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Using Shure X2U XLR microphone to USB adapter with small notebook

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May 14, 2020 - 1:05:32 PM
182 posts since 6/3/2016

My jam session crowd has been doing some limited on-line jamming via video chat where one person leads and everyone else follows on mute. My best setup for video chat is an older, small Acer Aspire notebook. So I thought I would try to hook up my Shure Beta 57A microphone to that notebook. To that end, I bought a Shure X2U XLR-to-USB adapter. A local store had it in stock. I have a PreSonus AudioBox that I might have tried, but it has a USB-B cable and I just couldn't image the small notebook would be able to supply enough current.

I like the X2U, and it works flawlessly with my large desktop computer. It works well with the notebook except for the show-stopping problem that it frequently crashed the system. I did check the spec for the X2U, and it's only supposed to draw a peak standard USB-A current of 500 mA.

It's common for external hard drives and optical drives to use a Y-cable, drawing power from two ports. So I bought Highrock USB 2.0 Power Enhancer Y cord. It was delivered two hours ago. I tried it over lunch and was disappointed to see the exact same behavior as before. It works perfectly for a while, but eventually the system crashes. This is partially correlated with starting a more resource-intensive task like starting a YouTube video.

I still think the notebook may not have the juice to drive that device. I'm also wondering if something else like static electricity could be involved, but that would not correlate with starting a video.

Any ideas?

Oh, I also considered buying a powered USB hub, but really thought the Y adapter would solve the problem.

I'm probably giving up on that pair. I should really just use my desktop, but I don't have a USB webcam and those are in short supply now.

May 15, 2020 - 1:21:34 AM

2622 posts since 9/13/2009

I don't think the problem is lack or Power

Confused by terminology,  USB- A or B are simply referring to the type of connectors/receptacle ends... doesn't tell anything about power. It's the USB 1.1, USB 2.0, USB 3.0 (and various versions) that have different power ratings.

USB 2.0 should provide all power you need for the Shure X2U as well as the Presonus Audiobox.

The  system crashes; probably due to CPU resources... not being able to keep up. There are performance tweaks could make. Running things like youtube sucks up resources. Helps to eliminate unneeded extra or background processes. The video component of chat can also suck up a lot of resources, helps to reduce the quality; or consider no video. I have a rather old small Asus notebook I sometimes use, does audio w/USB interface fine (it's running on Linux).

FWIW, for your desktop, an older decommissioned smart phone can often be used as a decent web cam... have to download an app for both computer and phone.

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 05/15/2020 01:24:59

May 15, 2020 - 12:23:24 PM

182 posts since 6/3/2016

Thanks for responding!

CPU resource limitation makes sense given the correlation with launching a YouTube video. I thought that was a good test given that I wanted to use it for video chat. I still thought it might be power thinking the CPU or graphics HW might use more power for video.

The notebook with 11.6" screen is pretty old. If I were a bachelor I'd replace it as they're not that expensive. Because I'm not a bachelor it will require some deliberation.

May 15, 2020 - 10:31:24 PM

182 posts since 6/3/2016

The problem was indeed primarily a CPU resource issue. In particular, the biggest problem is Microsoft OneDrive. We don't use it and have no intention to use it, but it was running and consuming lots of CPU.

After disabling OneDrive, I was able to launch Zoom and join a Test meeting with video using my Shure microphone and Shure X2U adapter as audio input and output (it has a headphone jack). I'll try it at a family meeting planned for this weekend. And then the real test will be playing fiddle at my jam group meeting on Monday.

May 18, 2020 - 9:22:43 PM

182 posts since 6/3/2016

I ended upgrading the ten-year-old laptop with dual-core processor to a new laptop with quad-core (Core i7) processor. Everything works great now. Also, I ran a sound check compared with the built-in mic and definitely the external Shure mic sounds better.

We talked some about microphones on the jam session meeting and I did warn people that new audio interfaces may not work well on old computers, especially with video.

Edited by - RinconMtnErnie on 05/18/2020 21:23:01

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