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I need sound advice (pun intended)

Sorry there's no TL;DR because there's just too much details to leave out IMO ):

I apologise in advance for the long story, just thought I should flesh out the details so people can have a clear story of what I need.

I have recently decided to replace an old & cheap Sades headset that has a broken mic. I have just started playing Rainbow 6, and with a mic it might improve the gaming experience for me.

I have did research over the past few days, and decided on a decent headset + mic combo. No strict budget but I am trying to go below $100 in total, but if there is a need I can increase.

I do not live in the US, so am trying to consolidate my purchased items into 1 shipment and ship it to my home country. So where possible I would like to make a quick decision over the next week or so.

Headset:
I have decided on the Samson SR850, after considering the Superlux 668B for the longest time, mainly due to the fact I do not have to purchase velour earpads replacement and they cost the same. I live in a tropical climate and the breathable earpads will help with the sweat situation. The only thing I am worried about is its semi-open back nature, I have yet to own one, and I am afraid when gaming/listening to music at night at average levels I might bother people in the same/next room (doors open). Any opinions on that would be good.

Mic:
I have an old Shure Beta58A (supercardioid dynamic vocal microphone) with an XLR to USB 2.0 cable. This is my first time using it even though I've bought it before. However, the pick up volume is extremely low unless I am right on top of the mic, or shouting, and even then it is still not overly loud. I am not sure if this is due to the nature of the microphone, or the lack of power from the XLR-USB cable. 

Now you have my backstory, here is my 2-level dilemma:

Do I need to purchase a DAC/AMP so that I can have decent sounding music/mic pick up with my Shure mic & Samson headset? I do not think I have a soundcard, and the motherboard I am using is Gigabyte GA-H87-D3H. Not sure if this can provide decent sound with the Samson headset. I am currently using cheap speakers and headsets so can't tell, but I would like to improve my experience since I have a little bit of extra cash right now.

Do I purchase a new mic? There are a couple of cheap mics that I can clip onto the cable of the headset that seems to pick up decently as seen/heard from the Amazon reviews.

Clip on Mic options: 
Neewer 2X 3.5mm Hands Free Computer Clip on Mini Lapel Microphone
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005DJOIPQ/ref=ox_sc_...

and

Zalman Zm-Mic1 High Sensitivity Headphone Microphone
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00029MTMQ/ref=ox_sc_...

Huge thanks to anyone who has read all the way, I very much appreciate this community.

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Hi there :)

 

Well, I did read the story. But I'm gonna try to simplify cause I see you a little lost in the thing.

Me myself am a enthusiast of sound and good music (even through my computer).

And why do I say this? Cause computers as source for music are plain bad. Even if you plug DACS etc. And if you want to improve (a bit, not great much) you need to open your wallet for good.

So this said, my advice is you go for a good budget pair of headset. Such as the HyperX Cloud 2.

They have GREAT stereo sound (also the chance to make it 7.1, which i DO NOT recommend, is just a gimmick) detachable mic, so you can just pull it out if you don't use it and they are actually cheap for what they offer. 

And forget about Dacs and etc. Keep it simple with your computer sound ;) 

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With regards to the mic, it's worth checking a few things before getting a different (worse) one.

 

You will need a good amount of gain, otherwise it will be quiet. If your xlr-usb cable doesn't present any options for this then you can either use a xlr-3.5mm cable (losing the benefit of a balanced connection) and use the pre-amp in your motherboard; or get a cheap audio interface (behringer UM2 or UMC22 [despite certain people's opinion of these products I've never had issues with behringer products]).

 

Those cheap mics you linked will have nowhere near the quality of a beta58.

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Forgot to multi-quote, and I can't find an option to delete this so ignore this lol...

Edited by iamatechnoob
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1 hour ago, anothertom said:

With regards to the mic, it's worth checking a few things before getting a different (worse) one.

