Latest post Sat, Jun 28 2008 1:53 PM by macjaeger. 8 replies.
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  • Tue, Jun 24 2008 11:03 PM

    • Dangerjunkie
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    • Farnborough, UK
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    USB tracking mics

    Hi,

    I'm looking into some options for tracking on field portable laptop systems (Dell M6300.) One of the options I'm looking at is to use one of the available, quality,  direct-to-USB mics in order to keep the box count and weight down. I'm looking at mics like the Audio Technica AT-2020USB, the MXL.006/008, the SE Audio or maybe the Rode Podcaster.

    My question is: Has anyone successfully used a USB mic with MC Soft 2.8 or 3.0 please?

    If so, are there any tricks needed to get it working or is it just plug and go?

    Thanks,

    Paul.

  • Wed, Jun 25 2008 4:54 PM In reply to

    • macjaeger
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on Mon, Jun 16 2008
    • Coburg, Germany
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    Re: USB tracking mics

    I have a usb mic at home (T.Bone 450 USB, 1" diaphragm), although i only use it for podcasting, i'm going to test it with mc tonight and get back then. But i assume you'll have to trick MC into accepting it, as it identifies itself as an additional soundcard, and we know how picky MC is about soundcards...

    MC 3.0 (soft) on 2.4Ghz Intel Core2Quad, 4GB, Win7, 3 Screens hooked to Nvidia GTX260 & 9500GT, 1 TB striping RAID [view my complete system specs]

    not a pro, just a teacher...

  • Wed, Jun 25 2008 7:52 PM In reply to

    • macjaeger
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    Re: USB tracking mics

    Ok, I've been toying around with my usb microphone, and amazingly it worked like a charm without any tricking. Just plugged it into usb, waited for windows to recognize it, then selected it in windows' audio settings as "preferred input device". Then I started MC and did a quick punch-in comentary I was going to do tonight anyway - went just fine. Only catch: I believe there's been more latency than i'm used to from my usual equipement, nothing serious though (USB just isn't ASIO).

    Of course this may be different with other usb mics, but as my t.bone is some rather generic modell without any fancy whistles and bells I'm rather confident that most other usb mics will be no different (actually it looks a lot like the MXL.006/008 you mentioned, maybe german "t.bone" line is just relabeld?).

    Two comments though, if I may: looking at the AT2020USB I saw it comes with a cheap tripod mount which almost made me cry... these large mikes sound so exceptional, you wouldn't want to capture laptop-rumble and paper-rustle from the table; so if you can afford the extra package do yourself a favor and add a real shockmount. And of course you're aware that large diaphragms usually aren't well suited for rough times outside, handle with care and keep away from moisture...

    MC 3.0 (soft) on 2.4Ghz Intel Core2Quad, 4GB, Win7, 3 Screens hooked to Nvidia GTX260 & 9500GT, 1 TB striping RAID [view my complete system specs]

    not a pro, just a teacher...

  • Thu, Jun 26 2008 9:53 AM In reply to

    • Dangerjunkie
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    • Joined on Wed, Jul 12 2006
    • Farnborough, UK
    • Posts 6
    • Points 70

    Re: USB tracking mics

    macjaeger:

    Ok, I've been toying around with my usb microphone, and amazingly it worked like a charm without any tricking. Just plugged it into usb, waited for windows to recognize it, then selected it in windows' audio settings as "preferred input device". Then I started MC and did a quick punch-in comentary I was going to do tonight anyway - went just fine. Only catch: I believe there's been more latency than i'm used to from my usual equipement, nothing serious though (USB just isn't ASIO).

    I hear what you're saying about delay. My workflow is generally to record the track, cut it into graphs then cut the pictures to it rather than punch-in tracking over running pics so I think I can live with the delay. I do podcast though but as long as the delay isn't enough to make me trip over my words then that will be OK.

     

    Of course this may be different with other usb mics, but as my t.bone is some rather generic modell without any fancy whistles and bells I'm rather confident that most other usb mics will be no different (actually it looks a lot like the MXL.006/008 you mentioned, maybe german "t.bone" line is just relabeld?).

    I haven't heard of this company before. I'll google and have a look. Thanks. What sampling rates does it support please?

    Two comments though, if I may: looking at the AT2020USB I saw it comes with a cheap tripod mount which almost made me cry... these large mikes sound so exceptional, you wouldn't want to capture laptop-rumble and paper-rustle from the table; so if you can afford the extra package do yourself a favor and add a real shockmount. And of course you're aware that large diaphragms usually aren't well suited for rough times outside, handle with care and keep away from moisture...

    I went to a music shop and tried the AT2020USB yesterday. It worked fine (select A1 and TC only, hit "no deck" then select "Windows mixer" as the audio source (MC 2.8 PC on a Dell Precision M6300 with no DNA.) I have a sample MXF file I recorded (not the best, done in a noisy shop with the mic handheld and a synth demo going on behind me and at a random distance as I didn't have headphones) that anyone is welcome to if they want to see if it fits their workflow.

     

    I have the following observations of the 2020:

    • Looks well built, feels nice.
    • Audio sounded as good as it could back through the laptop.
    • The desk stand is even worse than you feared,
    • It's limited to 44.1kHz only.
    • Only comes with a soft case.


    The guys in the shop seemed to be divided on how robust it is. One told me that I should treat it like glass, a drop onto the floor would probably kill it and winced when I told him I intend to carry it round the world on airlines in my suitcase. The other guy said it was a nice robust mic and drops and the like wouldn't be a problem. I think my purchase list would end up including a hard case, a cradle shock-mount, a better stand and a spit shield.

