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synth_cat

what cheap mic to get?

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Hello all - I finally decided to begin adding sound fx to my game. I intend to record all my sounds on my own computer. I hooked up my old, very cheap microphone and attempted to record some things in Windows Sound Recorder. Most of the time nothing got picked up except for moments when a loud, grating crackling would come through. I must assume that this microphone is dead, so I need to get a new one. I still intend to use another "cheap" microphone, because I can't fork out $50-100 for a professional one (though I really wish I could.) But I just wanted to know if anyone out there could tip me off on which would be the best brand/type of microphone to get for under, let's say, $20. Sorry to say, I know virtually nothing of the subject. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! -synth_cat

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If there is a good cheap mic out there anywhere I'd be curious to hear about it, too, but I doubt such a thing exists and unfortunately if you want decent sound quality it's the one thing you can't cut corners on... :(

P.S. I don't know if this link has already been posted in some FAQ here, but it's very educational on the subject: http://www.hibberts.co.uk/recording.htm

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I'd just head to RadioShack and pick up any mic they have under $20. I've never had good luck with any mic that cheap (but especially Logitech).

I'm really not sure there's a whole lot of advice we can give until you start looking at a Shure.

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A year ago a bought a $5 mic from Radio Shack with noise cancelling. My sister has used it to record her singing and it sounds just fine. It's sensitive and it filters noise pretty well. I don't know about sound fx though, but I think a more important detail may be having a controlled sound environment. The best way to ensure that you have zero noise is a silent room.

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Quote:
Original post by T1Oracle
A year ago a bought a $5 mic from Radio Shack with noise cancelling. My sister has used it to record her singing and it sounds just fine. It's sensitive and it filters noise pretty well. I don't know about sound fx though, but I think a more important detail may be having a controlled sound environment. The best way to ensure that you have zero noise is a silent room.


A lot of the effects I'm interested in (and probably most of us) would start from real source sounds, and for that you don't really have much choice over the environment. Maybe you want the particular zinging sound that a support wire makes when you tap it, or the sound of a pile driver or tires squealing or... there are infinitely many possibilities. For most of them we'll have little control over the environment and they'll be hard to record at any decent quality with a cheap mic.

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Well, thanks for all the advice!

I never thought of checking it Radio Shack - it sounds like a good plan.

I want to ask what "type" of microphone to get. What I mean is: do I want to get one of the classic-shaped taking microphones or one of those ringstand mikes that people use for online chatting. Does it matter?

Thanks again!
-synth_cat

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It matters insofaras you need to point it at the thing you're recording. You should also check the pickup pattern of the microphone -- supercardoid is good, omni is bad (for focusing on the sound effect).

Note that a "pro" microphone is $1,000 to $10,000.

The $50-$100 microphones are, at best, "semi-pro" or "home studio" quality. They're a lot better than those cheap intercom mikes you'll find in a Best Buy headset, but they're not what you'd find in a recording studio in L.A. or Nashville...

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but omni sounds more natural when close miking. it's always a question of tradeoffs.

there are quite a few pro microphones that are sub 1000 (for a few examples EV RE-20, Sennheiser MD-421, AKG D-112 and the venerable SM57 which is probably the cheapest mic commonly found in studios) but aside from that I cant recommend anything in the $20 range, there's only low-level consumer gear in that range.

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Guitar Center often has "HOLY CRAP LAST SALE EVER BLOWOUT SALE" or something. You can typically get cheap mics there. I got one of these Sennheiser e815S at one of those sales for like $30.

Here's a Berhringer XM8500 for $20.

How to make a stereo or binaural T style mike for about $10.

Here's a good place to buy mics, and a $10 sale-price microphone.

I hate Radio Shack and will never buy anything from them. YMMV.

Also, Audacity might be easier to use than sound recorder.

Also also, keep in mind that you might need to buy a mic cable with one of those mics. And possibly a 1/4" to 1/8" adapter... :(

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Thanks for those links, Jaymar.

I'm particularly interested in Audacity - something I'd never heard of before. I may be wrong, but does the GNU license allow me to sell the sounds I make without paying royalties/adding captions/whatever?

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Quote:
Original post by synth_cat
Thanks for those links, Jaymar.

I'm particularly interested in Audacity - something I'd never heard of before. I may be wrong, but does the GNU license allow me to sell the sounds I make without paying royalties/adding captions/whatever?


IANAL, but my understanding is that using Audacity as a tool (versus using the source code) has no effect on the license of anything produced with it. In other words, I don't think you have to worry about it.

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Dunno if I'm too late, but:

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/OnStage-Stands-MS7510-Mic-Pro-Pak?sku=270619

$19.99 and you get not only the mic but also a stand with boom and clip, and an XLR cable. Best deal I've ever seen on this kinda thing, mic ain't too bad either.

Only other purchase you'd need is an XLR--->1/4" or 1/8" converter, if you're plugging this directly into your computer. Otherwise you're all set!

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1. Using Audacity is fine. It's released under GNU as opensource. It's basically freeware for now. Whether they change that license or not, whatever you produce with it is your own work. Copyright for your recorded sounds remains with you. There's no license they can make which will prevent that.

2. As far as a cheap mic goes. Something with a wide diaphragm is better than a tiny multimedia microphone. A dynamic mic will be what you're looking for now, but a capacitor mic is better for general use sound recording. They are way more expensive due to circutry and requiring a powersource.

There is nothing I could possibly suggest under $20 since most of my mics cost $300-$2000.

The only thing I did have which was free with my iRiver140 was the little mono microphone. It was barely OK to do recording where I didn't have anything else on me.

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