Upgrading to XLR Mic and in need of some advice

Hey! As the title suggests I’m looking to upgrade my setup.
To be more precise I want to get an XLR Mic, moving on from my current ModMic USB.

This leaves me needing not only a Microphone (dynamic/condenser), but also a USB Audio Interface, aswell as a boom arm or mic stand.

I’m not looking to stream, just to play games and voice chat. Modmic USB is doing a reasonable job at present. However, I’d like to make a step up in quality Mic wise and think XLR would be preferred when compared with USB.

Current chain is E30 Dac-Asgard3-DT1990.

Can an audio interface such as a Focusrite Scarlett or GoXLR be used seamlessly in conjunction with the gear I’m using right now?

In terms of Microphones I’ve seen many recommended across various threads/youtube reviews etc
As previously stated, I’m not intending to stream and certainly won’t be recording vocals or anything like that, just ingame chat and discord. Background noise shouldn’t be a problem, although I’m aware open-backs cans will have some sound leak. Sure this use case could make a dynamic or condenser mic seem like overkill, still to me it seems to be a logical progression.

No specific budget for now, though some current considerations just to give an idea are as follows;
Shure MV7X
SE Electronics V7

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
GoXLR Mini
Motu M2

Thanks for any opinions or assistance that may roll in, apologies for my rambling and perhaps lack of details.

If you’re not looking to do recording, get a bm-800 with a boom arm and just plug it into your motherboard. They’re like $35 and are incredibly good for regular chat use. Literally zero reason to spend more money. People tell me all the time how good my mic sounds.

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Thanks for your advice Pokrog. I certainly appreciate the fact that it’s possible to get good or even great mic quality on a very modest budget, and the bm-800 appears to confirm that.
However, I would be slightly hesitant purely due to the fact that I’d fear such a reasonably priced piece of equipment would possibly need replacing in the not too distant future. I’m looking to get a mic that will last me a long time providing I take care of it and use it as intended.
Also, for good measure I’ve actually disabled the motherboards onboard audio and am using the E30 via USB. So, as much as your recommendation makes good sense, especially fiscally speaking, I think for a long term/one purchase solution I’m looking to spend a bit more and make sure it’s what I need and want so that it will also last me for many years.

Julian Krause probably does the best audio interface reviews I’ve seen on the internet.

I’m personally using a Shure SM58 and Behringer UMC202.

The SM58 is a live stage mic designed to be used and abused. It’s good, but if buying new there are a bunch of other mics in that price range that might be in a more suitable form factor like the Rode podmic. That being said there are a ton out there and you can find them used easily.

The Behringer interface isn’t bad… but I’m not sure I’d recommend it either. Its fine as a microphone input but that’s about it. If I was shopping for an interface, I’d look hard at the MOTU M2.

What I would recommend is the Samson boom arms. They’re built like tanks and at $50 are half the price of the Rode PSA 1 that is commonly recommended. I switched from one of those cheap $15-20 boom arms and the difference is incredible.

Those three are microphones for very different situations.

For ease of setup and use aswell as noise immunity, I would take the SE Electronics V7 or Shure SM58.

At that price point, it does not really matter. Maybe scout some forums for recent outcries about driver issues.

The Yamaha AG03 is another option to mention for flexibility reasons.

I just want to reiterate that this is all absurd for just a chat mic and the $35 mic has lasted me years because I don’t use it as a drumstick and an interface is overkill as well especially since chat channel quality is far below what the mic can do. If you want to throw money away do it but it’s not going to improve how people in your party hear you at all.

Also you can still plug a mic into your motherboard if your using a DAC. Input and output aren’t shared.

Thanks so much for your reply, it’s given me alot to think about aswell as directing me toward a most relevant youtube channel, which is just the kinda advice/information I was hoping to receive when posting this thread.

After watching many of Julians videos I have a much better overview and understanding of the entry level audio interface market than I previously did, and have since re-evaluated my options.

You say you’re currently using the UMC202, unfortunately I can’t see that listed amongst Julians comparison charts but there are UMC22, UMC202HD and UM2. When it comes down to the dynamic range and preamp noise of the mic input results there seem to be a few products that stand out to me above the Behringers, namely iD4 MKII, SSL2, MiniFuse1 and Motu M2. Ofcourse, these products while similar all have different feature sets and escalating price tags.

As previously stated my primary concern is mic input quality. Without the need for instrument/midi inputs and additional monitoring features (I’m not looking to even connect headphones let alone speakers at present, rather just to utilise a xlr mic preamp) some options would appear to be packed with more features than I require at present and perhaps ever.

