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  1. #1

    Multiple Inputs to PC

    Hello, New member here with a pretty basic question I think.

    I'm putting together a proposal for work for recording interviews, but need a little guidance on hardware.

    Input will be 2 mics (XLR probably) recording 2 people.
    Output to a PC with Adobe Audition.

    What is the middle piece I'm missing? Is it simply a small mixer with a mini-plug output to the PC? If so, any recommendations?

    Cheers.

  2. #2
    Senior Member SC358's Avatar
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    Your talking strictly audio only recording, right? Not a video w/ 2 channels of audio? I just wanted to clarify that for sure.
    SC358
    Relationships are based on compromises - behavior accepted is behavior repeated.

  3. #3
    Hi Stanley

    If it is just plain audio then a simple mixer for your mics with a line output to the line in input on your computer's sound card/onboard sound inputs.
    Most tower cases have only mic and speaker plugs on the front (usually green and red) so you will probably have to plug into line input at the rear(usually a blue socket)

    If your mics are true XLR then you will need a mixer with balanced XLR inputs but if you are not too bothered about balanced inputs then it might be cheaper to pick up a standard mixer on eBay and get a couple of XLR to Jack adaptors

    Chris

  4. #4
    The most important factor is the room: it should probably be acoustically dead (though some ambience may add naturalness) and absolutely must be in a place where outside sounds cannot intrude. You may not even notice them when interviewing, but no matter how faint, they will stick out like flourescent orange paint on playback.

    Compared to that, the actual equipment is a lot less important. The computer must be in another room; any fan noise at all will be unacceptable.

    You need a pair of decent mics, and the in-between piece is a mixer. The simplest you can buy will more than cover your needs.

    Cheap condenser mics are better than cheap dynamics, but they require a power source. If you get a mixer with built-in "phantom" powering and mics that work with same, that takes care of that problem. Alternately, you can buy mics that run on batteries, but then you have to remember to take the batteries out when you're not using them. Whoever you buy this stuff from, ask them to make sure the mics match the mixer.

    I would try to find a mixer that digitizes the output and sends it to the computer on a USB interface. The mic and aux inputs of most sound cards are low-quality; you'll do better if you get the signal in digital form before it gets to the computer.

  5. #5
    Thanks for all the helpful information.

    My main intent is to devise a simple, very portable audio-only set-up that I can take to people's offices, conference rooms, or cubicles.

    Chris, you mentioned a line-in port on the back of a PC tower; I'll likely be using a laptop. Would the built-in mic input be sufficient? Or is USB better, as Karl mentions.

    I'll also be dealing with general office background noise - HVAC, fluorescent overhead lights, etc. - even when I'm in a closed office.

    Thanks!

  6. #6
    If you feed the mixer output into the computer's mic input, you will need an adapter that knocks the level down. You will also need to block the phantom power DC that's on that jack.

    A friend of mine was setting up to record meetings, and he found that the hiss when using the mic input was so strong it interfered with hearing people talking. Same mic with external preamp and digital converter, fed into USB, noise totally gone. Some sound cards are better than others in this respect, but none are really good. That's why I always recommend doing the digital conversion external to the computer.

  7. #7
    Your best bet would be to get an external usb or firewire sound card

  8. #8
    Invest the money in a Field Recorder, like a Mini disc, DAT or even a Flash Recorder. Then take them home and transfer them into your computer to edit them. You can get a good recorder for anywhere between $50 - $200 from used on ebay to brand new.

    This solves a few problems for you.
    1) Portability. You wont have to haul in and set up a lot of gear. You can record on the go.
    2) Sound. Field recorders are meant to record in noisy environments. They sound good, and you can add more processing and EQ in Audition later to make them sound better.
    3) Transferring audio. Any of the recorders I've mentioned have digital or optical outputs available so you will get high quality sound.

    There are many options out there in field recorders(even an IPOD strap-on with XLR inputs). Check with your favorite broadcast supplier for what would suit your needs.

    Lex

  9. #9
    What Lex said. We get so married to computers we forget that you don't always need them.

    Friend of mine just got a little digital recorder with two cross-aimed mics and two XLR inputs - how they crammed two of those big connectors into such a small recorder is a miracle.

    If you can't get rid of ambient noise, you need portable clamp-to-desk booms so you can get the mikes really close to people's mouths. Every time you cut the distance between mike and mouth by half, you effectively increase the discrimination against background noise by 6dB, which is significant. Radio announcers put the mike slightly above the mouth, beside the nose, aimed a bit downward, so it partially blocks the vision in one eye. Since your interviewees aren't professional announcers, you maybe can't do that without making them nervous, but that's the best place. It's the only way to get a mike really close without picking up pops and hisses from the wind-producing parts of speech. It's also the only way to close-mic without making speech sound unnatural.

  10. #10
    Hi Guys

    Just a minor point but important!! Make sure, if you use a field recorder that you are able to turn off the AGC (Auto Gain Control) and set the mics manually. Otherwise if there is a lull in the talking the AGC tries to lift the level as it "hears nothing" so you get a pumping action as the audio level changes between when the person is talking and when they are silent!!

    Most better quality units have this but it's wise to check first before buying!!

    Chris

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