Shoutout to Stefan over at StreamMentor for the guest post!
They say that radio and TV as we know them are getting outdated.
Extra, redundant, unnecessary.
I tend to agree.
We spend less time watching TV/listening to the radio and more time on the Internet. This is why podcasts have wormed their way into our digital space.
They are informative, opinionated, and in-depth, and I believe that all of you content creators out there should consider making/joining one.
And, I also believe that the first issue you had with podcasts wasn’t the topics or the content itself, but the equipment.
In other words, the right of choice of a microphone.
Stay tuned ‘cause your dilemma is just about to be solved!
The Best Mics for Podcasting
A while back when we were just kids imitating Britney, anything would be a good mic.
Even a plastic bottle with our favorite juice (stop rolling your eyes, we all did it!).
(By the way, congrats on regaining the freedom over your life choices, B! It was about time!)
Some would sing into a bottle, some into a deodorant, but hell it was good.
Now that you are an adult living off of the content you create, we can agree that these improvised microphones can only come in handy as a prop for occasional comic relief if the podcasts also include video material.
And, nothing else.
Now you have to go for the real stuff. But, how can you know what’s the real deal?
Things to consider before purchasing the mic.
You do realize you can’t just walk into a store and buy the first mic you see, right?
First, you need to think about how you want to make your podcast happen.
Do you have multiple people taking part in it?
Are they in the same place (physically) or you are doing it through Skype, zoom, or whatever?
These can seriously affect the choice of the mic functioning patterns – omnidirectional, cardioid, and bidirectional.
So, first, think of what and where, and then check for a mic.
Also, what about the stand-alone and hand-held distinction?
This should not be disregarded.
Just as a hint to you, the stand-alone microphones are the choice of preference.
I’d also rarely go for the hand-held mics. You will inevitably move it around so the sound quality shall be plainly terrible.
You will sound like the scared kid in a recital.
Instead, go for the stand-alone microphones or even better for the hanging type.
Both of these shall pick up the sound properly, but with a significant difference in favour of the hanging type.
Some stand-alone mics are likely to pick up the desk/equipment vibrations that will, again, affect the sound quality.
This is why the overhead mic comes as a great alternative.
So, hang it and nail it!
Not to bother you with the generalities any longer, let’s go to the No. 1 on our list.
1. Samson Q2U
Ahh, this is the kind of mic you imagined holding in your hands instead of a banana or hairbrush while screeching “Hit me baby, one more time!” or “You’re beautiful, you’re beautiful, you’re beautiful it’s true.”
This beauty has the looks of the proper singing mic, but don’t be fooled.
I’d recommend this piece of equipment to anyone just entering the world of podcasts.
If we were to fully name it, then its detailed ID name would be Samson Technologies Q2U USB/XLR Dynamic Microphone Recording and Podcasting Pack (with Mic Clip, Desktop Stand, Windscreen, and Cables), silver.
So, as the name suggests we are talking about a microphone that you connect either through a USB or XLR connection.
Besides podcasting, it is also great for recording so you can mix and match.
While it’s true that it is designed as a hand-held mic, it also comes with a stand.
In this way, you don’t have to worry about ruining the audio quality by constantly moving your hand.
There are people who have complained of muscle spasms from holding the mic in their hand for too long.
If you are still a podcasting beginner, I’d suggest connecting it via USB till you get the hang of it. Later on, as you approach the pro level, you can switch to XLR which is more favourable with pro podcast creators.
Once you are skilled enough and have decided to invest in a proper digital recorder or audio interface, XLR shall be a better option cause it’ll send audio input to both of these.
It’s a great backup solution that saves you from potential content loss.
Just imagine being on a roll ranting about the latest season of The Handmaid’s Tale (by the way, is it over yet?) and you make the book references, etc., etc., and the sound doesn’t end up where it should?
Now, if you were to ask why it’s so great for podcasting, well, hmm, first of all, it ain’t that heavy.
It comes in at 0.7 lbs. (approximately 200g) so you will do just fine even without the stand.
