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audio is a pita


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Some time back, I had all sorts of trouble trying to get my then-new systems, desktop and laptop, Win7 Home Premium, set up for audio recording. I'd recorded audio before on a few systems over a few years, off and on. So I was truly unhappy with this setup. I'm on the same computers now. I eventually gave up. Too much in my life then more important even than this, which was often fun. (Hey, I like to sing along with my favorite songs when I can.) I also wanted to do more audio work, to get more into amateur and professional audio voice work. I had had a couple of small audio roles for HiddenFrontier.com for Star Trek fan audio, and I'd recorded audio of many stories and poems for a gay-friendly website, CodeysWorld.com . So when I couldn't get Win7 and my existing equipment to work right, I was very bummed out. (It could've meant a job opening, intermittent at least.) I missed several fan audio opportunities. Not happy.

What I'm getting is a noticeable delay between recording and monitor playback, such that, when the idea is to sing along or speak along with other audio, it throws you off. Then there was a slight echo feedback problem between the speakers, headphones, and headset microphone. Trying a separate mic didn't help, it was worse. Trying any of the few options available from Windows Sound control panel or the third party control panels, not much help. (Including, at one point, a truly nasty feedback problem.) I felt badly frustrated, foolish for not being able to figure it out, and set it aside. I even asked one friend to look at it and asked another for advice, though he was over the web, IM and email.

Flash forward. Include a few more stabs at it at various times. Change headsets when one busts. Include another headset tried on the laptop, and try swapping both between. The laptop and desktop are different makers, different options. Try the usual, "listen to playback," to monitor what you're doing with the mic in your headphones, so you know your volume levels and it sounds OK. But that seemed to give delay and feedbak. -- And previous versions of Windows on previous systems had not had these problems. I was stumped.

Present day. I decided to try again. Things were going as before, but I'd gotten slightly better results, and was thinking I might be able to use this, even with a delay and feedback. It wasn't quite perfect. I couldn't sing along or speak in timing properly, but for other things, it was workable.

And then the computer's settings seemed to go wonky. (You know, one of those technical terms.) My voice can go fairly high, but not *that* high. Not even Chris Colfer's counter-tenor goes that high, for goodness' sakes. And my voice doesn't go that low, either. Nor does it skip around or get jumbled and that mushy, all mashed together.

I thought it was a software error from so much fiddling with the settings. I waited on a download to finish and rebooted.

Nope, it's not that. I think these headphones (with mic) have gone bad. -- And oh, how I wish I could fix them. I *think* I hae a spare still. The microphone's busted. The earphones are fine.

Just please don't let it be the front audio jacks. If so, I'll be upset. (Desktop.)

Hopefully, this will work fine.

Audio, the headset, earphones, or microphone, seem very delicate, usually the wire.

I'm hoping I might find out how to overcome this, but previous tries, no luck.

Why this would be different with Vista and 7, I don't know.


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I have every sympathy. Windows 7 uses a new and different audio framework, so audio equipment which has a driver for Win XP or Vista won't work with Win 7.

The problem you're experiencing is latency. The A/D conversion takes time, as does the D/A conversion for playback. So if you have your internal sound circuitry playing music (backing track for instance) and 'at the same time' you're singing into your microphone hoping to record your voice in sync with the backing track, you find that your voice on playback is behind the backing track because the driver took time to digitise it. From what I can see the Win 7 drivers are high-latency - there's a big delay. Sometimes you can adjust the latency in the driver settings.

The way the professionals do it is to use external audio equipment - playback device, mixer, microphone, audio interface to the computer. That way you play your backing track and sing your vocal in real time, and the combination is recorded via an external audio interface to your computer's hard drive. I prefer to use an external audio interface for recording to PC, particularly with a laptop, because the microphone input circuitry of most laptops is very poor and susceptible to interference from all the digital hash inside the laptop. An external interface does the A/D conversion outside the laptop using a (hopefully) high quality input circuit, and only the digital data stream goes into the computer on a USB or Firewire lead.

I've recently bought a new laptop to replace my old one which ran Linux. The new one wouldn't run Linux because it has an unusual WiFi circuit for which there is no Linux driver, so I had to use the Win7 that came with it. Then I found my Tascam external audio interface is not supported under Win7 so I've had to order a new unit which does have Win7 drivers. And to rip DVDs I've had to buy a piece of software that wasn't included in Windows. On top of that the business software I use from circa 2004 won't run under Win7 so I've had to buy an upgrade to the latest version. All in all it's been the most expensive computer purchase I've ever made. It would have been cheaper to shelve the new laptop and go out and buy another one, having first checked it would run Linux okay. Then I wouldn't have had any of these problems or additional expenses!

