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Multi Use System
Old 14th August 2013
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Multi Use System

If this is the wrong place to ask this question, my apologies. I'll go to where I belong if you point me to the right direction. Sorry this wont be short but I was pointed here as a place to hopefully find the answer due to my troubled journey so far.

Background:
Wife teaches voice privately in our home. She has used karaoke systems when growing up in China to learn and also help teach singing. I proposed doing it through a PC since I just built one. Some students want to learn to sing for karaoke and others for performance purposes.

Guitar Center said all we'd need is a mic and usb interface for the PC to play music from computer and voice through mic. Hooked that all up and barely any vocals came out of the speakers with everything cranked up. Returned everything and started my search again.

I was then told we could use Studio Monitors as well. Did some research and figured those would also be nice computer speakers for me. Back to Guitar Center and they said all we had to do was hook the mic into the back of the monitor (XLR) and run audio out of PC into the monitor. Music worked but mic connected to the single speaker produced near silent results even alone. About to return everything again but figured I'd come here first.

Told them of my issues today and they said I should just return the monitors and get a PA Speaker. That kills the second use as my computer speakers but I think we also lose ability to control PC audio and mic vocals together. The second choice was getting an "FX Processor" for $250 to go between the mic and speakers. I don't want this to be the third time they suggest something and it be wrong.

Wife is getting a lil upset cause she sold this ability to some students and I'm aggravated wasting time researching, traveling, and setup.

Question: I'd like to keep the monitors (Tannoy Reveals), have audio files/discs played through a PC, and have vocals through mic (and they actually produce sound) out of the monitors as well. Is there a single piece missing from this equation? What is the real truth? What am I missing or what can be suggested? I'll sacrifice on my wants for her as long as she gets what she needs. It's a small 12x12 room in an apartment building. No intention for it to be needed for any larger than that or too loud given neighbors.

Thanks for the help in advance and sorry for the LONG first message. I'm just a lil desperate.

EJ

Last edited by BostonEJ; 14th August 2013 at 01:55 AM.. Reason: Additional Info
Old 14th August 2013
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Wyllys's Avatar
 

Short answer:

Avoid Guitar Center

Find a local sound person and have them shepherd you through the process. Ask someone who does sound, not someone who sells gear on commission at a "music store".
Old 14th August 2013
  #3
Here for the gear
 

Thanks for the response. Oddly enough, I thought GC was a step above Best Buy and the like. Not sure where else to look locally since I'm not from around here. I'll look around but hopefully I'll get some responses from people here too.

Thanks again for the input.
Old 14th August 2013
  #4
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wyllys View Post
Avoid Guitar Center
You can't go wrong there. If you enter the doors, do it with purpose, knowing exactly what you plan on getting, get it, don't listen to anything the salesmen tell you except the grand total of your purchase.

I don't do monitors, but, I'm fairly certain that your problem is you're plugging your mic directly into it. You probably need to run it through a preamp first. Someone who owns monitors should be able to speak up and clarify.



Good luck! and don't go to Guitar Center for advice!
Old 14th August 2013
  #5
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Wyllys's Avatar
 

Please state clearly what you want to do, what you have and what you can afford. As it is, it's hard to recommend the proper solution as your end use is rather vague.
Old 14th August 2013
  #6
Gear Addict
 
erosconpollo's Avatar
For what you are attempting, I would use a small inexpensive USB mixer (like maybe a Behringer Xenyux Q802USB). Use the microphone inputs on the mixer in combination with the sound coming through from the computer via USB (or you can plug another sound source in via the line inputs). Simple knobs to control your levels. If you want to do basic recording, it will work for that as well.
Old 14th August 2013
  #7
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Dutchy15's Avatar
Let's get some stuff straight here:

You HAVE:
- A PC, probably running a Windows OS
- A pair of Tannoy Reveal studio monitors
- A decent quality microphone (brand & type would really help)

You WANT:
- To play music from your PC through the monitors
- To be able to use the microphone with your monitors in real-time (so no record&playback)

In that case, you NEED:
- A microphone pre-amplifier (mic pre) to amplify the weak signal from the microphone into a line-level signal the monitors can handle.
- An XLR cable of sufficient length to connect the microphone to the microphone pre-amp.
- A mixer to which you connect both your PC's audio output and the mic pre's line output and the inputs of your monitors.

