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usb condenser mic v.s. phantom powered condenser mic

singerboy1

Hi all,
I'm kinda new to the whole home recording thing. I use to go to the studio a lot but its very costly. I do pop and RnB music and I am working on building a home studio.It's not a fancy set up but I have an Imac 24", M-audio BX5a deluxe Powered studio monitors, yamaha ypg keyboard, Reason 4 with a whole bunch of extra sounds, and garage band that came with the mac on iLife.
I would like to later on upgrade to logic pro 8 and i would like to buy a nice mic, audio interface and reflexion screen but the issue is the money. i currently have a usb mic and i was wondering could i get away with a decent sound recording that i can distribute or should i just save up and get the audio interface and condenser mic?
May 23, 2009 @03:47pm
FLZapped

The latter. You'll eventually be hindered by the USB mic.
-Bruce
May 24, 2009 @12:36pm
singerboy1

hindered in what way?
May 24, 2009 @03:06pm
5454stevef

hindered in what way?

There are a lot of advantages to USB mics, mostly ease of use, you just plug in and they tend to work. That's why they are so popular for podcasting.
But, if you want to move to a more professional setup, eventually you would probably want to go to a standard condenser mic. Here are the drawbacks to usb, off the top of my head:
1. All the ones I've seen where the bitdepth is disclosed are 16-bit; even the nice one AT makes that's based on the 2020 is 16-bit/44.1 Khz. This limits you to sessions at those settings or importing/upsampling your vocal tracks should you move to a higher level DAW product. If you go to a program like Logic you'd surely want to be able to record at 24 bits.
2. The selection is very limited compared to "regular" condenser mics - the chances of finding the perfect match to your application is therefore a lot more limited. And no one that I know of makes a top-line quality mic in a usb version.
3. If your buddy brings over his $3000 whiz-bang preamp, you can't use it.
Similarly, if you want to record on a conventional system using a mixer, etc. you can't use it.
4. You are probably giving up some control over gain staging - it might be controllable thru software that comes with the mic but I doubt it's as effective as what you'd get with a mic/preamp combination.
5. I can't say for sure but I expect a long mic cable is a lot less expensive than a long USB cable, and the technical limit on USB cables is around 5 meters, sometimes less depending upon the device. This really hinders your flexibility when recording instruments.
6. If you progress beyond the one-mic/one-source method of recording, you may still be able to use it in combination with other mics, but it won't be as straightforward.
There are probably others if I thought about it for a while. But the bottom line is, a usb mic is not as good a solution as even a modest cost condenser mic if you have aspirations much beyond your current setup.
SF
May 24, 2009 @05:39pm
singerboy1

thanx for the feedback. ur info is greatly appreciated
May 24, 2009 @06:08pm
FLZapped

There are a lot of advantages to USB mics, mostly ease of use, you just plug in and they tend to work. That's why they are so popular for podcasting.
But, if you want to move to a more professional setup, eventually you would probably want to go to a standard condenser mic. Here are the drawbacks to usb, off the top of my head:
1. All the ones I've seen where the bitdepth is disclosed are 16-bit; even the nice one AT makes that's based on the 2020 is 16-bit/44.1 Khz. This limits you to sessions at those settings or importing/upsampling your vocal tracks should you move to a higher level DAW product. If you go to a program like Logic you'd surely want to be able to record at 24 bits.
2. The selection is very limited compared to "regular" condenser mics - the chances of finding the perfect match to your application is therefore a lot more limited. And no one that I know of makes a top-line quality mic in a usb version.
3. If your buddy brings over his $3000 whiz-bang preamp, you can't use it.
Similarly, if you want to record on a conventional system using a mixer, etc. you can't use it.
4. You are probably giving up some control over gain staging - it might be controllable thru software that comes with the mic but I doubt it's as effective as what you'd get with a mic/preamp combination.
5. I can't say for sure but I expect a long mic cable is a lot less expensive than a long USB cable, and the technical limit on USB cables is around 5 meters, sometimes less depending upon the device. This really hinders your flexibility when recording instruments.
6. If you progress beyond the one-mic/one-source method of recording, you may still be able to use it in combination with other mics, but it won't be as straightforward.
There are probably others if I thought about it for a while. But the bottom line is, a usb mic is not as good a solution as even a modest cost condenser mic if you have aspirations much beyond your current setup.
SF

....beat me to it, but that's okay, you are spot on!
-Bruce
May 25, 2009 @04:44pm
SoloArtist

This was very enlightening! I have the AT2020 USB but haven't used it yet. I'm primarily using it for studio Podcasting, not vocal recordings. I have a stand alone digital recording studio for that.
Would you recommend using some sort of software platform with the AT2020 such as Cake Walk? I believe just plugging it into my laptop, (Windows Home Vista) a pop-up confirms it as a sound device. I'm just going to be talking and perhaps doing a little acoustic guitar work so I don't think I'll need much compression. My podcasts are pretty short.
Thanks!
June 21, 2009 @11:19pm