Our podcast neighbor from the MyMac Podcasting Network, Guy Serle, is our guest for episode 350 of Geekiest Show Ever. He will educate us about the value of good recording hardware and best practices. Follow us for additional tips and conversation on Twitter @GeekiestShow.
Here are Guy’s notes:
Important Things to Remember About Audio – continued
What kind of connectors do microphones have?
Most common will be XLR. That’s the big round 3 pin connector used to connect to most audio interfaces or mixers
USB. A lot of people use microphones with a USB connector and they can be either dynamic or condenser microphones. They all have a built-in pre-amp powered through the USB connection to your computer and can be a great, easy to use, stand-alone device. The Audio Technica ATR2100-USB is probably one of the best known examples and the newest one (ATR2100-X) uses USB-C instead of mini-USB that was used in the past. Also Blue Microphones make many USB condenser mics like the Yeti or Snowball.
3.5mm or 6.2mm TRS connector. Don’t use or buy this.
Find the quietest part of the house possible to record in. People with children will understand that this is a mythical place that doesn’t really exist and if it did there would probably be fire breathing dragons too.
Record with the least amount of filters and effects. Those you CAN add in post and not stress out your DAW or recording software.
Before buying a microphone, think about what you want to use it for AND (maybe more importantly) where you’ll be using it. I never follow this advice and buy microphones that I think will sound good…even if I never actually use them.
Oddly enough, people will watch bad video with good audio over good video with bad audio.
Learn how to use a noise gate for condenser (also dynamic) microphones.
This is what connects your microphone to other stuff. Except for USB Mics, every mic worth having (remember don’t buy a Mic with a 3.5mm cable. They’re junk) will need to go through some kind of interface. These provide Phantom Power in most cases, a gain knob per input which will typically be an XLR jack. Maybe a -10dB or so pad (if connecting musical instruments like Guitars). I like the Behringer UMC line (22/202/204/404) with their Midas pre-amps.
XLR cables, typically male to female, come in many different lengths. Because the distance from the microphone to the interface is usually less than 6-10 feet, you don’t need to go out and buy gold-plated Monster cables. Nearly any decent shielded XLR cable will be fine.
Desk mount – A lot of mics include them and they’re mostly junk. Any vibrations or bumps go directly into your recording
Boom Arm – NOW we’re talking. Isolates the mic (especially with a shock mount) from your desk and allows you to move the mic closer to you instead of you hunched over for a better position.
A lot of different companies make audio mixers and it’s probably too broad a subject to go into too deeply here, but look at reviews for ones with good, well regarded pre-amps. I’ve used Behringer Mixers and don’t like them as the Xenyx pre-amps are not good. Yamaha and Mackie are probably two of the most common that people use and are well-regarded. I currently have a Yamaha mixer, but I would love to get one of the Mackie ones that have Channel Inserts in their chain for adding additional audio gear like better pre-amps and compressors.
In Line amplifiers
This is only used with XLR dynamic mics and Ribbon mics. In essence, a small device put in series with the microphone and interface that adds around 25dBs of clean gain so the mixer or interface doesn’t have to have their gain turned up so high. Less noise because of it. Cloudlifters are reliable as are Triton’s Fetheads
I talked so much about microphones that I forgot about the other really important bit which is how do you listen to what you’re recording? I’ve been very happy with Audio Technica’s ATH line as well as Sennheiser’s HD-280 Pro I had. I’m currently using the Sony MDR-7506 based on Tim Robertson’s recommendation and they’re very good.