Choosing a podcast microphone is one of the biggest hurdles for new podcasters, so this week Eric shares his wisdom on picking the best mic for you. He discusses why he highly recommends dynamic microphones over condenser mics. He also gets off his chest how he hates the Blue Yeti! Eric also dives into the situation surrounding where to position your mic and how close to it you need to be to get the best sound possible.
“As a podcaster, your sound is one of your biggest concerns. This concern can be your friend or your enemy. It’s really what makes choosing a podcast mic so overwhelming at first.” – Eric Montgomery
“The good news is that nowadays, you can actually get a solid microphone without breaking the bank.” – Eric Montgomery
“When you’re podcasting, you want the sound to be as isolated as possible. So no reverberation, no slapback — just your sound close up on the mic, that full, rich-bodied tone.” – Eric Montgomery
- The difference between dynamic and condenser microphones
- Eric’s top 10 podcast mic recommendations, including price point and review
- Where to position your microphone and how far away you should be when you’re speaking into it
- Differences between USB and XLR microphones
- How to avoid picking up too much room noise when recording
- When you might want to upgrade to an audio interface
- Why the size of a microphone’s diaphragm impacts its sound
The Top Ten Microphones For Podcasting
- Shure SM58
- Shure SM7B
- Rode Podcaster
- Audio-Technica ATR2100x
- Heil Sound PR 40
- Rode PodMic
- Electro-Voice RE20
- Shure MV7 USB
- Rode NT-USB Mini USB Condenser Microphone
- Rode Procaster
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As a podcaster, your sound is one of your biggest concerns. This concern can be your friend or your enemy. It’s really what makes choosing a podcast mic so overwhelming. The good news is that nowadays you can actually get a solid microphone without breaking the bank. And in this episode, I’ll be giving you a list of my top 10 favorite podcast microphones. You’ll have a better understanding of the type of mic that’s right for you.
What up guys? And welcome to Clip, a show designed to help you become a better, more efficient podcaster. My name is Eric, I’m your host, and founder of the podcast Haven, hopping on here today to talk about podcast microphones and how to choose the best podcast microphone. It kind of seems that podcast microphones are one of the biggest hurdles for new podcasters. Most new podcasters probably don’t have a whole lot of experience recording audio, and so they don’t really know what to look for when they’re looking at microphones.
Don’t Fall For The Blue Yeti
I can say with almost certainty that probably one of the microphones that they came across when doing their Google search is the Blue Yeti. I hate the Blue Yeti. I suggest you stay away from it, and it’s not even because it’s a bad microphone, it’s because it’s confusing to use. Two, it’s a condenser microphone. And three, a lot of people just plop it on their desk, when really with that mic, this goes for most podcasting microphones, you want to get pretty close to it and almost feel like you’re swallowing the mic. It is a condenser, so technically can be a little further back, but a lot of people plop it on their desk and they pick up a ton of room tone and echo and slap back and it sounds like crap.
Types of Microphones
So, getting that off my chest, let’s talk about what to look for in a microphone, and the two types of microphones, which are dynamic microphones and condenser microphones. For the sake of this, we’re not really going to talk about condenser microphones because I don’t want you using those for podcasting, I want you using dynamic microphones. And before we get into dynamic microphones, let me just explain real quick why I don’t like you using condenser microphones, unless you really know what you’re doing, unless you’re like an experienced person that talks on a microphone or you have broadcast experience, you’re going to want to stay away from condenser microphones, and this is why.
Condenser microphones are, for lack of a better way to say it and to keep it simple, they’re sensitive. And so, they’re going to pick up a lot of the sound of your room, and chances are you’re not in an acoustically treated room and so you’re going to have some kind of reverb or slap back, and you don’t want that in your podcast. Room tone is great for recording music, if you’re in like, I don’t know, Abbey Road Studios in London, that room probably sounds amazing, and so when you’re mic’ing up your guitar or the piano, you’re going to want to capture some of that room tone because it’s going to add some color and uniqueness to the tone.
