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How exactly do I setup the mic preamp to my sound card?
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Dricks123
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9th January 2011
Old 9th January 2011
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How exactly do I setup the mic preamp to my sound card?

This is somewhat of a newbie question, I've searched forums for a similar post but couldn't find anything that gave me the answer that I needed.

I have a M-Audio Project Mix as my mixer/soundcard and a Focusrite Isa One as my microphone preamp to use with my Audiotechnica At4050 microphone. My question is how do I go about setting this up correctly?

Right now I have the M-Audio Project Mix setup with the Preamp going into it and the microphone going into the preamp...but I'm using a spare microphone cord plug to connect the soundcard to the preamp...and another mic cord to connect the preamp to the microphone, is this a good thing to do or should I be using a line input cord to connect the soundcard to the preamp?

Using it how I have it connected now, I'm hearind sound and I'm able to record but my gut feeling is telling me that I should be hearing a better quality output from the mic and preamp. What are the negatives of using mic cords to connect the preamp to the soundcard/mixer? Any words of advice would be quite helpful, thanks!!
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9th January 2011
Old 9th January 2011
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If your using XLR (3 pin) cables that just means you're using a balanced transmission hookup. Same thing with TRS (Tip/Ring/Sleeve) phone jacks cables which are also balanced.
You could use those cables for any balanced line level or balanced mic level use. As long as the equipment has balanced inputs and outputs then using balanced cables is the preferred method (better noise rejection).
Guitars/Bass and cheaper/older keyboards plugging into instrument inputs are typically unbalanced and use a TS phone jack instrument cable. (DI/Instr inputs)
So your fine if that's what you hooked up between the AT4050>ISA>M-Audio all balanced hookup.
You should be using the Main Out of the ISA and the mic XLR input on the M-Audio.
Make sure you phantom power the AT4050 with the ISA only and turn off any phantom power switches on the M-Audio!
After that you should set the impedance and gain per the ISA manual for the AT4050 and then set the level and trim at the M-Audio mic input and finally set your levels in your DAW...
Hope that helps
Dricks123
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9th January 2011
Old 9th January 2011
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Thx, helped big time...Never turned off the phantom power source on the Maudio soundcard...gonna see what kind of results I get now
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9th January 2011
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Do you have the ISA with ADC and digital outputs?
If so then you might wanna try using the SPDIF to the M-Audio in which case you'd need a SPDIF cable.
Dricks123
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9th January 2011
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Yes I do have the Isa with ADC and Digital Output, but I really dont know what any of it means. Would buying the spdif cable and connecting it that way improve the sound quality?

I just played around with tracking vocals without the phantom power button enabled on the M-Audio Project Mix and it did improve the quality slightly, so I'm very happy about that info you helped me with! Maybe I have to get used to adjusting the settings on Isa to get the best sound possible...cause although I do like the phatness of my vocals with the preamp connected, they now have a very bright and harsh sibilance to them and even crackle to them when pronouncing certain words and thats driving me nuts. I try not to have the gain too high and I'm using small compression, eq'ing and de-essing on them and it's not helping much, so I'm kinda liking how it used to sound with no preamp connected...very natural.

When using the Isa, should I have the mic gain on the M-Audio Project Mix turned all the way down and depend solely on the gain from the preamp as I'm doing now? I really wish the booklet that came with the Isa was geared more towards beginners
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9th January 2011
Old 9th January 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djmukilteo View Post
You should be using the Main Out of the ISA and the mic XLR input on the M-Audio.
Whilst this will work (in that it will pass audio), it is far from the best and far from the correct method of connecting the thread-starters equipment.

By connecting the LINE level (low impedance) output of his mic pre to the MICROPHONE level XLR input connectors of the Project Mix, he will be adding noise and distortion, and lowering headroom by passing audio through an extra, unnecessary mic preamp that is not designed to accept line level audio.

The OP should, rather, connect the line output of the ISA preamp to one of the line level TRS jack on the rear of the project mix using an XLR to TRS cable (pin 1 to sleeve, pin 2 to tip, pin 3 to ring). The switch on the Project mix should obviously be set to 'line'.