Example being Motu M2, looks like a real sleek piece of kit, LCD screen very pleasing on the eye but ultimately an extravagance I’m not desperate to have. A strong headphone out, again not something I need as I intended to keep the A3.

I think right now I’m drawn towards the id4 MKII, but have a few fears over drivers and perhaps latency, as the primary use case is gaming, could it possibly have a detrimental effect on my computers performance, such as introducing added delay or latency?

In terms of Microphones it appears there are indeed a ton of suitable options available as you have suggested, so perhaps I’ll revisit that after deciding on which interface to get.

Finally, the boom arms. I hadn’t seen the samson arms before so thanks for mentioning them, certainly I see they are cheaper than the popular Rode recommendation. Perhaps I could ask which you are using, maybe its the MBA28-28”?

Thanks again, and I look forward to anymore advice you can give me. :grinning:

Thank you for your input into this thread.

I appreciate my initial shortlist for microphones was a bit all over the place. Ease of use aswell as noise immunity (rejection?) are certainly two criteria I’m judging by, also overall quality. Seems there are alot of viable options for me, with the two you mention being right in the mix.

Having little experience in this field I’m not sure that there’s a particular sonic signature I’m looking for from the mic dark/bright etc also aesthetics aren’t really a concern as I’m not looking to stream and certainly not with a cam, so really there are many possibilities.

Regarding the interfaces I think you’re right and to do some more searching of forums regarding drivers etc would be a smart idea. Can you add anything more in terms of personal experience with any interface, mic preamp and latency being main concerns. id4 mk2,MotuM2,MiniFuse1,SSL2 are current considerations. I’d not seen the Yamaha AG03 before so thanks for adding something else into the mix, any idea how it might stack up against these other units?

Thanks again for you time and input thus far :grinning:

Hi Pokrog.

I totally get what you’re saying, for mere gaming chat an interface is far beyond what is required to get the job done. When looking for a big jump in quality from my ModMic, surely even a half decent usb desktop mic would achieve this. However, being honest I guess I’m just enamoured with the idea of going down the xlr/interface for the sake of future proofing my setup route regardless of the fact it’s really overkill for just discord or ingame chat.

Thanks for your advice, certainly given me food for thought :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

I shortly was owner of a Presonus Studio 24c, it SUCKED HARD!

After sending that back, I decided on a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 (2nd Gen). Works well enough for recording Vinyl (basically line level when it gets to it) and also handles the two Mics I had on it (MXL 770 and Superlux S241) good enough for voice chat use.
Currently running an ESI Maya 44eX as my Mic input (with the S241).

The AG03 is nice since it combines a small mixer with an interface and has some useful features (mic + headphone jack in 3.5mm).

I had an SSL2 in hands, but not connected to anything.
Don’t have any meaningful experience with Audient equipment either.

The Motu M2 is said to have a pretty good headphone section (for an Audiointerface!).

Pre-Amp wise, DBX 286s is pretty solid. Complete overkill for home use though.
Behringer Mic300 is garbage. Avoid that even when free.
ART Tube MP (the stackable version) is okay.

To help out in a simple home setup, you can get in-line fixed Pre-amps (Cloud Lifter, Triton Audio FetHead, etc.) to plug between microphone and Interface.

Agreed, hard to go wrong with those. You could go condenser but honestly I don’t think it’s really a good idea right off the bat and for this use case either, also personally don’t enjoy the sub 100 condensers, would rather have a good dynamic

They do sound a bit different but it’s moreso pick one that has the feature set you need or tilts a specific direction sound wise, but most budget interfaces sound more similar than not (just like budget dacs from my experience). Personally sound wise I like the motu m2 for something more overall pretty neutral and clean, the audient id4 mk2 for something a bit warmer and relaxed with a bit more body, and the ssl2+ for something a bit more forward and airy sounding with still good weight (with 4k mode engaged). But they aren’t night and day differences between each other, and it’s not going to be that apparent over a discord call or something like that (but would be more noticeable for studio recording, content creation, potentially streaming where you can have higher quality audio). The ag03 is very solid when it comes to features with a built in software adjustable eq and compressor that while they don’t sound nice they do the job, and the fact it’s a mixer opens up other possibilities as well, but overall sq wise it’s the weakest out of the aforementioned imo.

