Clean clear audio is key for a successful virtual session. A quality headset is the first step in making sure your viewers are engaged and learning.
- [Instructor] We're going to take a look at microphone options. Broadcasting clean audio is key. I'd go so far as to say, for running a virtual session, it's more important than video. Viewers will forgive mediocre video, but if they have to struggle to understand what you're saying, you're going to lose their attention, regardless of how good your content is. Having a good microphone is the first step in getting good audio. Let's look at the main options. Before I share those, I want to issue a bit of a disclaimer.
I'm not going to recommend any specific brand or microphone. The images I'm going to show are for demonstration, not necessarily recommendation. As far as picking up a mic, I like to browse the reviews on sites like Amazon, Newegg, or BH Photo Video, and see what's new and what people have to say. Keep in mind, mics are like anything else. You get what you pay for. I've used mics ranging from 12 bucks to several hundred. There is definitely a difference. You don't necessarily need to spend a ton of mon, but you're not likely to be blown away with a five dollar setup, either.
Let's take a look. Of course, the simplest route is to just use the built in mic on your laptop or monitor. This is fine if you're in a pinch, or if you're just having a casual web chat, but the audio quality of these mics is usually not so hot. The first reason for this is they are generally cheap, low quality mics. But the real deal breaker is proximity. If you're using your built in mic, you're going to be at least 12 to 18 inches from the mic. At that distance, not only will the mic not do a great job of picking up your voice, but it will be picking up a lot of ambient noise.
Traffic, computer fans, dogs barking. All that kind of stuff. I really like the earbud option. They're packable, unobtrusive, and you can find a decent pair at a very reasonable price. Earbuds will keep the microphone near your mouth for clear audio, and the speakers are right in your ears, so you don't have to worry about bothering people around you or creating feedback. Additionally, they don't pick up a lot of ambient noise. They work with your smartphone or tablet, and if that wasn't enough, you won't end up with headset hair.
Now, earbuds don't work with every computer. They have a special plugin that has three connections rather than the usual two. One for the mic, and two for the right and left speakers. So before you go the earbud route, make sure they'll work with your device. Also, make sure you're getting earbuds that actually have a microphone, not just the listen to music kind. Next up is the headset. Headsets have a lot of the same qualities as earbuds. Most come with a USB connection that works on any device with a USB port. Actually, I'm using a headset right now.
If earbuds aren't for you, or they won't work with your device, a headset is a great choice. Additionally, there are wireless headsets. If you're the type of teacher who gets up and moves around a lot, this might be the right choice for you. Be aware that a wireless headset may have lower sound quality, and you'll have to keep an eye on the battery so you don't lose your audio during a session. Finally, we have the desktop mic. This option seems the favorite of podcasters. You can get really decent audio for a very reasonable price.
Be aware that with a desktop mic, proximity is a big factor. You're going to want to keep your mouth pretty close to the microphone, and you can't move around a lot. You'll probably also pick up more ambient noise with a desktop mic than a headset or earbuds. If you work in a relatively noisy environment, this is probably not a good choice. You may also need to use headphones with a desktop mic. With some setups, the audio from your speakers will leak into the microphone and create feedback. I've used all of the mics we've discussed in various situations, from live broadcasts, to tutorials, to recording vocals, and even music production.
For running a live learning session, I definitely prefer the earbuds as a compromise between convenience and quality. So, take a little time. Consider your options. Check out the reviews, and choose a setup that works for your work flow, budget, and broadcasting needs.
- Setting up for recording
- Chatting with learners
- Sharing your screen
- Sharing files and video
- Integrating an LMS
- Flipping your virtual classroom
- Engaging viewers
- Assessing learning