View Full Version : Computer recording

Apr-03-2004, 4:28am
My band is planning to record our next CD on the computer and the software for it is great, but I run into a lot of "electronic noise" in the background during times when there should be silence. I believe it to be fan noise and it exists even with the mic off, only disappearing when I "mute" the mic channel.

Would a new sound card help, and if so what kind would be best for under $100?
Would a USB sound card be the best since it would be "external" from the computer and problems do the USB sound cards come with?

Thanks for any advice on this!

Billy Mack
Apr-03-2004, 5:19am
I have the same issue with my Soundblaster Live card. I was wondering if the external Audigy, or some other external card, would be better.

I found that muting all inputs, except MIC, helped reduce some noise - but not all. I even tried moving cables inside the PC as far away as possible from the sound card, but no luck. Maybe if you temporarily disconnected the fan you would be able to isolate the noise source.

Apr-03-2004, 9:48am
I have a SoundBlaster card and was very dissappointed woith the recordings I got from it. Now I record on the Tascam US122 and it is dead quiet with phantom power for condenser mics too. I also put a cork board and other materials around my computer (leaving room for air to circulate) to mute out the fan.

Only drawback is that you can only run two mics through it.

Apr-03-2004, 11:02am
Wow! I just checked out the Tascam US122 and it looks like a hot solution. Does it feed the recording directly through the USB to the computer hard drive, or does it plug into the sound card somehow??

Apr-03-2004, 11:24am
Don't want to sound harsh, but you almost never want to use a soundblaster type sound card for recording. You can get alright basic results with one but that's about it.

On the US 122. They are great. All of these USB types are a new sound card to themselves. They will run all your sound. You can even use them for playback and hook up to better monitors, etc. That's a great unit for what it is. Will never touch the firewire or USB 2.0 units, but are great as an entry to recording. Also check out the MBox from digidesign. If you plan to get serious with recording you might want to consider that route as the software and hardware work a lot better.

If you go with the Tascam you will want to upgrade the software and that'll run you some more dough. If you are a student or know a teacher you can get great academic deals on Sonar, Cubase, even the MBox bundle from journeyed.com.
Good Luck,

Apr-03-2004, 12:10pm
The MBox is 500 bucks! OUch. Sorry, I'd love to get into that stuff, but I'm looking for a inexpensive solution to the computer "noise" generated through my cheap sound card. That US122 looks pretty good, but I can't find one in town yet... I'd have to order and I'm terribly impatient, plus we have set aside tomorrow for recording! I need a solution today. Thanks for all the great input! Please, keep it coming!

Apr-03-2004, 12:19pm
The MBox is more, but has better pre's, software, etc. Plus if you search around you can find one for about 350 or less. If you can find one down in that range, trust me, it's worth the extra hundred or so over the 122. The beauty of it it the digidesign forums (which are a great help), the guaranteed hardware software compatability (this can be a problem with the drivers and the 122), and the fact that you could if you wanted to take the Pro Tools file from your MBox straight to most studios to have them do some fancier stuff to it later on.

Also check out the Lexicon Omega, all the Edirol stuff, the Maudio stuff (ozone, etc). I would really consider the MBox for your needs though. Be patient and check the classifieds on both harmonycentral.com, digidesign.com, and ebay and you can find one much cheaper than 500 bucks. I said before the Tascam is good and it is. But you will need to upgrade the software, and pre's pretty quick after getting it. That will run you at least a couple hundred bucks.

Apr-03-2004, 1:18pm
"The MBox is more, but has better pre's, software, etc. "

What are "pre's"? Sorry, this is new to me and I'm trying to learn all that I can.

Apr-05-2004, 11:15am
I just set up my PC Laptop this weekend to record, and was having similar issues. Here's the strange one... If the laptop is plugged in, even into the same power conditioner as the mixer (which eliminates any ground loop) I get a major hum/buzz into the laptop. But if I unplug the laptop, and let it run on the battery, it disappears. Hmmm. Strange.

Apr-05-2004, 2:41pm
Hey man,
Mic Pre's are things that bring the mic's up to line level (the level you would want to record at). Different pres will "color" the sound in different ways. Some pre's make the tone warmer, flatter, etc. You need these to run any kind of mic with phantom power...the large condensor varieties (you will want to use these to record anything acoustic for the most part). Most budget pre's add a substantial background hum to your sound. None of the pres on any of these beginner models are up to professional standards, but you can get great sounds out of all of them with some careful work. DJ Shadow released an entire EP recorded completely on his Mbox and Laptop combo. Focusrite develops some pretty high end pres. The ones on the Mbox aren't their best, but are of good quality. The Tascam ones are the same pres found in their very low end mixing boards. All this said, if you know your equipment and know about sound engineering it is possible to get good sounds from lesser equipment. But it's harder to learn how to get those sounds up front with the lower end equipment if that makes sense. Hope that helps.

