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Voice recording quality
322
post Dec 6 2013, 15:15
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For two years I’ve been using an on-board "Realtek High Definition Audio" card offering a decent sound reproduction quality. Yesterday I tried to record my voice for language teaching purposes and was terrified: interference made at least 40% of the recording. Besides a constant annoying hiss, a random humming appears too – the latter cannot be handled even by Audacity. And using Audacity’s noise reduction feature considerably damages final recording result.

To a lesser extent I had a similar problem with my previous PCI "Creative Audigy II" card. I assume this is because interference inside the PC case. If my theory is correct, an external sound card, like USB, would be a better option.

Can anyone confirm that USB audio cards actually produce less noise while recording?
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mixminus1
post Dec 6 2013, 15:44
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What's the microphone?


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"Not sure what the question is, but the answer is probably no."
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322
post Dec 6 2013, 17:15
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The microphone is old and cheap (Vivanco DM10). I experimented a bit and found out that plugging in a simple audio cable to the microphone jack and nothing in the other end (as well as simply switching the mic off) produces the same pure horrible noise.

The other problem is that windows "mic boost" function severaly damages the recording quality, but without it not much can be heard. Plugging the other end of the audio cable into the highest fidelity source I have (a laptop) makes a pretty clean sound, but silence is not perfectly pure.

So are there any specific parameters I should look for choosing a microphone so that it impedes the production of excessive noise?

This post has been edited by 322: Dec 6 2013, 17:39
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Brand
post Dec 6 2013, 18:19
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Did you try to use the line in instead of the mic in, or vice versa?
I see that your mic is dynamic, so not like a typical PC mic (electret condenser).

Try some different combinations to pinpoint the main cause.

QUOTE (322 @ Dec 6 2013, 15:15) *
Can anyone confirm that USB audio cards actually produce less noise while recording?

Maybe in theory, but in practice I've seen USB soundcards with crappy performance and PCI/PCIe with excellent performance, so... in any case look for some reviews first.
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322
post Dec 6 2013, 19:28
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QUOTE (Brand @ Dec 6 2013, 19:19) *
Did you try to use the line in instead of the mic in, or vice versa?
I see that your mic is dynamic, so not like a typical PC mic (electret condenser).

Try some different combinations to pinpoint the main cause.

QUOTE (322 @ Dec 6 2013, 15:15) *
Can anyone confirm that USB audio cards actually produce less noise while recording?

Maybe in theory, but in practice I've seen USB soundcards with crappy performance and PCI/PCIe with excellent performance, so... in any case look for some reviews first.


Plugging the mic into the line in barely records any sound, as there is no "mic boost" function. Using the "Normalize" function in Audacity and amplifying the wave hundreds of times, I get the same noise as with the microphone jack.

The main cause, I believe, is the "mic boost" function. It produces random and very annoing electrostatic noise, but without it not much can be recorded. As I mentioned earlier, the laptop audio out→desktop microphone (or line in) connection gives very good results, but only because it’s strongly amplified by the source, so no "mic boost" needed, and the "silence" noise is only heard at the loudest speaker volume.

Speaking about soundcards in general, even the cheapest ones can provide decent quality sound output. I recently built a very PC to a friend with everything integrated, and the sound was totally fine – high quality and no static interference, provided good speakers are used.

Sound capture is a different story.
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322
post Dec 6 2013, 22:03
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So it appears that 3.5 mm connector dynamic microphones, even the most expensive ones, are completely useless with PC equipment. Unless, of course, there is preamplifier involved, costing hundreds and not included with most handheld mics. The least expensive option, it seems, is to go for a USB microphone, since it must include a preamplifier to be usable.
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DVDdoug
post Dec 6 2013, 22:28
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The only way to know if the problem is your soundcard or the microphone is to try a different on or the other. If you have access to another computer, you can try it.

If you need to get a new microphone, a USB mic will bypass your soundcard to solve either problem.

If you want to get nearly professional quality, you can get a microphone like one of these.

Or, if you want to use a good quality analog performance or studio microphone, you can get a USB audio interface with a built-in mic preamp and XLR connectors like this or this.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Dec 7 2013, 00:15
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QUOTE (322 @ Dec 6 2013, 16:03) *
So it appears that 3.5 mm connector dynamic microphones, even the most expensive ones, are completely useless with PC equipment. Unless, of course, there is preamplifier involved, costing hundreds and not included with most handheld mics. The least expensive option, it seems, is to go for a USB microphone, since it must include a preamplifier to be usable.


Not so. There is a lot of variation in the circuitry that the 3.5 mm jack connects to, and there is a lot of variation in the mics that have 3.5 mm jacks.

I have a 3.5 mm mic that is a calibration mic for an AVR. Far from being expensive, it is an OK omni electret microphone that you can buy as many of as you want for about $20 each on eBay.

Plug it into one of my laptops and the recording is strange - pretty flat up to about 4 Khz and brick walled above that. Plug it into a different laptop and viola, a pretty nice, reasonably quiet recording with reasonbly flat response up to about 22 KHz.

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322
post Dec 7 2013, 12:49
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I used my mic on a friends computer with the same integrated Realtek card. No distortion and absolutely no background noise whatsoever.

It is important to note that on my PC even with source devices switched off Audacity’s recording function detects significant background noise.

This post has been edited by 322: Dec 7 2013, 12:51
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AndyH-ha
post Dec 7 2013, 23:51
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The parts for a MB sound system are made to a price point, a very low price point, not to a quality consideration. Today it is relatively easy to manufacture digital audio modules but when low cost is such a major aspect, quality control cannot consume very many resources. It is very likely that some defects get past manufacturer tests, and more likely that some marginal parts deteriorate once in service. Your's may indeed be bad even if the series has reasonable specifications.

Another possibility is the sound card's mixer application. Some of them are a little involved. If you have other input or mixing connections open while recording, they will add noise. Everything except the signal you want should be muted.

Professional quality internal audio cards (i.e. PCI/PCIEX are very good). It is the audio design, not the "noisy PC interior") that determines results. As already mention, some USB interfaces are rather noisy, especially those drawing their power from the USB bus. However, interfaces with decent microphone preamps are much easier to find in external (USB or firewire) forms.

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322
post Dec 8 2013, 10:20
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Basically I want a simple, clean voice recording and transmission over the internet (Skype), not for professional use. I’m thinking about either a USB sound card (keeping the current 3.5 mm mic) or a USB microphone.

The soundcard would be this one: http://us.store.creative.com/Creative-Soun.../B0044DEDCA.htm

The mic would be this one: http://www.samsontech.com/samson/products/...icrophones/q1u/

What do you think is better in my case?

This post has been edited by 322: Dec 8 2013, 10:22
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