Audio memoir–Part four

We’ve reached the final installment of the audio memoir topic of recording gear. If you’re not satisfied with basic, entry-level audio for your recorded memoir, you’re in good company. What, after all, is the point of putting in all the time and effort to create something if you’re not going to make it as good as it can be? Especially if all that stands in the way is a modest expenditure.

You’ll need a couple extra pieces of hardware if you want your work to sound more professional. Start with a decent microphone. My audio engineering friend, Steve Whitworth suggests the following:blue-snowball-ice-mics

Blue Snowball iCE–a condenser mic by famed microphone maker Blue, known for high end studio mics. It’s $50 on Amazon but probably reasonably priced at your local music store, too.

cad-u37-micAnother option is the CAD U37–also a condenser. CAD is famous for tough, reliable drum mics, and this one is only $41 on Amazon, though local retailers are sure to carry it as well.

When using programs like Audacity and Reaper (reviewed in part three), sound quality can be elevated to the point of near professional voice-over work with the additional investment in an audio “pre-amp.” In recording studios, microphone signals of any and every variety are run through a pre-amp before being fed to a recording medium, in our case, a computer.

The job of the pre-amp is to “warm” the signal and bolster its frequency response across the spectrum. End result: the recorded voice sounds more like you, clearer, and slightly louder. This improved signal gives you more to work with in the mixing process and can enhance the listenability of voices that are not ideal for public speaking or reading projects. In other words, it makes a non-trained voice sound more like a trained one.audiobox_usb-02

An excellent product for just this purpose is a Presonus Audio Box; it’s a pre-amp that sports an internal digital interface. The digital interface converts your mic’s output to data your computer can process. This one unit does both, extremely well, and it costs a meager $100.

If you use such a device, you’ll need a traditional condenser microphone to connect to it, NOT a USB ready style mic. Again, there are a couple bargain choices available. Steve suggests:

AudioHipster AH-01–it sells for $125 on-line at It’s a professional quality voice-over mic, and someday, when the industry figures out how good it is, the price will go up.

Option 2 is the MXL-990–another excellent choice which we’ve seen locally for $69. Simply put, it’s a hell of a mic for the money.

To recap, here are some Sears style option packages:

Do it right. What have you got to lose?

Do it right. What have you got to lose?

GOOD: Audacity–Free download. Works with your built in mic.

BETTER: Audacity with a USB-ready mic, like a CAD U37.

BEST: Audacity with a Presonus AudioBox pre-amp/interface for $100 and an MXL 990 mic for $69.

The very best option is only $169, and you’ll sound like a pro. Not bad. If you have any recording experience, you may prefer Reaper for the more sophisticated features, in which case add $60. Still a damn good deal.

Happy recording!


About joshlangston

Grateful and well-loved husband, happy grandparent, novelist, editor, and teacher. My life plate is full, and I couldn't be happier. Anything else I might add would be anticlimactic. Cheers!
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