recording vocals problem - help

What is the best way to record vocals into your computer using N-track? I recorded a song using a Radio Shack vocal performance microphone, but the audio quality of the vocal track was extremely poor. I tried the EQ effects to modify the quality, and it helped only a litte. It sounded like it was coming out of my alarm clock radio. I just had it plugged directly into my soundcard, not through a mixer or anything. I had used a computer condensor mic before with N track and at least that sounded better. Is that because the condensor mic has wider frequency response than the radio shack mic?

Can someone recommend an affordable microphone that would sound good?

Or better yet, how are you recording vocals?



Hi Steve,
It would be better if you gave your full set-up. What soundcard etc…
I have a reasonably inexpensive Shure PG58 mic, which is a stage mic really but I get pretty good results with it. I go from the mike into a small Eurorack MX802A mixer before the soundcard. I had a lot of problems with noise and quality when I first started out, by going straight to the souncard. Why don’t you post a sample? There are a lot of smarter guys than me here who are normally happy to help. The track below is recorded in n-Track 3.3 with the simple set-up mentioned above. Vocal track is cloned and then the 2 tracks panned hard left and right. There is no eq on it, the only plug-ins used are mda dynamics and n-Track reverb,(n-Track chorus on the end section)

Lots of good info HERE… Your present problem could be an impedance mis-match between your mic and your soundcard. Much better results can be obtained by using the “line-in” jack on the sound card with a small mixer or preamp between your mic and soundcard. The problem is a lot of newer PC’s these days don’t have a line-in jack…

With a little 50 buck Behringer mixer and a few cables you can use the line-in on a soundcard and record two separate individual tracks of pretty good quality. How? Well the line-in on most soundcards is a stereo input and is usually a 1/8" inch Tip, Ring, Sleeve type plug/jack. The TRS jack has the RIGHT side of the stereo signal on the TIP, the LEFT side on the RING and the SLEEVE is signal common or “ground” as some call it.

Take the Left and Right stereo outputs of the 50 buck mixer and with the appropriate cables/adapters feed that into your soundcards stereo line-in. Now you can have for example a Mic in one channel of the mixer panned hard left and a guitar in another channel panned hard right. In n-Track, set the recording preferences by clicking the little “hammer” icon of the recording Vu meter to Stereo > Two separate tracks. Remember to enable the line-in input for your soundcard in the cards control panel or Windows mixer applet.

Sound like lot of hassle? Save the 50 bux until you have about 150 bux and buy yourself a Tascam US-122L or similar. It connects via USB2, can record up to 24 bit, 96 kilohertz audio and will sound VASTLY superior to your PC’s OEM card. It also has phantom power for condenser mics, a nice, powerful headphone amp built-in and MIDI I/O for when you move into the world of MIDI and virtual instruments. Easy to connect, easy to use, portable, sound great…

Pop in here with more questions if need be. Lots of folks around to help.


EDIT: Yeah… what Bruffie said… :)

Thanks Bruffie,
I love your avatar by the way. Your vocal sample sounds nice and clear. My soundcard is a piece of crap that comes in a Compaq Presaio. I have no idea what type it is. But you’re right it sounds like I need to look into some kind of mixer. It’s worth a try anyway. I was just looking at the FAQ’s on the issue and it sounds like that’s pretty much going to be the answer. I may be able to get by with a condensor microphone and a pre-amplifier device going into the soundcard. Thanks for your time.

ONe thing that seems to happen frequently when the sound card come on the computer - people plug into the Line-in instead of the Mic-in. Might be worth checking, but the recorded sound is very effected by the quality of the sound card and mic.

While a good studio condenser like the RODE NT1-A plugged into a separate mixer like a small Beringer with phantom power will give you a lot of quality and flexibility, you may like the simple and cheaper solution afforded by the M-Audio - Producer USB Microphone with Session Recording Software available at Best Buy and other places for $100. It has a built-in soundcard that plugs into a USB port and a headphone jack on the mic so you can hear what you are singing along with the music track playing at the time. I had a chance to check one of these out and I was happy with the sound quality. The user reviews are quite good, too.

One hint. The M-Audio Studio Producer comes with their Session Recording Studio audio software that is very bloated compared to n-track. Save the disk space and forego installing that software and use n-track.

There are a few USB mics now made by Rode, Samson, BLUE and a few others… they are indeed a good quick and dirty solution though they are limited.

D pretty much has you covered above. Save a few bucks and get a sound card designed for recording. With all the headache and hillbilly rigs that are required to get your current sound card to work, you might as well do it right for similar money, much less time and much better quality.

One major point here… the mic in of cheapo on board sound cards are only for use with those ridiculously cheap mics used for Skype and the like. No mic you would buy for recording anything of any quality will work plugged into those mini jack mic inputs. If you have a cheap sound card, you must get a preamp (or use a preamp in a mixer) and then run that into the Line In. No ifs ands or buts about it.

To answer you last question, how am I recording vocals… err… not a fair question or comparison. I run either an SM7, AT4050, Baby Bottle, or MD421 (depending on the singer) to either an LA610 or an UA4110. I also have an Mackie Onyx 800R that sees some vocal use from time to time as well as a few other LDCs. Those then go into the line ins of an EMU 1820M.