Do mics have to have a preamp???

hi, i have bought a shure sm58 mic to improve my recordings. but have found i cant get it to work. i have taken it back and got a replacement but still cant get a sound from it. but this is through not using a preamp, just goin straight into an amp or into the sound card. i cant believe that i have been unlucky and got 2 duff mics, do u have to have a preamp for the sm58? with the old (10 years at least) mics i have, they can go straight into an amp and you hear sound for them, so i assumed you wouldnt need a preamp for the sm58.
thanks!

99% of all mics need a preamp. The only ones that don’t need a preamp are usually high impedance mics which are nearly always inexpensive mics you get with karaoke systems, used for web chat, and other consumer needs. There are some really high end mics that come with their own premps, but that is the exception and not the rule.

ah rite, thought it must av been that!
so in that case any good preamps for a budget of like 50-100 quid that will work pretty well for me?
thanks!

If you don’t already have a mixer, I’d recommend getting an inexpensive mixer that has some mic preamps built-in. I had a Behringer UB1002 not long ago that had 2 mic connections with built-in preamp. It worked great and I got it off eBay for U.S. $40-50. Only reason I got rid of it was because I need more mic connections. I upgraded to the UB1204 Pro model.

A lot of soundcards (like SB for example) have microphone in port in addition to the line in port. I may be wrong, but I thought the mic in port on the soundcard (if you have one) had a pre-amp in it. Have you tried that?

Mic pre-amps serve a few functions:

1-to boost or lower the signal level of the mic, as required.
2-provide phantom power to mics that require it (the sm-58 does not).
3-Impeadence matching (XLR in to 1/4" out, or vise-versa)


Are you trying to plug the mic directly into your soundcard? That would require a special cable at the bare minimum, and probably won’t sound too good, but you should hear soemthing.

i have tried jus goin into the mic port and still nothing,i would go as far as to say that there is no sound at all, i may be wrong and that the sound is extremely quiet, but i get the feeling the mic aint doin anything. i i got a preamp would the mic then work? or does the mic cound sound faulty to you guys?

Well chances are the mic port is mono, and my guess is you’re possibly putting a balanced lead into a 1/8 adapter into a mono plug. Sneaking suspicion says that you need a xlr to mono jack cable, and put a mono 1/4->1/8 converter on that end.

Willy.

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i have tried jus goin into the mic port and still nothing,i would go as far as to say that there is no sound at all, i may be wrong and that the sound is extremely quiet, but i get the feeling the mic aint doin anything. i i got a preamp would the mic then work? or does the mic cound sound faulty to you guys?


SM58’s are pretty darn reliable so to have to DOAs would be very unusual.

How are you converting from the XLR connector on the mic to the mini-jack on the mic-in of the soundcard? That’s most likely your problem.

Try unplugging the cable from the mic end and probing the recessed ends of the cable’s connectors with a paperclip. You should hear humming. If you do, it ain’t the cable.

Also, the '58 is a low impedance mic; I suspect the mic in on your s/card is Hi-Z which roughly translated means “you need a preamp”.




Mark

the setup i have been trying is the mic into a mic cable (http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=28103&doy=7m12) then that cable into a mono 1/4" adapter then into the soundcard. i have also tried plugging the mic into my guitar amp, with the same setup as before, just not using the 1/4" adapter. this also gets no sound from the mic. i no the cable is fine because when i unplug the cable from my mic, i get a loud buzzing sound, similar to when a guitar lead isnt plugged into the guitar.

Well I’m surprised that you don’t even get a faint signal, but a low-z mic into a hi-z input is most likely your problem here.

You need a preamp or mixer. You might find a stomp box or other similar pedal might get you enough signal though.


Mark

well in that case it seems i do need a preamp, and i have been lookin over a post on good preamps and see that the ‘Studio Projects VTB1’ has been mentioned a lot. i can get one for £70, is that a good price or should i expect to be able to get it for less.
Thanks.

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i can get one for £70, is that a good price or should i expect to be able to get it for less.


That’s about the cheapest I’ve seen it in the UK.

1: Throw away that XLR-to-1/4" cable. For the most part all they do is cause confusion, making you think you can get away with something you can’t.

2: Don’t bother with the mike input on your computer’s soundcard. OK, sure, play with it, and try to use it until you get a half-decent preamp, but you’ll find that it’s really not suited for recording music. These preamps are fine for voice notes or internet chat. It’s a VERY difficult task to make a good mike preamp to work in the noisy environment of inside a computer chassis, and these mike preamps are designed to be CHEAP, not GOOD. They’re appropriately engineered for their typical use.

Note: I’m not a stuffy purist, by any means. I recorded about half the tracks for my CD using the line inputs of the built-in soundcard on my laptop, and I feel that you can make great recordings using simple, inexpensive gear. If you can’t, it’s not the fault of the gear! Better gear can lead to better results, but only after you’ve mastered the basics quite thoroughly and are putting out very good mixes – only then will 24-bit soundcards and better mike preamps make much of a difference.

3: Get a little mixer, as mentioned above – like a Behringer UB802 or bigger. If you think you might be at all serious, don’t go smaller because the UB502 doesn’t have “phantom power”, and if you ever decide you want a condensor mike, you’ll need that. And the $5 or $10 difference is well worth it.

Or go for the VTB-1, which is a great little preamp, quite a bit better than the Behringer mixer’s. However, as I said above, it won’t make much difference until you’re pretty good at the whole process. (OK, there may be exceptions, like solo recordings, which don’t need much engineering – assuming your studio room is acoustically appropriate for the recording.)

Most folks find that a little mixer is a very handy item to have. It allows you to keep your most commonly used items plugged in all the time and you make adjustments to the mixer to select what to record rather than replugging, and things like that.

One other point: most engineers like having multiple preamps. No matter what preamp you have, you generally don’t want to use the same preamp for every signal you record. It helps to have alternatives, so that the characteristics of the preamp don’t start to build up in the mix. Again, though, this is a bit esoteric and won’t matter much until you’re doing quite well in your productions. But the point is, even pros like to have a variety of preamps, and if you get a little Behringer mixer (whose preamps are really quite good for mixer built-ins, especially considering the cost), you’ll continue to use those preamps even if you eventually have an array of super-expensive ones.

You will still need a special cable to go from the output of the preamp to the input of your soundcard…

Here you have an article from SHURE homepage that explains all the issue using mics with soundcard MIC-IN…
But, hear the guys, as quick as you can, get a decent preamp.

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Throw away that XLR-to-1/4" cable. For the most part all they do is cause confusion, making you think you can get away with something you can’t.


so if i dont use this lead, how would i go into a preamp from the mic? not using a lead of this kind?

Check this out:

VTB-1 hookup

Use an XLR-to-XLR cable between mike and mike preamp.

Between mike preamp (or mixer) and soundcard, assuming you have a built-in soundcard with mini 1/8" stereo line in jack, use a cable like THIS ONE, plus one or two RCA-to-1/4" mono adaptors. (Radio Shack has them, but they revamped their website and made it even worse – I can’t find them.)