But when you’re podcasting, you want the sound to be as dead as possible. Quote, unquote, dead. So no reverberation, no slap back. You’re going to want just your sound, close up on the mic, that full rich bodied tone. And with condenser microphones, too, you barely have to crank the gain, you’re going to get a pretty loud sound and that can be troubling because sometimes people often clip their levels, they distort, they just don’t know what they’re doing. So, for lack of a more in depth understanding, stay away from condenser microphones unless you know what you’re doing, and stay away from the Blue Yeti. I’m going to give you some other options later on in the show where you can achieve better results for the same, or even a cheaper, amount of money.
So dynamic microphones are what you need to buy for podcasting. They’re the go-to microphones across the industry and they do an excellent job of mitigating room noise and ambient sound. Oftentimes they’re really rugged too, so you can kind of knock them around a little bit or accidentally drop them and they’ll probably still remain intact, whereas condenser microphones, likely to break if that happens. Dynamic microphones are meant to pick up the sound that’s coming from directly in front of the microphone capsule, which is why you’ve probably seen, in the old days, or even now with podcasting, people basically fully on the mic like this. So right now I’m touching the microphone, touching my lips to the windshield, and a lot of people talk really close to get that upfront, full bodied tone. And also, they’re not as sensitive as condenser microphones, and so they require more gain to drive the signal, to get it a healthy level. And in order to do that, you need to get pretty close. Like if I talk back here, you probably can’t hear it as well, and you’re hearing more of the room than you are of my voice.
They also have dynamic microphones that are USB based, so just literally plug and play right into your computer. The better microphones are going to be traditional, which connect via a microphone cable, that’s called an XLR cable. It’s a three pin cable, and really, there’s no way to plug the XLR cable into your computer from your microphone. And so if you’re going to go this route, you’re going to have to get what’s called an audio interface. An audio interface is essentially like a little box that you plug the microphone into, and then that box then plugs into the computer via USB. The audio interface is basically, yeah, a way to interface your microphone with the computer. It’s got a pre-amp in there, and think of that as an amplifier that drives the microphone signal. And when I say drives, I mean cranks the level up or down.
My Top Ten Microphones
Here are 10 dynamic microphones that I recommend. These are going to be a variety of XLR connected microphones and USB dynamic microphones. Go ahead and check out the show notes where there’ll be links to each of these. It could be a lot to take in.
Number one is actually the microphone that I’m using. This is a great mic, reasonably priced, about a hundred dollars. It’s a Shure SM58 microphone, and you’ve probably actually seen these microphones, they’re all over the world on stages, and theaters, and concert venues everywhere. Honestly, pretty good sounding mic for the price. You’re going to get a nice tone. It’s heavy, it’s durable, if someone breaks into your house, you can smack them over the head with it and the microphone will probably still work the next day. So that’s number one, it’s the Shure SM58.
Two is the Shure SM7B. This is a more expensive microphone, costs about $400, and this is one of the pinnacles of broadcast and podcast microphones. Chances are, you’ve seen this one as well. If you follow anyone on YouTube that also has a podcast, where they film the show for YouTube, chances are they’re using a Shure SM7B. It’s got a really large diaphragm and so you’re going to get that nice base tone. If you want to kind of like level up your sound from the Shure SM58, the Shure SM7B is a nice level up. It’s an XLR microphone, so you’ll need to pair this with an audio interface.
Number three, the Rode Podcaster USB microphone. This thing sounds solid, it’s also kind of bulky. It’s a heavier and longer microphone. It’s white, approximately $230, something like that. It’s made by Rode, which is a company out of Australia that makes a lot of good audio and video equipment. It’s dynamic, it’s USB, so it’s plug and play. With this, and actually the other two mentioned, you want to get really up close to it and talk to it to where you’re almost touching it. Great option for podcasters who want a good USB microphone.
Four is kind of the quintessential podcast microphone, which is the Audio-Technica 2100X. The cool thing about this microphone is that it connects via USB and XLR, so you could just plug it straight into your computer or you can connect via XLR, and I think the flexibility of that is great because you can get the best of both worlds really. If maybe your home set up, you use the XLR connector, and maybe on the road or in a more simple compact space, short for time, boom, plug it in via USB. Honestly, a lot of podcasters use this microphone and not even as a starter mic, a lot of them use it as their microphone for the show because it really does sound that good. It’s cheap. I want to say it’s about a hundred dollars. Grab it on Amazon. It can even be used as like a good backup microphone. It doesn’t have to be, you could use it as your main mic, but throw it in your bag, keep it on deck for everything. It’s very reputable. So, that is number four, the Audio-Technica 2100X USB microphone.
