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Question for the experts

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james williams
Question for the experts
on Apr 1, 2008 at 8:34:39 pm

Hi all,

I'm starting to see a lot more USB mics on the market. This would be great for more compact setups, but are they any good? How does the sound compare to traditional microphones?
Thanks
J. Williams


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David Jones
Re: Question for the experts
on Apr 2, 2008 at 3:39:00 pm

Hi James,

This may be a hard question to answer (hence no posts, yet). For one thing, these mics are pretty new. For another, at least at this point, the "studio" guys will probably stick with the way they have been doing it...using a mixer in between the mic and recording device. This means, they probably haven't used one of the new USB mics, ether. I'm recording a "book-on-tape" next week and I have to do it at the voice talent's house. I'm using the Audio Technica AT-4050 plugged into my mixer and then plugging the mixer into his computer. This is the first time I've done something like this so, we'll see how it goes...lol. I'm not a huge fan of AT mics but, I know they're unveiling a new USB mic at NAB. Hopefully someone who's used a USB mic will post here, soon.


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James Williams
Re: Question for the experts
on Apr 2, 2008 at 5:36:39 pm

David,
This is just is what i thought. The mics are new so there's not a lot of info in yet. I was wondering, to audio pros, if it may end up being like photographers giving up film for digital. I'm a vidoegrapher looking to improve my audio but i'm not looking to add additional gear if I don't have to. I often do projects just as you mentioned, mobile interview type things. The thought of just having a single mic(and laptop)and not having to use or carry a mixer is intriguing. I guess tweaking the sound would be left up to the quality of the audio software.
J. Williams



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Ty Ford
Re: Question for the experts
on Apr 2, 2008 at 6:13:02 pm

Unless the talent has a good acoustical space, recording an at4050 in a "normal" home may not be the best option. I'd try it and see. AT's at4053a hypercardioid is a tighter pattern. With a nice C-stand and arm, you can position it nicely and not hear as much room sound as an AT4050 in cardioid.

Regards,

Ty Ford



Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Will Salley
Re: Question for the experts
on Apr 2, 2008 at 9:03:13 pm

I have not used a USB mic, but I could give a little insight as to it's known limitations.

Firstly, it's an analog device using an integrated analog to digital converter. The quality of design and build of this component will have a huge impact on the sound. Whether it will improve it or not depends on the quality of the device that it is replacing, which is, assuming you're recording digitally, is another A/D device further down the signal chain. Most audio engineers, recordists, and studios invest in at least one dedicated A/D converter that is designed to do one job very good. These high-end devices typically start at around $700 and go up into the stratosphere in price. The AT USB mic cost, what , $300? Guess which one will perform better.

On the other hand, if you don't have a dedicated A/D converter and you are going analog directly into a laptop, you are using a really lousy built-in converter that may not be as good as the one built into the USB mic. In that situation, the USB mic might be useful, but for

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Ty Ford
Re: Question for the experts
on Apr 2, 2008 at 9:13:10 pm

Will's right, different A/Ds (and mics) make a difference.

To hear what the AT2020USB mic sounds like,

Go here: http://idisk.mac.com/tyreeford-Public?view=web

Look in the AT2020USB folder for the audio files.

Download and listen for yourself .

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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David Jones
Re: Question for the experts
on Apr 2, 2008 at 9:33:44 pm

Hi Ty,

I like your AT-2020 USB test; the mic sounds pretty good but, I wonder how much of it is having/being a good voice talent, and being someone who knows what they're doing. Based on your results, would you recommend it, and if so, what sould we know about getting the best out of it?

The voiceover I have to record next week, will be at a really small house with low ceilings; plus, I'm bringing sound blankets and c-stands to build some walls if need be. Of course, if things start "going south", I'll be on here seeking your advice on this or that :o)


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Ty Ford
Re: Question for the experts
on Apr 2, 2008 at 10:59:43 pm

Hello David,

Thanks for the compliment. I was at a proper distance and on some of them I think I was in my studio which is acoustically treated. Sound blankets + 2'x4' sheets of acoutic foam and C-stands can help a lot.

Regards,

Ty Ford



Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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