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  • Basic recording equipment?

    Hi, I started out improving my singing four months ago, singing AT my laptop. I can't even see where the internal mic is supposed to be. I have also used a few cheapo external mics and headphones (a couple of quid in price). After a while I started to notice various distortions. My first impression was that I was singing flat, until I realized that it was sometimes down to different cheapo mics/headphones distorting the pitch.

    The experience is useful, because it will help me know what to listen for when buying better equipment.

    I now need better equipment if I am to hear myself accurately and improve my pitch control. But I am still looking for something low budget, because I want to learn first hand about the limitations before moving to quality stuff. Can someone recommend a basic, no frills, system that will get my voice from the mic (not usb) and onto a standard format, like mp3, on my Windows laptop. What components do I need? I already have Audacity.

    Meanwhile, here I am. Next six months will be about filling out my voice (more harmonic content), and stabilizing the higher notes (certain vowels in particular).

    http://soundcloud.com/kickingtone/silence-24l

    I haven't bothered with the pacing as there is no instrumentation to synch with. Any recommendations for other major areas of focus?

    Thanks.
    Last edited by kickingtone; 03-24-2014, 11:57 AM.

  • #2
    USB Interface - Focusrite Sapphire is really popular

    Condensor or dynamic microphone with XLR jack.
    Hamilton Steele CD's / Hamilton Steele MP3 Downloads / Hamilton Steele iTunes

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    • #3
      Originally posted by ido1957 View Post
      USB Interface - Focusrite Sapphire is really popular

      Condensor or dynamic microphone with XLR jack.
      Thanks. Looks promising.

      Now I have a couple more questions.

      Does the USB interface output digital or analogue to the laptop? An analogue signal would pick up noise at the USB port.

      Do I need an XLR socket on my laptop, for the second option?

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      • #4
        A USB interface sends digital info to the laptop through the USB cable - it is virtually silent. I do find that I have to run on laptop battery power to eliminate noise from the power cable - this will limit your recording time. The XLR jack connects the condensor/dynamic mic to the USB interface,
        Hamilton Steele CD's / Hamilton Steele MP3 Downloads / Hamilton Steele iTunes

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ido1957 View Post
          A USB interface sends digital info to the laptop through the USB cable - it is virtually silent. I do find that I have to run on laptop battery power to eliminate noise from the power cable - this will limit your recording time. The XLR jack connects the condensor/dynamic mic to the USB interface,
          Thanks.

          How does that measure up to a mic that plugs directly into the USB port?

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          • #6
            Yeah just get a USB mic if you want to save money.
            Hamilton Steele CD's / Hamilton Steele MP3 Downloads / Hamilton Steele iTunes

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            • #7
              Originally posted by kickingtone View Post

              Thanks.

              How does that measure up to a mic that plugs directly into the USB port?
              If you're planning to record one or more tracks simultaneously and use a lot of audio processing then I would recommend getting an audio interface to connect your mic in order to prevent latency issues.

              But if you only intend to record just a single vocal track then a USB mic is sufficient and will save you some money. Maybe the AT2020 or some higher-end USB mics by Blue Microphones would be good.
              ____________________________________
              Moderator - The Singer's Forum
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              • #8
                Thanks.

                Right now it's going to be a single vocal track. I am looking for a mic that is more faithful than flattering, as it will be for training purposes.

                AT2020 sounds good, better than the one that originally put me off USB mics (ProSound USB2.0 HQ Podcast/Vocal Microphone). I found an online review of the latter, which confirms that it was partly the mic and not my awful singing

                Is it a good idea to train without amplifying the output?

                It is difficult for me to know if I have achieved decent vocal power, if an amp is doing some of the work. I would want any effects I use to enhance,, not correct, my voice.

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                • #9

                  Record yourself with backing music so you can tell if you're in key.
                  Hamilton Steele CD's / Hamilton Steele MP3 Downloads / Hamilton Steele iTunes

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by kickingtone View Post
                    Thanks.

                    Right now it's going to be a single vocal track. I am looking for a mic that is more faithful than flattering, as it will be for training purposes.

                    AT2020 sounds good, better than the one that originally put me off USB mics (ProSound USB2.0 HQ Podcast/Vocal Microphone). I found an online review of the latter, which confirms that it was partly the mic and not my awful singing

                    Is it a good idea to train without amplifying the output?

                    It is difficult for me to know if I have achieved decent vocal power, if an amp is doing some of the work. I would want any effects I use to enhance,, not correct, my voice.
                    The USB version of the AT2020 should do the job fine.
                    If you record yourself while wearing headphones then make sure your monitoring volume is loud enough to hear yourself clearly on top any music that is being played.
                    Vocal power is not judged solely on the volume of your voice, its the overtones in a voice that gives it power and makes it ring fully.
                    ____________________________________
                    Moderator - The Singer's Forum
                    Follow me on Twitter and Soundcloud

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