#1
OK first I want to thank those of you that got me to this point.

I'm not sure which piece of equipment/ software is the weak link that is causing this problem so where do I start and how do I determine the problem and solve it?

Heres what I'm working with...

My acoustic guitar > shure sm57 mic > 10' monster prolink standard 100 cable > T50K Audix impedance matching transformer > 1/4' to 1/8" reducer/adapter > line in port of a crappy stock sound card (only info I could find is realtek ac 97) > audacity

Now if there is anything that anyone thinks I should remove or add to this chain please let me know. Please also inform me of upgrades that will result in noticeably better quality for a minor investment.

Finally my first issue with this setup I have here. The sound quality is fine. Better than I hoped for, but the volume is unbearably low. To listen to everything that I record I need to crank everything up and it is still on the quiet side. Not to mention it really sucks if you forget to turn everything down and then shutdown the computer or go online or something... knocks you out of your seat.

Its already been suggested from numerous sources that I should upgrade the sound card and I was thinking of going for the M audio audiophile 2496. I'm looking for input on this decision if anyone has any.

The other suggestion that I liked was that I should go get the audio buddy package, now that I have a mic I don't need the package (wasnt in stock at my GC anyway) but will I benefit from the preamp? Is that the missing link? Does the preamp work with the sound card or bypass it? Is this the best preamp I can get in this price range for what I'm doing? I'd probably be willing to go up a few bucks for noticeable improvements in quality and volume capabilities.

Thanks
#2
It needs to go in the mic port not the line in. THe Line is for signals that are already at line level i.e volume is high enough.

Then from just a mic or a guitar is very low and needs some kind of pre-amp to boost it. The mic slot in your soundcard should have a pre-amp whereas the line in doesn't. However, the pre-amp on your stock card will not be very good, but try it.

You have two options, either buy a preamp or buy a new audio interface (a lot of have them have preamps built in).

If you buy a separate pre-amp it will proabably be better quality than one in an interface, but then you would have to either by an audio interface to go with it or stick with the lesser quality of your soundcard.

btw, I looked into the 2496 when i was looking at interfaces. I decided against it because it was PCI, and I wanted more portability, bu I hear it is very good. However, I seem to remeber that it doesn't have any preamps so you would have to buy one.
#3
It needs to go in the mic port not the line in.


Thanks I tried this just now and I'm getting nothing. Audacity isnt picking up anything in the mic port. Do I need to remove the T50K or something? I don't know why my mic port wouldnt work. The volume is all the way up on everything.

OK and on the rest of it youre telling me that I only need one or the other but not both? Either the sound card or the preamp?

Which would you suggest considering I will be constantly looking for affordable improvements to this setup for the rest of my life. Which is the most upgradeable? Which will I end up getting in the long run anyway and which can I do with out? If thats possible?

Thanks.
#4
I would take out the transformer and go to the mic port.
it will work a tad better but you still could really use a different setup for acoustic guitar...

The SM57 is a great mic but needs a great preamp to record things of low level, (acoustic guitar and vocals...).

I say go get a 2496 card and feed a small mixer into it.

M-audio 2496 card

Tapco mixer with phantom power

Now if you have the budget, the MXL 990/991 mic set (same price with its audio buddy preamp...) is a great stater condenser set for acoustic guitar. Both mics run together gives a nice mix.

I suggest running the preamps on the Tapco since they are a little better than the Audio Buddy.

if your local store doesn't have the mic set with the preamp and they have the two mics without it at the same price just go with the two mics...
Either one should be no more than $100 for the two mics in a set.

If you don't need anything portable like on a laptop then I say for with the PCI card, (2496) which Bill put a review in for in the sticky.
Last edited by moody07747 at Jan 27, 2008,
#5
I would just get a decent USB or firewire interface with preamps onboard. You could get this for a modest investment and it would have the dual purpose of both increasing the sound quality (as it would bypass the stock soundcard) and boosting the signal from the 57 for volume. However, you would probably still need to really crank the gain a lot to get a good signal.

Also, I haven't used Audacity in a long time , so I am not sure if it has this feature (although I am sure it does) but try to use the normalize function on the audio you record. This will raise the volume of the loudest part of the track to 0db, the loudest signal in digital terms. This should give you a lot more volume to play with.
There is poetry in despair.
#6
Quote by moody07747
I would take out the transformer and go to the mic port.
it will work a tad better but you still could really use a different setup for acoustic guitar...

The SM57 is a great mic but needs a great preamp to record things of low level, (acoustic guitar and vocals...).

I say go get a 2496 card and feed a small mixer into it.

M-audio 2496 card

Tapco mixer with phantom power

Now if you have the budget, the MXL 990/991 mic set (same price with its audio buddy preamp...) is a great stater condenser set for acoustic guitar. Both mics run together gives a nice mix.

I suggest running the preamps on the Tapco since they are a little better than the Audio Buddy.

if your local store doesn't have the mic set with the preamp and they have the two mics without it at the same price just go with the two mics...
Either one should be no more than $100 for the two mics in a set.

If you don't need anything portable like on a laptop then I say for with the PCI card, (2496) which Bill put a review in for in the sticky.


I wouldn't say to buy a mixer unless you really need to have that many inputs. If you bought just a simple pre-amp then I'm guessing it would be much better quality, because otherwise your wasting your moeny on all the extra stuff you get with the mixer.

I can't speak from experience but this is pretty well recommended - http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/ART-Tube-MP-Studio-Mic-Preamp?sku=180581