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Stereo USB - simultaneous inputs


paulears

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I've been experimenting with USB output microphones. For some things, it's actually quite handy to plug a microphone straight into a laptop and record. I've been doing it with some pretty good results into Sony Soundforge and Adobe Audition and all works as expected. I've also got some more expensive ones that have on-board monitoring. The basic mics just appear as an 'audio device', and Windows thinks they are some type of soundcard - and you just select the right driver and that is that. The clever one needs dedicated drivers and once installed you can record from it and then playback.

 

I'm having trouble with these ones with Cubase. I wanted to send an aux back to the microphone for monitoring, but also have the usual stereo output via the audio card at the same time. Cubase lets me have one or the other, not both - which is annoying.

 

Somebody asked if you can record in stereo - two usb inputs at the same time. I can't think of any way to enable this in any of the software I have?

 

Has anyone tried this - and if so, did they find a way of doing it?

 

I'm very pleased with the quality of these things - just having trouble with anything other than mono/one mic at a time! Other than that - has anyone found a USB merge device of any kind that can do a bit of routing to left and right?

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Jon - cheers for that. It even works! I discovered that it's just a case of using asio4all and setting it up with the asio driver on Soundforge worked fine - although levels are a little lower than not using it - but perfectly ok. The weird thing is that you don't have to use the asio drivers once it exists. In soundforge, record and playback have to be set the same. So using the asio4all setting recorded fine, but playback didn't get to the laptop soundcard, pretty well as any change from the normal drivers tends to do - BUT when I went back to the normal windows drivers, the two usb audio devices came up in that window as sources - routing the mics and routing the playback to the right devices worked fine.

 

 

 

The only odd part was that the mics have red LEDs on them that show steady when the correct driver for them is loaded. Using the asio4all driver interface - these LEDs blink? No clicks or pops, but they flash away. Tomorrow I'll try the clever usb mics and see if playback routing works too.

 

Thanks for the tip - it's pretty clear that recording stereo with two usb microphones, direct to a laptop is perfectly possible. I'll add these to the mic shootout I'm organising. On another forum I agreed to do a live recording in a church (choir and/or organ) using x/y, m/s and a/b all to a multitrack to hear the differences between different techniques - so adding an x/y pair of usb mics will be a good comparison to add. I've been trying to get this together for ages, but it's a nightmare to organise. The idea is just a short choral piece and then a similar one on the organ at a local church with good acoustics.

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ok - will do. It started as a bit of a retort to the people who maintain that certain techniques are awful, some are almost guaranteed to succeed, and certain mics always sound better than others. My idea was to do a bit of blind testing to see if people could hear the differences between techniques and different types of mics - large and small diaphragms, cardioids, omnis and fig-8s, that kind of thing. I've got the venue and the organist/choirmaster mostly positive, so I'm just waiting for them to have something ready to record.
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This kind of thing used to be a common source of poor results when students recorded what the A Level exam board Music Technology people called - 'The Natural Acoustic'. The idea was to use direct to stereo techniques to reproduce the kind of result you hear on a orchestral, choral or similar recording in a decent space.

 

I used to sign, reading blurb from students who had read the Abbey Rd type of thing, and then tried to replicate it.

 

 

We had Decca Trees, ORTF pairs, all sorts of X/Y, A/B, M/S and the others in the almost but not quite family - BUT, unlike Abbey Rd, they couldn't do them properly.

 

Spot mics were the usual wrecker of the recording. At a proper recording studio like the one in the pics, the engineers can use spot mics to add in weaker instruments without destroying the sound field. This takes skill, and very good equipment, because it takes a decent set of ears and patience to get it to come together. Some kind of array might well be technically right, but then the spot mics get added and they have a disastrous impact on the soundfield - all sorts of contradictions in spacial location and depth, plus nasty comb filtering effects and even phasing in really bad versions. For the novice, by far the best results came from a simple pair of mics in the right place. I don't think I ever heard a clever one that worked. It may well have been a Decca Tree, but SM58s are not quite what is required. That's the trouble with looking at pictures like this. You can see what was up, but you don't know how they were routed and blended, or even what pattern the multi-pattern mics were actually on - so the image is interesting, but confusing.

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