None of them really have headphone amps that I’ve actually found worthwhile, best out of that bunch might have been the audient

Ah and the goxlr, now I’ve not heard the mini but I thought the larger one really wasn’t all that great sound and hardware wise but did have software features people might find really valuable at least for something like streaming, I’ve heard the mini is worse so I would be hesitant to consider that unless you really need the software features (which can be replicated with different software if you want, but more hassle to do that)

Personally I wouldn’t bother with outboard processing/preamps at this price point and use case

I mean you are past the point where it’s purely out of utility if you are looking for a setup like this, and the goal is more to enhance the quality of your voice to be pleasing moreso than go for pure utility/intelligibility. I do think that it’s somewhat easy to hear the differences between mic quality in most applications that aren’t total garbage quality (like let’s say cs source voice chat lol), most chat services have gotten good enough in sq these days that it’s still very possible to tell. But again this is past bare minimum and more trying to get something that sounds pleasing to either the person using it and others. I’ll be honest I’ve owned a random branded bm800 with a phantom power injector direct into mobo and thought it sounded absolutely terrible on my voice, tinny, lifeless, dynamically restricted, poor timbre and overall tonality, etc. Just did not work out for me Putting it on a nicer preamp/interface helped but still didn’t really change my mind on it all that much. But of course it depends on the person and what they want to sound like so results will vary from voice to voice, perhaps it really didn’t work on mine. But I don’t really think spending like 300 ish on a nice mic setup to last is a bad investment if you actually care about how you sound and enjoy having it. If you are only using it for utility reasons and don’t really care then it is indeed a waste

Personally I have always liked the samson q2u or audio technica at2005usb for something 1 and done under 100 bucks that’s hassle free and sounds great for the money if you wanted something purely for utility. Good noise rejection, not too picky, sounds high quality enough to get some comments from people with headset/average mics, no driver fuckery and just works, durable and robust enough to last. But I’d go higher if I already had something like a modmic usb

notes on higher end mics/gear for regular chatting

Right away I’ll just say it’s not worthwhile, but you can still hear the difference. But it’s not worthwhile considering how much you will be spending to get that difference. For myself I basically talk to people on various voice chat and voip platforms, and on the majority of them it’s still pretty easy to tell when something in the chain is changed most of the time (like if I change the interface, preamp, compressor, eq, and mic of course, etc). Now if that actually matters is a whole different story, and also just because it’s pretty easily noticeable to me doesn’t mean it will be for other people either, so the value on that might be lost depending on who you are chatting with and if they feel like caring

Sorry, the full model is the UMC202HD. From what I can remember the UMC202/204 definitely had a better preamp than the other low tier models from Behringer. I was in the same situation you were a few years back wanting to upgrade from a Modmic and knew a lot less than I know now. The MiniFuse1 would’ve been close to the top of my list had it been out at the time.

The Presonus Revelator io24 looks very interesting with its integrated hardware DSP at its price, but I have no experience with it. Definitely overkill though.

I’m currently using the MBA28 clamped to the side of my desk, which is ~4 ft long.

The ua volt does as well, seems pretty awesome given the quality of the dsp in higher end ua interfaces. But I’m with maze on the presonus stuff, I’ve never really had good experiences with anything from them, but it could be different for their newer stuff

My last PreSonus experience was… ehm…
The Drivers were garbage at best.

I use a shure sm7b with audient evo 4 interface and have sE Electronics Dynamite DM-1 as alterative to cloud lifter. really solid imo

Unfortunately I’m not surprised. Audio interface drivers and implementations are all over the place, especially at the lower end.

Thank you so so much for everyone’s input, advice and personal testimonies posted in response to this thread. It has proved extremely helpful and informative, now I think with all things considered it is time to pull the trigger.

Interface wise there were a couple tempting options, MotuM2 even though within any potential budget constraints was deemed to be paying for extra features that weren’t really required for the predefined use case. Ultimately opted for the iD4 Mk2, mic pre quality being a overriding factor in any possible purchase decision.

Microphone selection wasn’t as cut and dry. Besides looking beyond (below) the SM7B hype, more and more reasonably priced considerations appeared the longer I scoured forums and reviews. Referring back this thread with all the verified and suitable possibilities as put forward by you kind folks of the hifiguides community, it was to be SE Electronics V7 that ticked most the boxes for me.

Finally the boom arm purchase was a 2 horse race from the start. Psa1 or the personally recommended Samson. Unfortunately, the much more tempting price of the Samson doesn’t translate well across the pond (sorry forgot to ever mention UK citizen here) and at time of writing the samson 38" is £67 vs the psa1 £73. As far as I can see there isn’t alot of difference between two, MBA38 perhaps having more reach. Will put this one down to a coin flip. I’m well aware there are more wallet friendly alternatives out there but these seem tried and tested enough for me to justify the extra cost as they do their job well and should last well.

All purchased on amazon with extended return window until 31/01/22, so any problems with anything and I’ll certainly be exercising my right to return and refund with the view to selecting a more appropriate item. Also grabbed xlr cable for mic and a longer usb-c for iD4.

Once again cheers to everybody involved in this thread, I’ll be sure to report back soon once everything is up and running.