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I am certainly no techno-genius.  A few Christmases ago, my husband purchased a headphone and microphone combination for me as a gift (JVC HA-RX300 headphones and CAD u37 Micorphone).  It came with only the instruction to put together the, oh...what do that call that thingy?  The spit shield, the plosive softener?  Anyway...after much messing around with the computer to have it recognize the new device (and learning to plug the microphone into the back jack, not the front, we finally got the two to work at the same time.  So now I have recording ability, but I must go through Audacity.  I loaded Audacity onto my computer back a few years ago when I took the PP songwriting course, but used it only for the requirements of the class with no fancy modifications and don't know what all those numbers and adjustments are.

 

I finally figured some things out playing around with it.  One of the things I would like to learn is in regard to vocals.  I did a sample vocal on it and when my voice gets loud, it has a sort of buzzing or vibration with it.  I am sure there is a way to fix that, but I don't know what it is.  I'm not even sure I have it properly labeled as reverb, else I'd google it.

 

My stand-by has been a Sony IC recorder, which I love, but lately I've had some collabs where its been requested I send vocals only and the way in which I've used the Sony recorder is to record my vocals along with the music, forcing me to experiment with this new set-up and Audacity.  Any help and suggestions are welcome.  Be aware that my computer language and such is pretty limited.

 

 

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Plaid - if you are serious about recording vocals, you would be better purchasing an interface. They come in all different sizes and prices, but you plug the microphone into the interface and the interface into the computer. This helps you monitor the gain level (i.e. Loudness levels), which could maybe be one of the reasons buzzing and vibration sound.

 

Audacity is fine for vocals, but if you ever decide to go further, then I would certainly look at a proper DAW.

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2 minutes ago, Richard Tracey said:

Plaid - if you are serious about recording vocals, you would be better purchasing an interface. They come in all different sizes and prices, but you plug the microphone into the interface and the interface into the computer. This helps you monitor the gain level (i.e. Loudness levels), which could maybe be one of the reasons buzzing and vibration sound.

 

Audacity is fine for vocals, but if you ever decide to go further, then I would certainly look at a proper DAW.

Thanks Richard Tracey!  I have to ask you a few questions--you're going to get an idea how deficient I am with technology.  I have never sat down at a computer to watch someone use an interface as it relates to music (I had to look up what it meant in computer terms).  If I were to purchase one, are they standard for say...Windows 7? Do I need to account for the headphones and microphone version I'm using or is that standard? Are they user friendly? (I need user friendly)?  Does it do other things besides monitor the gain level?  Are DAW and interface the same thing? and What is the lower level price range (to get an idea)? and where do you recommend to go to purchase one?  

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7 minutes ago, Pahchisme Plaid said:

Thanks Richard Tracey!  I have to ask you a few questions--you're going to get an idea how deficient I am with technology.  I have never sat down at a computer to watch someone use an interface as it relates to music (I had to look up what it meant in computer terms).  If I were to purchase one, are they standard for say...Windows 7? Do I need to account for the headphones and microphone version I'm using or is that standard? Are they user friendly? (I need user friendly)?  Does it do other things besides monitor the gain level?  Are DAW and interface the same thing? and What is the lower level price range (to get an idea)? and where do you recommend to go to purchase one?  

 

The best thing to do if you want to purchase one, is visit a local music store, as they will be able to advise which interface would work with Windows 7. I think most should as they have been out for a while, with just small updates, but I use the Mac, so wouldn't want to give you the wrong information.

 

A good price range would be anywhere from around £80 to £120 for a decent one that would last years. I have had my current interface since 2013 - it is a Focusrite 2i2 (this means I can plug in 2 ports and get 2 out) - and I think it cost about £120 then (it is cheaper now). This is a good interface and I know there are a couple of members on this site have the same one.

 

It also depends on which microphone you have and how it plugs into your PC. A good microphone will have an XLR cable - one end plugs into the microphone and the other direct into the interface. This would be the same set up as they have in big studios (only they will use more expensive gear). The headphones will also plug into the jack in the interface and you can adjust the volume level on the interface.

