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Thread: recording volume question

  1. #1
    piobaire is offline Newbie
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    recording volume question

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    Howdy,
    I'm looking for some basic help in recording musical instrument to computer. I'm using a Mad Dog predator 5.1, 6 channel sound card. The mic I'm using is a Sony ECM-MS907. The recording software is the freeware version of Goldwave. For playback I am using a cheap set of powered speakers. My problem is the sound level of the recordings is always weak. I know the speakers are capable of producing loud sounds by playing CDs at top volume. I've worked my way through every corner of Goldwave trying to bring the recording level up. I've also done the same to my computer. I'm running XP with a four year old processor. The hard drive and Ram have been updated recently. I am playing the intrument six inches from the mic. I've used both the 120 and 90 degree options. I always get a very weak recording.
    Is this my sound card? if so what card is recommended for recording musical instruments, something affordable? Is there an option I'm not seeing in Goldwave? Is Goldwave the software to use? By the way the same thing happens when I use MS sound recorder.
    Any help would be most appreciated.
    Kevin Scott
    piobaire

  2. #2
    Massive Master's Avatar
    Massive Master is offline MASSIVE Mastering, LLC
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    I'd get a new card / interface for starters even if you're only "seriously hobbying" with recording...

    Inexpensive and good stuff - www.m-audio.com

    On the volume thing - experience & proper gear (and good mastering ) is really the only way to get it all going. There are some "quick fixes" for sheer volume, but of course, there are better ways (they also come with research and experience). Not too familiar with GoldWave - If I get a chance to research, I will. Otherwise, I hope someone will be able to chime in here...

    You've got a lot of reading and experimenting to do, so I'll let you get to it.

    John Scrip - www.massivemastering.com
    John Scrip - MASSIVE Mastering


    Spoon-feed a newbie the answer and he'll mix for a day --
    Spark his curiosity to find the answer himself and he'll mix for a lifetime...

  3. #3
    ArloLeach is offline Newbie
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    Unhappy low volume here, too

    Hi folks,

    I recently picked up one of the ECM-MS907 after reading all the great reviews on this site and elsewhere. I've always wanted a relatively high-quality, compact, stereo mic to plug into my PowerBook and record rehearsals, music lessons, and maybe a panel discussion here and there. However, I may have to send this mic back because the recording level is extremely low into my computer.

    How low? While trying to record a jam session with another guitarist, I had to stick the mic right against the grille of his 20 watt practice amp, then, after recording, I had to boost the gain by 10,000% to hear anything! Of course, by that time, there was so much electronic noise in the recording, it was barely listenable.

    Another example is recording my own speaking voice. If I put the mic right up to my mouth -- touching my lips -- and speak in a normal voice, I get a recording that peaks at -18 dbs. I've used a variety of other mics with this computer, and I have enough recording experience to know that that's not just a matter of mic positioning or recording settings. There's no way this setup would be useful for recording interviews or lectures or other things that people use this mic for.

    So, we finally get to my question. Do standard minidisc players, which seem to be the most common use for this mic, amplify the signal to make this mic useful? My PowerBook doesn't amplify the signal -- it only works well with line-level devices. I figured that since this was a powered mic (AA battery) it would work fine, but maybe it still needs a boost. Does anyone else use this mic straight into a PowerBook (Ti 15") mic (really line) input, and if so, what results do you get?

    Thanks much,
    -Arlo

  4. #4
    manning1 is offline Banned
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    i dont know that ecm mic at all arlo.
    i think the problem is you arent using a proper mic preamp before
    the powerrbook that boosts the small millivolt mic signals in the ecm.
    what i would look into (and dont buy it till you try it at a retailers by taking your powerbook along) and about the cheapest solution i know with some decent quality is a cheap dynamic 3 pin xlr mic into something like an audiobuddy which feeds the power book.
    if your into diy like i am you could try building a one transistor booster stage out of a 2n2222 transistor and plug the ecm into it.
    this would be only a few bucks to build.
    for higher quality you could look at something like a CAD gxl mic with a little yamaha mg mixer.
    (total around 150 bucks prolly).
    one other idea before you spend big bucks.
    if that ecm has a qtr inch jack male on it(if mini jack try a jack convertor),
    plug into the mic input of an old cassette deck and use the deck to boost the signal going to the sound card. this should work as a cheap solution.
    peace

  5. #5
    ArloLeach is offline Newbie
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    still not sure...

    Thanks for your thoughts, Manning. I'm not using any preamp; I assumed that since this mic takes a battery, I wouldn't need one -- is that a simplistic assumption? Also, I know that this is a popular mic to use with portable minidisc players, but perhaps that's only possible because the MD players contain an integrated preamp for the mic input.

    If anyone knows for sure, please post here! If anyone can recommend a good, compact, stereo mic that I can plug directly into a PowerBook, please post that, too. My "plan B" is to just get a digital USB microphone, which I've used successfully in the past, although the only ones I've seen are mono.

  6. #6
    manning1 is offline Banned
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    arlo - the md players are different circuitry to the powerbook.
    frankly i'm leery of usb solutions.(search under my name for lots of tips posted in the last year).
    the only thing i can think of is contacting sony and asking what preamp they would recommend for interfacing the mic to a powerbook.
    peace.

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