Five, the Heil PR40. This microphone’s about $400, this is a top of the line microphone for podcasting. You don’t see a whole lot of people use it, it’s not as popular as Shure or Rode, but honestly it’s probably a better microphone. It’s a damn good mic, so if you want a good sound and maybe you want to be a little different, people see it and they’re like, “Hey, what is that?” You can tell them, it’s the Heil PR40, and they’re going to love how you sound on it, and you’re going to love how your voice sounds on it.
Moving on to number six, which is the Rode PodMic. The Rode PodMic is a broadcast quality microphone, and one really cool feature about it is that it has an anti-plosive build. Plosives are the pop pop pop sounds, please don’t pop your p’s. Normally you’re going to need to get a pop filter, which is like a little shield that kind of goes around the microphone and it’s going to prevent the p’s from popping. You could probably hear mine now. It’s built in, it’s got a cool metal casing which prevents the plosives from happening. It’s super lightweight. It handles loud and quiet sounds, and you’re going to get a good broadcast tone out of this. You’re going to get that nice, full, rich tone that I keep saying. A hundred bucks, so that’s number six, the Rode PodMic.
Seven is the Electro-Voice RE20. Old school radio, guys, tend to love these mics. This is one of the top rated microphones in the industry for broadcasting and podcasting. It has a base roll off switch, so if the base in your voice is too low, you can tone that down. It’s tailored to bring out the rich response of your voice and getting that chest voice. This microphone costs about 450-500 dollars, depending on where you find it. This is one of the best podcast microphones out there.
Eight is the Shure MV7. This is essentially the USB version of the Shure SM7B microphone. It’s got a similar design and sound, and it’s more affordable. It’s about $250. Similar to the Audio-Technica microphone, this mic is USB and XLR compatible, so if you’re a podcaster who has various needs, and maybe you record in various locations, having that flexibility is going to be huge.
Rode NT Mini USB
Nine is the Rode NT Mini USB microphone. This mic is dope because it looks like a microphone that you’d find from like the fifties or sixties. It’s got a different shape than what you would think of as traditional microphones. This also has the built in pop filter for reducing plosives. If you film your show as well, this is a unique microphone to have on camera, about a hundred, $120. And one unique thing about this microphone as well is that it has built in signal processing, so there’s a noise gate, a compressor, an RL exciter, and a big bottom processing that you can put on the microphone. And you do that via the Rode connect application. It also swivels 360 degrees so you can mount this on an arm or a mic stand, and get that positioning just right.
I actually have one of these, I’m not using it right now, but I probably will. One of the goals I plan on doing eventually with this is adding in different microphones for different episodes. One, because I’ll have some fun with that, and two, can talk a little bit about the microphone and give you guys a feel for how it sounds.
Rounding out this series at number 10 is the Rode Procaster. This thing is specifically built for speech, and so any voice that gets behind it is going to sound good. The mic does a great job at mitigating room tone and ambient noise, so if you’re going to get right up on that thing, you’re going to sound like you’re supposed to sound for a podcast. And this mic, it’s a little bit bigger than you might be comfortable with, so keep that in mind, but it’s a legit microphone. You’re going to find it for like $230, more or less, depending on where you go.
The Wrap Up
Those 10 microphones aren’t in any specific order, it’s just the order that I wrote them down in. Some are, quote unquote, better microphones than others, but honestly, any mic on that list is going to suit you well for podcasting, you’re going to get a nice tone from any one of them. Start with something simple, a little bit cheaper, and as you grow and your podcast grows, you can up your sound.
Thanks for geeking out with me guys and letting me talk your ear off about podcast microphones. I had some fun with this one. Hope you enjoyed it. And if you’d like more information about the Podcast Haven, go to thepodcasthaven.com, or shoot us an email at email@example.com. Would love to hear from you guys. Please rate, review, and subscribe on the podcast app of your choice, and we will talk soon.
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