     

    I've not used a huge number of condenser mics and the ones I have were all small diaphragm. If I want to travel the world editing and podcasting, carrying this in my suitcase on just about every bad airline in creation is it likely to survive?

     

    Thanks,

    Paul.

  • Thu, Jun 26 2008 3:45 PM In reply to

    • macjaeger
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on Mon, Jun 16 2008
    • Coburg, Germany
    • Posts 241
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    Re: USB tracking mics

    Delay isn't going to kill you, it's just noticeably longer than I'm used to, but even ok for punch-ins - so no worry in your workflow.

    T.Bone isn't a company at all, it's just a fantasy label created by germanys largest audioshop (www.thomann.de) - beneath the T.Bone label can be anything from cheap china imports to upper class manufacturers, but usually they select quite well and prices are right.

    My warning about not carrying around the mics was more like a quote than from experience - it's what I tell my students whenever they take one of our mics from the medialab. We have two of the 450USB one inch mics, and our students carry them all around school and campus, both got dropped more than once (mounted upside down in cheap shock-mount...), and luckily we've not had any trouble yet. But these are €60 each, i wouldn't be as careless with more expansive gear. So they are not that delicate, but i still would be carefull regarding humidity.

    MC 3.0 (soft) on 2.4Ghz Intel Core2Quad, 4GB, Win7, 3 Screens hooked to Nvidia GTX260 & 9500GT, 1 TB striping RAID [view my complete system specs]

    not a pro, just a teacher...

  • Fri, Jun 27 2008 5:24 PM In reply to

    • Dangerjunkie
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    • Joined on Wed, Jul 12 2006
    • Farnborough, UK
    • Posts 6
    • Points 70

    Re: USB tracking mics

    Thanks :) I hear exactly what you're saying. I go to places like Afghanistan so I'm expecting lots of airline bumps and dust ingress.

    I spoke to a store and they pointed me in the direction of Sontronics, saying the build quality and sound quality are better than similarly-priced mics.


    Unless someone screams no I think I've just about made a decision. I think I'll start with a Sontronics STC-2 ( http://www.sontronics.com/stc2.htm ) and an ART Tube MP USB tube preamp ( http://www.artproaudio.com/products.asp?type=79&cat=1&id=124 ) My store has a package deal on those of £155 inc tax ($300)  which is only like $10 more than the UK list price of the mic.

    I gave Sontronics a call to check they thought the mic would survive the use I intend to put it to. They are a relatively new company and the guy I spoke to seemed to really care that I would be happy with it. He explained exactly how it works and how to care for it. It comes with a lifetime warranty as long as it hasn't been abused but if I end up having to buy a new capsult after a drop it's only £50 ($100)

    All the best,

    Paul.

     

     

  • Fri, Jun 27 2008 11:52 PM In reply to

    • macjaeger
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on Mon, Jun 16 2008
    • Coburg, Germany
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    Re: USB tracking mics

    I'm a little confused - didn't you say you wanted to keep your luggage slim? Using tube preamp adds another box to handle and take care of, another set of cables to drop over, accidently unplug or even get lost... on the other hand you gain more audio control than with an usb-only microphone.

    MC 3.0 (soft) on 2.4Ghz Intel Core2Quad, 4GB, Win7, 3 Screens hooked to Nvidia GTX260 & 9500GT, 1 TB striping RAID [view my complete system specs]

    not a pro, just a teacher...

  • Sat, Jun 28 2008 1:23 PM In reply to

    • Dangerjunkie
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Wed, Jul 12 2006
    • Farnborough, UK
    • Posts 6
    • Points 70

    Re: USB tracking mics

    That was my original intent but almost everyone I've spoken to that does sound told be I'd be better with the extra paperback-book-sized lump in my case and a more versatile mic that I can plug in to anything and not just a computer. I also think I'm going to end up with 2 interfaces at home (my travel one for the podcast and a Digi MBox-series for PT) so this means I can use the same mic with both.

    I'd be really interested in your opinion. The advice I have so far seems to be splt into 2 groups: Group one say that I should get a large diaphragm mic as it will make track voices sound sexy and it won't be a problem in uncotrolled environments like hotel rooms. Group two say that large diaphragm mics are coloured and have a character (which I must decide whether I like or not) and that since I won't have an isolation booth a condenser will pick up every little sound and echo from the room and will sound horrible so I should buy something like a Coles 4104 ribon lip mic. My audio experience is mostly limited to budget dynamic mics and this is going to be my first "real" mic purchase. What do you think?

    Thanks,

    Paul.

  • Sat, Jun 28 2008 1:53 PM In reply to

    • macjaeger
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on Mon, Jun 16 2008
    • Coburg, Germany
    • Posts 241
    • Points 2,890

    Re: USB tracking mics

    I think there are two decisions to be made:

    First: how much flexibility do you need? If you know exactly what you are going to do with your equipment, and where, you should of course get the best fitting solution. So if you need to travel light, and perhaps work "unplugged" from laptop battery only, the one-cable-only usb mic is your friend. But if you want to use that same mic back home, or adapt it for a variety of recording tasks, you may be better off with the preamp box.

    Second: which mic is right for you? There's no such thing as the "omnipotent one-fits-all microphone", each type, form and pattern has its strengths and weaknesses. E.g. Recording your documentarys commentary imposes other requirements than recording athmo in the field.

    You probably should go and borrow/rent some equipment first, and testdrive it in your typical application, to get a feeling for your needs.

    MC 3.0 (soft) on 2.4Ghz Intel Core2Quad, 4GB, Win7, 3 Screens hooked to Nvidia GTX260 & 9500GT, 1 TB striping RAID [view my complete system specs]

    not a pro, just a teacher...

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