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Bruin and Camy, thank you. I may have to do that, but I'll have to look into how much the equipment costs. I *think* the one music (audio equipment, instruments, etc.) store I know of in town is still around. If not, I'll need to find another. These days, I've learned to look online first. Stores aren't carrying things or don't train their people, and I've heard, "Oh, we don't have that" or "Oh, just go online." Well, of course, I had wanted to get something locally. :headdesk:

I did have a spare headset, but it is *cheap*. No volume, mute, or mic on/off switches on the cord, so (thrill) you have to specifically go in and do that in Windows' control panel.

We have not yet begun to fight!

-- What the -- I've just discovered there are tenants, squirrels I hope, in my attic. Oh joy, I get to climb in there and yell like a banshee to try to evict the little suckers. -- Well, I know where I can vent some aggression *really* well! -- Hahaha!

Yes, I am reduced to bullying squirrels. Cue the rodent from Caddyshack. Sigh. Or maybe the dead parrot sketch.

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The squirrels were gone when I got there, but I yelled and banged around anyway. Possibly, they were somewhere comfortably sitting it out and giving me the finger. I'm not sure if it was a bar fight, domestic quarrel, orgy, or ballgame sports fans thing they were doing, but there was a lot of noise. I don't think they were around, so I think I'll have to do it all again.

I did have sense enough to put my cats in my bedroom first. No sense chasing my cats chasing squirrels in the attic, or scaring off my cats instead of the squirrels. The cats, like the squirrels, appear most unimpressed with my manly display of aggression and prowess.

Possibly, I should've beaten my chest and made a few pelvic thrusts with um, well, a rather unevolved display common among lower primates. Somehow, I think that wouldn't have impressed the squirrels.

Now on to more literary pursuits.

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The perfect solution, and it's serendipitous as well: play your recorded, well, whatever it is--I'd hate to call it music--which includes your voice ranging from violin harmonics to organ pedal stops and all the latency issues, in the attic. If that doesn't rid you of squirrels, nothing will. Those critters are senstive, and it doesn't sound to me like much of anything extant in the animal kingdom could put up with that for long.

Just trying to help.


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It turns out I did have a spare headset, but it's cheap, with no volume control for the headphones and no mute for the mic.

I've ruled out two settings in Win7's and the 3rd party control panels. They cancel echo/feedback indeed, and clip and mangle the audio (speaking, singing, whistling) beyond use. So bad it's funny!

Two people elsewhere have said it's Win7's new audio architecture, that they've had severe latency issues like I've seen.

They say if I'm serious about this, I should get an external mixer and other equipment, have that process and sync inputs, and send the output to the computer for storage. But I could use advice on that. I've never bought before, don't know quite what I need, and don't want to over-spend or get something cheap/unusable either. What I need is beginner to intermediate, I think.

There is (or was) at least one audio (equipment, instruments) store in town, if it's still around. If not, I'll need to find one. -- But I've learned the past several months to look first online, because I've run into stores not having things in stock and not having people who can help. Not exactly a small town, either.

Any advice appreciated! Thanks in advance.

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Hahaha, Cole and Camy and all! Hmm, hadn't thought of that. But I might well have to try that. Look out, squirrels, I've also got Jimi Hendrix's feedback edition of the Star Spangled Banner!

I could try some Sigur Ros on them, but they might like Icelandic post-rock.

I'd try AwesomeDude Radio, but they'd probably *like* that. Maybe if they'd pay rent....

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What I'm getting is a noticeable delay between recording and monitor playback, such that, when the idea is to sing along or speak along with other audio, it throws you off.

This is called latency. This is an issue with almost any digital audio device due to system delays with the processor, A/D's, D/A's, and so on. One way around it is to monitor through an analog mixer (or interface) before it goes into the computer.

Do a Google search on zero latency recording on the net, and you'll find a lot of answers and suggestions for equipment. Some of the solution seems to be trying different buffer settings. The other idea is, just record using the music, monitoring some kind of temp mix into your own headphones, then be prepared to slip and slide your voice track a few milliseconds (or use a delay on the track) if it's out of sync.

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Bruin, thank you. Despite having doen audio recording for a while now, I still feel like a babe in the woods on the hardware.

That mixer solution was *much* cheaper than I'd expected. I've ordered it. We'll see how it goes when it gets here. -- The latency issue has been driving me nutty. OK, nuttier.

Another friend suggested a *very* expensive microphone, but ehh, not doing that now.

At some point soon, I'll check a local store for information and maybe buy something. Trying the (hopefully) simple and cheap first.

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At some point soon, I'll check a local store for information and maybe buy something. Trying the (hopefully) simple and cheap first.

Beans are cheap. They go well on toast which is cheap, too. Beware: chronic flatulance can result, so best wait until the weather is better and have the windows open.

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