Looking for second opinions on a microphone purchase [Answered]

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Looking for second opinions on a microphone purchase [Answered]

#1 Post by Plotline_Progenitor » Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:06 am

Here's the situation:
1) My microphone isn't picking up the sound very well, even with my face right up to the microphone it still requires me to amplify the recording to reach a decent volume (often by somewhere around 16 decibels)
2) When I amplify like that even a recording of a silent room ends up with this "hissing" sound, I've tried shutting doors and windows and all sorts of things to make the room quiet but I think it's coming from the microphone itself somehow
3) There's a bit of background noise around where I live, cars going by, birds, crickets & cicadas, geckos, neighbors dogs, and occasionally the neighbors themselves. From inside the house sometimes another family member might have a TV or radio on and sometimes I can hear running water when someone uses a sink even from the room I record in. I've found the best room in the house to record but even then I still have to contend with these things a bit
4) I have a sort of deep voice and I get the feeling that something of value in my voice just isn't being picked up by the microphone

I've been getting by so far with lengthy audio editing to try and get the noise out but I feel like I'm not getting the best results I could right now and so I've been looking into buying a good microphone, I have previously been recording off my phone and this cheap microphone I got for $30 (which I bought primarily for the stand and pop filter that came with it)

I'm mostly looking to record voiceover/voice-acting/narration with this setup and would like to produce better recordings so after doing a bit of research I've been giving some thought to buying an "Audio-Technica AT2050 Multi-Pattern Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone". It's a little bit costly for me so I want to be sure that it would yield a noticeable improvement in my recording quality and solve the problems I've been facing.

Can anyone advise me on whether this is a good microphone for this purpose, offer better suggestions, or advise other solutions that might work to fix this problem?
Last edited by Plotline_Progenitor on Tue Mar 06, 2018 10:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Looking for second opinions on a microphone purchase

#2 Post by D.ray » Sun Mar 04, 2018 1:38 pm

Hello. I would like to recommenced the Audio Technica At 2035. it's a great mic for voice over or in general most things. I own it and it does a great job of recording vocals. Although I mostly use it to record instruments at the moment.

The AT2050 might be overkill for what you need as it's a multi pattern mic. It switches between cardiod, figure 8 and omni patterns. This is extremely useful when you're recording a variety of instruments or for studio use, but not necessary when recording vocals or voice over. You only really need a cardiod pattern, which is what the At2035 is. And on the upside, the At 2035 sounds slightly better since it doesn't switch between modes.

As for the problems you're having with your current mic, they could be due to a number of things. It could be the mic itself, the cable, or how you're connecting it to your computer. I might be able to help you improve your current takes, if you could tell me, the mic you have and how you're connecting it. Most of the issues you're having probably come from that fact that you're using so much gain and are upping the noise floor(the hiss and any background noise).

For getting cleaner takes, I suggest finding a closet, and creating a booth inside for recording. pad the inside, with anything to dampen down the reverb, and record inside. If that's not possible, you can try building a DIY vocal booth. They can be made of blankets, cardboard or if you're super handy, wood. Google DIY vocal/sound booths and you'll see what I mean.
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Re: Looking for second opinions on a microphone purchase

#3 Post by Imperf3kt » Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:26 pm

Do you have a mobile phone?
It may not be the world's best recording quality, but many mobile phones include better microphones than laptops or other equipment.
Perhaps even a bluetooth gaming headset with noise cancellation?

Surely a cheaper option?
For example, I have one of these:
https://www.playstation.com/en-au/explo ... s-headset/
and am quite impressed with the microphone.
Don't worry about it being a Playstation accessory, it's plug and play with any other device, even devices without a USB port!
Last edited by Imperf3kt on Sun Mar 04, 2018 8:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Looking for second opinions on a microphone purchase

#4 Post by Plotline_Progenitor » Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:44 pm

@D.Ray:
I know that it's a cheap cardioid condenser microphone though it came in a kit with surprisingly little information about the name or model of the microphone itself I was, however, able to round up the list of specifications and an image of it which I've included at the bottom of this post.

I'm connecting it directly to the computer from an XLR cable on the microphone end into the microphone socket of my computer (the other end is a jack, and it's not an adaptor the cable is designed that way). The current set up is actually pretty inconvenient so if there's a USB microphone that would record well that would be a lot easier to use with my current computer arrangement though I've heard the results often aren't as good using those. If that's because of the noise of the computer itself that shouldn't be a problem with the extremely quiet little laptop I prefer using, currently only my bigger noisier bulkier computer can receive the microphone port I've been using

The microphone itself has no adjustment knob or anything for the gain, so far I've been taking recordings into audacity and using "Effect/Amplify" on the tracks to get a useable volume, usually resulting in the hissing noise just like you said

Specifically the process I've used in Audacity so far to try and deal with the problem is:
Start recording, wait 5-10 seconds to record background noise on its own then record what I wanted to, select the background noise, amplify by 16 decibels, effect/noise reduction (get noise profile), hit undo on the amplify to return it to it's original volue, effect/noise reduction on the track (Noise reduction: 12db, sensitivity: 2, freuquency smoothing (bands): 2), amplify the track usually by about 10 decibels or more, effect/noise reduction on the track again (Noise reduction: 12db, sensitivity: 2, freuquency smoothing (bands): 2), and if it's particularly bad a third time as well. After that I might do some other editing on the track as needed by whatever I'm doing

Results have been passable I guess but it's kind of a hassle to deal with and if I'm recording anything lengthy it can cause some serious delays waiting for the computer to edit everything, on top of that I'm pretty sure the whole process is taking something out of the low notes of my voice, which is why I'd like to find a better way of dealing with things and I'm willing to pay for a better microphone if that's what it takes

