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David Lee King

Better Microphones for Podcasting



In my post on Pointers for Successful Webcasting, I mentioned buying a better microphone, and also going one step further and setting up a podcasting studio as ways to improve your podcast and webcast sound quality. This post goes into a little more detail on microphones.

To do a podcast, you need a way to record your voice, and you need a way to turn that recording into some type of usable audio file (usually an .mp3 file). So, let’s start off with the microphone. There are a number of choices:

  1. radioshackCheapie clip-on mic, like this one. This mic looks alot like the mic that came with my Mac LC a long time ago… it has a 1/8 inch plug, so you’d plug it into your sound card. Cost? $12. This version has a clip so you can clip it on to your shirt or tie, like a lapel mic. That way, it’s out of your face.
  2. logitechOne step up – the Logitech USB Desktop Microphone. It’s a USB mic, so you plug it into a USB port on your computer. The Logitech site claims the mic sounds great… but I’m picky, so I doubt it. But still, it’ll work and it’s simple. Cost? $30.
  3. samsonAnother step up – the Samson C01U USB condenser microphone. It’s cool because it’s still pretty cheap, but it will sound HUGE. It has better internal “guts” and a better-quality diaphram (the little thingie inside all mics that captures your voice’s sound waves), so it will most definitely sound better than the two mics mentioned above. Plus (and this is a big one) it plugs into a USB port, so you don’t have to mess with audio soundboards or preamps (geeky musician stuff). Cost? $ 79.99 at Sam Ash.
  4. blue_snowball_USB_computerEven better… the Blue Snowball (yes, that’s really it’s name). It’s really much like the Samson mentioned above, but it’s a little better quality, and it looks REALLY COOL. Cost? $139.99 at Musician’s Friend.
  5. Or… you could just buy a Mac. Most modern Macs include a built-in microphone (all the laptops and the iMac do, anyway). It’ll sound similar to #1 or #2 above, but it’s simple – nothing to plug in. Cost? Free (of course, you have to buy the Mac to get the mic…)

Update: I just discovered another option – the Samson Q1u microphone – $50 at zzounds.com.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://davidsrandomstuff.blogspot.com/ david

    Excellent! I’m thinking about upgrading and kept meaning to ask if you had any mic advice. I have the Logitech USB mic now and it does sound a little better than the built-in mic in my Mac. I’ve had my eye on the Snowball but a little pricey.

  • http://davidsrandomstuff.blogspot.com david

    Excellent! I’m thinking about upgrading and kept meaning to ask if you had any mic advice. I have the Logitech USB mic now and it does sound a little better than the built-in mic in my Mac. I’ve had my eye on the Snowball but a little pricey.

  • http://freerangelibrarian.com/ K.G. Schneider

    Wonderful–I bought a microphone and had to return it because it just didn’t work with the computer. It was a fine microphone but clearly I was missing something. These suggestions will help.

  • http://freerangelibrarian.com K.G. Schneider

    Wonderful–I bought a microphone and had to return it because it just didn’t work with the computer. It was a fine microphone but clearly I was missing something. These suggestions will help.

  • http://freerangelibrarian.com/ K.G. Schneider

    I’m thinking those USB headset/microphone combos might avoid the “moving away from the mike” syndrome–since the mike would be the same difference from your face no matter what. What say?

  • http://freerangelibrarian.com K.G. Schneider

    I’m thinking those USB headset/microphone combos might avoid the “moving away from the mike” syndrome–since the mike would be the same difference from your face no matter what. What say?

  • http://www.davidleeking.com/ david king

    Karen – here’s the deal: Yes, that will do just what you’re thinking. The headset/microphone combo would probably work fine, and a lavalier or full headset mic (the kind Britney Spears uses when she cavorts around the stage) would sound a bit better.

    The downside – they’ll also catch all those snorts, sniffs, coughs and murmurs extremely well, too. Maybe a bother… maybe not.

  • http://www.davidleeking.com david king

    Karen – here’s the deal: Yes, that will do just what you’re thinking. The headset/microphone combo would probably work fine, and a lavalier or full headset mic (the kind Britney Spears uses when she cavorts around the stage) would sound a bit better.

    The downside – they’ll also catch all those snorts, sniffs, coughs and murmurs extremely well, too. Maybe a bother… maybe not.

  • http://freerangelibrarian.com/ K.G. Schneider

    Me as Britney Spears! The mind boggles!

  • http://freerangelibrarian.com K.G. Schneider

    Me as Britney Spears! The mind boggles!

  • http://www.feinline.com/ Dan Feinberg

    The Blue Snowball is soft, the amplitude is just plain too low. They have a firmware fix that adds 10 DB but that makes the Mic not work in Vista. (Don’t tell me to get a Mac, all my clients use PC’s and compatability in business is critical) We actually really like Vista anyway.
    Blue has been promising a fix for 14 months with no updates so far. I am going to sell mine and get something that works.

