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EXPENSIVE Microphone being used on a PC has low output!!!??!!?? Audacity

Posted on 2016-10-19
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Last Modified: 2016-10-21
I have this expensive professional mic which I plugged into my pc (after purchasing an XLR to mini adapter) and found that the input level was really low.  the mic has a battery so I replaced the battery.  Same thing.  Low level.  My meter on Audacity shows that my voice is registering like mad.  all over the place.  however, when I examine the actual recorded waveform on the audacity screen, it's miniscule. even though when I'm recording the audacity signal meter is jumping substantially.
My audacity mic levels are all the way up yet its still low
Is there something else I should be adjusting?
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Question by:brothertruffle880
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Expert Comment

by:Dr. Klahn
ID: 41851258
There are at least two recording levels involved here, possibly more.

  • The Windows microphone input level
  • The Audacity microphone recording level
  • The Audacity overall recording level

From the description, the microphone levels appear to be satisfactory.  Since the output level is too low, the Audacity overall recording level is probably set too low.
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by:
garycase earned 250 total points
ID: 41851299
It may just be that you need to adjust the levels, as noted above, or you may have a very high quality microphone that requires a pre-amp to use at PC-level inputs.

This is a superb pre-amp for high quality mics:
https://www.amazon.com/Focusrite-Scarlett-Solo-GENERATION-Interface/dp/B00MTXU2DG

I have a friend who uses this pre-amp with a Shure SM7B microphone, and it gives AWESOME results.
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Assisted Solution

by:Dave Baldwin
Dave Baldwin earned 125 total points
ID: 41851337
As Gary recommended, you need a good mic preamp to go with your microphone.  There is very little good about normal PC microphone inputs.
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by:dbrunton
ID: 41851359
What are you plugging the microphone into?  The Mic input or the Input socket.
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Assisted Solution

by:Dave Baldwin
Dave Baldwin earned 125 total points
ID: 41851387
As someone who has been involved in designing professional audio equipment for over 30 years including every conceivable kind of mic preamp, I can tell you that you can not successfully connect a decent microphone directly into a standard PC audio input.  USB audio interfaces are the way to go unless you can afford a more expensive Firewire interface.  Gary's suggestion is good.  Here is one that is even cheaper but far better than any standard PC audio connection.

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/UM2usb
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Assisted Solution

by:nobus
nobus earned 125 total points
ID: 41851549
what microphone model are you talking about?
normally, the mike output is at a2-10 mV level, while the PC input needs about 500mV
so yes - you probably need an amplifier
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Author Comment

by:brothertruffle880
ID: 41854598
Hi nobus and Dave and everyone:
Both of these mics are generating low levels on Audacity.
I'm thinking I definitely need a pre-amp although I had no idea I needed one prior to purchasing these mics.
I also use the mics for my digital video camera.

I have a Sennheiser MKE600 with battery.


I also have a Audio Technica M8000
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Expert Comment

by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 41854667
You're probably seeing more noise than signal.  If you look on Musician's Friend or Amazon, all of the home recording setups use USB connected preamps and mixers.  The built-in PC audio is barely adequate for dictation with cheap electret mics which was it's original use.
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Expert Comment

by:garycase
ID: 41854680
With high quality microphones like that, you absolutely need a good preamp.   The one I suggested earlier is a VERY good unit (and what I'd buy),  but even the inexpensive amp Dave Baldwin linked to will work MUCH better than your PC input.
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Author Comment

by:brothertruffle880
ID: 41854762
Thank you all for very useful data on my question.  WOW! Like a college seminar on audio.
Well...
I went to Guitar Center to purchase the $29 pre-amp mentioned by Dave (above)
BTW, that particular model was VERY highly recommended by the store staff
BUT .....I got to thinking.  hmmmmmm.
I need an input for my keyboard or maybe a guitar.  
So I said "F#$k it!" I wound up purchasing the Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 for $200. The brand recommended by Gary.  I really couldn't afford it given my current crap income. B, but it's better to have the functionality and not need it than to need the functionality and not have it. PLUS --get this-- it comes with a lite version of Ableton live.  An app I wanted to get my hands on for a while. So, that also pushed me over the edge to purchase it.
I'm in debt again but I've got the audio resources to get jobs done now.
Thanks again to everyone for the data. Have a great weekend.
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Author Closing Comment

by:brothertruffle880
ID: 41854765
Thanks to all.
Have a great weekend.
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Expert Comment

by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 41854839
You're welcome, have fun recording!
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Expert Comment

by:garycase
ID: 41854845
"... it's better to have the functionality and not need it than to need the functionality and not have it ..."  ==>  That is OH SO TRUE with oh so many products.    And I've far more than I like to think about for exactly that reason !!    But in general, I've always been glad I had the higher-end product ... the cost difference rapidly fades with time, but you never get tired of the better capabilities of the higher end products.
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