Author Topic: USB or mic with cheaper interface?  (Read 29403 times)

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Offline Hollywood

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USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« on: December 10, 2014, 03:40:18 am »
So... do I get a USB mic or a mic with a cheap(ish) interface?  Tight budget + 15% off coupon for Guitar Center.  The cheaper the better, obviously, but still a decent quality.  Right now I'm mostly just recording myself, but I do plan to do live gigs eventually.  if I need to get a different mic when I get to that point, that's fine.

Which one is better for my current needs?
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Offline mike42

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2014, 04:25:06 am »
Did you read through the first post of that link I sent you in your other thread? I think that post made some decent points, and at the end of the day it's really a personal decision.

You might get better advice if you give some options that you're looking at. It's easier to answer a "here are my needs, do I buy X or Y?" type of question when X and Y are specific options within your budget. Right now it all depends on what constitutes 'cheap,' what you would define as 'decent' quality, etc.

Not trying to be mean, but with the wording of your post I don't think you'll get any better answers than have been given previously.

Offline TB-AV

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2014, 04:30:41 am »
There is nothing cheap. Even the bottom on the line interface... I think it a Scarlet Solo or something similar is $99 then you need a mic.


This is good price on this one... which is abetter Interface. It's used... it must be a demo or something but it's from Sam Ash.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Focusrite-Scarlett-2i2-USB-Audio-Interface-Mint-original-pkg-1-year-warranty-/191335220214?pt=US_Computer_Recording_Interfaces&hash=item2c8c77c3f6

You have to realize that interfaces for run of the mill good stuff can cost anywhere from $750 - $2000 and they can get way more expensive.


In the same light the entry level stuff with a mic for the most basic stuff is going to run you near $250 to $350.

So now a USB mic may be $50 and you can plug it in roll if you have a PC. Is it great... no. Can you work with it, yes. Is it an upgrade path, no. Resale value, no.

Now you buy a regular mic and you will probably keep it forever. You buy something like that 2i2 Interface and you will sell it of stick it on a spare computer and you will buy a more expensive interface with more inputs and outputs.

There is no right answer and no magic bullet. I don't know what you were recording into for that JBJ song, but I'm wondering if a USB mic is going to sound any different. .... and to be honest... I've heard much worse from people with real mics and interface.

the biggest hurdle for home settings is the room. You have to treat the room or no matter what you use will never really sound good.

Stage you kinda need a regular mic unless you use a laptop... you don't find too many people on a stage with a USB mic.

There are only so many bases you can cover. Do you really even need anything else yet? Maybe not.

Either Sam Ash or Guitar Center was having some recording package specials the other day. Mic, Interface, stand, cable, etc...   several different ones.

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Offline mike42

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2014, 04:55:46 am »
I use the Scarlett 2i2 and I would recommend it. I think I paid around $120 on Amazon. I've also picked up the MXL 990/991 package on sale a while back for $70 or so. Don't really use the 991, but the 990 does a decent job.

But once you figure in a stand, pop filter, XLR cable etc. you're looking at $250-300 minimum to get going if you buy things on sale.

Offline Borodog

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2014, 05:15:53 am »
Even a $40 USB condenser mic will sound much better than a laptop or phone camera mic, even in an untreated room, with proper mic placement.

You can either spend a big pile of money on something you aren't sure you need and don't yet know what you want, or you can spend a small amount on a USB condenser mic that will sound ten times better than what you have.

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Offline Drubbing

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2014, 05:22:11 am »
Even a $40 USB condenser mic will sound much better than a laptop or phone camera mic, even in an untreated room, with proper mic placement.

You can either spend a big pile of money on something you aren't sure you need and don't yet know what you want, or you can spend a small amount on a USB condenser mic that will sound ten times better than what you have.



