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JBL 24th November 2002 03:07 PM

sound card mic input

Recently i've started with one of my friend to do some home recording on a pc. Right now he just want some demo tape so we found overkill to invest in a 6in/6out 24/96 sound card.

The problem I've found is that the mic input of most sound card d'ont have enough gain in them.

So I have two question.

1. Does the gain that we put in the windows mixer is digital or that gain is aplied before the adc.

2. Does adding a standalone(and homebuilt) mic preamp befor the sound card would improve the sound quality.


halojoy 24th November 2002 06:17 PM

What microphones do you use?

JBL 24th November 2002 06:41 PM

Just a cheap dynamic microphone.

sangram 25th November 2002 07:12 AM

Most pro cards will not be able to take a mic level input, they're all designed for studio work. You may actually need a mic preamp before you can even get a mic level input to produce any sound. Also bear in mind that a pro card takes a +4 dBu input, as opposed to -10 consumer standard. Means your preamp has to able to supply enough to keep an input that high happy, and have a low noise level at the same time.

I would suggest to stick with a good 44.1/16 card like the SB Live! platinum or Audigy series. On a cheap dynamic microphone the first set of improvements to be made are in the microphone and preamps. Use a good quality mic like the SM 57/58 and a m-Audio Audiobuddy, and a new decent card. This combo should cost about $300 or so, and will be a huge improvement. More than you can get with switching soundcards to a pro level card, a homemade mic pre and a Delta 66 or something...

To answer your other question, a soundcard does not apply gain. It only attenuates. That too, digitally. The only gain device is the '20dB gain' near the mic slider. That is achieved usually with a single transistor on the soundcard. It usually is very noisy and very low quality.

Sparhawk 25th November 2002 05:16 PM

I wouldn't use the sound card's mic input at all; the mic pre in most sound cards is terrible. :yuck:

Better to use an external mic pre (like this one, maybe) and connect it to the sound card's line input. It will be much quieter, and have more gain.

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