when doing podcasts or general voice recordings, the most important link in the whole process is the quality of the microphone. This is the item on which the general sound quality of the recording depends on and this is the thing that will be mostly judged by the listeners.
Should you get a high-end expensive microphone or can you use a less expensive one? Should you get a dynamic or a condenser microphone? Clip-on or free standing? These are some of the issues you need to tackle before making the final purchase of your first or next podcast recording microphone.
The difference between dynamic and condenser microphones
There are two basic types of microphones used for recording voices: the dynamic and the condenser microphone. There are many other types of microphones, but we will go into detail here.
The dynamic microphone is designed in such a way that it captures a more focused sound wave and outputs a warmer and vibrant tone. The dynamic microphone is robust, more resistant to moisture and relatively inexpensive to make.
The dynamic microphone is less sensitive and can be used in a louder setting as it only captures the direct sound wave that hits its diaphragm. There are different variants for different uses, and the ones that are recommended for podcast and general voice recording are specifically designed with the spectrum of the human voice in mind.
The condenser microphone captures a more clear voice signal but also has the ability to catch some of the ambient noise. The condenser microphone uses a capacitor – hence the name (back in the day capacitors were called condensers).
In order to get the most of it, the condenser is best used in a quiet isolated room or recording studio setting. Condenser microphones are very small in size and are found in many user electronics. They require a power source to work which can be achieved via phantom power from the input or a small internal battery.
USB, phone connector or XLR connectivity
These are three main connection options for connecting the microphone to your recording equipment. The phone connector is the simplest of the three. It plugs in the audio (microphone) jack on the computer and you are ready to go.
The phone connector is also known as the audio jack or jack plug and it transmits analog signals. This means that you can’t use a condenser microphone to connect it to your computer unless it has a built-in power source. Many dynamic microphones come with a standard phone connector.
The XLR connector is used in more professional recording settings. It connects to a corresponding XLR connector usually found in a high-grade audio-cards or audio mixers.
This connector is commonly used for recording a professional recording, with the use of professional recording equipment, and less commonly in a home setting. The use of additional recording equipment will determine whether you can use a XLR connected microphone.
The USB connection is the standard type of connection port for any kind of computer add-ons. Today, almost any device can be connected to the computer via a USB port. The podcasting microphone is no exception. Many of the podcasting microphones on the market today have USB connectivity and are a plug-and-play ready.
The nature of the USB connection does not require for a condenser microphone to have a built-in power source as it provides the necessary operating power. There are also many dynamic microphones that have USB connectivity.
Price of a podcasting microphone
The price has the biggest influence on the sound quality the microphone will produce. Well actually not the price, but the materials used and quality of build which have huge impact on the price.
If you are only just beginning with recording a podcast, you can even scrape by with using the built-in microphone on your laptop or smartphone. That way you do not have to immediately get in spending some green and can also start with some free recording software.
But if you are going up the podcast ladder, then you will seriously have to consider investing in a decent microphone and some nicer recording software.
Depending on your budget you can certainly start with the less expensive models. But if you are looking for a more professional sound, then you should definitely break the bank and get yourself a truly professional microphone paired with professional recording equipment and professional audio software.
Additional microphone equipment
The next thing after selecting the microphone is to acquire a proper microphone stand. No matter the type of microphone, the stand is what will keep the microphone steady and level.
You may think that you can get away with holding it in your hand (we dare you to try this) but you will soon get tired and the shifting of the microphone will cause it to catch the crackle and rustle.
A good quality podcasting microphone stand is usually a nice, stable tripod that comes with a microphone clip that holds the microphone. Or sometimes the clip is provided with the microphone and you just need to thread it or mount it securely to the stand.
The pop filter (microphone shield) is another piece of additional equipment that will improve the quality of the recording. This filter is mounted in front of the microphone, provides noise protection and helps keep the sound of your p’s, moisture and the sounds of your breath away from the microphone.
The recording software was mentioned briefly above, and here we will just point out that in order to get a nice sounding podcast, you will have to get yourself a good audio software and learn how to work it.
To finish up
The popularity of a podcast primarily depends on the quality of the content. You can’t expect to have a high-quality podcast with mediocre content. But the other thing that really impacts the quality of the podcast is the recording equipment used, primarily the podcast microphone.
You should consider all the available microphone options that fulfill your needs but also fit your budget. Create some quality content and grab the microphone and start podcasting.