Be the host of your own show. Podcasting provides a platform for anyone who wants to share views on any subject under the sun. To do that, however, you will need to gather the necessary equipment and set up your own home studio. Be careful when choosing your mic as it will have the biggest impact on the quality of the recording. Sure, you can use your laptop’s built-in mic but that won’t yield inspiring results. Try to get the best podcast microphone that you can afford and you’ll never look back. Below are a few options that you may want to consider:
- Our Recommendations for Top Mics for Podcasting
- Choosing the Best Microphone for Podcasting
- Accessories You’ll Need to Make the Mic Work
- Mic Setup with the Rest of Your Gear
- Other Recommended Reading:
Our Recommendations for Top Mics for Podcasting
Rode PodcasterClick here to check price on Amazon
The name itself makes it clear who the device was made for. This specialist microphone is great for those who are just starting out and want everything to be as simple as possible. It features a USB interface so it can plug directly into any computer without any hassles. Use any audio mixing software to capture the input and edit the shows. It has a 28mm dynamic capsule that picks up sound in a cardioid polar pattern. The range is good enough to allow a bit of movement while recording. However, it may also pick up unwanted noise in the background.
The all-metal body inspires confidence in the build and durability of the product. Indeed, the Rode Podcaster comes with a 10-year warranty. An LED power indicator and a built-in pop filter. Under the mic is a 3.5mm port for headphones, as well as volume control. It does not have gain control. Those who wish to monitor the things in real-time can plug into this port. The frequency response listed is 40Hz to 14KHz which is fine for voice recordings. People trying to record with musical instruments should look elsewhere. All in all, the unit serves its purpose very well.
- Note – Also available in a bundle with the mic, shockmount and arm stand – click here for more info.
Heil PR-40Click here to check price on Amazon
Here is another dynamic microphone that has been designed with voice in mind. It can be used not only for podcasting but also for voice overs and similar applications. Choose from different colors including chrome, champagne, and black & gold. It has a steel housing with an internal shield against noise from lighting fixtures and video monitors. There is no need to worry about handling and making adjustments on the fly as there is an internal Sorbothane shock mount. It features a cardioid pickup pattern that is able to reject off-axis noise thanks for the presence of four rear ports.
The mic comes with an internal filter and two mesh screens which serve to reduce pops and hisses. The presence of a formidable NdFeB magnet structure, along with a large and light mic element, enables the unit to provide dynamic range and high sound pressure levels of up to 148 dB SPL. This means you can enjoy natural sounds that are free from distortion. The frequency range is between 28 Hz and 18 KHz with impedance at 600 ohms. Note that, unlike the first two mics, the Heil PR-40 uses a more traditional 3-pin XLR connector.
- Also available in a bundle with the mic, shockmount, mic cable and arm stand – click here for more info.
Mics For Podcasting Under $200
Blue Yeti USB MicrophoneClick here to check price on Amazon
Anyone who is looking into USB microphones should consider the brand Blue. They have a massive presence in this product category, earning their popularity through affordable price tags and excellent performance. The Blue Yeti USB Microphone is an excellent example. This device has a metal body that includes a sturdy base to keep it in place on a desk. A peek underneath reveals a mini USB port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and mic stand attachment. Below the logo is a mute button with indicator light and a knob control for the headphone volume. There are also knobs for gain and pattern selection.
Like most USB mics, this one is also plug and play. Any computer with a modern OS should be able to recognize it right away and get it working. Sound quality is more than acceptable for podcasting with 16-bit 48KHz sampling rate. It is possible to choose between an omni-directional pattern and a cardioid pattern. The former is suited to round-table discussions while the latter is better for solo efforts. Experimentation may be needed to find the right settings. No software ships with the product but there are plenty of open source and commercial options online.
- Bundle with a pop-filter and headphones – click here for more info
- Other color options:
Podcast Mics Under $100
Audio Technica AT2020Click here to check price on Amazon
Audio Technica is a highly respected name when it comes to sound equipment. Podcasters who are aiming for professional quality audio would do well to consider their offerings including the AT2020. Just remember that this is not a USB mic so connecting it to a computer is not as straightforward. It needs an XLR cable which is sold separately. The only things you get in the package are the mic itself, a stand adapter, and a carrying pouch. On the bright side, this helps to cut down the price of the unit to $99 and even less at discount rates. One thing that was not compromised is the performance which the AT2020 knocks out of the ballpark.
