A podcast setup involves so many equipment such as a mixer, compressor, computer for editing, etc. the one major part that is essential to any setup is the microphone. Just like an instrument to a musician, a baton to a conductor, a pen to a writer. A microphone is what makes the podcaster express themselves and shine in their recording session.
Such an important piece of equipment will need to be chosen carefully. And that’s what we’ll do today: Finding out what makes the best podcast microphones.
The audio is the final product, so you need to make sure that there has to be crystal clear sound quality. You want your listeners to have a pleasant listening experience and strong impression of your voice. No one likes a podcast with a distorted voice and full of background noises. To avoid such a scenario, there are factors you need to take into consideration when choosing the best podcast microphones:
1. USB vs XLR
How you distinguish these two types of microphones is through their connectors. USB microphones can be connected directly to your computer through, you guess it, the USB ports. As for XLR microphones, you need to plug them into an interface or mixer before connecting to your computer.
As you can see, USB microphones such as Pyle PDMIKT100 are more straightforward. They tend to be affordable and easy to set up. Therefore, they are ideal for beginners or those who start podcasting as a hobby rather than a profession. The downside is that your computer may struggle to recognize and record multiple USB microphones at the same time.
XRL microphones such as UHURU XM-900 are considered to be a step up from USB ones. In the trade of complexity, they offer the best grade sound recording and adjustability. This type of microphone is favored by professional podcasters around the world.
2. Dynamic vs Condenser
There are two major types of microphones at the moment: Condenser microphones and dynamic microphones. The basic difference between them is that the former require power to work while the latter doesn’t. Now let’s take a closer look at what has each of these types can offer:
Condenser microphones such as Stellar X2 are delicate and can capture sounds at higher frequencies with great details. They are highly sensitive; thus, they are more suitable for a studio environment. Condenser microphones are the best podcast microphones for seasoned veterans. Thus, they require more experience and knowledge to be able to use them.
Dynamic microphones can capture good sound quality, but are still generally worse than that of condenser microphones. Therefore, they are cheaper than the latter option. They are also more durable and low-maintenance. Amateur or intermediate level podcasters should go for this type of mics for what they offer. The best podcast microphone as a starter is Samson Q2U or AKG D5.
3. Pickup pattern / Polar pattern
This is another major factor you need to consider. Basically, the pickup pattern AKA polar pattern refers to how a microphone picks up sound from a certain direction. A podcaster doesn’t want his/her microphone to pick up sounds from all directions as it may include unwanted noises. There are three main types of pick up pattern you should know:
Omnidirectional: Pick up sounds from all directions. Due to this characteristic, this type is more suitable for studio settings where background noises are controlled and minimized. It is also great for group discussions and musical instruments.
Bidirectional: Capture sounds in front of and behind the microphone. This type is ideal for a dual person podcast where two people sitting opposite of each other. It is great for interview podcasts.
Cardioids: Pick up sounds in a heart-shape radius on the front of the mic. This is the most popular polar pattern as it is suitable for individual recording.
If you can’t make up your mind, you can choose a microphone that features various pickup patterns. For instance, some of the best podcast microphones such as M-Audio Uber Mic offer switchable polar patterns. What’s more, you can switch between these patterns while recording.
4. Impedance rating
Every microphone is listed with this impedance rating. Impedance refers to how much a microphone resists the flow of AC. It is measured in Ohms. It may be a bit difficult to understand. The general rule of thumb is the lower impedance on a microphone is, the better it is.
The best podcast microphones have an impedance rating lower than 600Ω. For instance, ZINGYOU BM-800 has lower than 200Ω impedance. High impedance rating is considered to be above 1,000Ω, which makes the mic more prone to signal noises.
5. Frequency Response
This refers to the range frequencies measured in hertz that a microphone will pick up. This parameter determines what sounds a microphone will be able to capture. For instance, for vocals and guitars sounds, you should choose a mid-high range frequency response. On the other hand, low-frequency response is good for recording bass sound.
What’s important is knowing what you are going to record beforehand. Then you choose the microphone with frequency response best suited for picking it up. The best podcast microphones should have a frequency response of 20Hz – 20kHz like this HyperX QuadCast.
1. Why do microphones matter in podcasting?
It’s undeniable that recording quality is the most important thing in a podcast. No matter how beautiful your voice is, a low-quality mic can make it sound horrible in more ways than one. Even untrained ears can tell the difference between a good and a bad recording quality. The first thing people notice is not the topic or how you speak, but how clear and loud they can hear you.