Usually a mixer has mic-pre's built in, so a rather cheap mixer from a brand like Mackie would do the job just fine. This eliminates the need for a cable between the mic pre and mixer. The mixer will also provide an overall volume control, and individual volume controls for the microphone and PC audio. This means you can also use the system to sing along to any audio played from the PC.

The mixer needs to have the following:
- One or more microphone channels with a MICROPHONE input
- One or more stereo channels with LINE inputs
- A stereo master LINE output.

In case of a mixer, you will need to connect your gear like this:

Microphone -> Mixer (XLR male to XLR female lead of sufficient length)

PC -> Mixer (the mixer side most likely needs 1/4" Jack connectors, the PC side depends on the audio card that you built in, but it will most likely be a stereo 1/8"mini-jack)

Mixer -> Monitors (1/4" jack to male XLR lead of sufficient length. You will need to of these cables as you have 2 monitors, positioned left and right)

Those are the audio signal cables. If you can build your own PC, you should be able to figure out how to wire up the power.

Assuming the only thing missing is the mixer, I'd suggest the following models:
- Mackie 402 VLZ3
- Behringer Xenyx Q802USB

The Behringer model has the advantage of a built-in USB interface, which does the same as your audio card, but most likely in better quality (compared to an on-board sound card), and it's built-in, saving another cable. It should also allow you to record performances through the mic into the PC, into something we call a DAW.

It most likely is quite a lot of information coming at you now, but if you take your time to understand it, you'll be able to understand posts like "this mixer is all you need", and decide wether it's true or not.


Good luck choosing gear, Dutchy
Old 15th August 2013
  #8
Here for the gear
 

Thank you, erosconpollo and Dutchy15

Dutchy, you are exactly right about the haves, wants, and needs. I have an SM58 mic to answer your question.

I will most likely go in the direction of the Behringer you mentioned. I know she's not looking to record but I'm planning ahead for that so would rather go in that direction.

From the research I've done, I understand what you have written. I really appreciate everyone's time and help. If I remember, I'll check in once this is all settled or if I have any questions.

Thank you again.

EJ
Old 15th August 2013
  #9
Here for the gear
 

Just curious. Hopefully before the weekend I'll have time to buy either the Mackie 402 VLZ3 or Behringer Xenyx Q802USB. I was checking out some reviews and people mentioned an audio interface would work and are usually preferable over mixers. Am I getting myself in trouble thinking about that too or should I just stick with what has been recommended?

Does an audio interface solve my problem as well? Run a mic into it, usb to computer, and outputs from interface into my studio monitors?

Just tell me to forget about it if I should just stick to one of the two pieces recommended.

Thanks,

EJ
Old 15th August 2013
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by BostonEJ View Post
Just curious. Hopefully before the weekend I'll have time to buy either the Mackie 402 VLZ3 or Behringer Xenyx Q802USB. I was checking out some reviews and people mentioned an audio interface would work and are usually preferable over mixers. Am I getting myself in trouble thinking about that too or should I just stick with what has been recommended?

Does an audio interface solve my problem as well? Run a mic into it, usb to computer, and outputs from interface into my studio monitors?

Just tell me to forget about it if I should just stick to one of the two pieces recommended.

Thanks,

EJ
An audio interface would work as well, but it's a more complicated system, and would require the computer to be on at all times, and also brings other potential banana skins like latency into play.

Your primary target is NOT recording (which the advice was targeted at) but performance, so the mixer solution is definitely better for you.

The behringer option (integrated USB connection) is actually an interface by itself, it just happens to have a mixer section as well. So you can use the mic, or hook up an iPod to sing along with, without requiring you to even have the computer on.

Not often I'd recommend behringer, but this (or something similar) might well be the perfect product for what you want to do.
Old 15th August 2013
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Dutchy15's Avatar
The SM58 is a dynamic microphone (and very well built...) which means it doesn't require phantom power to do it's thing, which makes it a bit easier on you

Shure SM58 - the world's toughest microphone? - YouTube


Dutchy
Old 15th August 2013
  #12
Here for the gear
 

Thank you, monkey.

The constant research always throws new things out there but you're right about my simple requirements and simple solution. I should stick to that and grow later if need be.

Thanks again to everyone.

EJ
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