Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video Selecting a microphone for podcasting, part of Producing Professional Podcasts.
- Choosing the right microphone for Podcasting is really a matter of personal preference. A big thing that's going to drive it of course is your budget but also your recording environment. How you like to work. For example, here I have a very traditional microphone. You'll notice if we take a look at this here from the side, that what we're dealing with is a very standard, regular, analogue mic. It's actually connected to an XLR cable, which is often referred to as balanced audio. And what's happening there is that passes through and allows for the recording of the audio.
Now, you could take that type of traditional microphone and pass it into something like you see here. This is Zoom H4N and it's a very popular digital recorder that actually has analogue audio inputs on the bottom. Now, besides using devices like this that analogue input could be run into a USB device that will convert it from a analogue signal into a digital signal and then pass that right into a computer for recording. It's ultimately up to you. Some people prefer to work in an older school method.
They love some of the sound of these older mics. They love working with traditional recording equipment, or maybe already made the investment in that equipment. If that's the case, you could of course just record to a device and then take that file and capture it after the fact, or in the case in a device like this, pop out the memory card just like you would with a digital stills camera and then load that into your computer. Now, a whole new variety of microphones have also started to pop up to embrace this digital type of workflow.
You see I have two here. This particular one I like a lot, it's from Apogee. If you look at the top here, you can see that it's got the wind screen and inside the same type of pick-up for the analogue style microphone. But what makes it different is that it passes through to the back. What's going on here is the ability connect different types of cables. This gives a lot of flexibility. So this particular mic is actually extremely modern and it's interesting. There are many microphones out there that will allow you to connect to a computer.
Taking this connector which plugs into the back of the mic, and then a USB plug of course which could go into your computer. And a connection like that would allow me to record right into my computer, using the laptop as a digital-audio workstation. Which is great but sometimes I'm looking for more portability. Well, this particular mic system actually has that and it comes with two more cables. One being the older style iPod cable, and the newer Lightning Connector. This will allow me to connect to the back of the microphone and then actually take that, into say, an iPad here for recording.
Let's just swing this around. And I could plug that directly into the iPad. You'll notice that when I did that the microphone actually powers on. And now if we open up the iPad and launch some recording software on my iPad, there's a wealth of tools out there, this will actually pass from the traditional microphone, over the Lighting Cable, into the iPad, allowing me to have an even more portable workstation. I often find that while storage is a bit more limited on a device like this, the flexibility and the longer battery life, as well as the lower weight, makes this a great component.
We'll talk more about field kits a little bit later. Now of course there's also a wealth of traditional USB style microphones. You notice here that we have one from Blue and this is the Yeti. This particular microphone offers a lot of different features and there's many out there, but things that I like is the ability to just monitoring. So on the bottom here besides the ability of course to go out of the USB port into the computer, you see there's also a traditional headphone port. What this allows for is not only can you pass the signal out from the microphone into the computer, but you can actually hear it before it goes onto the computer.
This is important because a lot of times as we record, we have to troubleshoot, where does the problem introduce? Sometimes it could be in the microphone. Sometimes it could be in the cable going from the microphone into the computer. The ability to hear what you're doing, as well as have a dedicated physical mute button to mute the mic, that could be useful. Sometimes when I'm in the middle of a Podcast, I might mute my microphone because I need to take a sip of water or cough and this allows me to cut my mic off without unplugging or having to go into the computer.
On the back of this mic, like many others, is a physical gain switch. And this is a popular option on mics that are more professional so you can adjust the volume. And this particular one offers different pick-up patterns. The ability to change pick-up patterns means that not only can the mic be used for you as an individual, but you can actually set it so that it picks up in both directions on the side here, as if you were to put the mic in-between you. Or narrow the focus of that pick-up pattern so it wasn't picking up as much environmental sound.
Different mics have different options and it's worth considering. Lastly of course, is the fact that many of you are going to be working off of smartphones or other devices. As such, simply using your smartphone can be quite valid as a way to record. It of course has a built-in mic and a lot of times your headphone port is going to work just great as a microphone input. I use a particular mic from Rode that makes it very easy to actually put a professional lavalier into that connection and record great sound. Or the same Zoom I mentioned earlier, they're now making adapters that plug right into the iPhone here.
You'll notice that this is pretty much a perfect match. That we've got the same type of microphones but instead of using this dedicated recorder, I'm able to use my smartphone. Now of course the smartphone only has its internal recording capacity instead the ability to pop in a standard SD card, but that's still versatile because this is in your pocket. In fact there's a couple of different options for things like this. These are made from a company called Zoom, and what I like is having these two different microphones. In fact these just stay right in my normal laptop bag.
That way if the opportunity for a great interview presents itself, it's super easy. Here I'm using a stand from a company called Platypod and it's nice because I can easily adjust the phone. You notice here that we can make adjustments, we can angle this so that we get the best overall direction. Additionally, you don't want to lay that microphone on the desk. Vibrations, people tapping the desk, the hum of the computer, all of those things can be introduced. By getting the microphone onto a stand, that's great. Well this is small and portable, but I also have this other one here from JOBY, which works very similarly.
What I can do is actually put the phone right inside of there and again get it up off the desk. Alright, well a whole range of equipment here from something that I might use in a professional recording studio, to on my desk, to things that are in my laptop bag all the time, to my road-kit. Choosing the right microphone might be a different exercise and depending upon what you need or how many locations you record from, you might find yourself investing in more technology over time. I recommend getting a high quality mic for your desk or your studio environment, and then find some sort of portable solution.
So if you're on the road you can still Podcast as the need arises.
In this course, you'll learn how to create a podcast to match any budget, using proven techniques that get listeners and results. You'll learn how to set up a small studio; record audio, video, and even group video chats; edit your podcast; and create a podcast feed (aka an RSS feed). This class is taught by Rich Harrington, who's produced, hosted, or consulted on several podcasts that are routinely featured as the best of iTunes. Watch and learn how to get your own podcast up and running in less than a day.
- What is podcasting
- Leveraging existing content
- Analyzing the competition
- Outlining a podcast budget
- Setting up a studio
- Setting up an RSS feed
- Recording interviews, screencasts, and Google Hangouts
- Editing podcasts with Adobe Audition and other audio editing software
- Optimizing audio and video for podcast delivery
- Hosting podcast files
- Branding and promoting your podcast feed