Do XLR to USB Cables Work?

I love finding new gear that solves a problem, or just makes life easier. But the problem with this, is a lot of the time, devices that claim to solve a problem, don't work properly. The device that I have seen popping up all over the internet are these XLR to USB cables. In theory, you should be able to plug an XLR microphone into your computer using this cable, and you'll be able to record. But do they really work?

I am not going to speak at length. I will just tell you what I found. I found that this cable does work, but only for microphones that do not require any DC voltage to function. This means that out of the box, you cannot use any condenser microphones (NW-700),  with this cable. You can only use this cable with dynamic microphones (SM58, PDMIC58).

I did test a work around: plug the condenser microphone into a phantom power supply, and then run the phantom power supplies output through this XLR to USB cable. This did allow the microphone to work, but the cable provides too hot of a signal and we were clipping with the microphone input gain set at 1%. To me, I think that this cable is essentially useless as it only works with a hand full of mics. However, if you have a dynamic microphone, and you are looking to simplify your set up even more, then this cable may be right for you. 

If you have any more questions about this cable, leave it in the comments down below or on the youtube video and I will try to get back to you ASAP. Thanks so much.

Buy it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1SUxIRw

Can Phantom Power Improve Your Cheap Mics Audio?

This is my third video of the week because people keep asking good questions, and I can't wait to answer them. Over the past few weeks, I have received countless comments asking if adding a phantom power supply to your cheap mic setup can improve your microphones audio. To put it simply, yes and no. Let's look more at this.

The Test

For this test, I ran the Excelvan BM-700 directly into the Sabrent USB Audio Adapter as well as the Gino Stereo USB Audio Adapter for a base quality test. Then as a comparison, I ran the microphone into the Neewer Phantom Power Supply, and then ran the output from the phantom power supply into each adapter. I include comparisons of me talking, and then samples of the background noise. 

Results

The initial audio from the Sabrent Adapter was pretty good. My microphone input gain was set at 7% on my computer and there was very little background noise. When I added the phantom power supply to this set up, I was able to drop my input gain from 7% down to 4%. You can hear a slight bump in clarity and high end once phantom power is added, but you also hear a slight increase in background noise (a new hiss).

The first test with the Gino Stereo USB Adapter is horrible. The audio sounded digital, quiet, and I had to set my microphone input gain to 72% which yielded a ridiculous amount of background noise. Once I added the phantom power supply, the audio for this adapter improved considerably! The sound was clearer, crisper, and less digital sounding. We were able to drop the input gain from 72% down to 35% and this led to a significant decrease in background noise. 

Conclusion

If you have a Sabrent audio adapter, or an audio adapter that gives you plenty of gain, and you don't have much background noise, I do not think that it's justifiable to purchase a $20 power supply. On the other hand, if you have a cheap piece of crap USB adapter that forces you to crank your input gain, causing ridiculous background noise, the phantom power does seem to improve that.

However, keep in mind that regardless of what accessories you get, you are running a microphone into a cheap USB Adapter. Your audio quality will always be limited by this. The pre amps in these USB Sound Cards are nothing special, and quite frankly, kind of suck. If you really want to improve your audio, I recommend looking into an audio interface that was designed to record microphones. An audio interface that has real preamps in it. But if that option is out of your price range, this solution seems to work just fine.

Neewer Phantom Power Supply: http://amzn.to/1llLK3a
Sabrent USB Audio Adapter: http://amzn.to/1llLGR6
Gino USB Audio Adapter: http://amzn.to/1IkwCIQ
BM-700: http://amzn.to/1InMPgb