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Trapper Zoid

Buying a microphone?

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I've been thinking about what new toys I need for Christmas to help with game development, and one thing high on my list is a microphone for recording sound effects. However, I know next to nothing about what sort of microphone would be best. I'd really like a good all purpose microphone that I could use for recording sound effects (by banging saucepans together, hitting cabbages with mallets etc.), but also be acceptable for voice work as well (nothing too extensive though; just a couple of small phrases). As for price: I know that microphones range in price and quality from the dirt cheap nasty ones to the ultra-expensive studio ones, but I don't have a huge amount of money to spend on a mike. Given I know very little about microphones, what's the best way I go about aquiring a decent microphone for my needs, and what sort of microphone should I be looking for? Thanks in advance for any advice!

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Hello
this is my 5 cent
try heavy one, directional microphones
with built in amplifier or buy external amp
also buy boom or stand of it
ex: schoeps MK41
AKGc1000
Neumann u-87
sennheiser MKH60


bye

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Sennheiser is nice [smile].

As always, I'll recommend the Shure SM-57 (instrument) or SM-58 (vocal) for pretty much anything. I'd probably say the 57 is more versatile, but they're both incredible. You can pick them up for $99US if you look around.

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The SM57 and 58 are both standard industry mics. You won't be afraid to take them out into the world. Neither require phantom power, so that's good too. Something expensive like a nice AKG C414 is not sooooo expensive but is probably overkill for what you need. A U87 is way overkill for sound-effects, especially if it isn't for Star Wars or something. Stick to a non-phantom power mic. This means you are probably going to be looking for a nice dynamic mic, not a condenser.

In short, start out with a SM57 for recording sound effects. If you get more serious and want to upgrade later, no problem...but you'll always have this trusty standard.

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Price of Mic vs Sound quality is over rated in my opinion, so don't use that as your sole guideline. 50-100 for a Uni-directional is right about where you want to be. spending more than 100 for a microphone is ridiculous unless you have a very specific need (like a shotgun mic). I'd suggest sticking to a regular dynamic mic on a boom like basher suggests. As far as brands go: Meh. Go to a music store and try them all out on your portable unit (you do have a portable unit right? if not I got some suggestions for that too). When you fund the one you like best, set it aside and buy the one you like next best and is 1/2 the price ;)

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Thanks for the advice! I'm not sure I fully understand all of the details yet (I really don't know a lot about sound recording), but I'll have a look at prices for the SM-57. Like I wrote, I'm not really looking for an ultra-quality mike, since that would be wasted with the sort of stuff I want to do (simple sound effects for simple games), so that might be appropriate.

With microphones, how much does your PC sound card affect the quality of the recording? At the moment I've only got an integrated sound card on my motherboard, and I've been thinking I may have to upgrade it.

Any more tips on microphones would be appreciated, as I'm still not very knowledgable about what would be best. Thanks again for everyone who has helped so far!

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Guest Anonymous Poster
So long as its a 16 bit card (heh) you shouldn't have to worry. Most of the onboard stuff today can easily handle the light load (as I see it) you are proposing. Your sample rate, microphone and editing capabilities are going to have more of an effect on your sample quality than your soundcard. I trust you aren't planning on 164 track mixing or anything so grandiose at this stage, so I wouldn't worry too much about your sound card.

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I'd just like to add my 2 cents here ;)

AFAIK onboard soundchips are really crappy when it comes to more than just webcam-conversations.

If you like to do further FX processing with your soundfiles you should find a soundcard that can do 24bit processing.

Also these onboard chips have really cheap amplifiers and huge amounts of noise.

I just bought myself this card for music recording. For the price it's really a blast!

M-Audio Audiophile 24/96

ASIO Drivers
Full duplex 24bit/96kHz sampling
2*Analog in
2*Analog out
SPDIF in/out (digital)
MIDI in/out
--- 129.95$

I really love this card

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Me again heh =)

Also note that there are condenser mics with built-in amps (batteries).
I have no experience with these, however, from my understanding condenser mics give you more response in the high-frequency range. The Shure SM58 is an allrounder most often used on-stage because of its durability.
When we recorded our first demo cd in our bandroom we used nothing but the SM58's. The sound was pretty dull. (however, it could have also been our lack of knowledge in mixing/mastering ;)

Most of the (semi)professional microphones have an XLR plug. So you will need some sort of adapter to connect them to your computer. (XLR-3.5mm mini jack, XLR-Cinch)

EDIT: and probably an external microphone-amplifier

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Stay away from the A/D converters in your computer. Generally, these are noisy and of poor quality. Buy some cheap USB or Firewire A/D converter for your computer and the quality will really bump up. Some of these units also have pre-amplifiers in them, so that can help with your mic input and kill the nead for XLR->TRS adapters.

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