Shure’s Training and Education Manager Gabriel Benitez writes a newsletter for the professional sound community. Last month, he addressed the topic of using external devices in home recording that allow the recordist to bypass a computer’s sound card.
With the growing popularity of home studio recording, there is an increasing need to interface professional microphones with computers. Responding to market demand, Shure introduced the X2u XLR-to-USB adapter at NAMM this winter.
Most of you know about interfacing a professional wired microphone with a computer sound card. This time we will talk about the benefits of using an external digital device like the X2u adapter that allows the user to bypass the computer sound card altogether.
Let’s break it down:
Signal level – is the actual voltage that comes out of a source; in this case, lets use a microphone as our source.
In some cases, a microphone’s output signal may be too low. As a result, it must be increased before it connects to a sound card.
If the signal is increased too high, distortion can result and if the signal is not increased enough, noise happens.
The Shure X2u, for example, allows the gain to be changed before the analog to digital conversion. There is a signal LED to indicate proper signal level as well as distortion. Using the LED allows the user to avoid both distortion and noise optimizing the microphone signal for recording.
Impedance and connector wiring scheme – Computer sound cards have impedances and connection schemes that adapt to many consumer microphones. Professional microphones have impedances and connections schemes that are designed to interface with professional microphone mixers.
The X2u has a standard, pin 2 hot, female XLR connector and it also has an input impedance designed to work with many types of professional microphones. These built in plug and play features make the X2u an extremely easy device to use.
Dynamic vs. Condenser – the X2u provides +48V of phantom power which can feed any type of modern and some vintage condenser microphones. The X2u does not operate with internal batteries therefore it uses the computer’s USB for power. It is recommended to turn phantom power off when using a dynamic microphone and a laptop computer running on batteries; this will extend the use of your laptop battery.
Connecting any microphone to a computer – the X2u is designed to substitute your computer sound card by providing an external professional microphone input and a headphone output with zero latency monitoring.
The headphone output is connected directly to the microphone input; this is how we accomplish zero latency monitoring. Use the headphone output to monitor both the signal recorded and the signal played back from the computer.
Tip of the Day:
The best way to connect a professional microphone to a computer? Use a device like the Shure X2u adapter.