Individuals that do not mind spending extra for a good stand, pop filter, shock mount, XLR cable, and other accessories will shrug off the sparse package. These are not that expensive anyway. Some may already have all of the gear necessary and are just looking for a mic upgrade. Podcasters who want to give their listeners the best aural experience should not think twice about this cardioid condenser mic. YouTubers who dabble music will also be served well by its wide range. Frequency response is excellent from 20 Hz up to 20 KHz.
Samson MeteorClick here to check price on Amazon
The Samson Meteor is another USB mic for people who like to keep it simple. It comes in chrome, brushed nickel, and titanium black. The classic design is stylish yet smart and compact. It does not need a stand or a mount since its base is already composed of three short legs that fold out to support it like a tripod. When folded up, they protect the mic from bumps and bruises — ideal for traveling or long-term storage. It has a cardioid pattern which can pick up both vocals and instruments with ease. Even background voices can be captured without having to speak louder.
There is a mute switch, a headphone volume control, and an indicator light can be found at the front. The 1/8 inch headphone output port and the USB port can be found at the back. Underneath is a stand adapter for mounting on a different desktop stand or a boom. This mic does not need addition power via USB hub. Thus, it can be connected directly even to low-powered devices like tablets with no issues. No drivers are required. Just plug it in and start recording. Note that this does not have a gain adjustment on the mic so any changes must be made via software.
More color choices:
- Samson Meteor Mic USB Studio Microphone large diaphragm, built-in monitoring + Samson Stereo Headphones + Pop Filter
- Samson Meteor Mic USB Studio Microphone (Chrome) Bundle With SR350 Stereo Headphones
- Samson SAMTR Meteor Mic with Adjustable Desk Mic Stand and Pop Filter
Audio Technica ATR2100Click here to check price on Amazon
Another low-cost option from a reliable brand. The ATR2100 is a cardioid dynamic mic that is capable of both digital and analog outputs. For podcasters who like versatility, it’s hard to find a better deal. It can be connected to a computer for home studio recordings and plugged into sound systems when it’s time for a live performance. There is a headphone jack for real-time monitoring so there is no need to wonder how the audio is coming across. The cardioid pattern is good for recordings where there is a definite focus on one or two speakers. Noise from the rear is minimized.
The conventional handheld mic design fits perfectly into the included tripod desk stand. The legs can be folded while the mic angle can be adjusted. Both cables, USB and XLR, are part of the package for ease of setup. Just plug it into a computer and it will be good to go. Compatibility with Mac and Windows is guaranteed. Conversion from analog to digital signals is done by a quality AD convertor using 16-bit 44.1/48 KHz sampling rate. The frequency response is from 50 Hz to 15,000 Hz which makes it suited for voice recordings.
- Audio Technica ATR2100-USB USB/XLR Microphone with Knox Desktop Boom Arm Mic Stand & Pop Filter
- Audio Technica ATR2100-USB USB/XLR Microphone with Knox Pop Filter and Headphones
- Audio Technica ATR2100-USB USB/XLR Microphone with Knox Pop Filter and Headphones
Samson Q2Click here to check price on Amazon
The Samson Q2U can be considered as an alternative to the Audio Technica ATR2100. Both are handheld mics that are as comfortable in a recording studio as they are in a concert stage. People who are looking for a versatile unit to take to different places will not be let down. The Q2U will provide excellent results in a fully soundproofed room but it will also give decent results even on the field. Like the ATR2100, it has a USB cable as well as an XLR for connection with other equipment. Having options never hurts, especially if you are on the go and are not quite sure what you will be faced with when you get to your destination.
This versatility also makes it a nice piece of gear for podcasters of every level. Novices can get it and use the USB connection to start recording right away on a computer. More experienced individuals can upgrade the setup by adding a mixer, pre-amplifier, and digital recorder in the studio without having to replace the mic. Just plug it into the XLR port of the digital recorder and enjoy the increase in audio quality. The package is quite generous with an included desktop stand, an XLR cable, a pair of headphones, and even a free copy of the Cakewalk Music Creator program.
Podcasting Microphones Under $50
Blue Snowball IceClick here to check price on Amazon
Lastly, we have the Blue Snowball Ice which is a condenser microphone. It comes in either black or white. You can get it with a pop filter and headphones at additional cost. This one is a USB mic so it’s basically plug and play with any computer. It’s great for people who are tired of cheap microphones and wish to improve the quality of their outputs, without reaching too deep into their pockets. The unit itself currently retails for under $50. This entry-level offering by Blue features a spherical head and a tripod base that’s about 10 inches in total height.