 

You will need a good amount of gain, otherwise it will be quiet. If your xlr-usb cable doesn't present any options for this then you can either use a xlr-3.5mm cable (losing the benefit of a balanced connection) and use the pre-amp in your motherboard; or get a cheap audio interface (behringer UM2 or UMC22 [despite certain people's opinion of these products I've never had issues with behringer products]).

 

Those cheap mics you linked will have nowhere near the quality of a beta58.

Are you able to explain this to me "(losing the benefit of a balanced connection)" as I don't get quite it.. Sorry I'm really new to this and I'm still learning along the way..

Does my motherboard has this pre-amp you speak of? I'm honestly not sure how to check it, hence I listed it down in hopes that someone could teach me how.

 

Are there any cheap audio interfaces you can recommend that will be suitable for my use? (able to plug in mic & headphones)

 

3 hours ago, Karl Sven said:

Hi there :)

 

Well, I did read the story. But I'm gonna try to simplify cause I see you a little lost in the thing.

Me myself am a enthusiast of sound and good music (even through my computer).

And why do I say this? Cause computers as source for music are plain bad. Even if you plug DACS etc. And if you want to improve (a bit, not great much) you need to open your wallet for good.

So this said, my advice is you go for a good budget pair of headset. Such as the HyperX Cloud 2.

They have GREAT stereo sound (also the chance to make it 7.1, which i DO NOT recommend, is just a gimmick) detachable mic, so you can just pull it out if you don't use it and they are actually cheap for what they offer. 

And forget about Dacs and etc. Keep it simple with your computer sound ;) 

Hello and thanks for the kind reply!

 

Well to tell the truth, I started off by looking at headsets, then gaming headsets, and was looking at a few different models. My friend just got his HyperX Cloud 2, and he says its decent, and not too expensive either. But after searching through the headphone + mic combos, I've started to really like the Samson SR850...

 

And yes I am a little lost, because I was never good in this, but I'm trying to pick up as much as I can along the way.

 

But yeah in short, I'd still like to grasp at any chance to make full use of my existing Shure mic, with the Samson SR8500, as much as possible. If I can't reach a satisfactory outcome I might just get the HyperX Cloud 2 instead, but that's really my last resort :/

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1 minute ago, iamatechnoob said:

Are you able to explain this to me "(losing the benefit of a balanced connection)" as I don't get quite it.. Sorry I'm really new to this and I'm still learning along the way..

Balanced vs Unbalanced

 

An unbalanced connection uses absolute referencing to determine the signal level, and only requires two conductors; a Hot (positive) pin and a ground pin. The level of the hot pin is exactly the signal level. This provides no protection from interference as the signal is measured against the ground. Connectors used are a stereo 3.5mm jack (gives two unbalanced connections) a TS 3.5/6.35mm jack, a phono connector...; i.e. the output of a phone/mp3 player is an unbalanced two channel signal.

 

A balanced connection uses differential measurement of a hot (positive) and cold (negative) pins with a third ground connection purely for electrical grounding. The cold signal is an exact inverse of the hot signal, and the output signal is measured as the difference between the two signals. This provides full protection from electrical interference (How? I hear you ask). Well, by assuming that the interference will affect the positive and negative signals in an identical way (hint: it does), the difference between the two signals remains at the original magnitude, it's difficult to explain without drawing something, so here's one someone else did. Connectors used are: Mono TRS 3.5/6.35mm jacks, XLR(3/5)...; this is most commonly found in professional audio equipment or high end consumer equipment.

 

More info on balanced audio and Differential Signalling.

 

19 minutes ago, iamatechnoob said:

Does my motherboard has this pre-amp you speak of?

Yes. Pretty much all motherboard have a built in mic pre-amp. There is usually a single pre-amp for both front and rear connections, so you can only use a single mic input at a time. While it is a pre-amp it won't be as nice as the ones found in a good audio interface or in a decent mixer.

 

21 minutes ago, iamatechnoob said:

Are there any cheap audio interfaces you can recommend that will be suitable for my use?

Personally I would recommend Behringer products (UM2/UMC22/UMC202) until you reach the price of a Focusrite Scarlett Solo (~£/$99) at which point Focusrite are preferred.

