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Kyle725

New to recording, Mic input questions

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Posted (edited)

Hello! 

I'll make this quick, I'm a classically trained singer but I'm new to doing my own recordings. I've been trying for months to just figure things out on my own, but I'm hitting a few walls and not sure where to ask or what to do. 

Firstly, I have a pretty cheap $100 podcast mic. I'm starting to realize this thing may not be up to the task. What I do is turn the input down to around 5 because the mic peaks like crazy at normal levels (not sure if Peak is the correct term, the soundwave gets massive and it crackles like crazy, ruining takes). This seems to work for most simple verses and when I'm not singing big, BUT, it just constantly and randomly forgets.

So I'll sing a line, and it will be at a super low input, so nothing gets too loud while recording...then I'll hit record again, and all of the sudden the input is back full blast. I can't seem to figure this out, and it's driving me crazy. My mic input just doesnt seem to stay there. Any ideas? This happens with both the windowed version of cakewalk, and the full DAW version. 

The other question I have, the mic will peak even when its input does work at 5, so on screen the sound looks much smaller, but it still seems to peak and crackle, as if the smaller scale can't handle big singing. Is this my mic? I hope that makes sense? 

I've tried standing closer and further away from the mic, but it will still peak even if I'm so far away that you can tell I'm audibly far away from the mic

Anyway, I'm totally new to doing this on my own, and have so many questions but I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask. I greatly appreciate any responses or ideas. I'm not too computer literate and I'm not recording literate at all. 

 

Thanks for any help

Edited by kyleluciani

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7 hours ago, kyleluciani said:

Hello! 

I'll make this quick, I'm a classically trained singer but I'm new to doing my own recordings. I've been trying for months to just figure things out on my own, but I'm hitting a few walls and not sure where to ask or what to do. 

Firstly, I have a pretty cheap $100 podcast mic. I'm starting to realize this thing may not be up to the task. What I do is turn the input down to around 5 because the mic peaks like crazy at normal levels (not sure if Peak is the correct term, the soundwave gets massive and it crackles like crazy, ruining takes). This seems to work for most simple verses and when I'm not singing big, BUT, it just constantly and randomly forgets.

So I'll sing a line, and it will be at a super low input, so nothing gets too loud while recording...then I'll hit record again, and all of the sudden the input is back full blast. I can't seem to figure this out, and it's driving me crazy. My mic input just doesnt seem to stay there. Any ideas? This happens with both the windowed version of cakewalk, and the full DAW version. 

The other question I have, the mic will peak even when its input does work at 5, so on screen the sound looks much smaller, but it still seems to peak and crackle, as if the smaller scale can't handle big singing. Is this my mic? I hope that makes sense? 

I've tried standing closer and further away from the mic, but it will still peak even if I'm so far away that you can tell I'm audibly far away from the mic

Anyway, I'm totally new to doing this on my own, and have so many questions but I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask. I greatly appreciate any responses or ideas. I'm not too computer literate and I'm not recording literate at all. 

 

Thanks for any help

Podcast mics are usually decent microphones. 

Assuming you don't have an interface, go into your Windows Settings and turn the levels down to 14% (This setting is usually for USB mics) I'm not entirely sure how it works with those 3.5mm input jacks. 

Experiment with the levels until you find that level that works for you.

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On 3/11/2021 at 1:46 AM, Will_Kaydo said:

Podcast mics are usually decent microphones. 

Assuming you don't have an interface, go into your Windows Settings and turn the levels down to 14% (This setting is usually for USB mics) I'm not entirely sure how it works with those 3.5mm input jacks. 

Experiment with the levels until you find that level that works for you.

The main issue, is I do set the audio like that, and found good levels, but it just stops. like I can set it to 14%, and it will work...but then it just goes back to 100 out of nowhere. Seems totally random. 

Good to hear about the mic though, wasn't looking forward to spending several hundred dollars. 

Thanks for the response

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11 hours ago, kyleluciani said:

The main issue, is I do set the audio like that, and found good levels, but it just stops. like I can set it to 14%, and it will work...but then it just goes back to 100 out of nowhere. Seems totally random. 

