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I'm looking for a nice Lavalier mic to buy mainly concerned about audio quality. I've currently set eyes on this one: http://www.amazon.com/Audio-Technica-PRO70-Condenser-Instrument-Microphone/dp/B001CITVNQ/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8

It has an XLR cable output and my question is the following: If I get an XLR to standard stereo cable and hook this mic directly to my laptop's mic recording input, I should be able to capture the sound from the mic via some software in the computer in real time and record it, right? And that without losing from the quality of the sound, of course.

And a bonus question - description says it operates on phantom power as well as battery so if I connect in the way described above, am I going to need the battery or not?

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    You can't get real-time result, it may have lag for few seconds. Try search "ASIO4ALL" to fix this. I prefer to get a cheap sound card to deal with it better. – seseorang Jun 25 '15 at 13:56
  • I do actually have a quite nice sound card which uses ASIO driver but what I'm trying to do is quite the opposite - get rid of it so I can carry less equipment with me around and plug in the mic straight to the laptop instead of additional piece of hardware. What would cause the lag though? Aren't you supposed to be able to use such a mic for let's say real time Skype conversations or something similar? – mmvsbg Jun 25 '15 at 15:17
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Microphones produce a very small signal that needs to be amplified, so you'll need a preamp. A computer mic typically includes that preamp (you don't notice it, it's hidden somewhere inside), but professional microphones don't (I checked that model just in case, it doesn't). Unless your computer mic input has a preamp (it most likely doesn't), you won't be able to implement that setup. At best you might be able to capture some very low amplitude audio, with a lot of noise. Horrible quality.

What you need is an audio interface (aka sound card) with an XLR input (which will have a preamp for that input). You could also amplify the mic with other device (mixing console, stand-alone preamp, vocal amplifier, etc) and then connect that device output to your computer, but the included internal sound cards tend to be bad and noisy, so if you are investing in something invest in an audio interface and not another type of amplifying device.

You will need batteries if you use your described setup (which again, I strongly recommend against). Chances are that your computer doesn't have phantom power, which is what powers a condenser mic without batteries. You need to look for an audio interface with phantom power (or a mixing console, or a stand-alone preamp, or similar, will also provide the phantom power functionality, but in your specific case I really recommend you an audio interface instead).

  • Thank you for the feedback. As I mentioned in my comments above, I do have an audio interface and in fact I was able to set the whole scenario up using it but I'm currently trying to find a way to hook up the mic directly to the laptop so I don't have to carry an addition piece of equipment around. Can you suggest an idea how I can do that? – mmvsbg Jun 25 '15 at 15:29
  • @mmvsbg You won't get a usable signal without an extra piece of equipment. I'm assuming your computer is a laptop, so installing an internal sound card with XLR and phantom power options should be out of the question (unless you manage to find a way to do it). But it still would be an internal sound card, close to all your computer mechanisms, so there's a big chance it will be noisy. Not worth your time and money it in my opinion. – Jamm Jun 25 '15 at 15:40
  • @mmvsbg What you can do is get a very small audio interface like the Apogee Duet, Apogee One, Blue Microphones Icicle, ART XConnect, Alesis MicLink, Shure X2u, etc. Just be very careful, most of those micro audio interfaces are 16 bits only, and I strongly recommend you an interface that supports 24 bits (and always record at 24 bits). Check sweetwater.com/c695--USB_Audio_Interfaces to see a very wide array of options. In that page you can also ask questions to the shop's representatives, abuse that feature. You can also get a portable recorder (no laptop), like the Zoom H4N. – Jamm Jun 25 '15 at 15:46
  • Thank you, I'll definitely see how much and how far I can abuse the Sweetwater representatives. Unfortunately, I can't get rid off the laptop and based on your comments I guess there's no way to walk around the audio interface as well so at this point I'm stuck with this setup. Making the audio interface smaller is a relatively good option but since it's still there and I do have a nice old Focusrite Saffire 6 in my rack that also goes into the not worth the money category. Thanks for the input though, marking this as an answer as it did show me that there's no easy solution to my problem. – mmvsbg Jun 25 '15 at 16:05
  • And just to follow up on the answer, what about a mic with build in preamp to directly plug into the laptop without the need of audio interface or that goes a bit to the science fiction genre? – mmvsbg Jun 25 '15 at 16:46
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If you have any thought of audio quality, you will need an interface between microphone and computer.

What's the application? Maybe you'd be better served by ditching the laptop and using a portable recorder. The Zoom H4N offers XLR inputs, but maybe the built-in stereo microphones can be positioned to capture what you need? In that case, the smaller, cheaper H2N might suit.

The AT mic seems to output a balanced mic-level on XLR. A laptop may have a TRS mini-jack input, offering a type of phantom power (but a different sort to what the AT mic needs) to a headset-type mic. There may also be a stereo Line In, using a similar connector. Neither are suitable for direct connection of the AT mic.

  • Thank you for your time. Unfortunately, I cannot ditch the laptop as this stage as I'm recording both video and audio. The video camera captures the video and 'on-the-scene' sound and then I'm mixing that in real time through the laptop with a second audio input which serves as additional commentary to the video. I was hoping to find a way to simplify the audio setup by removing the interface and plugging in a mic directly into the laptop but reflecting on the answers and comments here, at this stage, that seems not possible :( – mmvsbg Jun 25 '15 at 15:59
  • Actually, you can still ditch the laptop. Position the camera in the best available position for seeing, the recorder in the best for hearing. No need for cables connecting them together - just stitch their individual recordings together afterwards in a video editor. You may need a few ms delay on the audio if it was appreciably closer to the source than the camera. Now everything's digital, wild sync. should be perfectly OK. – Laurence Payne Jun 25 '15 at 16:10
  • That's a good tip, however, I need one audio input from the camera and then another one for the background commentary. The background commentary needs to be far, far away from the camera along with the laptop which is why I'm looking for a solution similar to the one described in the question above. Additionally, there is not post production - it's all recorded live and streamed live, pretty much as doing a live TV broadcast. (And just as a side note, I can do some artificial delay to sync audio with video through the software on the laptop, however, it's highly desirable to avoid that). – mmvsbg Jun 25 '15 at 16:44

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