The microphone you use for recording your voice is undoubtedly the most important piece of equipment in your podcast set-up. You’re often told that for your first episodes, you can begin by playing around with your cell phone, but the quality of your smartphone’s internal microphone is still extremely limited compared to that of a specialized, professional microphone. To put it in simpler terms, it’s really night 🌙 and day ☀️
So no matter how well you master all the post-production steps, if your initial sound recording is poor quality, the final output of your podcast will sound messy and amateurish.
The microphones that I’m going to present to you today belong to two different categories: dynamic microphones and condenser microphones. These are the microphones you can find in recording studios, in radio studios and in the home studios of your favorite podcasters. 🎙
This guide is adapted to your needs, so the microphones are sorted according to various scenarios: indoor recording, outdoor recording, budget, supplemental equipment needed, etc. Decide which scenario fits you best and go for it! 🏃♀️
Scenario 1: You’re looking for a microphone for recording your podcast at home
You’re at home, and you want to record your voice with a microphone set up for the occasion in your living room, office, bedroom (or your bedroom/living room/kitchen/bathroom for those who live in New York). The room in which you’re recording has no particular acoustic treatments and causes (slight) echoes, your windows allow city noises to pass through and your walls are so thin, you can hear your neighbors’ snoring, etc. In short, you need a microphone that’ll not only record your voice, but that will limit pesky sounds and background noise!
The ideal solution for you is a USB microphone, since you won’t need any extra equipment. A computer, your microphone (an anti-pop filter), and then everything is good to begin recording.
Our favorite: Audio Technica ATR2100X-USB 💜
A dynamic microphone with USB-C digital output and XLR analog output (the best of both worlds). This microphone is made from metal and will last longer than its plastic counterparts. It’s extremely versatile and its price/performance ratio is among the best. You can get it for $99 anytime, but you might find better deals on some marketplaces.
The great classic: Blue Yeti 👣
It’s quite normal that this microphone regularly tops the rankings. Its $130 price tag is easily justified by Blue Microphones’ triple-capsule technology, which gives you a choice of four distinct directional modes and is ideal for recording podcasts:
- CARDIOID mode: Records the sound sources directly in front of it, providing a rich, full sound.
- OMNIDIRECTIONAL mode: Picks up sounds equally from all around the microphone. Perfect for recording a multi-person podcast and capturing the ambiance of your conversation with your guests.
- BIDIRECTIONAL mode: Records in front of and behind the microphone, which makes it perfectly suited for an interview.
- STEREO mode: For the more musical among you. This mode allows you to capture a large and realistic sound image when recording a choir, for example.
For smaller budgets: the Samson Go Mic 💸
This small travel microphone folds and includes a carrying case. It can be attached directly to your laptop or installed on your desktop… This is the least unwieldy microphone you’ll find! You can easily record your podcast in any situation, but be careful. It’s quite limited, and you may want to upgrade quickly… It costs around $40, but I advise you to wait a bit and save up for one of the two previously-mentioned microphones.
This microphone is presented as a travel microphone, but the recording quality is not ideal. If you try to use it in a space with a lot of noise, like in a restaurant… Your recording may be too low quality to be used.
Scenario 2: A microphone for recording your podcast in your home studio
Are you looking to create a space dedicated to recording your podcasts and/or your other audiovisual productions? Do you have nice acoustic panels which allow you to improve the natural acoustics of your room? (Or at least big furniture to break up the bare walls?) Then your microphone can be more sensitive than in Scenario 1, and you’ll be able to record the nuances of your voice with more finesse.
The following mics command a bigger budget and will require you to get an external sound card such as a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 ($180), but this is the best equipment you’ll find for recording your podcasts.
What we use at Ausha: the Shure SM7B 🚀
This microphone will take your podcast directly to the big leagues. The budget is much higher (approximately $399), but the quality of your voice recording will be perfect for your podcast. With this kind of microphone, post-production is extremely simple!
The SM7B can be found in the best podcasting studios in the world. Its air suspension shockproof insulation and pop filter eliminate both mechanical and breathing noises… In concrete terms, your words will be recorded, and nothing else will be in your audio mix! The good life!
The classic podcasting and radio mic: Rode ProCaster 👊
This microphone is very often used in radio and dubbing studios and for professional podcasting. It has a very narrow directionality and a bandwidth that’s optimized for voice. As such, it’s more than suitable for podcasting, since it perfectly eliminates ambient noise.
For approximately $230, you’ll be well-equipped to record your episodes.
The pro option for less than $100: the PodMic
The PodMic is a professional-quality, dynamic microphone that’s optimized for podcasting. It produces a rich sound and has an internal pop filter to minimize plosives. Thanks to its internal suspension, it also reduces vibrations.
It’s equipped with a dynamic microphone capsule and is optimized for voice recording. This microphone is the ideal partner for your recordings!
The indispensable sidekick: the pop filter 🍿
No matter which scenario you recognize yourself in, if your mic doesn’t have an integrated pop filter, you should definitely get one. This is an essential element, since it limits the impact of “P” consonants and other plosives during your recordings.
To appreciate the problem, just put your hand in front of your mouth and say “Pop“. You’ll feel a hot, dry puff of air, and this is what can damage your recording! A pop filter solves this problem and doesn’t require a big budget. Consider adding it to your cart.
Scenario 3: A microphone for recording your podcast outdoors
Does your podcast need to be recorded outdoors? You’ll need to adjust your equipment accordingly. You’ll need a microphone designed for outdoor recording and a suitable windshield. A windshield is a bit like a pop filter. It protects your microphone and improves the recording quality. Outside, your microphone can be negatively affected by the wind, your movements or the movements of your guests… The windshield limits their impact and is therefore essential for some microphones in this scenario.
Our outdoor favorite: the Rode Reporter 💜
The Reporter is a handheld microphone with a dynamic omnidirectional capsule. It offers great freedom to users since they’re no longer limited by the restrictions of directional microphones which must be held directly in front of the speaker’s mouth. It’s designed to maximize speech intelligibility, and its innovative multi-layer grille protects the capsule from ambient noise and often eliminates the need for a bulky windshield. With a price of about $130, you can record your podcasts outdoors with no worries!
The all-terrain microphone of the pros: the Sennheiser MD 46
The high-quality MD 46 cardioid dynamic microphone ($200) is designed for use in live reporting and broadcasting. Its design also avoids noises from the wind and from handling.
With this microphone, you can’t make mistakes!
The lapel mic: the SmartLav+ 👔
The smartLav+ Rode mic is a professional grade microphone for wearing on your person. It’s perfect for recording yourself or your guests outdoors. A little bonus: It’s very discrete if you decide to accompany your recording with a video! Keep an eye on the folds of your clothes to limit the noise caused by your movements!
And there you have it! Whether you want to record your podcast in your room, your home studio or on location, you now know which microphone to use! Of course, this list is non-exhaustive, and many other microphones can also meet your needs… So feel free to continue your search! 🕵️♂️
I invite you to go read our article, How to Create Your First Podcast, to learn about the steps you need to take in order to get started! In the meantime, I hope I’ve managed to shed some light on this subject 🏮🕵️
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