This. ^

Unless you want to get into audio editing and something that will provide real polish - much of which is probably done post recording anyway. Going on your vid, a condenser or portable recorder will be a a simple and immediate improvement

Offline Hollywood

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2014, 09:55:03 pm »
That video was recorded with a Nikon D3100 camera.  So it sounds like I'd be best getting a USB mic.  I think having a regular mic would look cooler in videos  ::)  but that alone isn't enough of a reason, obviously.  I would probably want to record some demos on my own once I start getting some of my own songs written, at least to get some experience recording my own stuff. 

$250 isn't too bad... Obviously $50 is better than $250, but if I start regularly doing videos, I want whatever would be best for that without spending too much - I think $250 or $300 is probably the absolute most I'd consider spending on this stuff right now.  But, if I can make my own demo of some nice recordings on my own and am able to sell some of those, then it might be fine to spend a little more as needed to be able to do that.

My guitar is an electric acoustic, but right now I don't think I have any way of recording it directly through the amp. 

If the camera is a good enough recorder and I really just need a better recording area, then that's fine, too.  The only issue is that I can't use a pick without a mic because it drowns out my voice.

The biggest problem, really, is that I know I need some way of making better recordings and videos, but I really don't know much of anything about recording equipment, so I don't even know what to ask or what to look for.


Edit:  This is the one USB mic I'd been looking at.  If I get a USB mic, I guess I'd have to do the recording and the video separately, right?  So the video wouldn't be a "live" recording?
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Blue-Snowball-USB-Microphone-105642680-i1500770.gc
Frontwoman of alt-rock band Lighting Matches - debut album "Against The Flame"
www.LightingMatchesMusic.com
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Debut solo EP "Destination Sunday" (Rachel White)

Offline Borodog

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2014, 10:23:51 pm »
Given your pm you may want interface adter all.
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Offline mike42

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2014, 04:07:25 am »
If I get a USB mic, I guess I'd have to do the recording and the video separately, right?  So the video wouldn't be a "live" recording?

You should be able to record the video and audio separately and then sync them up afterwards. I don't know exactly how to do this, but I believe Cue Zephyr has detailed his process in a post somewhere so you might try to either find that post or ask him about it.

In terms of usb vs. mic + interface, I think either should be an improvement over your current setup. If money is the main issue - and don't get me wrong, as a college student I understand $300 can be a lot of money to throw around - try the usb mic and see how it works. Even if you end up wanting to go the interface route, and you probably will at some point, you'll only be out an extra $50.

Also remember that an entry-level setup for $200-300 isn't going to get you studio-quality recordings. Your biggest issue at that point will probably be your room and recording skills, not the gear, but you could spend a grand and still be in the "decent quality" category, equipment-wise.

My advice (others may disagree): your main focus should be on the music and performance, because those will set you apart more than your gear and video. You should still strive for decent audio & video quality, but a killer song with an ok mic will be better than a mediocre song with an excellent one. I think the order of importance goes: songwriting & performance quality-->audio quality-->video quality

Offline TB-AV

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2014, 01:42:54 pm »
songwriting & performance quality-->audio quality-->video quality

Agree.... in that order.

She still will need to sell herself and the gear and skills that young people have these days is quite nice. If you had a partner to do some things or a group to help that's nice.. The other thing about video is... if she gets involved with video people they often want musicians so again it's good exposure ( see what I did there? )...

Community college to take music lessons... and maybe look for the video people or even take a video class to meet them. If you look at the most successful YT stuff, the production is usually pretty good and most people that get successful, upgrade their production. My only point is she has time now to learn it and by it's nature will put her in contact with music oriented people.

Lots of musicians end up in several bands at the same time. At least around here. The flexible musicians get the jobs. Lindy Fralin is a musician. He always played with the BopCats but you might see him playing with others and many of these guys would be playing with one band on Thursday and another on Friday. The "Bands that were going to Famous" often fell apart or cycled through the lineup and even the successful bands often fall apart.

