Head is spinning - help with soundcard/mic choice? - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

 
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post #1 of 4 Old 09-29-07, 03:52 AM
maxdB
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Head is spinning - help with soundcard/mic choice?

I'm looking for a USB audio/soundcard/microphone pre-amp setup to use with REW that would also let me record some of my LPs that were never released on CDs to CD-Rs so it would be nice if software bundled with the device allowed removal of pops and clicks before recording the CD-R. I've beem looking at live recording products that seem to come close, but there are so many to choose from it's hard to know what would be the best solution for the LP thing AND REW measurements. I'd like to spend $250 or less on the whole setup unless there's a compelling reason to spend more.

I have a Radio Shack SPL meter, the old analog version with 10dB ranges... I would rather use a better microphone setup... even willing to use a calibrated microphone if REW results would be any better. I'm not trying to pinch pennies, but don't want to spend more than necessary either. I have a Behringer ECM8000 mic (not calibrated) to use while experimenting with a Behringer Ultra-Curve Pro DEQ2496 (graphic/parametric equalizer, built-in RTA on a TINY display). If that ECM8000 is "good as anything" when it comes to REW measurements, then I'll just keep using it. But if there's something better/calibrated (to be used for home theater calibrations of 5.1 and 7.1 systems) I'm certainly willing to consider it.

I need a USB audio/soundcard/microphone solution so my setup can be portable. To make good recordings from the LPs, I'd prefer to have 24/96 or 24/192 A/D (and D/A) capability with USB 2.0 (I can't believe how many USB 1.1 audio products are still out there!). I can't really tell if the software packages that come with some of the products I've looked at support pop/click removal or not. I have a 10-year-old, but very expensive LP playback system that is so good, it misses a lot of pops and clicks lesser systems pickup, but these are still LPs and it would be nice to not have to hear the pop/click when playing the CDs. LP recording to CD-R is something I'd like to have in this setup, but I don't HAVE to have it.

And I have a question about this statement in the latest REW User Manual:
ANSWERED BY BRUCEK - THANKS!
"Examples of USB soundcards which have been found to work well are the Soundblaster MP3+, Soundblaster Live! 24-bit USB External and the M-Audio MobilePre-USB. Note that microphone inputs are NOT suitable and should not be used."

Microphone inputs are not suitable for WHAT?
Connecting a measurement microphone?
Not suitable to use on any of those tested products or just the M-Audio MobilePre-USB?
I'm not crazy about any of the products mentioned in this quote because they are USB 1.0 and limited to lower sample rates. If the microphone inputs are not suitable for a measurement microphone, what are you SUPPOSED to use?
Are there products that ARE suitable to use with the ECM8000 mic & REW that supply the +15-+48 volts phantom power the ECM8000 needs?
I'd definitely like to have a single box for the microphone input (with mic preamp and phantom power), RCA stereo analog inputs for the LP recording, and stereo or 5.1 or 7.1 analog outputs for the audio test tones, and SP/DIF out (coax preferred). What I'd really like (but this seems impossible) is HDMI output for digital audio so I can connect to newer 5.1/7.1 processors with a single cable and have the processor decode the multi-channel audio via the HDMI input - that would allow me to determine exactly what the processor is doing with incoming signals from HD DVD and Blu-ray players. Using the analog inputs on processors (mostly) bypasses all the "stuff" the processor does (distance/time delays, levels, EQ if any, crossovers, etc.).

Last edited by maxdB; 09-29-07 at 12:48 PM.
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post #2 of 4 Old 09-29-07, 07:44 AM
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brucek
 
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Re: Heas is spinning - help with soundcard/mic choice?

I'm not able to recommend an external soundcard, but most any unit will work fine with REW. It only requires a line-in and line-out to satisfy REW. If it houses its own mic preamp, then it must supply phantom power to be usable with microphones like the ECM8000.

Quote:
But if there's something better/calibrated (to be used for home theatre calibrations of 5.1 and 7.1 systems) I'm certainly willing to consider it
The ECM8000 is the microphone we recommend. It is omni-directional, inexpensive and fairly accurate. We also supply a calibration file on our download page that works for those that don't have the ECM calibrated. ECM8000's are fairly consistent between units, so for home theatre use, the cal file we supply is suffice. Especially since is extends down to 5 Hz.

Quote:
Microphone inputs are not suitable for WHAT?
The caveat you reference is with respect to soundcards and laptops with typical microphone inputs where users are attempting to use them as a line-in when one isn't available. Most laptops don't have a line-in, but do have a mic-in. Their usual 5volt DC bias, combined with high noise and very poor bandwidth are not suitable for plugging in a RadioShack meter that outputs a line level.

Certainly an external soundcard unit with a proper microphone preamp with 48v phantom voltage and full bandwidth is quite good if you have a condenser mic such as the ECM8000.

The preamp we recommend in lieu of a good intergral preamp is the Behringer XENYX802. The ECM plugs directly into it, or you can use a cable. It supplies adjustable line-out. Very nice, inexpensive unit. It's also a really swell mixer with adjustable eq. Might be useful to you..

brucek
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post #3 of 4 Old 09-29-07, 12:41 PM
maxdB
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Re: Heas is spinning - help with soundcard/mic choice?

Thanks, brucek for the clarifications! Very helpful!
 
post #4 of 4 Old 10-16-07, 02:34 PM
dave7
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Re: Head is spinning - help with soundcard/mic choice?

I just posted my mic/soundcard kit for sale. It has everything you'll need for REW, but it is Firewire though. My new PC doesn't have a Firewire connection.
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