Author Topic: Suck at Recording... Audacity Content  (Read 1474 times)

pryde

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Suck at Recording... Audacity Content
« on: April 23, 2015, 05:43:21 PM »
So I only have a Shure SM57 and Shure x2u to record straight to my computer using Audacity. I know by most standards this is pretty much crap but I have heard decent recordings around the webz with this basic equipment.

This is mainly concerning recording acoustic guitar right into the mic. The unedited recording is terrible: low volume and a lot of hiss no matter what I do. In Audacity I amplify it, then compress, then noise removal which doesn't help much. The noise removal tool weirdly makes the hiss "intermittent" which you can clearly hear as the track is playing through (listen to demo). Is it just the dynamic mic and cheap interface?

What are folks using (and doing) that doesn't break the bank to get fair recordings for demos and such? Thanks.





midwayfair

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Re: Suck at Recording... Audacity Content
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2015, 06:26:40 PM »
I really like my Scarlett 18i8. If you're only going to record two things at once, their 2i2 can be had for under $100 used easily. There are other similar products that are very good. Presonus makes one that gets similar high marks. I just really like the pre amps in the Scarlett.

There are a few things going on here:

1) Your soundcard uses op amps. Op amps hiss more than discrete components, because there are more active components, and because the transistors in the op amps themselves are physically different in a way that doesn't help with noise. This is the big one. An actual recording console will be a dedicated tool for recording and be designed to have less self noise.

2) Converters seem to make a small difference in hiss.

3) Sometimes the software can contribute, but Audacity is very good. I don't know what changing to something different would get you; I haven't been able to directly compare Audacity to Logic, but I can tell you that using the same equipment into Logic produces a cleaner, clearer, lower noise track than into GarageBand. So there must be something happening in the software before plugins get involved.

There may be something in the chain that has poor signal:noise ratio, but your 57 isn't it. It's quite literally the most popular studio microphone in the world at every level.
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pryde

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Re: Suck at Recording... Audacity Content
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2015, 06:48:22 PM »
Thanks Jon I will look into the Scarlett options. So the computer soundcard is a problem as well then?

AntKnee

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Re: Suck at Recording... Audacity Content
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2015, 08:07:16 PM »
Def get a decent usb interface with preamps. Recording through a sound card is not ideal for your application.
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pryde

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Re: Suck at Recording... Audacity Content
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2015, 08:33:17 PM »
Def get a decent usb interface with preamps. Recording through a sound card is not ideal for your application.

So educate me the difference between my current Shure x2u and say the Scarlett 2i2 device? Aren't they both an interface to hook my SM57 up to my computer? Would they both not still use the soundcard somehow?

Sorry I know jack-$hite about this stuff  :)
 

selfdestroyer

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Re: Suck at Recording... Audacity Content
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2015, 08:49:35 PM »
Def get a decent usb interface with preamps. Recording through a sound card is not ideal for your application.

So educate me the difference between my current Shure x2u and say the Scarlett 2i2 device? Aren't they both an interface to hook my SM57 up to my computer? Would they both not still use the soundcard somehow?

Sorry I know jack-$hite about this stuff  :)

With the Shure x2u you are using it as a USB audio interface for an input and then playback from audacity would use your internal soundcard for output. If you had a interface that has both ins and outs then you would not use your internal soundcard for anything. This is ideal for latency issues and frees up some CPU/memory usage in some cases when not routing through your internal soundcard.

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oldhousescott

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Re: Suck at Recording... Audacity Content
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2015, 09:26:31 PM »
Yes, your x2u is a type of interface, and it doesn't need your soundcard for recording. Not sure how you are monitoring back though. It looks like there is a headphone jack on the x2u. Are you using that, or your soundcard for monitoring and playback?

SM57 would not be my first choice of mic I would use for acoustic guitar, unless you were going for a tough, strumming tone. I would look into a pencil condenser, probably one of the cheaper chinese units available like the CAD GXL1200. You'll get much more gain and clarity out of it (and probably hear a lot of sounds in your recording environment that you don't usually notice).

If you don't have an acoustically treated room, you can at least create a somewhat deadened recording zone by hanging up quilts or blankets either directly on the walls, or stretched over mic stands around the periphery. It's easier to add "room" to your sound via reverb plugins, than trying to take the "room" out of your recording.

ar

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Re: Suck at Recording... Audacity Content
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2015, 09:48:35 PM »
I love my Scarlett 2i2, has really made my recordings top notch, or at least much closer to my ideal. I mostly use it with live now, but I used to use audacity, and sometimes still do. I recently discovered the quality difference between 48 and 96khz is really really apparent, so much so, that anything I recorded at the lower rate seems awful. If I recall audacity defaults to a lower quality I believe.
Something to look at.

Vallhagen

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Re: Suck at Recording... Audacity Content
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2015, 11:50:46 PM »
I refuse to beleive that there is something "wrong" or bad with your hardware at all. As long as its matched (mic level output into mic level input etc) it's all good enough.

Shure SM57 is a good mic, though im not sure its the best (but again, not bad!) choice for recording acoustic guitar, as it is extremely directional. You can get a decent condenser mic (some 100USD) to play with. It will require phantom power (another 100USD, see hints earlier in thread) though.

But before you buy new gear: Generally, mic placement means a LOT. I dont know how you placed the SM57, but  aim at 12th fret and go CLOSE to the instrument for a start! Play with microphone angle too. The mentioned condenser picks up more so you can back off a bit and get some room into the recording.

The software used means nothing in quality. Every software today can do everything.

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raulduke

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Re: Suck at Recording... Audacity Content
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2015, 01:33:00 AM »
Are you setting the gain of the preamp correctly?

Set it so it is just below clipping (monitor the level in audacity).

Setting the gain really low could result in what you are describing.

pryde

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Re: Suck at Recording... Audacity Content
« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2015, 05:11:25 AM »
Thanks everyone. I am setting it up correctly for gain/clipping using audacity monitor. I had the mic positioned at 12th fret and as close as possible.

raulduke

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Re: Suck at Recording... Audacity Content
« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2015, 08:56:39 AM »
It might be worth trying a more sensitive (ie. condenser) microphone.

Dynamic microphones have an inherently higher noise floor than condensers, and are not the best choice for low volume instruments. They will need a fair bit of gain from the preamp to get up to adequate line level.

If you are fingerpicking your acoustic guitar at low volume, with the preamp gain on the Shure USB device at full whack, in combination with the noise from the mic this could result in a recording with a bit of hiss going on.

The converters on the Shure are also 16 bit, which will have a higher noise floor than 24 bit.

All these factors could be contributing to a noisy recording.

I'd see if you can get hold of a different microphone to try out. At least then you will be able to identify where the problem/source of noise lies.

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Re: Suck at Recording... Audacity Content
« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2015, 09:25:43 AM »
Later releases of audacity were notorious for hiss but work in a pinch. I have a small recorder like the zoom hd7 I believe it is, works great and you can plug it in to a pc. Not fabulous, but it works. I use a FireWire rack mount unit, it was cheap at 179 probably an investment down the road though.


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