 

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26 minutes ago, iamatechnoob said:

Are you able to explain this to me "(losing the benefit of a balanced connection)" as I don't get quite it.. Sorry I'm really new to this and I'm still learning along the way..

Does my motherboard has this pre-amp you speak of? I'm honestly not sure how to check it, hence I listed it down in hopes that someone could teach me how.

 

Are there any cheap audio interfaces you can recommend that will be suitable for my use? (able to plug in mic & headphones)

 

Hello and thanks for the kind reply!

 

Well to tell the truth, I started off by looking at headsets, then gaming headsets, and was looking at a few different models. My friend just got his HyperX Cloud 2, and he says its decent, and not too expensive either. But after searching through the headphone + mic combos, I've started to really like the Samson SR850...

 

And yes I am a little lost, because I was never good in this, but I'm trying to pick up as much as I can along the way.

 

But yeah in short, I'd still like to grasp at any chance to make full use of my existing Shure mic, with the Samson SR8500, as much as possible. If I can't reach a satisfactory outcome I might just get the HyperX Cloud 2 instead, but that's really my last resort :/

Don't you worry, being lost is a process required to learn :) We will help you to reach there.

By the way, HyperX has a new model called Alpha, so check it out mayube you might be interested on it too.

Also you would like to know this:

"Gaming world" is full of marketing gimmicks as you might have noticed already. Because of the target and the community itself. But sometimes is hard to don't fall for it even when you know they're lying to your face. You yourself said it "started looking this... then I gor redirected to gaming headsets...." is easy, the system is really well designed so you end up with something flashy with bad quality that you don't really need.

So I will really recommend (and this will go for you to make profit of that mic you want) that you look into in-ear headphones. Yes, the ones that goes inside the ear.

Sound wise are, in my opinion, vastly superior to over ear. 

So get out from the "gaming" circle pages and go to for example music speciallized or even sport in-ear buds, so you will find a good wireless ones (ment to run with them, but also really comfortable if you wanna stay in home moving with them)

Anything else I will answer when I'm available :) Happy to help, I was where you are right now 7 months ago and... Is shit xD;) 

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18 hours ago, Karl Sven said:

Don't you worry, being lost is a process required to learn :) We will help you to reach there.

By the way, HyperX has a new model called Alpha, so check it out mayube you might be interested on it too.

Also you would like to know this:

"Gaming world" is full of marketing gimmicks as you might have noticed already. Because of the target and the community itself. But sometimes is hard to don't fall for it even when you know they're lying to your face. You yourself said it "started looking this... then I gor redirected to gaming headsets...." is easy, the system is really well designed so you end up with something flashy with bad quality that you don't really need.

So I will really recommend (and this will go for you to make profit of that mic you want) that you look into in-ear headphones. Yes, the ones that goes inside the ear.

Sound wise are, in my opinion, vastly superior to over ear. 

So get out from the "gaming" circle pages and go to for example music speciallized or even sport in-ear buds, so you will find a good wireless ones (ment to run with them, but also really comfortable if you wanna stay in home moving with them)

Anything else I will answer when I'm available :) Happy to help, I was where you are right now 7 months ago and... Is shit xD;) 

I have in-ears, but its difficult to get those that are comfortable for me. They tend to hurt my ears after a couple of hours of using. I usually use in-ears when I am out, for the low profile, and it does not mess up my hair like headphones do.

 

I did check out Alpha, but its currently for almost double the price of Cloud 2 where I live. Its out of my budget. But yes I want to get out of the gaming headsets circle because I know it is gimmicky. I want the best bang for my buck and with as good of a quality where my budget limits.

 

 

18 hours ago, anothertom said:

Balanced vs Unbalanced

 

An unbalanced connection uses absolute referencing to determine the signal level, and only requires two conductors; a Hot (positive) pin and a ground pin. The level of the hot pin is exactly the signal level. This provides no protection from interference as the signal is measured against the ground. Connectors used are a stereo 3.5mm jack (gives two unbalanced connections) a TS 3.5/6.35mm jack, a phono connector...; i.e. the output of a phone/mp3 player is an unbalanced two channel signal.