If she applies herself now at age 20. By 25 she could learn to read music. Learn to arrange, learn to make a decent vido, learn more songs, meet way more people, learn some audio production skills, and in general be able to fit into a lot of musical situations..... OR... get better on guitar and hope that's all that is needed....    there sure are a lot of 'just guitar players' out there.
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Offline close2u

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2014, 11:25:09 pm »
If you want to hear a budget usb mic with  vocal and guitar search my YouTube for The Beatles I Will.
Just guitar voice Samson q1u Ian mic into laptop with reaper.
I would link it but am on iPhone and don't know how to copy paste yet

Offline Hollywood

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2014, 01:00:32 am »
Everyone so far (on this thread and others where it has been mentioned that I need a mic) seems to be pretty split.  I checked your video, close2u, and some other suggested ones that came up that were mic comparisons.  The USB sounds pretty decent, I think. 

I checked out Guitar Centers site - first of all, what is a MiDi interface?  I would need an audio interface, correct?

Anyway, I looked at their page of audio interfaces (assuming that is what I would need) and there are several used ones for under $60.  https://www.guitarcenter.com/Audio-Interfaces-Recording.gc?o=1  Would that be a good route to go?  I checked the reviews on a couple of them, and they all seem to be all over the place and I wouldn't know how to choose a good one.  But that link has the ones I saw, if anyone has any experience with any of those or can recommend a good one.  If I went that route and got a used interface for $50, and then maybe this: http://www.guitarcenter.com/Peavey-PV11-Microphone-with-Stand-and-Accessories-Pack-110334182-i3766885.gc

That would put me at about $100, assuming those are both decent quality and actually what I would need.  Otherwise, it's about $60 for the Blue Snowball USB Microphone I was looking at.

.... thoughts?
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Debut solo EP "Destination Sunday" (Rachel White)

Offline Cue Zephyr

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2014, 01:38:35 am »
MIDI is for musical instrument interfacing, usually used by keyboards, controllers (pad controllers, control surfaces with knobs and faders, etc) and synthesizers. Data going in can control software (digital audio workstations or DAWs) and data going out can trigger sounds or other events in outboard hardware. You probably don't need that, but it's often featured on interfaces. You indeed need an audio interface.

You could try looking for a Tascam US122, buddy of mine has one and it's cool. Avoid the E-MU 0404 USB, it's excellent on Windows XP but everything beyond is a nightmare.

For mics, an SM58 would be excellent, but I hav eno idea what they go for used.

I can't seem to open any of the links, running into dead ends it seems. :(

ETA: OK, I did some quick ebaying and if you hit some auctions you might be able to get both for $100 total.
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Offline Hollywood

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2014, 01:58:25 am »
So if I can get the mic and interface stuff for under maybe $150, with the other option being a $60 USB mic, which would be better?  The mic and interface if I can get it at a good price?
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Debut solo EP "Destination Sunday" (Rachel White)

Offline Cue Zephyr

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2014, 02:21:37 am »
Definitely the mic and the interface.

Your guitar has a pickup in it, right? I saw you have a Takamine with a cutaway so I assumed it had one. With a dynamic mic you'll have to plug your guitar straight into the interface.

If you can't find an SM58 at that price, you might have more luck with a PG58 (also from Shure).

Why mic + interface (IMO)?
1) You can use the mic live.
2) You can add more mics but keep the interface (and I'm sure you will at some point)
3) Better quality than an USB mic
4) You could record bass into it if you wanted (like say, if you found somebody that plays bass).
5) $60 most likely buys a better non-USB mic
6) Direct monitoring (listening to what you're recording zero latency)

What did I do?
I saved a little more to skip the USB mic. I bought a two-channel interface and a mic not long thereafter. My guitar has a pickup too, but I wasn't really satisfied with that tone. I bought a second mic not long thereafter. Two channels is enough for one person and one mic goes a long way.

The only reason I bought another interface and more mics was because I wanted to be able to record more people at the same time. That or use more than two mics simultaneously - i have a stereo mic that already takes two channels so with more channels I actually have some room (on the interface) to use it as a room mic (lol). Haven't needed it to record more than one person often yet, but that might change in the future.
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