In addition, speaking to the audience in an attached mic on a headphone seems to be unprofessional and not a good image. The best podcast microphones will make your voices sound clear and improve the overall audio quality significantly.
2. My podcast microphone doesn’t work, what do I do?
Let’s say you just buy a brand-new microphone. You happily take it out of the box and plug it in your computer. You start speaking to the mic but your pc seems to doesn’t recognize it. Don’t panic, stay calm. Before thinking of returning the product, there are some methods you need to try:
Check the physical connections: First you need to make sure that it’s connected to the right connectors. Check whether the cables are securely plugged in or not. You can try unplugging it and plug it back in. Look for mute switches (if any) and see if it’s turned on.
Allow access to microphones: Look for “Allow apps to access your microphone” and tick the programs that you want to use your mic with.
Update audio drivers: You may want to go to your computer manufacturer’s web and install the latest audio drivers. It may fix your problems
Run Windows Troubleshooter: Type in the search bar on your computer “troubleshoot” and follow the on-screen instructions.
If it still doesn’t work, you may want to contract the stores or manufactures for customer support. Alternatively, you can consult the manual or contract us directly for more helpful tips and guides.
3. How do I use XLR microphones?
An XLR microphone is considered the best podcast microphone breed. As mentioned in the buying guide, you need an audio interface to be able to connect a XLR microphone to your pc. The simplest option is going for a XLR-to-USB adapter like HOSONGIN Adapter or a XLR-to-3.5mm adapter like Cable Matters.
However, to connect multiple XLR microphones to your pc, you need an audio interface. First, you need to get something like Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. Then hook up the audio interface to your pc through USB or Thunderbolt port. The last thing you need to do is plug in the microphones to the audio interface.
4. Are there any optional accessories I should buy along with my podcast microphone?
Yes, plenty of them, actually. The best podcast microphones must have the best quality accessories. For better recording experience and final audio product, you should consider getting these:
Pop filters: These could help reduce breathing and plosives sounds. It’s like a mask for your microphones. It prevents unwanted small noises from getting into the mics.
Boom arms: These can provide you with more space on desk and more flexibility. For instance, you can reposition or adjust your mics with ease.
Shock mounts: Sometimes the vibration from the desk or the typing keyboard themselves can be captured. Use these to prevent such things from happening.
Audio interface: If you are using a XLR microphone, you have to get one of these to be able to use it.
Mobile recorders: Sometimes you have to leave your podcast station to conduct interviews somewhere else. So it’s great to have something this handy to travel around with.
A computer: What else do you need to record, store and edit all of your podcasts? Certainly not on a phone, that’s for sure. A powerful computer will process and produce the best final audio product of your own.
Headphones: Some say a headphone can make or break your entire podcast. Hearing your own voices help you be aware of your own sound quality and recognize what’s needed to improve.
5. Is the best podcast microphone all I need?
A good mic is a good start for beginning your podcast setup. However, there are various factors that are in play and affect how crystal-clear and good your recording is. Here’s some of them:
Mics positioning: As mentioned above, certain microphones with different polar patterns can pick up sounds from different directions. You need to position your mics so that they can pick up your voice and not background sounds.
Distances: Don’t be too far or too close to your mics. In either case, your audio may end up sound disrupted or distorted.
Room acoustics: Reflections from the wall, furniture, etc. can make your voice echo or hollow. Investing in sound damping solutions for your room is a good idea.
Posture: Some people would record sitting down. Others prefer standing while they work. Standing helps you get a better control of air in your torso and throat.
Ambient sounds: Normally, you don’t hear sounds when in a quiet room. A microphone, however, can pick up these noises that you don’t normally notice. Some examples include fans, water dripping, keyboard typing sound, mouse clicks, etc. you want to minimize and keep these noises as low as possible.
Our choice for the best all-rounder today is the Blue Yeti. This condenser USB mic has been on the people’ choice list for a long time, and for good reasons. It supports up to four switchable polar patterns, real-time voice monitoring feature, and a stunning design to boot. All at a reasonable price.
Another choice for entry-level microphone tier is Samson Q2U. It is both a XLR and USB microphone. This dynamic microphone offers a cardioid pickup pattern and zero-latency monitoring. It also comes with a mic clip, tripod stand, etc. everything you need in a podcast microphone! This is the best starter option for those who just take a first step into podcasting.
A microphone is certainly a podcaster’s best friend. It translates your ideas and options into the digital world and shares them to the wider audience. Whatever you choose, I hope you enjoy using it, and don’t hesitate to tell us how awesome the best podcast microphones of your choice.