Pete Martin
Apr-07-2004, 11:31am
You can buy silent fans for the computer, but those are spendy. Most of us who record a lot with a computer have it in another room. I have mine in a closet.

I would not recommend unhooking your fan. You can have serious heat issues and damage, depending on your hardware.

Apr-07-2004, 11:44am
One piece of advice I was given is to make sure you're using a unidirectional mike (Shure SM-57 was recommended to me as an inexpensive starter) and point it away from the computer.

Apr-07-2004, 12:12pm
How are these pre-amps? "low-noise dbx mic-preamps with 48 volt phantom power and TRS insert points" on the lexicon Omegia. I'm thinking the lexicon product might be a better buy than the MBox. What do you think?

Apr-07-2004, 1:03pm
Can't comment too much on this product as it's pretty new and wasn't around when I was in this ballpark. I would think it would be solid enough. Lexicon is a big name in Reverbs and it comes with a software version of one of their verbs so that's cool. But the downside is it's newer. That means less time with consumers using products. Plus it's kind of a first venture for this company. I'd wait a while on it and see how the community and product develop for it. Who are you going to turn to with questions? There is a Tascam forum unofficially and officially at homerecording.com/bbs and a Digidesign forum.

Another interesting new product is the Mackie Spike. Sorry I didn't mention it sooner. Should come in closer to 300 and comes bundles with some alright software.

I'm telling ya, some of this other stuff is alright but you're out there on your own as far as figuring stuff out. It's really good to have a community to help you out. Much like this one. Thanks Scott

Apr-09-2004, 6:42am
My band is planning to record our next CD on the computer and the software for it is great, but I run into a lot of "electronic noise" in the background during times when there should be silence. #I believe it to be fan noise and it exists even with the mic off, only disappearing when I "mute" the mic channel.
Hello Rich, the common soundcards(Soundblaster series, etc..) aren't bad; but they aren't very good for proffesional recording.. Here in Europe, there are many "PC based" recording studios. Mostly are used brands like MAUDIO, GUILLEMOT, AARDVARK or ECHO AUDIO - all these brands are profi-quality; mostly with PC and MAC support. Very good is for example MAudio Duo USB Audio Interface (http://www.zzounds.com/item--MDODUO)...

Apr-24-2004, 1:56am

#I've been using an MBox, and have been very happy with the results. #Its got a good clean sound, and has low latency (the delay caused by computer processing). #It's quite good, and you can get it for less then 500 - I paid $450 for mine, and I have seen them cheaper on Ebay. You'll want a good mic too - I've been using a Studio Projects C3, and like the results for voice and guitar. Haven't tried mando recording, but I think a shure 57 would pick it up pretty well- it does great for my Mackie PA system.

#I'm going to grad school and am thinking about selling my Mbox - if you're interested, Id sell for $300. It's in great shape, little use- I've put industrial velcro on the bottom (Do this with any device like this, so it doesn't get pulled off the desk by a cord!), other than that, its in perfect shape.

Email me if interested --

May-01-2004, 10:45am
The newest rage is Firewire recording interfaces, replacing USB interfaces. I guess it's because of the poor implemtation of some USB i/o on system boards. M-Audio has some good starter units with decent preamps. For my first project I recorded on a #$400 Omni I/O (PCI based) that has has some good mixing abilities and 2 mic preamps. The short 6 ft. cable from the Omni box to the PCI card in the PC makes it difficult to isolate the noise from the PC, however. Firewire cables can be quite long and you can then put your pc in a closet or another room from your preamp/interface box. I recently upgraded to a MOTU 828MKII, which has 2 mic pre's and 8 1/4" balanced inputs. About $750.
For recording instruments, you might want to take a look at small diaphragm condenser mics, like the MXL 603s for less than $100.
I'd start with a 2 ch. recording interface like those previously mentioned, the SP C3 large diaphragm mike and a small diaphragm condenser mic. And don't forget the multitrack recording software like Cakewalk products, N-Track and Adobe Audition for starters. These all come with built in effects to get you started.