As an online teacher I am researching currently which audio equipment might be the most suitable and affordable for nice lessons. By using only the computer microphone a nice full sound is hard to obtain. Playing forte gives very fast distortions. By using external microphones linked to the computer sound results can be highly improved which of course is pleasant for both student and teacher.
There are different types of microphones like dynamic, (usb) condenser and ribbon microphones. Often an usb interface is needed between microphone and computer which delivers phantom power (with condenser microphones) or transmission of electric signals. Brands like Roland, Focusrite and Motu can be mentioned. Average prices for an interface are around €60-120. Dynamic microphones are around €60-100, (usb)condenser microphones around €50-130 and Ribbons (which sounds probably for brass instruments the nicest and warmest) are quite a bit more expensive and not really necessary for online trumpet lessons.
Above examples I have been testing extensively and could be interesting choices. My advise will be read reviews about the items to see if it fits expectations both in terms of price and application. Also be careful if phantom power (+48v) is necessary because it might damage the microphone. This could be a serious warning for a ribbon microphone like the budget T.bone RB 100 priced around €80. By the way condenser microphones do need phantom power. An interesting but more expensive option could be the Shure MV51 condenser microphone (€200) which is compatible directly on an iPhone or iPad and doesn’t need an external interface. Together with facetime it indicates a flexible combination.
Equally important for good results is a reliable and fast internet connection. For an interference-free Zoom onlinelesson 25 mbps speed is required which can be measured at www.fast.com If connected additionally a RJ 45 ethernet cable to the wifi router speed results might double or even triple. For an additonal €6 it would be my advice!
In the video section I am
performing at home the trumpet solo ‘Music For Ever’ in which I use a ZoomQ8 videocamera with an external SSH-6 stereo microphone recorded in Zoom.us, till now my favorite platform for online lessons certainly also because of the recording option.
A ZoomQ8 videocamera included removable microphone – which comes with the camera – costs around €300 and the extra SSH-6 microphone an additional €130. Altogether a bit pricey for online lessons but it might serve additional purposes for lets say live concerts recordings or other private events and you don’t need to buy an external interface.
Music For Ever I also recorded with a dynamic microphone – a Shure sm57 – in combination with a Roland rubix 22 interface. The legendary Shure sm57 costs around €115 as bundle included tripod and XLR cable.
At regular video conference platforms its impossible to play together during lessons because of the latency on the internet. Happily apps like ‘JamKazam’ (video & audio), ‘Jamulus’ (audio) and ‘Sonobus’ (audio) can be used to play together in duos or trios with only a slight delay and can be fun during online lessons.
Dynamic microphones and Ribbon microphones might need additional power in case the main interface doesn’t supply enough. This lack of gain can be solved by adding a preamplifier connected between microphone and interface. Good results can be expected from the Triton Audio Fethead Germanium which gives a +29db gain.
Behringer provides a quite good budget solution with the Tube Ultragain Mic 100 preamplifier. Gain can be augmented from +26 db till +60db. This preamp includes a 20db pad, +48v phantom power, phase reverse and a limiter. I have tested this model and recorded the trumpet solo ‘Music For Ever’ on the video page again in combination with a Shure sm57 dynamic microphone and a Roland Rubix 22 interface. Behringer for sure provides some interesting budget equipment for online lessons. The B906 dynamic microphone – which I tested positively – combined with an U-phoria UMC22 interface and amplified even more with the Tube Ultragain Mic 100 might be a powerful combination.
Mackie ProFX10 usb-mixer – my newest asset – is doing fine in programs like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Installation was no problem and the right drivers for Windows10 were easily found on the Mackie website. On a Mac drivers are already pre-installed. In JamKazam my Roland rubix22 interface is doing quite alright with only 7,5 ms latency BUT the Mackie Pro is doing even better with a latency of only 4,2 ms. Very promising indeed! In Europe a Mackie ProFX10 usb-mixer costs around €235. Its recommended for recording use and livestreaming too. Several programs like ‘Pro Tools’ and ‘Waveform’ are included.
On the next videos online page a comparison has been made between three dynamic microphones which I use during online trumpet lessons: a Shure sm57, an Audix i-5 and a more budget Behringer B906. The video has been recorded in combination with a Mackie ProFX10v3 usb mixer audio interface and Zoom video.
My newest assets are two Mackie microphones, see above for microphone pictures which are not expensive and very well manufactured. The Mackie EM-91CU costs around €50 and can be plugged into the computer easily and you don’t need an expensive external interface. The sound is quite powerful and maybe a bit brighter than the somewhat more expensive Mackie EM-91C which is a condenser microphone and needs an external interface with phantom power. This Mackie EM-91C costs around €80. On the next page ‘videos online’ I plan to give soon a demonstration of both Mackies so you can judge for yourselves. Stay tuned!