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> audio is a pita
BlueCatShip
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post Jan 12 2012, 06:44 PM
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Some time back, I had all sorts of trouble trying to get my then-new systems, desktop and laptop, Win7 Home Premium, set up for audio recording. I'd recorded audio before on a few systems over a few years, off and on. So I was truly unhappy with this setup. I'm on the same computers now. I eventually gave up. Too much in my life then more important even than this, which was often fun. (Hey, I like to sing along with my favorite songs when I can.) I also wanted to do more audio work, to get more into amateur and professional audio voice work. I had had a couple of small audio roles for HiddenFrontier.com for Star Trek fan audio, and I'd recorded audio of many stories and poems for a gay-friendly website, CodeysWorld.com . So when I couldn't get Win7 and my existing equipment to work right, I was very bummed out. (It could've meant a job opening, intermittent at least.) I missed several fan audio opportunities. Not happy.

What I'm getting is a noticeable delay between recording and monitor playback, such that, when the idea is to sing along or speak along with other audio, it throws you off. Then there was a slight echo feedback problem between the speakers, headphones, and headset microphone. Trying a separate mic didn't help, it was worse. Trying any of the few options available from Windows Sound control panel or the third party control panels, not much help. (Including, at one point, a truly nasty feedback problem.) I felt badly frustrated, foolish for not being able to figure it out, and set it aside. I even asked one friend to look at it and asked another for advice, though he was over the web, IM and email.

Flash forward. Include a few more stabs at it at various times. Change headsets when one busts. Include another headset tried on the laptop, and try swapping both between. The laptop and desktop are different makers, different options. Try the usual, "listen to playback," to monitor what you're doing with the mic in your headphones, so you know your volume levels and it sounds OK. But that seemed to give delay and feedbak. -- And previous versions of Windows on previous systems had not had these problems. I was stumped.

Present day. I decided to try again. Things were going as before, but I'd gotten slightly better results, and was thinking I might be able to use this, even with a delay and feedback. It wasn't quite perfect. I couldn't sing along or speak in timing properly, but for other things, it was workable.

And then the computer's settings seemed to go wonky. (You know, one of those technical terms.) My voice can go fairly high, but not *that* high. Not even Chris Colfer's counter-tenor goes that high, for goodness' sakes. And my voice doesn't go that low, either. Nor does it skip around or get jumbled and that mushy, all mashed together.

I thought it was a software error from so much fiddling with the settings. I waited on a download to finish and rebooted.

Nope, it's not that. I think these headphones (with mic) have gone bad. -- And oh, how I wish I could fix them. I *think* I hae a spare still. The microphone's busted. The earphones are fine.

Just please don't let it be the front audio jacks. If so, I'll be upset. (Desktop.)

Hopefully, this will work fine.

Audio, the headset, earphones, or microphone, seem very delicate, usually the wire.

I'm hoping I might find out how to overcome this, but previous tries, no luck.

Why this would be different with Vista and 7, I don't know.

Growl.
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BlueCatShip
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post Jan 12 2012, 06:45 PM
Post #2
It turns out I did have a spare headset, but it's cheap, with no volume control for the headphones and no mute for the mic.

I've ruled out two settings in Win7's and the 3rd party control panels. They cancel echo/feedback indeed, and clip and mangle the audio (speaking, singing, whistling) beyond use. So bad it's funny!

Two people elsewhere have said it's Win7's new audio architecture, that they've had severe latency issues like I've seen.

They say if I'm serious about this, I should get an external mixer and other equipment, have that process and sync inputs, and send the output to the computer for storage. But I could use advice on that. I've never bought before, don't know quite what I need, and don't want to over-spend or get something cheap/unusable either. What I need is beginner to intermediate, I think.

There is (or was) at least one audio (equipment, instruments) store in town, if it's still around. If not, I'll need to find one. -- But I've learned the past several months to look first online, because I've run into stores not having things in stock and not having people who can help. Not exactly a small town, either.

Any advice appreciated! Thanks in advance.

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capell
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post Jan 14 2012, 10:12 PM
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Using the computer for your monitor is usually where folks go south - especially when you have playback going on too. The best thing you can do is use a zero-latency return - and the best move for that is a FireWire-based capture device.

Barring that, using the headphone jack on a USB 2 interface. This isn't a perfect solution - but multi-track recording is a puzzle. Rather than like live audio mixing, where everything is captured simultaneously; multi-track can be put together over many sessions and time frames.

This is a great place to start - and while it's meant for Podcasting, the rules are pretty universal for the selection process.

I personally own a Blue Yeti - and it has a headphone jack for zero-latency return as well as an interface for playback from the capture application (It's platform agnostic too, so it works on Win7 as well as Mac). I plan to upgrade to the Yeti Pro soon, since that gives me a bit more flexibility for future needs (has a Stereo XLR interface for when I plug it into a larger rig), and the quality/cost ratio is sufficient for my needs.

I'd advise you to look around - try out gear in local music stores if you can. Ask the salesperson lots of questions and get opinions on not just brands, but techniques. If they can't answer the technique questions, they're just feeding you into whatever gets them a kickback that month.

(edited to bring clarity to the analogy)

This post has been edited by capell: Jan 14 2012, 10:13 PM
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