Good to hear about the mic though, wasn't looking forward to spending several hundred dollars. 

Thanks for the response

Then this is something to do with windows - a setting that does not save properly. If you want a better decent microphone, checkout the Samson C01U (USB) studio Microphone. It's like $89.00 

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On 3/13/2021 at 6:34 AM, Will_Kaydo said:

Then this is something to do with windows - a setting that does not save properly. If you want a better decent microphone, checkout the Samson C01U (USB) studio Microphone. It's like $89.00 

I will start checking out windows audio setting stuff, I've book marked that mic you suggested as well. I'll start looking into it. Thanks again for the replies!

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If your a classically trained singer then you might want to look at improving your setup a bit in the near future because I don't think you are going to get the best out of your voice with a USB mic. There may be some frustrations there. It's not a great outlay and you can pick up mics cheaper secondhand on Ebay which can let you try out different ones for your voice.

I would start with getting an audio interface, preferably a mains powered one but a USB powered one would also be ok. If the interface has a DSP FX processor it will allow you to run reverb and compression etc back into your headphones or to record with the effects all with zero latency. This can be great for setting up a good monitoring signal for your self. You then need a mid priced XLR mic, something like an AT4050 or Rode NT1/NT2a etc, you can search for "good vocal mics". Then you will need a pop screen and mic stand, an XLR cable, monitoring headphones (senny HD280?) and then your good to go.

The next thing is making sure you deaden the recording space a bit if you can with dunas or soft furnishings since the room reverb will be captured and that rarely sounds good. I use an AKG C214 and made a frame from a T light stand and wooden arms on each side of the crossbar to hang duna's in a V shape behind me which works well.

If your a bit skint you might start building a kit over time. There are instructional videos on youtube and a plethora of advice on Google and the search function of this forum, if you know what to search for. If you are intending to record your own tracks then learning how to operate the DAW is essential, you only need to learn the audio recording functions first, once you get the hang of it, it will be easy.

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On 3/15/2021 at 8:01 PM, Tezza said:

If your a classically trained singer then you might want to look at improving your setup a bit in the near future because I don't think you are going to get the best out of your voice with a USB mic. There may be some frustrations there. It's not a great outlay and you can pick up mics cheaper secondhand on Ebay which can let you try out different ones for your voice.

I would start with getting an audio interface, preferably a mains powered one but a USB powered one would also be ok. If the interface has a DSP FX processor it will allow you to run reverb and compression etc back into your headphones or to record with the effects all with zero latency. This can be great for setting up a good monitoring signal for your self. You then need a mid priced XLR mic, something like an AT4050 or Rode NT1/NT2a etc, you can search for "good vocal mics". Then you will need a pop screen and mic stand, an XLR cable, monitoring headphones (senny HD280?) and then your good to go.

The next thing is making sure you deaden the recording space a bit if you can with dunas or soft furnishings since the room reverb will be captured and that rarely sounds good. I use an AKG C214 and made a frame from a T light stand and wooden arms on each side of the crossbar to hang duna's in a V shape behind me which works well.

If your a bit skint you might start building a kit over time. There are instructional videos on youtube and a plethora of advice on Google and the search function of this forum, if you know what to search for. If you are intending to record your own tracks then learning how to operate the DAW is essential, you only need to learn the audio recording functions first, once you get the hang of it, it will be easy.

Thanks for the response. 

I've got a really cheap sound blocking cube around my mic (I'll attach a pic). It's extremely cheap compared to setting up the whole room, but I've got a location that's basically silent so I'm not getting any outside sounds or much. Without that cube though you can hear that I'm in a big empty room though. 

 

I'm getting advice from friends about getting an audio interface too, as you mentioned. My biggest issue, and has been my issue for weeks now, is that issue of windows NOT remembering my mic settings. It's infuriating, I set it to low input, hit apply, make sure other apps can't override it, nothing else is running, hit record, and it's back to full blast...sometimes it stays for a bit, but then just goes full blast again. So I have no way of knowing when a take is going to be ruined until I stop recording, or if I'm just staring at the screen watching it. 

