Do I need a preamp for this?

prairiedogpics wrote on 8/13/2006, 8:34 PM
Hi All,
For the first time ever, I need to record a vocal track (narration).
I'll be using Vegas and I have an M-audio Delta 1010 sound card (overkill for a hobbyist like me, I know).
I think I'm going to buy a Shure SM57 mic.
My question: Can I just hook that mic straight into the 1010, or do I need a pre-amp between the 1010 and the mic?
If you have any other suggestions for a mic and/or budget-minded pre-amp, they would be appreciated.
Thanks, (audio recording noob)


farss wrote on 8/13/2006, 9:12 PM
Only line level inputs so yes you need a mic preamp.

Bear in mind dynamic mics are not high output, condensor mics give you more signal to start with but need phantom power and can be easier to damage.

Personally I use the Rode NT1A, extremely quiet mic (5dBA).
SM57 is well spoken of, very robust but looking at the response seems to rolloff at the bottom end and might have a fair amount of presence. Probably sound OK for narration work.

Mic preamps, take your pick. Sound Devices make the best for our kind of work but expensive. I don't have a separate preamp as I've got the M-Audio 410.

TorS wrote on 8/14/2006, 3:22 AM
Do not let Bob discourage you on the Shure SM57. It is very good, but it requires the sound source to be very close. You have seen vocalists eating mics on live performances. They are often SM58s. Dynamic mics pick up very little background noise. That makes them good for live stuff, but also for news gathering, documentaries and stuff where you might not be able to Shsh the surroundings.
But yes, do get a pre-amp (nothing fancy, mind) and stick the SM57 <15 cm (6 inches) from the talent's mouth. You'll be just fine.

Add a little dynamic compression in Vegas when you edit.
Spot|DSE wrote on 8/14/2006, 4:05 AM
I'd disagree that the 57 is "very good" for V/O work. It will work, as will any microphone, but first, it isn't a good v/o mic for reasons of proximity, and second, as Bob mentioned, it's a low output mic. But it will work. Without a very good preamp, you'll have audible noise as the gain is cranked.
In other words, if you have a budget, get a better mic. For about the same cost as a 57, you can get an AT 2020 or similar in the Rode line or other lower cost cardioid condenser.
goshep wrote on 8/14/2006, 5:50 AM
I posed a similar question not too long ago and received some pretty good responses. Now I'm confused all over again. I have the Delta 1010 as well. My brother and I use a mic straight into the 1010 and it seems to work fine. Granted, it would be difficult to hear any noise over that which we create with our repulsive voices. Sorry for hijacking the thread. I just wanted to take advantage of another opportunity to have this clarified. So for v/o work...yes on preamp and yes on cardioid condenser?
farss wrote on 8/14/2006, 5:58 AM
Well now that I think about it Rode now make a LDC with a USB output. Have no idea what it's like, heck don't even know what it costs but even Rode's low priced kit is not 'cheap'.
Samson also have one, it could be good or not. I've used one of their mics and despite their less than stellar reputation it was better than I expected, so maybe their USB LDC is OK.

One thing with any LDC an VO work, mic placement is important. They're very sensitive, do not get them in line with the speakers mouth. I've found a popper stopper of some help at stopping plosives.


farss wrote on 8/14/2006, 6:09 AM
Well looking at the specs on the 1010 it says only line inputs, no mic inputs. I guess if you get a mic with enough output it could work.

Cardiod condensors are what SOME recommended. I've been in a local VO studio, VOs were their main business, and they used hypercardiods. Mind you their small studios were pretty dead acoustically.

I think the main think to avoid would be mics with a strong proximity effect. With those unless the talent keeps a constant distance from the mic the balance will change.

I've made the opposite error, using a LDC to record a live performance. It sounded fine but the vocalist liked to work the mic and you expect to hear the voice get richer as he gets closer to the mic and you don't. Result is it sounds more like a studio recording than a live recording and damn if I could fudge it with any amount of Eq to get that sound.

richard-courtney wrote on 8/14/2006, 6:32 AM
I like the AT2020 as DSE mentioned (around $100) if you decide on that model ask
your dealer about the AT2021 in a package with the AT2020 for only around $50 more.

I would also recommend a pop screen $20 for cloth a little more for metal screen.

EDIT: The package is AT2041SP
farss wrote on 8/14/2006, 6:53 AM
One thing I forgot to mention.
Unless you've got concrete floors I'd strongly recommend getting a cats craddle for any LDC condensor mic. AT have the AT4548, I got one a free craddle with the Rode but I think the dealer was being overly generous.

richard-courtney wrote on 8/14/2006, 6:59 AM
Great point!
They do pick low frequency vibrations from floor.
A carpet strip under the legs of the stand helps but the "orthadontist dream" holders
also look cool if you record the session on video for the artist.
logiquem wrote on 8/14/2006, 7:54 AM
The SM57 and 58 are 40 years old classic live show workhouse. They are almost unbreakable and they have a high/mid strong peak, anarrow pattern and a strong proximity effect. For voices, this accentuate sibililance and overall intelligibility and help to place the singer ahead in the mix.

Maybe they are excellent for that, but In no way they should be considered as a good studio voiceover choice. Go for a large capsule/condenser mic (RODES are indeed excellent sounding mics with even pattern, pleasing voice rendition and very controlled sibilance ( wich is very important, mainly with thin female voices).
TorS wrote on 8/14/2006, 8:37 AM
Dan, maybe you should tell us what other things you will be using the mic for. People here are giving good advise on more or less specialist voiceover mics. But I got the feeling your mic would be more of an allrounder. If a Delta 10 is overkill in your situation, so would some of the mics that has been mentioned.
plasmavideo wrote on 8/14/2006, 8:56 AM
i just installed an ATI 3035 for VO work at the station, and have been quite impressed with it's richness and fullness.
Plus, it come with a shock mount.
JeffreyPFisher wrote on 8/14/2006, 9:31 AM
Both Samson (CO1u) and Blue (Snowball) make USB-based mics that don't require a preamp ... plug 'em in like a USB device and record. Decent mics for VO work in the 'round $100 range.
VOGuy wrote on 8/14/2006, 2:57 PM
Here's a comparison between a pretty good Neumann and the Blue Snowball:

If you want a cheap but pretty good mic preamp, consider one of the cheap litle consoles you can get at Guitar Center, etc. For under $50.00 you can get a piece of equipment that will serve you well for many situations.

goshep wrote on 8/14/2006, 4:25 PM

That's good stuff! I wish retailers had the same feature. How great it would be to compare all the offerings side-by-side. I'm no sound pro but I found the Blue Snowball a bit muddy sounding (for lack of an appropriate adjective). Am I detecting a hum or some background in the recording or is it coming from my end? Both seem to have it at the same level.
VOGuy wrote on 8/14/2006, 6:12 PM
Hi Goshep.

Hum's due to the AC system in the building where my mini-studio is located. I normally use a bank of notch filters and digital gates to keep this at reasonable levels. Had those removed for the mic tests.

Yeah, the Snowball is a bit "muddier", but we're comparing it to an exceedingly "transparent" mic.
prairiedogpics wrote on 8/21/2006, 10:29 AM
Thanks for all the replies, everyone.
I posted the question and then promptly left for a week's vacation. Thus my tardy follow-up.

To answer one of the questions:
Generally, the mic would be used for voice-over narration in a sound-controlled (though hardly acoustically perfect) environment.
Also, a "forgiving" mic would be a blessing to me (i.e., so I don't have to keep the talent's voice EXACTLY 4.78 inches from the mic to get a decent recording!).
I'll research the suggestions above, and thanks in advance for any more suggestions.