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Microphone too quiet...

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I needed a microphone for recording sound effects for games. Not knowing much about microphone equipment, I searched the internet for computer microphones. The only mics I found were intended for low-quality "voice chat," etc. I wanted a higher quality mic, so I searched for professional recording microphones. I picked up a NADY Starpower SP-1 for fairly cheap, and it's supposed to be a good microphone (although it has no built-in amp). I also bought the Monster "iStudioLink" cable, so I could connect the microphone to the computer. My problem now is that the microphone is way too quiet. When I plug it into my computer, it's borderline inaudible. At first I thought it wasn't working at all, but when I increase the volume of a recorded "Testing 123" by 1000%, I can make out the syllables over all the white noise that comes from increasing the volume so much. This still happens after I cranked up all the Windows settings and checked the "add 20dB" box or whatever it was in the microphone properties. I have another computer on which the microphone works slightly better (although it's still very quiet). But that computer's dying and I don't want to use it anymore. Besides, when I go off to college, this is the only computer I'll have :) This makes me wonder if the problem is the computer's fault, though. Is there anyone here who knows anything about microphones? What would be the best solution to my problem? If I need to buy something else, I have four options: -Buy some kind of microphone amplifier that will work even with the special "iStudioLink" cable (but I don't know what to look for in a microphone amp --- any recommendations?) -Buy a new microphone with a built-in amp (seems like the best option to me) -Buy a new cable (although iStudioLink is the only one I found that goes from microphone to computer) -Buy a computer microphone (even though I didn't find a single high-quality one while searching on the internet) I'm really hesitant to decide what to do, because if I have to pay for another piece of hardware that doesn't work how I want it to, I'll be pissed to no end ;) Thanks for any helps! :D

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Fist of all the mic you got is mainly for stage use PA.

Now there are allot of different recording microphones, Now there are two main types of microphones Dynamic which requires no phantom power (48v or Batter) and there is Condensers which do need phantom power.
In your case you want to record just sound effects yes? Well I recommend getting a location & Studio microphone which are Condenser (phantom powered).

Here is a list of mic I use(d) for sound effects recording.




NT4 (my favorite microphone)

Note: you don't have to use Rode there are other brands out there I'm just giving a general idea what to go for.

Now you going to have to give these microphones a 48v per amp (phantom power).
you can spend as little as 30 dollars to 6000 dollars on a per amp. You can go for the stand alone unite or a mixer with 48v per amp.

These are cheap but still sound great.


Now I'm guessing you want to run into your sound cards 3.5mm jack input,
Well you can by all sorts of adapters from your local electronic store
You going to need XLR to Jack to 3.5mm .... just ask the people there they will help you out.

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Thank you Palko! You sound like you know your stuff! :)

I am thinking that it might be best to get a microphone that can power itself... but I don't know what search terms to use to find microphones like this.

The Rode M3 says that it can be "powered via a 9V battery." Does this mean it doesn't need an amp if you put batteries in it? I was hoping to get something a little cheaper (e.g. <$100) than the microphones you listed... do you know of anything cheaper? I'm basically looking for an "entry level" recording microphone here. ^_^

Also, what's the difference between a condenser and a dynamic microphone?

Also, do all dynamic microphones not need phantom power? I think the microphone I have is supposed to be "dynamic," but it seems to need to be amplified somehow...

Also, is phantom power the same as an amplifier??

[Edited by - UltimateWalrus on July 17, 2007 6:50:12 PM]

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This is a cheap one, but it is still requires v48, you can find them in most electronic stores.

But all on all if you want a good recording you want a good mic, its a price you have to pay for good audio.

Have you ever thought about getting a field recorder with Built in mic?
Like Zoom H4? they are great for sound effects and location work, and they are petty good value for money too, easy to use.


========= Dynamic and Condenser ===========================================

The terms dynamic and condenser refer to the two most common forms of professional microphones. They refer to the method in which the microphone generates an electrical signal. The dynamic (moving-coil) microphone operates by electromagnetic induction to generate an output signal voltage. It is like a miniature loudspeaker working in reverse. The diaphragm is attached to a coil of fine wire. The coil is mounted in the air gap of the magnet such that it is free to move back and forth within the gap. When the sound wave strikes the diaphragm, the diaphragm vibrates in response. The coil attached to the diaphragm moves back and forth in the field of the magnet. As the coil moves through the lines of magnetic force in the gap, a small electrical current is induced in the wire. The magnitude and direction of that current is directly related to the motion of the coil, and the current then is an electrical representation of the sound wave. One of the major drawbacks of the dynamic microphone relates to the mass of its moving coil. Due to this mass, the dynamic mic has a relatively poor transient response, and is less sensitive on the average than the condenser mic.

The other major microphone type is the condenser. The diaphragm of a condenser microphone is a very thin plastic film, coated on one side with gold or nickel, and mounted very close to a conductive stationary back plate. A polarizing voltage is applied to the diaphragm by an external power supply (battery or phantom power) or by the charge on an electret material in the diaphragm or on the backplate charging it with a fixed static voltage. All Crown mics are the electret condenser type.

The diaphragm and back plate, separated by a small volume of air, form an electrical component called a capacitor (or condenser). The capacitance between these two plates varies as the freely suspended diaphragm is displaced by the sound wave. When the diaphragm vibrates in response to a sound, it moves closer to and farther away from the back plate. As it does so, the electrical charge that it induces in the back plate changes proportionally. The fluctuating voltage on the back plate is therefore an electrical representation of the diaphragm motion.

Because the diaphragm of the condenser is not loaded down with the mass of a coil, it can respond very quickly to transients. Also, the condenser capsule can be made very small. Condensers generally have excellent sonic characteristics, and are widely used in high-quality professional microphones in sound reinforcement, measurement and recording.

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Thanks again for your help. If I start making professional games someday (which I would like to do), I will probably invest in a good condenser mic or a field recorder. However, right now, I just need to record decent sound for my amateur-ish games. I am thinking of buying this microphone preamp:


It says that it has a "+20dB gain boost for mics," which should make my current dynamic microphone work, as well as "+48v phantom power," which I could use to power a condenser mic if I get one in the future.

Am I right in assuming that this preamp would amplify signals from dynamic mics as well as being able to power condenser mics?

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