How can I get set up to teach music over the internet using Skype?
July 20, 2010 3:34 PM   Subscribe

How can I get set up to teach hand drumming over the internet using Skype?

I want to teach hand drumming to students who can't meet me in person. So far I've created a Skype account and bought a decent webcam (~$70 Logitech with autofocus/HD). I haven't done a Skype test yet but I tried recording a test video using the built-in mic on the webcam and it looks good but sounds lousy. I tried a normal instrument mic plugged into my front mic jack, but it's very faint. Ideally I want a tolerable drum sound and the ability to talk normally to the student when not drumming. I'm a good musician and good at computer stuff, but I'm horrible at combining the two.

I'd also like to be able to recommend a basic setup for students.
posted by freecellwizard to Computers & Internet (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I am not a microphone guru, but I can tell you that a built-in mic on anything will always sound lousy. You should get at least a podcasting-quality microphone. If price is an issue, some of the cheapest I have found are here (dynamic) and here/here (condenser). Though I can't vouch for the quality, at that price they might be worth a try.
posted by Theloupgarou at 4:54 PM on July 20, 2010

The mic inputs on (most) computers are only designed to handle PC mics, which are powered (they draw power from the computer in order to produce an amplified signal. To use an ordinary mic, you have to buy an audio interface (sound card), usually external, that has microphone preamps so you can get a loud and clear signal. A decent one that comes to mind is the M-Audio MobilePre USB, which retails for about $100, but I haven't been up to date on audio stuff for a couple years now. Last time I heard, the accepted wisdom was you could do decently for $100 but the sound quality started to fall apart badly below that; but by now you may be able to do well at, say, $70. Of course, the Skype compression is going to be your quality bottleneck more than any preamp, but if you go too cheap you'll start to get nasty things like hum. If you're planning to close-mic the drums or play them loudly, you may need to get a compressor plugin or something like that to boost the volume when you're talking.

Also, at the risk of being obvious, you should know that the lag on Skype will always be too great to be able to play in time with someone else.
posted by abcde at 5:06 PM on July 20, 2010

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