm now whittling down to a streamlined 'all in the box' solution. As well as my music (hobby/semi-pro) my wife records teaching materials. As she's not really that comfrotable with all the studio gubbins and 95% of the time just wants to record speech at high quality I got an SE Electronics USB2200a, which is USB and XLR that she can use with her MacBook anywhere. Not the cheapest option but worth having as a mic in its own right, while I've heard the cheap Samson USBs can be a little noisy.
 

chriswheat

macrumors regular
Jun 26, 2007
249
0
To the OP, if you really want to just get a USB mic, you must be willing to sacrifice quality. There is just too much involved in connecting a condenser microphone to your computer for it to be done using a mic with built-in preamp and a USB cable.

I would recommend investing in a good USB 2-channel preamp. Then you can connect anything you want, be it a guitar, a condenser mic, a dynamic mic, whatever. Check out this device: Edirol UA-25. I've used it before. I won't say it's perfect, but it's darn good for basic recording. The jacks on the front are combination 1/4" and XLR so you can use either of the two channels for plugging in a guitar or connecting mics. It does have phantom power, so you'll have no problem with using condenser mics.

Then I'd recommend finding a good all-around condenser mic.

Then all you'd need to do is buy an XLR cable and connect the two. This would give you a great quality setup, plus you'd have a lot more flexibility over just buying a USB condenser which inevitably you'll grow tired off quickly.
 

JobsRules

macrumors member
Jun 4, 2006
67
0
To the OP, if you really want to just get a USB mic, you must be willing to sacrifice quality. There is just too much involved in connecting a condenser microphone to your computer for it to be done using a mic with built-in preamp and a USB cable.

I would recommend investing in a good USB 2-channel preamp. Then you can connect anything you want, be it a guitar, a condenser mic, a dynamic mic, whatever. Check out this device: Edirol UA-25. I've used it before. I won't say it's perfect, but it's darn good for basic recording. The jacks on the front are combination 1/4" and XLR so you can use either of the two channels for plugging in a guitar or connecting mics. It does have phantom power, so you'll have no problem with using condenser mics.

Then I'd recommend finding a good all-around condenser mic.

Then all you'd need to do is buy an XLR cable and connect the two. This would give you a great quality setup, plus you'd have a lot more flexibility over just buying a USB condenser which inevitably you'll grow tired off quickly.
yes, that's good advice if you're starting out. However, the SE USB2200a is a mic worth having in its own right. In terms of character it's somewhere between my Rode NT1 and NT2000. It's also XLR for standard use so it's not 'wasted' if you go for a more elaborate set-up later.

It's been hugely liberating to take just a laptop and the USB2200 to musicians to provide vocal, trumpet stabs guitar parts and the like to a high standard.
 

am1971

macrumors member
May 18, 2005
62
0
Barcelona...
I must disagree with you. Samsung is at the bottom of the Pro Audio food chain and this mic is no different. The quality is very poor...even in the hands of an experienced recording engineer.
For a USB mic I thought it was pretty good.

If you want good quality then don't use USB.
 

andyshrestha

macrumors newbie
Jul 15, 2010
3
0
USB option..

here are some USB mics that are good enough for most of us (doesn't include PROs)

Audio Technica AT2020 USB
Samson CO1U.

regards,
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
18,211
6,084
"i'm looking to record my acoustic guitar and vocals on my mac.
i'm not going super professional but i'm looking for better results than simply plugging my guitar direct into garageband.
now i've been told that a usb condensor mic would be suitable for what i'm looking to do, has anyone else used one and agrees? can you recommend one?"

I don't think you're going to be satisfied by the results you get from a single USB mic. Not long after that, you're going to be wanting "more".

I think you have 3 "ways to go" here:

FIRST WAY:
Get an audio interface and one (or more) condenser mics. This will be the most expensive in the long run, but give you results that will please you.

Expect to spend about $300 for the interface and whatever your budget will bear on the mic(s).

For a good mic that isn't overpriced, but will yield good results, you might consider a Shure SM 27 (or also the model it replaces which was called the KSM 27). I also would recommend a CAD M-179 (very nice multi-pattern medium-diameter condenser). Or, look for a CAD e300-2 (can be found on ebay in the $230 price range).

Most interfaces come "bundled" with recording software, which you may or may not like. GarageBand is ok, but lacks some useful tools for post-processing your audio. If you can get ahold of Cubase LE4, I think you'll like it. If you're a student, you can get the "next step up" called Cubase Essentials for $99.

SECOND WAY:
Get a standalone handheld-type recorder with built-in mics that records to a flash card, like the ZOOM H2 or H4n. These can record in WAV format which you can then transfer to the Mac (and GarageBand) with a card reader or via the SD slot if your Mac has one. These have the GREAT advantage of being easily moved within a room (or from one room to the next) to find the location that gives you the best "sound".

THIRD WAY:
Get a standalone recorder/mixer. A couple that come to mind are the TASCAM "DP-004 Pocket Studio", and its big brother, the TASCAM DP-008. The former has 2 built-in stereo mics. The latter also has 2 built-in mics _and_ XLR inputs to plug in regular mics.
 

Xavier

macrumors 68030
Mar 23, 2006
2,567
1,150
Columbus
here are some USB mics that are good enough for most of us (doesn't include PROs)

Audio Technica AT2020 USB
Samson CO1U.

regards,
Bingo. I believe that that Audio Technica AT2020 is probably about as good as its going to get using a USB mic. Plus I have tried it. Not too bad.
 

ADAADW

macrumors member
May 5, 2009
41
0
Possible look into the Apogee ONE, that is what i am currently looking at and it will probably do the job and then some!
 

RHELF

macrumors member
Jan 29, 2010
54
0
i'm issuing the USB mic challenge: someone please post or direct me to something recorded w/ a USB that will pass my "goodness" test (whatever the heck *that* test is).

as i mentioned above, i've yet to hear a USB mic track that i thought was good. now, i have unfavorable opinions of them both because of that, AND i don't think it's possible to offer a good solution at that price.

of course, maybe everything i've heard wasn't good because of, for lack of a better term, user error, or bad room or whatever. maybe in the hands of a great engineer, with the room and talent all sorted, the samson and snowball and whatever else would shine.

so someone change my mind. ideally, i'd like to hear the track solo'ed and in the mix.

I agree. I still have yet to hear a USB mic that "wows" me. I also find it interesting that true condenser microphones require 48V phantom power, but USB only passes 5V. If I had to choose one or two that were decent at least, it would be the Samson G-Track and the Blue Yeti(both around $150).