On Ep. 11 Bandrew talks about new Podcastage projects, Helping Friends, Music you should check out, The X-Files, talks about his experience with the Acer Chromebook 11, and then talks about different types of microphones mixed with USB soundcards and phantom power supplies.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the most asked questions on my youtube videos is "can I buy the cheaper USB soundcard and get the same result?" The answer I have always had to give is "I have no idea". I decided to fix that, I bought 6 USB Soundcards to compare the audio from.
My least favorite cards were the two wired USB adapters. The stereo one (white cord) was just too quiet, and too digital sounding. The 7.1 card (black cord) was simply too loud and completely unuseable. At 2% input gain, I was still clipping. Then we have the virtual 5.1 soundcard which is blue. This card gave me the same problem as the other cards. Too digital and too quiet, but if you are on a budget, it will be a decent soundcard.
Number 3 on my list is The HDE 7.1 which is one of the cheaper cards. I like this card because it provides a much more natural sound and audio compared to the previous 3 discussed. Unfortunately, for me it was too quiet. I had to crank the gain up to about 75% to get a good level, and at that point, the background noise has been turned up along with the microphone. If you are on a budget, this is a great option for a soundcard, and it performed admirably.
Number 2 on my list is the Sabrent 7.1 card which is the most expensive card that I tested out. I liked this one a lot. It provided natural sounding audio, plenty of gain, however, for what I am doing, I don't need the headphone volume & mute or the microphone mute. These are nice features, but for me are unnecessary.
Number 1 is the Sabrent Stereo USB Audio Adapter. The card that I have been using since day one. In all honesty, it was just pure luck that I ordered this one, and that it turned out to be so good. I think the audio produced through this is as good as the Sabrent 7.1, but in a simpler package. No buttons to mess with, which I like. It is also cheaper than the 7.1 card.
In conclusion, if you are just recording a podcast, or voice over for a video, I think that the Stereo Sabrent card will work perfectly fine for you. It's what I use and I am completely happy with it. On the other hand, if you are gaming online, and you want to be able to adjust your headphone volume, or mute your microphone, the 7.1 Sabrent card will be the right option for you.
Sabrent Stereo: http://amzn.to/1Ikwqt5
Sabrent 7.1: http://amzn.to/1IkwtVI
HDE 7.1: http://amzn.to/1Ikww3H
Virtual 5.1: http://amzn.to/1T8qZ64
Gino Stereo: http://amzn.to/1IkwCIQ
Gino 7.1: http://amzn.to/1T8r21R