Working in a cardioid pattern makes it an excellent choice for podcasts because the mic is the most sensitive from its front side, i.e. the side you are speaking into.
Still, I can safely say that one of its top advantages is that it reduces the ambient sounds and other noise to a minimum, yielding a quality audio recording to be shared with the audience.
The last option is maybe one of the most important ones cause you truly do not want your family members’ shouting to be heard on podcasts if you are doing it from home.
Also, you don’t have to take that clock down or take out its batteries. Samson Q2U shall muffle these sounds quite nicely.
Your audience will not have to listen to the additional irrelevant sounds and get distracted by them.
Finally, you can get it for a great price!
Not so bad if you ask me.
2. Blue Yeti/Yeti X USB Microphone
Or, more precisely, the Blue Yeti USB Mic for Recording and Streaming on PC and Mac, Blue VO!CE effects, 4 Pickup Patterns, Headphone Output and Volume Control, Mic Gain Control, Adjustable Stand, Plug and Play – Blackout (cause, there are so many of them).
Hmm, I could talk about this one all day long!
I still got it and I still like to use it.
Even though there are some bad sides to it, the good ones still prevail (and, by large)!
If I had to compare it with anything, then Blue Yeti is like this one ex you’re always going back to.
No matter whether there are better, younger, in better shape, etc.
You somehow always come back to it.
One of the reasons I like it is that it comes as a whole package.
You get the mic, you get the stand, and you get the protective grille so you don’t leave the audience deaf with your p, b, d, and t sounds.
These are highly explosive and highly unpleasant to listen to especially when the audience listens to your podcast through headphones.
Blue Yeti comes with the gain regulation knob so you can adjust the level of the sounds it picks up.
While you might think that maxing it out is your goal, don’t be fooled.
Luckily, I tested it immediately when I first bought it and had my friends listen to the sound it reproduces.
Long story short, they told me I should switch to another mic ‘cause this one picked up the neighbour’s car engine revving outside.
Fortunately, I realized the gain was on max so I reduced it to the mid-strength and eventually lowered it to a quarter or so.
Seeing how this is also a cardioid mic, this gain setting is just right.
Frankly speaking, the Blue Yeti monster is not a cardioid mic by default.
It can operate in stereo, bi, and omnidirectional too.
However, the cardioid mode is always the preferred one for podcasts and that is only natural.
To prove that this always-return-to mic is properly equipped for podcasting, let me just say this:
Besides the gain control knob, the mic also incorporates the mute button and headphone jack with volume control.
Quite enough, I should say. By the way, be careful with the mute button!
During a podcast on bloody traffic jams, I left the mute button on so by the time I figured it out, it was too late.
In any case, the mic is highly versatile, so you can use it for all sorts of recordings, gaming, streaming, etc.
It is a bit heavy though, so don’t presume to hold it.
Why bother, when it comes with a stand that minimises the movement of the mic and thus prevents it from picking up unnecessary noise?
Even though it is more expensive than the previous version, it still falls within the “on a budget category”. Accordingly, you can get it for approximately $100.
3. The Rode Podcaster
Ahh, I see what they did here.
They used the name to lure you right away!
It’s like they’re saying this ain’t just any mic. It’s a perfect-for-podcast mic.
And, this isn’t far from the truth.
To fully identify the product, it is Rode Podcaster USB Dynamic Microphone that I am talking ‘bout.
So, if you were to buy this one, maybe you should consult your significant other, but I’ll get to that.
Again we are discussing a USB-connected mic, but it’s just that this one works in unidirectional mode.
Don’t be fooled, though.
The applicability without fault for streaming comes from it being a dynamic microphone.
These are far better when recording in places other than recording studios.
To be quite frank, when you’re in a studio, any mic can do the job.
But, when you’re at home, in your office, or someplace similar, the Podcaster, being dynamic, picks up far less background noise so your audio will sound professional.
It is a bit heavy, though – some 500g, but you can purchase the stand separately.
No, unfortunately, it does not come with a stand.
Now we are back to the price issue I mentioned at the very beginning.
