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 Post subject: Sound cards?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 7:38 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2006 12:55 am
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Location: The West
Soon I'll be in the market for a new (desktop) computer, and I'm looking for a good sound card for recording, and stuff. The one I have in my ancient laptop has been introducing noise, at a high enough level to make it difficult to filter out.

Would an external sound card reduce the noise created by proximity to the other computer components, or...? I'm not sure what to ask, since I haven't ever used anything other than the cheap internal sound card that came with my laptop.

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 Post subject: Re: Sound cards?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 9:09 pm 
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Laptops can introduce a lot of noise because everything's so close to everything else in there. I've heard good things about external sound cards but I've never tried one.

Once you get your new desktop set up, you may be pleased with the sound. I'd try that first and then see if you still want to get an external.

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 Post subject: Re: Sound cards?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 12:12 pm 
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John wrote:
Would an external sound card reduce the noise created by proximity to the other computer components, or...?


I would think you'd just need to place your mic far enough away from the computer that it won't pick up the fan. I usually record right here about 3 feet from my computer, but I have a very directional microphone so it doesn't pick up any fan noise.

Just remember to turn the furnace back on after you've finished recording. :oops:

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 Post subject: Re: Sound cards?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 12:30 pm 
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A good sound card will not reduce the noise level. That noise level is most likely being picked up from the mic. So as Kitty said try putting the mic farther away. Also turn it away from the noise.

With that being said a good sound card will certainly improve the quality of recordings.

For home purposes you can get just about any decent sound card. Creative labs Sound Blaster series has always been good to me. Now there are some people who will tell you there is not way you can get recordings from a Sound Blaster..however I have never had anyone question the quality of my recordings and many have been done on Creative Labs cards heh. I currently have an Xfi Fatality Pro gaming sound card. However I don't actually use it for recording as I an recording thru an m-audio Mobile Pre usb preamp or direct into the computer thru a USB controller. But I have made many recordings in the past thru the soundblaster.

In fact over in the music forum I posted a song from Star Trek that I believe is still there and it was done thru the SB card. On a susato whistle :) To give you an idea of the basic quality you can get. It gets better but that was a quick and dirty recording.


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 Post subject: Re: Sound cards?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 4:06 pm 
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Location: Germantown, MD
I bought a Samson Q1 USB microphone which cleaned up my noise problems. I installed a Sound Blaster Audigy 4 SE ($29.95) which has been all the sound card I have ever needed.

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 Post subject: Re: Sound cards?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:17 pm 
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OK. I'll try to keep this short (maybe). :mrgreen:

There are two types of noise you can pick up. One is the sound from the computer (fans and hard drive) and the other is the electrical noise.

Because the signal from a microphone is so low it is necessary to have a sensitive amplifier to make the signal loud enough for the computer to process. If this microphone amplifier is inside the computer it can pick up the electrical noise put out by the innards of the computer, even if the microphone is far away. Some sound cards may be better at stopping this noise than others, but it's a nasty environment for a sensitive amplifier to be located in.

The idea is to move the microphone amplifier away from the electrical noise inside the computer. Some options:

1. External microphone pre-amplifier or mini mixer with microphone input. Connect this to the line input of the sound card.

2. USB microphone like Ron has.

3. External sound card with pre-amplifier like Shadoes mentioned.

4. Combination of mixing desk and external sound card.

When I record seminars I use a (trans)portable mixing desk with a pair of sub-channel outputs going to a m-Audio Audiophile USB external sound interface connected to a laptop. The only noise I pick up with this setup is the room noise. It's so quiet we can pull out the sound of someone speaking behind the microphone asking a question when the presenter forgets to repeat it for others to hear. That way the people listening to the CD know what the presenter is talking about. 8)

Yes, I've got all the gear to record my whistle playing. One day I might actually have something to record. 8-[

Shalom,
Ian

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 Post subject: Re: Sound cards?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 8:05 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2006 12:55 am
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Thanks for all the suggestions.

What I had been dealing with was definitely electronic noise. I did have the opportunity to borrow an M-Audio Mobile-pre USB preamp on a few occasions, which reduced the problem somewhat. Once I tried to use a mixing board, but it actually made matters worse with a strong 60 Hz hum, plus a few harmonics of that. I'll look into some of the products you all have mentioned. Thanks again.

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