 

To be honest, I didn't have a clue what to do with an interface when I purchased mine. 5 minutes later I was flying. They are very simple to use.

 

A DAW is a Digital Audio Workstation - this is a program that musicians or music creators use to make a song. They normally come bundled with lots of different instruments ('digital versions) and you can play them on a keyboard. The interface would be recognised by the DAW and anything you record into the microphone would record into, e.g. an audio track.

 

Hope this helps. Other members might be able to provide more information to help, especially the ones based in the US.

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30 minutes ago, Richard Tracey said:

A good price range would be anywhere from around £80 to £120 for a decent one that would last years. I have had my current interface since 2013 - it is a Focusrite 2i2 (this means I can plug in 2 ports and get 2 out) - and I think it cost about £120 then (it is cheaper now). This is a good interface and I know there are a couple of members on this site have the same one.

For an idea of how that translates into American Dollars, I looked it up--Its $100 to $150, (in case anyone else wanted to know).

To recap your answers:

A recommendation would be - Focusrite 2i2

Cost of Focusrite - Average American Dollars $150.

 

Question:  Does the XLR cable come with the Focusrite or is it a separate purchase?

I have a chord that has both the end that goes into the microphone and the end that goes into the computer jack, but there is a possibility that the interface end will not be the same as the computer jack?

 

30 minutes ago, Richard Tracey said:

 

To be honest, I didn't have a clue what to do with an interface when I purchased mine. 5 minutes later I was flying. They are very simple to use

This is very encouraging!  Thanks for adding that.

 

30 minutes ago, Richard Tracey said:

A DAW is a Digital Audio Workstation - this is a program that musicians or music creators use to make a song. They normally come bundled with lots of different instruments ('digital versions) and you can play them on a keyboard. The interface would be recognised by the DAW and anything you record into the microphone would record into, e.g. an audio track.

I think I'll wait on this until I've worked with an interface for awhile, but definitely something I will want to revisit in the future!  Thanks for such detailed information on all of this.  You explained it very well!  Much appreciated, Richard Tracey!

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5 minutes ago, Pahchisme Plaid said:

 

For an idea of how that translates into American Dollars, I looked it up--Its $100 to $150, (in case anyone else wanted to know).

 

That sounds about bout right to me, especially given the pound against the dollar !!!

 

5 minutes ago, Pahchisme Plaid said:

 

 

 

To recap your answers:

A recommendation would be - Focusrite 2i2

Cost of Focusrite - Average American Dollars $150.

 

It depends on where you get it from, but it might be about that or cheaper.

 

5 minutes ago, Pahchisme Plaid said:

 

Question:  Does the XLR cable come with the Focusrite or is it a separate purchase?

 

You normally have to buy the cable separate, but they cost a couple of dollars normally.

 

5 minutes ago, Pahchisme Plaid said:

I have a chord that has both the end that goes into the microphone and the end that goes into the computer jack, but there is a possibility that the interface end will not be the same as the computer jack?

 

It sounds like this may not be suitable, but without knowing which microphone you have I couldn't say.

 

5 minutes ago, Pahchisme Plaid said:

 

This is very encouraging!  Thanks for adding that.

 

I think I'll wait on this until I've worked with an interface for awhile, but definitely something I will want to revisit in the future!  Thanks for such detailed information on all of this.  You explained it very well!  Much appreciated, Richard Tracey!

 

No problem.

 

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9 minutes ago, HoboSage said:

Your USB mic doesn't need an interface.  If all you're recording right now are vocals and acoustic instruments you would mic, then right now you don't need an interface.  If your vocal tracks end up distorting when you sing louder, it's because the input signal there was too "hot."  You need to have the input level of the mic set at a reasonable level that doesn't peak over 0 db when you sing your loudest, and you need to back further away from the mic when you sing louder to present the mic with the best overall even sound level coming from your voice.

I have a few questions for you as it relates to this, HoboSage...

* I have to ask what you mean by "hot".  I've not heard that term used in this context yet.  

*Also, the CAD u37 microphone has two switches--I wish it came with a manual because I'm not sure what they're for.  One has a setting of 0 (zero) on one side of the switch, the other -10 on the other.