  • http://www.feinline.com Dan Feinberg

    The Blue Snowball is soft, the amplitude is just plain too low. They have a firmware fix that adds 10 DB but that makes the Mic not work in Vista. (Don’t tell me to get a Mac, all my clients use PC’s and compatability in business is critical) We actually really like Vista anyway.
    Blue has been promising a fix for 14 months with no updates so far. I am going to sell mine and get something that works.

  • davidleeking

    Dan – you might try the Samson C01U. It’s also a USB condenser mic, and it sounds really good (and outputs louder than the Snowball).

    Otherwise, go with the small sound board/soundcard method – then you can use any mic you want.

  • davidleeking

    Dan – you might try the Samson C01U. It’s also a USB condenser mic, and it sounds really good (and outputs louder than the Snowball).

    Otherwise, go with the small sound board/soundcard method – then you can use any mic you want.

  • Garry O’Neal

    Im sorry I was looking at the snow flake, not the snow ball. However the snow ball has also dropped to $99.99

  • http://none Garry O’Neal

    Im sorry I was looking at the snow flake, not the snow ball. However the snow ball has also dropped to $99.99

  • http://www.visionsbethesda.com/ Tony Marciante

    I will give one piece of info…

    using modern day video streaming sites like viddler, seesmic, etc.. seem to ramp up the processor on my Mac Book Pro…and using the internal mic during those sessions produce a lot of sound, unwanted, and it interferes with the recording. So I’m definitely looking to upgrade my external mic. i have a Radio Shack mic, which does ok, but it looks henious (sp?) and it’s just not SENSITIVE enough.

    I need to keep it cheap, but sensitive to spoken voice…not guitar, not outside far away noise, just spoken voice.

    Thanks.

  • http://www.visionsbethesda.com Tony Marciante

    I will give one piece of info…

    using modern day video streaming sites like viddler, seesmic, etc.. seem to ramp up the processor on my Mac Book Pro…and using the internal mic during those sessions produce a lot of sound, unwanted, and it interferes with the recording. So I’m definitely looking to upgrade my external mic. i have a Radio Shack mic, which does ok, but it looks henious (sp?) and it’s just not SENSITIVE enough.

    I need to keep it cheap, but sensitive to spoken voice…not guitar, not outside far away noise, just spoken voice.

    Thanks.

  • davidleeking

    Tony – yep – the MacBook Pro mic does a fine job, but can be a bit treble-friendly, too.

    Not sure what your price is, but go to samash.com or musiciansfriend.com and search for “usb mic” in their search box, and you’ll find a range of mics/prices, from about $30 on up. Good luck!

  • davidleeking

    Tony – yep – the MacBook Pro mic does a fine job, but can be a bit treble-friendly, too.

    Not sure what your price is, but go to samash.com or musiciansfriend.com and search for “usb mic” in their search box, and you’ll find a range of mics/prices, from about $30 on up. Good luck!

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  • Bobby Shaw

    David,

    I googled Podcasting microphones and lo and behold your site comes up as one of the first options.

    Thanks for the tips. Good stuff. Hope all is well with you and the family.

    Bobby

  • Bobby Shaw

    David,

    I googled Podcasting microphones and lo and behold your site comes up as one of the first options.

    Thanks for the tips. Good stuff. Hope all is well with you and the family.

    Bobby

  • Anthony O’Neal

    A lot of computers come with internal microphones, but the sound quality is usually unusably bad. Mac probably has higher quality, but I don’t think you’d want to be using it for podcasting. If you’re rich enough to afford a Mac, you’re rich enough to afford a decent mike.

  • Anthony O’Neal

    A lot of computers come with internal microphones, but the sound quality is usually unusably bad. Mac probably has higher quality, but I don’t think you’d want to be using it for podcasting. If you’re rich enough to afford a Mac, you’re rich enough to afford a decent mike.

  • Stephen

    Any thoughts on a good lavalier mic for a Mac?? Seems to be the hardest thing in the world to find…

  • http://www.davidleeking.com davidleeking

    Lots of good lavalier mics – I use an Audio/Technica ATR3350 – it's cheap, but sounds fine. But you'll need some type of signal booster for it – either an XLR to USB adapter or a soundboard of some sort.

  • AliceWonderland42

    Good list, I wouldn't buy a mac just for a microphone though. I have used custom lapel pins with microphones installed in the past, they work just like a clip on mike but can be disguised.

  • AliceWonderland42

    Good list, I wouldn't buy a mac just for a microphone though. I have used custom lapel pins with microphones installed in the past, they work just like a clip on mike but can be disguised.

  • http://www.icusa.net/ Naples web design

    To buy a Mac just for the microphone is not a good move lol. There are lots of microphone nowadays and it’s better to check it first and try it a couple of times to make sure that the microphone can take the level of sound that you utter because I know there are lots of cheap microphones who are intended to sell to you by saying that it have a good quality but the truth is that it can be easily damage or broke up. It’s really worth to buy a quality one even the price is quite expensive.

  • http://www.sellingonlinemadesimple.com.au perth web design

    I never tried experimenting with other microphones but this review is much more help and thinking of tried the first one.

  • http://www.usedtransmission.org Used Transmission

    Thanks for information, I’ll always keep updated here!