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View Full Version : Plugging two microphones into a computer?


aaelghat
01-04-2008, 07:13 AM
Hi, I'm looking to make a 30 second radio commercial on the cheap. The spot will have two people talking and what I thought I would do is buy two high-quality headsets, and record straight to my computer using Audacity (a piece of software).

However, my computer only has one mic/line input. Would it work if I got one of those headphone splitters that (let you listen to two headphones from one headphone jack) and used it in reverse? I'd plug both microphones into it, and then I'd plug it into my mic/line in jack?

Thanks in advance.

Mangetout
01-04-2008, 07:23 AM
It would not work very well, I think.

You'd probably be better off either recording it on some other apparatus (such as a minidisc player) that supports stereo microphones, then transferring it, or just getting one good microphone and two sets of separate headphones.

Alternatively, you might be able to add another sound card (even a USB one if your machine is a laptop), but I don't think audacity can record separate tracks from separate sources simultaneously - it would just record the mix.

Mangetout
01-04-2008, 07:26 AM
As another alternative you could record the parts separately, as separate tracks, then edit and mix them in Audacity - even if the actors don't have a great sense of timing, you can correct all of that in the edit.

BJMoose
01-04-2008, 10:33 AM
Gad. It's been ages since I've tried that, but if I recall, it is technically feasible, usually. The main problem is you don't have separate gain control over the mics, so you'll have to position the mics so they produce the same audio level. (Just occured to me: why not just have 'em share one microphone? That's common enough.)

Course, if Audacity will let you manipulate multiple tracks, that would work, too.

Flander
01-04-2008, 10:51 AM
Recording directly to the computer via the built-in inputs will yield passable results as long as you're doing voice. You voice file will be noisy (electronic noise from computer parts in the form of static), your input will be limited in file quality (16 bit/44.1k), and as mentioned, it's VERY difficult, if not impossible, to record two separate tracks simultaneously without a separate audio card.

You're only going to sound as good as the weakest link in the chain. Start with a good microphone and for Og's sake, use a pop filter for voice overs! If you plan on doing more of this work in the future (and maybe getting paid), invest in a decent vocal condensor mic. If this is a one-off project, see if anyone has something you can borrow.

You file quality comes into play when you try to edit. If you are stuck with 16/44.1k recording, see what some modest digital noise reduction will do for you. (it appears Audacity has this feature) (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/about/features). Try to get the best possible takes (no slurring, flubbing, coughing, paper rustling, etc). Leave spaces between lines, you can clean it up later. If you have to cut/splice the conversations together, record multiple instances of each line so you have options for your final cut.

Audacity should let you normalize audio or at least adjust tracks manually to have similar volume throughout your project.

Take your time. Speak slowly and clearly. Have fun.

yoyodyne
01-04-2008, 11:23 AM
Get a small cheap mixer with two mic inputs and feed that to the computer.

Something like this (http://zzounds.com/item--BEHXENYX1002).

Mangetout
01-04-2008, 11:37 AM
Recording directly to the computer via the built-in inputs will yield passable results as long as you're doing voice. You voice file will be noisy (electronic noise from computer parts in the form of static), your input will be limited in file quality (16 bit/44.1k), and as mentioned, it's VERY difficult, if not impossible, to record two separate tracks simultaneously without a separate audio card.

You're only going to sound as good as the weakest link in the chain. Start with a good microphone and for Og's sake, use a pop filter for voice overs! If you plan on doing more of this work in the future (and maybe getting paid), invest in a decent vocal condensor mic. If this is a one-off project, see if anyone has something you can borrow.

You file quality comes into play when you try to edit. If you are stuck with 16/44.1k recording, see what some modest digital noise reduction will do for you. (it appears Audacity has this feature) (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/about/features). Try to get the best possible takes (no slurring, flubbing, coughing, paper rustling, etc). Leave spaces between lines, you can clean it up later. If you have to cut/splice the conversations together, record multiple instances of each line so you have options for your final cut.

Audacity should let you normalize audio or at least adjust tracks manually to have similar volume throughout your project.

Take your time. Speak slowly and clearly. Have fun.Do you think an external recording device to the line-in (rather than Mic) socket would yield better results than direct mic-to-computer? - do you have any suggestions on the best way for an amateur to get the cleanest audio into their computer for editing?

yoyodyne
01-04-2008, 11:39 AM
Note that the mixer above doesn't have phantom power, so if you're going to use condenser mics something like this (http://musiciansfriend.com/product/Peavey-PV6-Mixer?sku=631366) would be better.

yoyodyne
01-04-2008, 11:50 AM
There are many USB (http://musiciansfriend.com/product/MAudio-Fast-Track-Pro-Mobile-USB-Audio-MIDI-Interface?sku=241710) interface (http://musiciansfriend.com/product/Lexicon-Lambda-USB-Audio-Interface?sku=245506) devices (http://musiciansfriend.com/product/Edirol-UA25-USB-Bus-Powered-Stereo-Audio-Interface?sku=705371) available that would give you good quality, but they get more expensive.

Flander
01-04-2008, 01:17 PM
Do you think an external recording device to the line-in (rather than Mic) socket would yield better results than direct mic-to-computer? - do you have any suggestions on the best way for an amateur to get the cleanest audio into their computer for editing?

The built in Line In/Mic sockets are the problem. They will always generate noise. yoyodyne's advise for a USB (or Firewire) devise is best. You can find a full range of products, depending on your price range. The higher the signal to noise ratio, the lower the noise floor, the better.

Clean audio isn't always just in the equipment. Make sure your recording environment is quiet. Microphones pic up EVERYTHING. A/C vents, computer case fans, local busy streets, TV's in another room, and loud neighbors can ruin recordings no matter how expensive your equipment. I did some voice over recording a while ago (I'm an "hobbyist") and did my recording in the garage at night so there was no TV going and a/c noise is lowest there. A make shift recording booth consisting of hanging blankets around me helped deaden ambient echos and reverb. Even then, you have to learn how to speak, sorta. Keep a constant distance to the mic, try to keep an even volume while speaking, and try not to overpower your "p"s and "s"s (this one is tough, but can be mitigated in editing anyway). I recommend having someone else listen while you record to direct you. Another person listening will be able to tell if you rustled the script sheet, wiggled in your chair, whistled and s or slurred a line. Get used to saying the same thing a bunch of times. Once you get your lines recorded, you can begin editing which is the easier, yet more tedious part.

Oh, and like I said, use a wind/pop screen. If you don't have one, stretch some panty hose (or very thing cloth) over a coat hanger and place between you and the mic.

Oh, and have fun recording. Your voice sounds better when you're having fun (seriously).

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