Advanced Audio podcasting: Episode 3 - Microphones

Your microphone is a massively important part of your studio, some will say it's the single most important part and to not skimp on it,   I tend to disagree based on experience.   I have a very expensive recording studio condenser microphone that captures a persons voice almost perfectly, It cost me close to $400 used and does a fantastic job of picking up my voice accurately,  it also picks up all the other noise in the room accurately.   Condenser Microphones are the best you can get for accurate recording,  but in pod casting we don't want accurate,  we want to sound good and reject the noise in the horrible recording environment we have.  So what you need to look for is what most radio stations use, that is the Shure SM58.  It is a workhorse of stage and radio and has been a standard for over 4 decades....  but you dont have to pay the $100 for it.   I actually broke the rule and bought a cheap knock off that sounds incredibly close to the Shure SM58..   the Pyle-Pro PDMIC58 I was able to find for $15.00 on as a spare second microphone and set it up for a guest to use in my studio on a second mic.    The results were startling.   His Mic sounded better than my high end one on a shock mount with a Pop filter.  his was clear, had warm bass to his voice and NO room ambiance.  While mine in comparison sounded like I was podcasting from the bathroom.  My condenser mic was picking up everything while the cheap dynamic was rejecting almost all of the room noise.  The
Moral of the story,   Expensive does not equal better.    Unless you have sound treated your entire studio do NOT buy an expensive microphone,  get a cheap old SM58 or one of the budget knock offs and end up with far better audio and more money to spend elsewhere in your studio.

Mic Technique

I admit I have a problem with this due to my desk layout and forgetting to pay attention during the podcast, I will back away from the microphone and start to sound thin and quieter, this is bad microphone technique and only ruins your audio.  You end up quieter than your guests and if you bring the gain up so you can be a foot or more away from the mic, you start to record the room sounds.  

 Proper Mic Technique is that you need to be right up on the microphone,  some say 2-3 inches from it,  I say EAT the microphone.   your lips touching the windscreen is a little too close, but almost touching is about perfect.  What this does it allows you to bring the microphone gain down so less room noise and ambiance is getting into your recording, the disadvantage is you MUST remember to get back into position every time you talk.  if you turn your head to look at your show notes, before you talk again you have to get right back up there and face the microphone and talk into it.  Not across it but into it.  You need to repeat that position every single time to get the best sound.   The other big advantage is that you can turn your head and lean away for a light cough or clearing your throat and it will be so low in volume that if a guest is talking nobody will hear it on the recording.

You can get some microphone accessories such as a pop filter,  but a foam windscreen is far more important.  a real SM58 comes with one,  the knock offs do not.    You also really need a good stand you can use a floor stand with a boom arm, but remember to buy a couple of mouse pads to set the stand on to help isolate it a bit from the floor.  A lot of low frequencies can couple into the microphone through that mic stand and a little of rubber isolation will reduce it significantly.   I recommend against a desk stand  because you will be using your desk, and if you hit it or set something down it can couple right into the microphone.   One accessory I strongly suggest if you do not use a DSP that allows you to wire up a mute button is a Microphone cough button or mute button.  The switch on your mic is not what you want as they are noisy. you want a separate  momentary Mic mute that is silent and will not make any clicks or pops in your audio.  this allows you to hit that button and make noises that do not get recorded like a cough or  sneeze.  Rolls makes a nice affordable one that also works with phantom powered microphones.



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