Quote:
Originally Posted by djmukilteo View Post
After that you should set the impedance and gain per the ISA manual for the AT4050 and then set the level and trim at the M-Audio mic input and finally set your levels in your DAW...
I'll have to politely disagree with you on this one. The impedance setting on the ISA mic pre should be set by listening for the best match with the microphone in use. The gain should be set on the ISA whilst watching the meter on the armed track in the DAW, simple as that.
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9th January 2011
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The digital output would probably be easier to adjust the gain going into the M-Audio. But you would have to try it and see. The gain setting and impedance matching to the AT4050 at the ISA will affect the sensitivity of the microphone. That is where the sound and any background noise and clarity will come from.
Start by setting the level coming out of the ISA into the M-Audio at unity or 0 (zero). You really don't need any increased or additional gain from the M-Audio. Then bring the gain up on the ISA and as you do go back and reduce the gain at the M-Audio and don't overdrive it.
The AT4050 is a very good accurate, clean, sensitive microphone. You need a very quiet room, shock mount (don't be touching or banging the mic) and a good pop filter. Use good headphones to monitor your voice and find out how much background noise you have in the room. The quieter the room the more you can turn up the mic. You'll find the more you increase the ISA the more and more sensitive that mic will get. We're talking touchy whisper sensitive so make changes carefully and slowly. No effects, just start out dry. Be sure all your meters are in the green and no clipping and find a sensitivity level that works for your voice and your room. Make sure you write down the settings on that channel in case you want to easily get back to your optimal settings.
Take your time tweak it a little at a time until it sounds right to you. If your doing this on your own then how you sing, you're range, your dynamics, distance from the mic (don't eat the pop filter) your comfort level as to how loud your singing into the mic all have to be taken into account....set and tweaked without any noise, pops or clicks before you record. If you want some reverb to help out your "feel" add a little in the monitor headphones but record the vocal dry...HPF (High Pass Filter) if you have one should be on. Same with a little EQ to add a little bottom end to your voice to fatten it up and balanced it out but not too exaggerated or take off some high end to get rid of the crispy sibilance. These should all be done on the monitor channel of your headphones and not recorded. You can get the feel in your headphones but it's much easier to add or take out effects after you've recorded the dry track then to burn it with stuff on there you can't get rid of. But definitely monitor yourself with some basic effects so you get the groove or feel. Any compression I would also leave out until you've recorded it and then use it after you see how it fits in a mix with other tracks.
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9th January 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NF Audio View Post
Whilst this will work (in that it will pass audio), it is far from the best and far from the correct method of connecting the thread-starters equipment.

By connecting the LINE level (low impedance) output of his mic pre to the MICROPHONE level XLR input connectors of the Project Mix, he will be adding noise and distortion, and lowering headroom by passing audio through an extra, unnecessary mic preamp that is not designed to accept line level audio.

The OP should, rather, connect the line output of the ISA preamp to one of the line level TRS jack on the rear of the project mix using an XLR to TRS cable (pin 1 to sleeve, pin 2 to tip, pin 3 to ring). The switch on the Project mix should obviously be set to 'line'.



I'll have to politely disagree with you on this one. The impedance setting on the ISA mic pre should be set by listening for the best match with the microphone in use. The gain should be set on the ISA whilst watching the meter on the armed track in the DAW, simple as that.
Yes I agree on both your points NF!
Bad advice on my part!
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9th January 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djmukilteo View Post
Yes I agree on both your points NF!
Bad advice on my part!
Dricks123
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9th January 2011
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Thank you guys sooo much!!! This information was very very helpful. What I think I will do is purchase the XLR To TRS Cable and connect the Preamp To The M-audio Project Mix the way that NF Audio suggested. After doing so, I will use the recording tips that djmukilteo informed me of to get the best results possible. I'm very satisfied with the input you guys have offered me, it really gave me piece of mind and soothed my worries. Much appreciation!!!
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