Author Topic: USB or mic with cheaper interface?  (Read 46385 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
www.Facebook.com/LightingMatchesMusic

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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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?
Frontwoman of alt-rock band Lighting Matches - debut album "Against The Flame"
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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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Offline Hollywood

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2014, 02:28:00 am »
Alright, I'll see what I can find.

What do I need to look for in an interface to make sure I get the right thing? 
Do they just plug into your computer then or what?
Frontwoman of alt-rock band Lighting Matches - debut album "Against The Flame"
www.LightingMatchesMusic.com
www.Facebook.com/LightingMatchesMusic

Debut solo EP "Destination Sunday" (Rachel White)

Offline mike42

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2014, 02:46:28 am »
@TB

I agree with your points, however my main point was to make sure the music aspect doesn't get buried under everything else. Obviously recording and production skills can get you a long way, but none of that will matter if you can't play the music at a high level.

By all means, anyone looking to make music professionally and gain exposure through YouTube or other social media channels should take the time to study those things, but right now I think it's more important to build a foundation with guitar and music.

It's kind of like when a beginner comes to the forum and asks what lessons they need to watch to play "X" by Jimi Hendrix or whatever. We always suggest they build that foundation by completing the BC & IM courses first. In this case, the video, lighting and production is the long-term goal, but in order to make those worth something you need a strong foundation in songwriting, theory, and guitar playing.

I didn't mean to suggest that Hollywood should ignore your suggestions. I just wanted to make sure that those things don't become more of a focus than the actual music.

Offline TB-AV

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2014, 03:25:55 am »
Oh, I agree. the music is say 80-85% of the investment.  That's why I keep saying she should go to school.

The other 15% is adjunct skills. The other side benefit of the video aspect though is it's not really hard to improve from crap to pretty damn good looking..... unlike playing and singing which takes a while.

So as she sees her image improve, she gains confidence and it also causes one to want to build up the musical side to match it. So it's a motivational deal as well.

But either way.... I didn't think you were saying to ignore what I had mentioned. ... multimedia marketing is what the now and the future holds, so you either have to learn it or pay someone to do it for you. Stapling paper to the light pole just doesn't cut it these days.

.... and she already does photography so these lighting skills carry over to her other skill set.... in fact there is a very famous music industry person that was/is a photog as well. Or look at Little Steven from E Street... when he was asked did he want to be on a TV show he said, no... I'm not an actor.... they said yes you are, you just don't know it. Oh and even Stevie Nicks is releasing a book of her photography from when she was young.

The goal is to get her hooked up with people better than her so she can learn from/with them. Right now they don't believe in her experience level without even hearing what she can do. That is a marketing issue. Once you get the chance to perform... then it's a talent issue.... but even then.... there have been quite a few bands formed with people that couldn't play.

But yeah, I'm not saying making a good video makes your playing bet...... well...wait a second......there is that young lady named Taylor Swift.
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Offline Hollywood

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2014, 03:39:30 am »
That is a marketing issue. Once you get the chance to perform... then it's a talent issue.... but even then.... there have been quite a few bands formed with people that couldn't play.

Yeah, that sounds about right... I'm apparently not so good with marketing.  I've been having a really hard time marketing my mom's books to help get her donations for her fundraiser.  So far most of the sales have been her selling them face-to-face, and my attempts at marketing them (online, mainly) have been unsuccessful.  :(  Ironic, as I've listened to a lot of top marketers in the past few years.


But yeah, I'm not saying making a good video makes your playing bet...... well...wait a second......there is that young lady named Taylor Swift.
;D
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Debut solo EP "Destination Sunday" (Rachel White)

Offline mike42

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2014, 03:55:22 am »
All good points, TB. I agree.

Offline TB-AV

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2014, 04:08:50 am »
Yeah, that sounds about right... I'm apparently not so good with marketing.  I've been having a really hard time marketing my mom's books to help get her donations for her fundraiser.  So far most of the sales have been her selling them face-to-face, and my attempts at marketing them (online, mainly) have been unsuccessful.  :(  Ironic, as I've listened to a lot of top marketers in the past few years.

 ;D

The reason she sells them in person is because they meet her and most likely like her. You can only market the book and not her online...

After you learn some of this video lighting stuff. Put together a little segment with you interviewing her, or her talking about the book... maybe even read a little of it. You could even play a little background guitar for the intro and outro. then you can put that online and IF it is done well perhaps people will be able to connect with her on a personal basis and want to buy the book.

People like to like the other people they buy stuff from. It's like that recordingrevolution guy you see mentioned here often. He is not giving out any earth shattering recording advice but he's a nice guy, his room and gear is all clean and neat looking, he's pleasant to listen to and what he does present is good advice but it's the same advice that you can find in a hundred other places..... but he is likeable. He seems fair and trustworthy. ... and even though he does sell stuff he's not into the hard sell. He is polite, understandable and professional.

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Offline Scooter Trash

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #21 on: December 12, 2014, 04:41:09 am »
Alright, I'll see what I can find.

What do I need to look for in an interface to make sure I get the right thing? 
Do they just plug into your computer then or what?

Make sure that your computer has the correct port for the interface. USB 2.0 and Firewire are common interfaces busses. For a decent starting interface, look at the Steinberg, Focusrite, and Presonus interfaces.
If you plan to use any external hardware processing, make sure it's capable of doing inserts. Otherwise you likely just need an interface with two mic/instrument inputs and phantom power.
The interface just plugs into your computer. Then you plug your mic/s or instrument into the interface. And of course you'll need some way to monitor. You can start with a decent pair of headphones and upgrade to studio monitors later. The interfaces often come bundled with DAW software. You can use other DAWS (like Reaper) with most interfaces. You will of course need microphone and/or instrument cables. And probably a mic stand. SM58 is a good mic for live, and is OK, but not ideal for recording vocals. If you want to record both vocal, and acoustic guitar, a large diaphragm condenser mic would probably be a better choice. If you plan to record electric guitar as well, you can either plug the guitar into the interface, and use Guitar Rig, or other modeling software, or mic your guitar cabinet with a SM57.
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Offline close2u

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #22 on: December 12, 2014, 06:41:58 am »
a few hours later on my laptop where I know how to copy / paste :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1XB82kqMF0


With a usb mic you do not need an audio interface... just Reaper or Audacity (which is free).

It would be a quick, low-cost working solution with decent results immediately.

You would then start to learn a little about mic placement, recording levels etc on a manageable learning curve.

A Shure SM58 is the industry standard live vocal microphone. Great quality.
Although I have worked with singers who don't like them ... they A/Bd several and picked different mics that suited their particular vocal sound better.
Long term, a different mic may suit your voice better.

I still vote for a usb as a start point.

Offline Scooter Trash

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #23 on: December 12, 2014, 08:18:07 am »

A Shure SM58 is the industry standard live vocal microphone. Great quality.

Keep in mind that it's a dynamic cardoid mic and is subject to proximity effect - which makes it less desirable for recording both acoustic and vocal at the same time. It also has a pop-filter screwed on over the capsule. They sound OK, but the reason they're preferred over better sounding studio mics for live vocals is that they have a directional (cardoid) pickup pattern (supercardoid on the Beta 58). The directional pattern helps eliminate feedback (which isn't an issue in the studio) and they're rugged. You can just about pound nails with them - so they hold up well on the road. Yes; a 58 is a good mic for live vocals. If you want to record both vocal and acoustic guitar, there are better choices.
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Offline close2u

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Re: USB or mic with cheaper interface?
« Reply #24 on: December 12, 2014, 10:07:25 am »
Good clarification and additional info Scooter
:)

 

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