This mic with a stand and pop filter is quite an investment, to be honest.
The RP mic itself is some $225, while the stand is available at $40 already and the pop-up filter is approximately $20.
Accordingly, let’s round this up to $300.
So, if you’re thinking to buy it, check whether you need your car fixed first, if your significant other needs a new pair of shoes or the latest console – trust me, you don’t want to bring that wrath upon yourself!
Still, even though it comes at a hefty price, know that we’re talking about a pro mic.
4. Heil PR40 Dynamic Performance
Price: Check Amazon!
Ahh, one he(i)ll of a device!
It’s a killer mike, I tell ya!
If you want to emphasize natural articulation, then this is the mic to go for.
The mic comes with a large aluminum diaphragm and is heavy at 0.9 pounds.
Note that this is also a mic with a dynamic performance which is why it is great when making a podcast from home.
It is made so as not to pick up too much of the background noise thus yielding an impeccable sound quality.
As is the case with the other mics listed here, this little creature also operates in cardioid mode.
Accordingly, the mic is most sensitive from its front side while the backside does not pick up any sounds. (This sometimes reminds me of my brain – it’s there just for show).
Now, seriously, the reason I like this beast is that handling it while using it will not reflect much on the overall quality of the sound content you’re creating.
You can drag it, move it, lift it – nothing, nada de nada.
It’s just like it’s deaf to those sounds.
Now, if you’re thinking to invest in this piece of equipment – and, what an investment it is, just like with the last one, you need to check for approval from the other side that you’re sharing finances with.
If you are the boss of yourself and your money then it’s no biggie.
Let’s say you opt for purchasing it with a carrying case included. In that case, the mic is available at roughly $330.
The stand and the boom are charged separately, so get ready to spend some $500 in total if you decide to purchase these with the mic.
Know that your better/prettier half may not be that thrilled about it.
God knows mine wasn’t.
In any case, if you still decide to go for it, despite all he(i)ll breaking loose, the good thing about it is that it is a pro mic of quality make and it works just fine (sound quality-wise) even without the boom and the stand.
5. Electro-Voice RE20-BLACK
AKA the Electro-Voice RE20-BLACK Dynamic Broadcast Announcer Microphone, Black (RE20).
Hmm, what can I say about it without sounding biased?
That it’s good for podcasts? No, that would be a pure understatement.
That it’s the best mic there is for podcasts? No, again. This would be an overstatement.
Let me just stick to the facts then and say that it’s great for podcasts. Nay, excellent.
A great feature of this microphone is that your voice when reproduced, sounds so natural.
No awkward tones that make it sound alien.
Instead, it best resembles the FM sound quality.
It is set to be frequency tailored to your voice, hence the results.
Of course, we are discussing a cardioid mode of operation and we already established why this is good for you as a podcaster.
All of this is possible due to the Variable-D design that filters all the unnecessary background noise leaving only your clear voice to be recorded.
Seeing how we are again discussing a pro mic, yes, it is another one connected via XLR cable.
Naturally, all of this comes at a price.
To be honest, this is the most expensive mic on our list.
It costs around $450.
So, yeah, if you’re thinking of purchasing it, maybe, just maybe, think twice.
It’s not worth the money if you plan on using it once a month.
You need your investment to pay off.
6. BONUS – Rode Smartlav+
If there is one thing Rode Smartlav+ podcasting mic is trying to prove then it’s that size does not matter.
Seeing how small it is – you can comfortably carry it in your purse – it does wonders.
This tie-clip mic is great on the go since it will enable you to create content wherever you are.
Just plug it into your iPhone or smartphone and Rode Smartlav+ is all set.
Know that it operates in the omnidirectional mode so it will come in rather handy when you bump into the Friends cast and decide to interview them (I like to believe this might happen sometimes).
Here we have the confirmation that great things sometimes do come in small packages.
Ok, guys, these would be my honest suggestions on the best podcasting mics.
Some of them are within budget, and some of them are rather pricey.
Still, know that whichever you opt for, you will not miss.
So, pick one now and podcast away!
If you have any questions, leave them down below!