 

 There is a switch under that with a straight horizontal line on one side of the switch and a gun-shaped line on the other side of the switch.  

*Do either of those have anything to do with input level?  There isn't any slide or rotary-type thing at all on the microphone.  

Or is the input level (I'm trying to remember) adjusted in the audacity program?

* If so, would you have some sort of guideline as to what those numbers might look like (reasonable levels)?  This is so not my language--those numbers look like Chinese to me.

*How do I know where my decibel level lands?  Does this show in Audacity somewhere? (I have lots more exploring to do as I get this information)

* What would you say is a good distance to sing "normal" into the mic?  And...

* What extra distance would you add when I sing my loudest (or even not quite my loudest, but loud?)

 

Thanks HoboSage, I probably should learn to use the equipment I have before buying anything else!

 

  

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"hot" simply means that the gain is set too high - therefore it's going to peak/clip/distort whenever your singing gets too loud for audacity. You need to learn to set the gain/volume of the microphone to such a level that it can pick up the quiet parts of your vocals but not peak/clip/distort when you sing the more powerful vocal parts. Hope that makes sense. Also, just as a bit of input - audacity is a great programme for audio editing but it's not the greatest for music producers. Maybe look into getting a different programme. I know macs come with garageband which would work well for your skill level but I don't know much about programmes for PC!

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Thanks AprilAudio :)  Sometimes I can benefit from that (I do search a lot of "How to's" on Youtube and google), but sometimes not being familiar with the terms and being fearful of doing some permanent damage to the setup makes me a little shy of following through with some of them.  I do sometimes follow through while holding my breath and breath a deep sigh of relief if no damage is incurred.  I miss the days of hard copy manuals where I can highlight, make notes, etc.

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39 minutes ago, AprilAudio said:

 

"hot" simply means that the gain is set too high - therefore it's going to peak/clip/distort whenever your singing gets too loud for audacity. You need to learn to set the gain/volume of the microphone to such a level that it can pick up the quiet parts of your vocals but not peak/clip/distort when you sing the more powerful vocal parts. Hope that makes sense. Also, just as a bit of input - audacity is a great programme for audio editing but it's not the greatest for music producers. Maybe look into getting a different programme. I know macs come with garageband which would work well for your skill level but I don't know much about programmes for PC!

 

I'm not so sure the mic itself has a setting for the gain.  

1 hour ago, Pahchisme Plaid said:

the CAD u37 microphone has two switches--I wish it came with a manual because I'm not sure what they're for.  One has a setting of 0 (zero) on one side of the switch, the other -10 on the other.

 

 There is a switch under that with a straight horizontal line on one side of the switch and a gun-shaped line on the other side of the switch.  

*Do either of those have anything to do with input level?  There isn't any slide or rotary-type thing at all on the microphone.  

Or is the input level (I'm trying to remember) adjusted in the audacity program?

Regarding Garageband:  My kiddos had Macs to use while in school and I only got a "taste" of that program, but it does seem much more user-friendly than Audacity (for my level anyway).  I don't have a Mac, but my oldest is keeping an eye out for me for an inexpensive second-hand one.  I like some of the features on a Mac, but it will take some getting used to as I have always used others.  Right now, I think I'm pretty far from a full production of my music (Re: audio editing and music producers)--I have a gazillion things to learn, but writing is my passion, so I write regardless of my ability to move into that quickly. it would be nice to hear a beautiful production, but  I figure there's no rush.  Thanks, AprilAudio!  This is all great and helpful information, whether I use it now or at a later date.

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Thank you, HoboSage.  After reading this, I'm pretty sure something must not be right with the set up because I am unable to hear my voice in the mic when I sing (and I find the volume through the headphones to cap out and won't go louder). So it's really hard to get an idea what my voice sounds like while I'm recording.  I know with previous attempts in set up, I was able to hear my voice through the mic without the headphones and through the headphones clearly when they were hooked up.  Unfortunately, it's a shared computer that my husband has reign over after he gets home from work, so my mic stand and headset get disconnected and moved to the other room when I'm not using it, so it's been an experiment every time and I don't have it set up right now.  Two more days and I should have a decent chunk of time to try out these suggestions here.

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