Podcast Liberation: Set Your Podcast Free


Video: Microphones

The Budget Microphone Setup

Here’s what you need for the budget two-person microphone setup:

  • 2 Lavalier microphones
  • A decent digital recorder
  • A Headphone Splitter
  • (optional) A 3.5mm jack extension cable.

Lavalier Microphones

The most important part is the mic – this is what captures your voice and turns it digital after all. 

Lavalier microphones are the ones you see clipped to a speaker’s shirt buttons or collar. They’re tiny little microphones that sit about 6 inches below your mouth and do surprisingly well at isolating your voice.

Lavalier microphones are pretty good for noise isolation, which is important in a mobile setup, or even just in a non-treated room. Because they sit so close to your mouth, you’ll be a lot louder than the background noise. You’ll get a little bit of the background for atmosphere, but you’ll be nice and clear to the listener.

What Lavalier Microphone Should I Buy?

I’m going to keep this simple and only recommend one lav mic – the Audio Technica ATR-3350.

The ATR 3350 is a great little mic and it’s very affordable, so I tend to think that it’s not worth spending any more. There are higher priced microphones out there, and they might have an incremental increase in quality, but for most uses the ATR 3350 is just great.

The Gold Standard Microphone Setup

Dynamic Microphone First

Before I look at the specific microphones, let’s have a quick look at the bigger question of microphone type. That means the age-old dynamic vs condenser question. 

For face to face recordings, particularly in the context of interviews, dynamic microphones are king. They’re much better for rejecting background noise, meaning that you can record anywhere that suits you or your interviewee. The environment will have much less effect on your recording with dynamic than with condenser, giving you so much more flexiblity.

This could apply to co-hosting, or rountables, just as much as interviews, allowing you to meet up with your fellow presenters wherever suits, rather than worrying about creating the perfect recording environment.

Next, and just as important, dynamic microphones tend to be much more robust. Thinking again about that flexiblity, you want to be able to just throw a microphone in your bag last minute and head out. Or you might even want to just leave your microphones in that bag, all the time, just incase that perfect interview situation crops up unexpectedly.

Either way, you need something that can stand being kicked about, abused and generally neglected. Dynamic micropones are your choice for that, and particularly the one I’m going to recommend below.

The Shure SM58: a Microphone for Life

If you want the tried and tested, the musician’s friend, the eternal choice, you’ve got to go for the Shure SM58. This microphone is a legendary vocal mic, both for audio quality and for toughness. It’s the choice of world famous pop-stars and pro interviewers alike, and generally is mentioned whenever dynamic microphones are discussed. 

The quality of the audio these produce is great, so there’s not much to cover here. Use the SM58 with a Zoom H5 or a Zoom H6 and you have a magical combination. 

The Alternative: Samson Q2U / AT2100

The one alternative to consider is the Samson Q2U or the ATR2100. To explain the dual choice, these mics are essentially the same underneath but are branded differently for the US and international markets. You can’t really get the ATR2100 outside of the US, and the same for the Q2U within the US, hence the double mention. 

These micropones are cheaper, to begin with, generally coming in around half the price of a Shure SM58. The quality is arguably not as high, hence the price difference, but, to be honest, it’s marginal, and they’re still amazingly good mics. 

The advantage they have, however, is that both microphones have a dual output: XLR and USB. This just adds so much flexibility that they’re worth considering for that reason alone. XLR works with a mixer, with your Zoom H5, or any other professional audio recording kit, so you’re covered there. But USB is even more common, of course. It’s pretty darn useful, as a podcaster, to be able to plug a great quality mic directly into your computer and knock out a quick solo show or carry out a Skype interview. And with the ATR2100 or the Samson Q2U, you can do just that. To do the same with the Shure SM58 you’ll need a mixer interfacing with your computer.

So, for the dual benefits of quality, value for money and flexiblity, it’s worth considering the ATR2100 and the Samson Q2U.