It's become a serious problem. So would an audio interface take care of that? Like would it let me change the input volume on there, and hopefully it stays? I have an SHS OM-500 dynamic mics for gigs, but would need audio interface to use on here. 

As of right now I'm not too concerned with getting the best sound possible, but I'm more so looking to get a decent sound while learning all about mixing, recording, and so on, without having to pay someone to do it for me, at an acceptable level. With this input issue though, I'm going weeks without any progress whatsoever and it's delaying progress for the other people in the band. 

So you're basically saying, get an audio interface, get a better mic, get better soundproofing?  I'll start asking around my musician friends about some of the actual tech stuff you mentioned. Any suggestions on a less expensive audio interface? I'd only need it for mics and maybe a keyboard down the road. 

Thanks again, I greatly appreciate the help, I can sing fine, but have no clue about all this stuff. 

20210322_163140.jpg

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I've tried numerous methods of sound proofing and creating acoustically deadened environments in less than ideal environments.  For sound proofing, it depends on where you live, the noise level around you. Like you, I am blessed with a basically silent room, in my case because I am in the country and while there may be some noise during the day, from 7.30pm to  6.00am in the morning it's quiet, so soundproofing is not that much of an issue.

Creating a good acoustic environment, dampening the room reverb or room sound is a bit more difficult.  I have tried the cubes and various boxes and the professional  screens you can buy but there were always problems. Singing is different to podcasting, for example. For podcasting, cubes work quite well, sealing off sound around the mic in general works well, your only at talking level so reflections from the inside of the cube are not too bad. For singing though, I found it creates a dead "boxy" sound and kills the life of the vocal.  Singing gets loud and having any objects near the mic, regardless of what they are creates reflections on to the mic. Mics need to be standing free to get a good vocal. The problem there is, of course, you get the natural room sound. How you kill it depends on the pattern of the mic and how close you want to get to the mic (closer kills room sound) and how you can deaden the room reverb with sound deadening material.

My mic has a cardioid pattern, meaning  it picks up most sound from the front. Instead of putting sound deadening stuff behind the mic, I put it behind me because that is where the mic is facing. I use a T stand and hang some dunas over it behind me. It's got a couple of arms that swing around to the sides. Then I have a duna hanging behind the mic over the wardrobe and that's about it. Then I get a bit closer to the mic, about 4 - 6 inches or I will even use the foam cover with the mic and sit right on top of it, depending on the song. This method works for me and sounds the best that I can get it outside of a dedicated music room or professional studio, without killing my voice. You have to make sure that there is no reflection coming from behind you when you sing into the mic because that is what the mic will pick up. If you can block that off, you don't need to do much acoustic deadening in the room.

I can't help you with windows not remembering settings as I don't use USB mics and am not familiar with how they work. Someone else might know. It might not be possible to get what you want from your current setup.

With an XLR mic into an audio interface, you plug the mic into the interface, set the recording level according to the clip meters on the interface, then arm a track with the right input and away you go. The settings don't change unless you physically turn the knob on the interface.  

You might be better off just concentrating on getting an interface and using your other dynamic mic with that. That will solve the workflow problems and will also probably contribute to solving room reverb problems since you can get close to a dynamic mic and they do not pick up the room so much anyway. Your voice will have less fidelity or it might sound fine, but at least you will be able to move forward.

As for the audio interface, you might want to start a different thread for that, perhaps in the "gear" section? Ask for advice about a good budget interface.

 

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if the USB mic is the source in CbB, then unless the mic has it's own builtin volume control, the raw input into the DAW will be 100%, so "turning it down" in your monitoring doesn't solve that problem. best bet - get yourself a 2 input IO unit with XLR and an SM57 or SM58. probably total under $200. 

as far as vocal-room interactions - you could build a simple set of frames - tied together - and hang heavy packing blankets of them. if the frames are tall enough, hang a packing blanket over the top. leave some gaps for air.

some ideas:

https://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/model/d7c034208826744bfda112de017f7f93/Recording-Studio-Inexpensive-Vocal-Booth

https://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/model/1ed68da16d67650b6d2f7f4796305f20/Cheap-Vocal-Booth-Redux

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Good advice on here, I agree you need a decent mic and an interface.  A Shure SM58 is a great vocal mic for $100, pros the world over use them.  A Behringer UM2 interface can be found for as low as $40.  Good luck.

