Voice recording on a budget

NibbleNibble Registered User regular
edited September 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
I'm interested in making some simple digital voice recordings for use in educational software, and I'd like to have crisp, full sound, not tinny and full of noise. From the minimal research I've done, it seems that I need a unidirectional microphone, and some sources claim that USB mics have better sound than analog ones.

As for which mic to buy, I've seen recommendations ranging from a $25 headset designed for VOIP applications to professional mics over $600. I figure that for voice only, I can probably get away with something cheaper and some processing with Audacity. In general, I think I should avoid headsets, as I'm thinking that I might like to use the mic for two-person conversations and other things.

How about acoustics? Do I really need to set up a proper recording studio stuffed with acoustic foam, or can I get by with a quiet room and a decent mic?

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  • Small Time CrookedSmall Time Crooked Post Malone's Hairdresser Des Plaines, ILRegistered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Different microphones will serve different purposes and all receive/transmit sound waves differently.

    My suggestion would be to go with a unidirectional condenser, USB undoubtedly. I don't think you'll be able to find an analog condenser that's plug and play without some kind of phantom power peripheral to go with it. A condenser will "warm" up the sound of your vocals, so you needn't worry about that "gritty" sound that comes with many cheap analog dynamic mics.

    In my opinion, Audacity is a really "meh" program when it comes to sound recording, it's free, no doubt. But to me it's always been pretty primitive in terms of layout and overall functionality, I'd recommend Sony Acid Lite, if I remember correctly it's a free version of Acid. It's got a lot of the bulk taken out of it, but you're doing some pretty light vox work, so you probably won't need everything the studio version of Acid has to offer.

    There's quite a bit of work that goes into acoustics too. You have to know how to position a microphone, where in the room is best to position it, what angles, specific height, etc. If you were to take it and put it in any ole room in your dwelling you might get a bit of an "airy" sound in your recordings, which only makes you sound further back on a track. It can be fixed with some EQ tweaking but I'd suggest sticking the bad boy inside a closet and lining it up with some heavy blankets and the like. It makes a world of different to the quality of your productions.

    I hope this has been in some way informative. I just got back from the studio and this was right up my alley of interests.. On top of a few days of not sleeping I'm not exactly one to make sense. Much luck to ya on your endeavors!

    Small Time Crooked on
  • Michael HMichael H Registered User
    edited August 2010
    When it comes to mics, I would go with a standalone unit, not a headset. If you got a Blue Snowball you would be MORE than covered in terms of quality; past that point you're in diminishing returns by spending any more.

    Don't stress on the room; there's only a few factors that you can control. You want it to sound more "dead" than "live". A live room will have reflections that will make their way into the recording and sound less professional. There's not much that you can do to take them out after the fact. Make sure your room is quiet, and if you need to you can set up some absorptive material behind the microphone. You don't need to do the whole room, just something to reduce the initial reflection. Experiment with blankets/whatever you have before spending any money.

    For software, Audacity is pretty rough IMO, but functional. You can also look into the "Lite" versions of audio software like Cubase.

    Michael H on
  • VistiVisti Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Second the mention of a dedicated USB condenser microphone. The recording quality should be stellar and they're cheap for what they are. The Blue Snowball as mentioned would work great and the Samson Go-mic is a bit cheaper.

    Visti on
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  • NibbleNibble Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    I've looked at the Blue Snowball, and it looks pretty decent. I've also seen the Blue Yeti on Amazon for about $40 more than the Snowball, but I suppose that would just add unneeded features with the same audio quality, right?

    Nibble on
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  • Michael HMichael H Registered User
    edited August 2010
    Eh... things like stereo recording and being omni-directional really don't add anything in your situation. If you've got the extra cash to drop, go for it, but based on your OP I would go with the Snowball. The Yeti would be more flexible, but it depends on how much your $40 means to you.

    Michael H on
  • RuckusRuckus Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    You could also contact a local medium-large music store. They often rent out audio equipment, which may make more sense from cost-benefit perspective.

    Ruckus on
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  • NappuccinoNappuccino Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Just as a slight warning, the blue snowball does like to be rather quiet when recording so you'll have to speak right into it for good quality (2 or so inches away). This means that you'll pretty much have to record conversations separately or become very good friends with whomever you're working with (assuming you're working with someone)

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