 

A balanced connection uses differential measurement of a hot (positive) and cold (negative) pins with a third ground connection purely for electrical grounding. The cold signal is an exact inverse of the hot signal, and the output signal is measured as the difference between the two signals. This provides full protection from electrical interference (How? I hear you ask). Well, by assuming that the interference will affect the positive and negative signals in an identical way (hint: it does), the difference between the two signals remains at the original magnitude, it's difficult to explain without drawing something, so here's one someone else did. Connectors used are: Mono TRS 3.5/6.35mm jacks, XLR(3/5)...; this is most commonly found in professional audio equipment or high end consumer equipment.

 

More info on balanced audio and Differential Signalling.

 

Yes. Pretty much all motherboard have a built in mic pre-amp. There is usually a single pre-amp for both front and rear connections, so you can only use a single mic input at a time. While it is a pre-amp it won't be as nice as the ones found in a good audio interface or in a decent mixer.

 

Personally I would recommend Behringer products (UM2/UMC22/UMC202) until you reach the price of a Focusrite Scarlett Solo (~£/$99) at which point Focusrite are preferred.

 

Thanks for the explanation! Still a little lost but I think I get a little gist of it all.

 

I've taken a look at the Behringer and Focusrite Scarlett Solo, The Behringer falls more within my budget, and the UMC22 seems to be relatively bang for buck and a good entry level interface for my use.

 

But I am going to take your advice to get a XLR-3.5mm cable, and try using the preamp in my mobo first. If that does not work well, I will probably get the Behringer UMC22. How does that sound?

 

 

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1 hour ago, iamatechnoob said:

But I am going to take your advice to get a XLR-3.5mm cable, and try using the preamp in my mobo first. If that does not work well, I will probably get the Behringer UMC22. How does that sound?

That would be a good idea. One thing to try before though:

 

Using the XLR->USB cable you've got, go into recording devices, go into the properties for that. In the 'Levels' tab, there should be two sliders, one 'Microphone' and one 'Microphone Boost', the second should really be called microphone gain. Try adding more gain to the mic, and also make sure the level isn't turned down. If that still doesn't help then try the XLR to 3.5mm adapter, and if that's not very god then an interface.

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2 minutes ago, anothertom said:

That would be a good idea. One thing to try before though:

 

Using the XLR->USB cable you've got, go into recording devices, go into the properties for that. In the 'Levels' tab, there should be two sliders, one 'Microphone' and one 'Microphone Boost', the second should really be called microphone gain. Try adding more gain to the mic, and also make sure the level isn't turned down. If that still doesn't help then try the XLR to 3.5mm adapter, and if that's not very god then an interface.

using the XLR-USB cable, I do not get Microphone Boost/Gain option, only one option for the microphone sound level. I do not understand why I don't get this. I got the option for my Sades headset's microphone.

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Just so you know its an option, a ModMic 4 would put you right at your budget-line with the SR850... instead of the Zalman anyway. I'm totally bias of course (see my signature) but I really hate having to attach a mic to myself every time I want to use it. Not worth saving 40 dollars to ME, but it may be worth it to you. You'd end up a few dollars over if you need the USB adapter (very likely and highly recommended).

Director of Marketing for Antlion Audio, creators of the ModMic.

More info at www.ModMic.com

Ask questions, I'm friendly!

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Thanks everyone for the tips and advice! I'll try out using the XLR-3.5mm cable, if it doesn't work I'll probably get the Behringer UMC22.

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2 hours ago, iamatechnoob said:

Thanks everyone for the tips and advice! I'll try out using the XLR-3.5mm cable, if it doesn't work I'll probably get the Behringer UMC22.

do you have the specs for the mic?

have you gone into sounds(right click speaker icon and select properties) and setup the mic or just plugged and played?

 

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set mic windows properties to mic being used 

192khz at #bits

-db pickup point

both set under sounds microphone configure

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