Here's some links to test recordings I made to show by sound what kind of results I'm getting so far
basic background recording
amplified 16 background recording
base dialogue recording
amplified 6 dialogue recording
edited dialogue recording

Conveniently there just so happens to be a closet in that room I could probably use which I could probably fit inside (though I'd have to be sitting down) it would certainly be possible to convert it into some kind of recording booth, in order to completely shut the door though I'd have to be running on my laptop batteries (the smaller better quiet laptop has a great battery life but can't recieve anything but a USB microphone, the bigger noisier clunky and more heat producing one has a really weak battery so if I used that I'd have to leave the door open a crack and it might leave a noticeable fan hum in the background)

(current microphone)
Specifications:
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
Sensitivity: -32dB±3dB (0dB=1V/Pa at 1kHz)
Output Impedance: ≤100Ω
Load Impedance:≥1000Ω
Equivalent Noise level: ≤20dBA(IEC 581-5)
Signal Noise Ratio:78dB
Electrical current: 3mA
Microphone output interface: 3.5mm
Use of voltage: 48V phantom power supply
Wire: 3.5mm inserted audio interface, 2.5m long
Microphone body weight: 350g
Size: 45mm(diameter) x 150mm(length)
Microphone Material: Steel net + Zinc alloy hand holding part

Image

@Imperf3kt:
I've tried using my phone before but it's usually prone to the same hissing effect when I need to amplify the volume, I noticed pretty quickly that recording using the inbuilt microphone of the laptop wasn't getting good audio quality. The current microphone I've been using is having more or less equal results to my phone and faces the same problems, my phone is a samsung galaxy J2 if that helps the conversation in any way

@anyone:
I've also got a window of opportunity to get a shure SM58 for about 200$AUD/155$USD at the moment, the AT 2035 that was recommended would cost me about 270$AUD/210$USD at the moment, for a while I'd thought about an ATR 2100 USB handheld cardiod Dynamic mic (I've heard dynaic is good for avoiding background nosise) I think they're out of circulation though and would cost me about 115$AUD/90$US, and I've heard lots of people mention Blue Yeti's which would cost me about 180$AUD/140$US.

I'm not in a such a hurry to buy anything that I'll be impulsive but some of those prices are only discounted for a time, any opinions you have about these microphones would be helpful, and it's possible that some solution might exist which won't even require a purchase
Last edited by Plotline_Progenitor on Sun Mar 04, 2018 7:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Looking for second opinions on a microphone purchase

#5 Post by Zelan » Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:55 pm

Like D.ray said, there is always going to be some degree of noise that you can't get rid of in your recordings. The best you can do is to minimize how much is picked up in the first place by finding a suitable place to record, and editing out as much of it as you can without damaging the quality of the sound that you do want. As you noticed, amplifying the recording makes the noise more noticeable, so in audio editing you want to avoid this as often as possible. (For instance, if you have two recordings at different levels and you want them to match, you would bring the louder one down rather than bringing the other one up.)

The classes that I took on audio editing were two years ago, so I'm nowhere near an expert and I don't remember everything that I did learn. However, one thing that I remember clearly is that the Blue Snowball microphone tends to be the best compromise between a small budget and a quality sound. It's not the absolute best microphone out there, but for the price (which I believe is around $100) it's much better than most other mics you could get for the same price.

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Re: Looking for second opinions on a microphone purchase

#6 Post by D.ray » Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:54 pm

My suspicions were correct. The problem is the mic itself. Unfortunately you are using a very low quality mic.It connects via 3.5mm into your cpu which is not great for quality and also picks up interference in this manner. This and the fact that you can't adjust volume is problematic.

I definitely would go with the at2035. However, you will need an audio interface to use it. You'll connect to it via xlr, and then the interface will connect to your computer via usb. The interface will not only provide a way for you to properly connect, but also avoid noise, and adjust volume on the way in. You can get something like the Focusrite Scarlett Solo or something similar for around $100. Just be sure whatever your selection may be, that it has phantom power.

If you don't wish to spend the extra cash on an interface then go the usb microphone route. I would recommend the At2020 usb mic. It's probably the best affordable USB mic you can get and beats other USB mics in quality. Of course, since it is a USB mic, you won't get the truest highest quality, but it still can get very good results.

Dynamic mics are also an option, but they usually require a lot of gain, and the best ones for vocal recording vocals start a bit higher like the SM7B. It's probably safer to go with condenser for recording voice over. Dynamic mics like the sm58 or sm57 usually work best on loud sources, like guitars, drums, or loud rock vocals.

My recommendation would be to get an interface and the At2035. You'll get the best quality and pretty much avoid all noise. What little noise is present you can probably remove easily and without affecting the voice. And you'l be able to use any other mic you may want in the future with the interface.

Another option is to use something like a zoom recorder. You'll get great quality but won't need to buy a interface since it records directly onto a SD/mircroSd card, which you can of course load onto your computer. Unfortunately I don't know much about zoom recorders or have any experience with them.
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Re: Looking for second opinions on a microphone purchase

#7 Post by Plotline_Progenitor » Tue Mar 06, 2018 10:09 pm

@D.ray: Thank you for all your advice it was very helpful and informative, I've gone ahead and ordered an At2035 microphone, an XLR cable, and an interface.

I think the results will be worth it and it should make my recording process a lot easier to manage

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Re: Looking for second opinions on a microphone purchase

#8 Post by D.ray » Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:27 pm

Plotline_Progenitor wrote:
Tue Mar 06, 2018 10:09 pm
@D.ray: Thank you for all your advice it was very helpful and informative, I've gone ahead and ordered an At2035 microphone, an XLR cable, and an interface.

I think the results will be worth it and it should make my recording process a lot easier to manage
No problem . Happy to help. Hope you got good results with your purchase.
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