Microphones are always a hotly debated topic in the Podcasting world. Everyone has their own personal favourite, and there’s a lot of debate of what level of quality you actually need to run a decent Podcast. Lots of Podcasts record with people in different locations, using tools like Skype and Google Hangouts, so connection quality can be more important than your microphone.
At the end of the day, there’s no denying, though, that a Podcast recorded on a decent quality microphone is massively more professional than someone blabbering away on a tinny headset mic.
If you’re looking to up the quality of your kit, we’ve compiled a list of the best Podcasting microphones on the market today. It includes two different levels, Entry Level and High Quality. We don’t go into the realms of the pro mics, because, let’s be honest, if you have the experience to enable you to get the best out of that level of kit, then you don’t need us to tell you what to do!
So, why invest in a good quality microphone? Because it’s the mic that has the biggest effect on the quality of your recordings. It’s the mic that captures your voice and translates it from physical sound waves into digital bits and bytes. A good microphone can cost hundreds of pounds, but luckily there are a few more affordable options for us.
Entry Level Podcasting Microphones
The first microphone that I discovered which gives a good upgrade to your sound quality is the Samson Go Mic. It’s a really simple little USB microphone which comes with it’s own little securing device. That device includes both a stand screw (lets you screw the mic onto a standard microphone stand) and a very sturdy clip.
The clip lets you affix the microphone to anything with a flat surface, such as the top of your laptop screen. The Samson Go Mic is a really quick, really easy little mic to use, and it’s not too expensive at around £45.
Do I Need a Condenser Microphone for Podcasting?
If you want that extra level of depth to your Podcast, it might be worth going for a condenser microphone. Condenser microphones work in an entirely different, unphathomable way, but suffice to say, they introduce another level of quality to your recordings. The only problem is, because of their sensitivity, they tend to pick up a lot of background noise, so you need a nice quiet recording environment to take advantage of the quality they offer. They also tend to be a lot more fragile, so they’re no good for carrying around in your bag.
The other disadvantage is that condenser microphones need external power. This normally comes through a phantom power supply, provided by either a mixing desk, your digital recorder or a battery in the microphone. Digital recorders or mixing desk are good investments themselves as they provide a lot more flexibility, but that’s an extra investment too, and, to be honest, for most Podcasting setups they tend to be overkill.
Essentially, if you want the best quality, but plan to only record from your desk, using a mic stand, in a very quiet environment, then a condenser might be for you.
A good example of an entry level condenser microphone is, from the same company, the Samson C01 Studio Condenser Mic.
High Quality Podcasting Microphones
When I say high quality, I’m not going to go into the realms of professional mics (such as the Podcaster’s dream, the Heil PR40 - true professional audio quality), just those that are in the normal Podcaster’s budget, but provide great quality recordings.
The first in this group are a pair of USB microphones that have been used by Podcasters and general audio producers the world over. The first is the Blue Yeti USB Microphone which comes in at around £125. The Blue Yeti offers amazing quality audio and is amazingly easy to use thanks to it’s USB connection. This also by-passes the sound card on your computer, making sure that you get the best quality recording, no matter what equipment your computer sports. The next, if the Blue Yeti is a little above your budget, is it’s little brother, the Blue Snowball Microphone. It’s RRP is around £85 but I’ve often seen it on sale at a little over £50. If you can find the snowball at that price, it’s an absolute bargain, as it’s well worth the RRP price tag.
At this level you can also get some really good quality condenser microphones. I personally use the MXL 990 Condenser Microphone for all my recording, and mount it on the JamStands JS-MCTB50 Short Mic Stand. I’m not sure what the RRP is, but I found it for £79 and it’s been worth every penny. The mic sits on it’s stand next to my desk and I pull it up onto the desk every time I need to do a recording.
The two factors that determine what microphone you should go for are, 1. Your recording environment, and 2. Your Budget.
Buy as expensive a podcasting microphone as you can afford. As with everything, the more you spend, the better the quality you’ll get. But, this only goes up to a point. You can spend hundreds, but you need a lot of knowledge and more professional support equipment to take advantage of the quality offered by the Heil PR40. Save that for a couple of years down the line when you’ve become an audio production guru, and stick with something like the Blue Yeti for now.
The question of dynamic vs condenser microphone comes down to where you normally record and how much kit you want to use. If you have a nice, quiet regular recording room, then a condenser microphone could be worth buying. You wont be able to take it anywhere easily, and you will need that mixer or digital recorder to provide the power, unless you find a battery powered mic. But the depth of your recordings will be great, and you’ll definitely stand out.
Whatever you choose, enjoy it, and remember that the main thing is, keep on releasing those Podcasts!
A Question For You on Podcast Microphones
What podcast microphones do you use and like? I’d love to hear your feedback – please do let me know in the comments below if you have any of the mics listed above, or whether there are any you think I’ve missed.