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Posted (edited)

Thank you all very much for the responses. Just borrowed a DAW from a friend and it's doing exactly what I need to, the input volume isn't randomly resetting and I get full control, which is fantastic. I'll be testing out quite a few things thanks to all of your advice. Going to try moving things around to deaden the sound behind me, try with and without the box, and building my own with the ideas you guys have shared. I can't thank you enough for the help, this is all extremely overwhelming and confusing!

 

If I could add another problem that's popped up today, I'm now getting a constant popping and crackling sound at all times. I switched it to WASAPI exclusive, as far as I can tell, all settings on my pc and the daw are at 44.1 khz. I've been searching the forums but haven't found an answer I understand. I'm using a new pc, is there some sound setting somewhere I forgot to install or change? As far as I can tell everything is up to date, and again at the same sample rate. If I switch it to MME it works somewhat well, but I've read MME is not nearly as good?

I realize this may be a problem for a different post, but figured I'd ask while I'm tinkering with it

Edited by Kyle725

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Posted (edited)
On 3/28/2021 at 7:38 AM, Kyle725 said:

If I could add another problem that's popped up today, I'm now getting a constant popping and crackling sound at all times. I switched it to WASAPI exclusive, as far as I can tell, all settings on my pc and the daw are at 44.1 khz. I've been searching the forums but haven't found an answer I understand. I'm using a new pc, is there some sound setting somewhere I forgot to install or change? As far as I can tell everything is up to date, and again at the same sample rate. If I switch it to MME it works somewhat well, but I've read MME is not nearly as good?

I realize this may be a problem for a different post, but figured I'd ask while I'm tinkering with it

You probably need to make sure your sample rate and buffer size are suitable. What is the make of the USB mic, I think some of them have a fixed sample rate. How are you monitoring what you hear, through the mic? does it have a headphone out that you hear your voice through? If your monitoring through the headphone then you can set your buffer size to 1024 or something high like that.

Also, have you tried using ASIO4All? https://www.asio4all.org/ Ideally you want to be working with an ASIO driver, another reason why the audio interface is a good idea because they come with their own ASIO driver. ASIO4ALL can sometimes work well.

 

Edited by Tezza

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7 hours ago, Tezza said:

You probably need to make sure your sample rate and buffer size are suitable. What is the make of the USB mic, I think some of them have a fixed sample rate. How are you monitoring what you hear, through the mic? does it have a headphone out that you hear your voice through? If your monitoring through the headphone then you can set your buffer size to 1024 or something high like that.

Also, have you tried using ASIO4All? https://www.asio4all.org/ Ideally you want to be working with an ASIO driver, another reason why the audio interface is a good idea because they come with their own ASIO driver. ASIO4ALL can sometimes work well.

 

 I've been talking to a few people on here who recommended ASIO, after testing it today I'm still having issues, I made a new forum post here:

Noob here, audio issues, crackling, one ear, no sound (vocals) - Cakewalk by BandLab - Cakewalk Discuss | The Official Cakewalk by BandLab Forum

(ugh not sure why it's not posting the link...)

 

Here's the mic

USB Microphone Kit,UHURU USB Podcast Condenser Microphone Kit 192kHZ/24bit Plug & Play PC Microphone Cardioid Microphone

I'm having issues with both the usb mic and a usb audio box with a shure mic plugged in.  I am asking more about ASIO, because it doesn't detect any output other than the audio box, and I'm not sure if it's good to have that as In and Out at same time. It's also only recording on one side, so my voice only comes out left side of headphone, but there appears to be nothing in the input menu to change to. 

What really gets me, is that I changed nothing on my old pc, and the windowed version of cakewalk (it has almost no features though) used to work perfectly aside from the input issue, but now both my old and new pc crackle and stutter in the window version. My old pc can hardly run the full program, but even with one track I get the same issues. 

I feel like there's something silly I'm missing somewhere, but I have no clue as to why my old computer and the windowed version are now messed up. 

Thanks again, I'll keep trying things out with the other topic I posted too

 

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