When I first set up my home studio a few years ago I looked at using a USB microphone in order to voice tracks for radio news reports and podcasts. But I wasn’t happy with the latency on the first USB mic I purchased, so I decided to go all out and pick up a USB mixer and a condenser microphone so I could monitor my audio levels using the mixer. A mixer also lets you input multiple audio signals simultaneously, but to be perfectly honest, 99% of the time the only thing plugged into my mixer is a microphone.
My mic of choice is an AKG Perception 100 studio-style condenser mic. The microphone costs about $100 and sounds as good to my ear as many mics that cost twice the price.
Now AKG is launching a USB version of the AKG Perception 120, a similar studio-style condenser microphone. In other words, you’ll be able to plug the mic directly into a computer without a mixer. You won’t be able to plug in 4 instruments at a time this way, but if you’re just recording voice tracks or looking for a high quality mic for making Skype calls, this could be the way to go.
The Perception 120 USB is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 as well as OS X. The mic has an integrated 24-bit analog to digital converter. It also has a switchable bass-cut filter, a Blue LED to indicate operationg, and an integrated pop filter.
It comes with a tripod table stand, swivel mount, and USB cable. The one thing the mic doesn’t seem to have is an integrated heaphone jack, which means you’ll probably have to rely on your computer’s sound card for audio feedback. And depending on your computer, that could mean you’ll have a latency issue (which would cause you to hear your own voice a split second after you speak). At least, that’s the problem I had with early USB condenser mics.
In other audio production news, Transom’s Jeff Towne has posted extensive reviews of 3 new handheld digital audio recorders from Tascam. He looked at the Tascam DR-1, DR-7, and DR-100.
The good news is that all three are compact and relatively easy to us. The bad news is that you’ll need a high output mic like a battery powered condenser mic if you want to use an external microphone with any of these recorders, since the noise to signal ration is a bit high (and hiss-inducing) when you use a dynamic microphone like the ElectroVoice RE-50 on any of the models, including the DR-100 which has XLR inputs.
You can find more details and a good number of audio clips over at Transom.
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