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With the COVID lockdowns intensifying, the musical education of my daughter has also become increasingly remote. This results in her having to often record her singing and/or piano performances to send to her teachers.

I still don't know much about music, but the techno geek in me is itching to upgrade some equipment to get better results. :D

So I was looking at better (yet still inexpensive) microphones that would provide a noticeable improvement over the simple cheap chat-oriented ones that we have. A local music shop offers a JTS TK-600 for just 30€ and on the paper it looks fine. However it's a 600Ω dynamic microphone with an XLR connector and I'm scratching my head whether or not the sound card that I have (an Asus Xonar U3) will be able to use it properly. I just can't find any information about the microphones it supports. Nor do I know what a typical "skype grade" microphone is like (dynamic, probably, but what impedance, and does it matter?)

So... Should such a microphone work fine with standard consumer sound cards, or do I also need a separate audio interface designed for an XLR microphone?

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In my experience, consumer sound cards are generally quite useless for anything but line-level signals or the electret-condensers that are usually what you find in headsets. Dynamic mics have lower impedance but also lower signal level, and bringing up the recording gain means the low-quality mic preamps in the sound card bring up the noise so much that you could as well have used a 10€ electret mic instead. That's not to say that it isn't worth a try though – perhaps you'll find that it's actually ok with your sound card.

Anyway I'd recommend you'd get at least a very simple audio interface – there are ones available for as little as 15€ now, like Behringer MIC 2 USB which essentially looks like just a cable with XLR on one end, USB on the other, so you can then also save on the cable and adapter you'd otherwise need to buy too.

Another alternative could be a USB microphone. You won't get a really good one for the budget you apparently aim for, however again there are surprising offers available and at any rate you can be sure that mic and preamp are matched well in this case.

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  • Well, the Asus Xonar line actually has a very good reputation, which is why I picked it up a while back... however it's all about playback, and nobody talks about its recording capabilities. My budget is about 50€. I know that you can easily go up to thousands of € if you want to (and it would be worth it), but that would of course be overkill... Especially since currently nobody has complained yet (except me who thinks the recordings sound awful). Since outright product recommendations are frowned upon here, perhaps you know of some characteristics of a microphone that I should look for?
    – Vilx-
    Nov 19 '20 at 9:01
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No. Your Xonar expects a different type of mic.

I'm afraid that JTS mic looks absolutely horrible!

The cheapest mic worth buying might be a USB mic for about twice that price. Some are designed to flatter a vocalist when used hand-held and close, others are more suitable for recording 'the whole room'.

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  • What's wrong with it? And also - what should I look for when choosing a microphone? USB microphone would be nice too, yes.
    – Vilx-
    Nov 19 '20 at 9:03

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