This product is good for the absolute beginner who wants to record podcasts without having to deal with too much tech. It can also be used by students for their projects, by YouTubers to get better sound, and by anyone who wishes to chat via Skype. A six-foot USB cable is included in the package. The unit has a single mic capsule with a cardioid pick-up pattern and 16-bit sampling for professional audio quality. It may seem tiny but it is heavy and sturdy. It won’t fall over as long as the screws are tight and the mic is placed in a good spot.
Choosing the Best Microphone for Podcasting
Budget and Price Points
Cost should not be a barrier to podcasting. There are multiple products at different price points to serve all kinds of budgets. Those who are just trying to dabble in it may not be prepared to spend a lot of money. Good thing that there’s plenty of options in the sub-$100 category including the Blue Snowball Ice which is only half that amount. Even the excellent Audio Technica AT2020 is sold at just $99. Individuals who can afford to spend a bit more may want to look into mid-tier offerings such as the Blue Yeti USB Microphone which has a solid build and comes with its own stand. For people who want the best podcast microphone that money can buy, the sky’s the limit. The Heil PR40 is a good place to start at over $300.
The type of mic – Condenser vs Dynamic Mics
Both types are good for different purposes. It is up to the buyer to get one that is suited to his or her particular application. The advantage of condenser mics is that they have a higher output level. This means that the signal does not have to undergo amplification which usually results in unwanted hiss. They are also more sensitive, especially at higher frequencies. The recording thus feels richer but it can also pick up lots of noise. A pop filter can make things better. Dynamic microphones, on the other hand, can filter noise from the tongue, lips, and air vents.
XLR vs USB connections
The main advantage of USB mics are their simplicity. You plug them into virtually any computer and they will work right out of the box. Even old PCs with Windows XP and tiny RAM should be able to get them up and running. In most cases, installation is automatic. No other equipment is required to begin recording. On the other hand, XLR mics will require the purchase of a digital recorder. Having a mixer and pre-amp is also ideal, especially for multi-microphone setups. The increased investment will result in vastly improved audio quality. Some mics have both types of connectors for versatility.
Accessories You’ll Need to Make the Mic Work
Desktop mic stand or broadcasting arm
Keep your hands free during a recording by letting a desktop stand hold the mic for you. This will make it easier to adjust controls on the fly and take notes in an interview. The stand will also fix the height and angle of the unit to their optimum settings. These may require a bit of experimentation to find the best combination. A broadcasting arm may also be considered for a greater range of adjustments. This is usually clamped to the side of a table. This frees up valuable desktop space. An arm is also less prone to bumps and falls compared to desk stands.
Although it is possible to use wireless microphones, these tend to be much more expensive than their wired counterparts. Reliability issues and technical complications also hound them. It is for these reasons that wired mics are still preferred, especially when it comes to recording. Podcasters can save time, money, and effort by using cables. The type of cable needed will depend on the microphone connections, USB or XLR. The unit may include the necessary cables in the package to make setup easier. If not, then buying them should not be that difficult. They should be long enough to promote freedom of movement without adding too much clutter.
Even small positioning adjustments can rattle the interior components of a mic and introduce noise into the system. Vibrations from the floor can also travel up to the unit and do the same thing.
These can be prevented through the use of a shock mount. This piece of accessory creates a physical separation between the mic and the arm or stand to reduce vibrations and other shocks. This vastly improves the quality of the recording. It will be as if the unit was suspended in the air thanks to the dampeners that surround it. The designs may include o-rings, springs, and other elements.
Mic Setup with the Rest of Your Gear
The microphone is only one piece of the puzzle. It is arguably the more important one since this input device gets the ball rolling. However, the rest of your gear needs some attention as well. Make sure that the mic is fixed on a sturdy stand or arm with a good shock mount and pop filter to minimize vibrations and noise. For USB mics, it should be trivial to plug into a compatible computer and record a show. For XLR mics, one will need to purchase a digital recorder to capture the audio in high quality. An amplifier and mixer will provide additional control over the output.
Other Recommended Reading:
- Best Podcast Starter Kits (Get Setup With These 2018 Packages!)
- Best Podcasting Mixer 2018 (The Right One For Your Podcast)
Building your own recording studio at home can be fun and exciting. It can also be costly. Maximize your resources by focusing on the things that truly matter. Whatever you do, do not compromise on the quality of your microphone. This piece of equipment will have the greatest influence on the listening experience of the audience. If you do not have much funding, then start with a USB mic from a trusted brand that can be plugged directly into a computer. You can slowly upgrade your podcasting gear as you extend your reach and gain more technical knowhow.