Let’s talk about podcast mics. As a professional podcaster, I trust my microphone for much more than Zoom calls. It captures my voice.
I use the audio from my podcast mic to build every episode. So quality makes a big difference.
That’s why I created this guide on podcast mics. In it, I break down why they’re important (even for amateur podcasts) and what to look for when you choose to upgrade. Ready to get started? Let’s talk about podcast mics.
What to Expect From My Podcast Mic Guide
I’ve already given a deep dive into how to start a podcast. So let’s dive into the technical side. In the world of contemporary audio storytelling, a podcast microphone is like a conductor’s baton. I use it to orchestrate my symphony of voices, narratives, and ideas.
Disclosure: This article is supported by affiliate partners. When you purchase through any of the links on my site, I may be compensated at no extra charge to you. Thanks for reading!
|Best Podcast Mic for Novices
|Best Podcast Mic for Indie Podcasts
|Best Podcast Mic for Small Shows
|Zoom H6 Handi Recorder
As a seasoned professional in the realm of corporate podcasting, I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative impact of high-quality audio.
Picture this: You’re entrusted with the responsibility of creating content that not only informs but also captivates, engages, and resonates with your target audience. The quality of your podcast microphone, my fellow podcasters, is the cornerstone upon which your audio empire is built.
So, as you sip your artisanal latte, nestled in your soundproofed studio (presumably in a penthouse apartment in Manhattan), allow me to guide you through the art of selecting the perfect podcast microphone.
We’ll navigate through the diverse types available, consider the impact of audio quality on corporate podcasting, and uncover how this one piece of equipment can elevate your storytelling to the level of a captivating corporate narrative.
Join me in this sonic odyssey as we explore the profound significance of podcast microphones. Let’s unveil the secrets of their selection, peel back the layers of their nuances, and craft a sonic signature that resonates with both discerning listeners and corporate objectives.
As I did with my review of AI tools for podcasting, I’ll break down some specific recommendations here too. Your journey into the world of podcast microphones begins here—where professional storytelling meets the art of audio excellence.
Trusted Podcast Mics with Unmatched Performance:
Before we dive into the technical stuff, I wanted to share my top picks. This is usually one of the first questions new podcasters ask me. It’s also one of the easiest to answer. If you’re looking for a more detailed breakdown, read on.
Blue Yeti: The Best Podcast Mic for Novices
I’ve recommended the Blue Yeti podcast mic in the past. But is it worth it?
The Blue Yeti remains one of the most popular podcast microphones on the market. There are two reasons for this. First, it’s inexpensive. Compared to other professional podcast microphones, this one comes in well under the average price. It’s usually on sale for about $100 and sometimes you can find it in a bundle.
But aside from the price, the Blue Yeti earns some attention from the amateur podcasting community because it’s also super simple. As a USB mic, you just have to plug it in to get it to work. Make sure it’s selected as your default recording device, and you’ll notice a major upgrade from an on-camera or built-in podcast microphone.
So, is it worth it?
Yeah. It’s a great starter microphone for podcasters.
Shure SM7B: The Best Podcast Mic for Indie Podcasters
The Shure SM7B is a legendary microphone that has been the go-to choice for professionals in the podcasting industry. With its exceptional sound quality and versatility, this microphone is a true gem for any podcaster looking to elevate their audio game.
Its dynamic cardioid pickup pattern ensures clear and focused recording, reducing background noise and capturing your voice with utmost precision. Whether you’re conducting interviews, narrating stories, or hosting discussions, the SM7B delivers top-notch audio clarity that will keep your listeners engaged.
So is the Shure SM7B a worthwhile podcast mic? You bet.
Zoom H6: A Portable Powerhouse for Podcasters on the Move
For podcasters who are always on the go, the Zoom H6 is a must-have portable recorder and mic. This little device packs a serious punch when it comes to recording quality, making it a favorite among podcasters who travel frequently or record in different locations.
The H6 features interchangeable plug-and-play microphone capsules, allowing you to choose the perfect option for your recording needs. Whether you’re conducting interviews in noisy environments or capturing ambient sounds for immersive storytelling, the H6 has you covered. Its intuitive interface and easy-to-use controls make the Zoom H6 Handi Recorder my go-to choice for small-scale live gigs.
I use this for theater shows, impromptu interviews at coffee shops, and just to catch background noise to use in my shows.
Ready for more technical stuff? I’ve got you covered!
Types of Podcast Mics, and When to Use Them
When it comes to podcast microphones, there’s a diverse array of options to consider, each with its own set of characteristics and advantages.
I break microphones down into these types. We’ll talk more about them later:
- Dynamic Microphones: These rugged workhorses are a popular choice among podcasters, especially those recording in less-than-ideal acoustic environments. Dynamic microphones, like the legendary Shure SM7B, excel at rejecting background noise and handling high sound pressure levels. They provide a warm and rich tone, making them ideal for a wide range of voices.
- Condenser Microphones: To produce studio-like quality and crystal-clear audio, try a condenser podcast mic. They capture a broad range of frequencies and offer sensitivity that’s perfect for capturing subtle nuances in speech. In this area, I like the Audio-Technica AT2020 and Neumann U87 for professional-quality sound.
- USB Microphones: Usually the first choice for novice podcasters, USB podcast microphones take your sound a step above built-in microphones. They can produce professional-quality sound, but they’re also much more approachable than a pro podcast mic. If you’re just getting started, try the Blue Yeti or the Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB. Neither requires a professional soundboard.
- Shotgun Microphones: Ideal for recording in noisy environments or capturing audio from a distance, shotgun microphones offer a narrow pickup pattern, reducing ambient noise and focusing on the subject. In this category, I trust the Sennheiser MKH 416.
- Lavalier Microphones: If you need hands-free recording or require discreet microphone placement, lavalier microphones, also known as lapel mics, are the way to go. They’re commonly used for interviews and live presentations. Are you looking for a Lavalier podcast mic? I like the Rode SmartLav+ and Sennheiser ME2.
- Ribbon Microphones: For those seeking a vintage, warm, and classic sound reminiscent of radio broadcasts from yesteryear, try a ribbon microphone like the Royer R-121. Note that this is a much more finicky choice than the other styles I described. Handle ribbon podcast mics carefully, and they can help add a sense of nostalgia to your podcast.
The choice of podcast microphone ultimately depends on your specific needs, recording environment, and budget. Remember, the right microphone can transform your podcast into a polished, professional production.
So, as you embark on your sonic journey, take the time to explore these microphone types and find the one that best harmonizes with your podcasting vision. Happy recording!Different Ways to Use a Microphone
What Kind of Podcast Mic Captures Sound Outdoors?
When you’re recording outdoors, I’d default to a shotgun podcast mic. They’re like laser-focused sound catchers, perfect for cutting through all the outdoor noise.
Picture this: You’re out in the wild, trying to record your podcast. You don’t want wind, rustling leaves, or random chatter messing up your audio.
That’s where a shotgun microphone comes in.
It zooms in on the sound you want, usually a voice or conversation, and ignores everything else. That’s a fantastic way to get real-world conversations outside of a professional studio, and it’s something the pros do all the time.
To make your outdoor recording adventure even smoother, grab a windscreen or a foamy windjammer to handle those gusty moments. And don’t forget a shock mount or suspension system to keep your mic steady and prevent it from picking up any weird handling noises.
Some cool shotgun mics for outdoor podcasting include the Sennheiser MKH 416 and Audio-Technica AT875R. I’ve seen both in the field, and either will help you capture specific sounds in the real world.
Professional tip: Shotgun mics aren’t magic.
You’ll still need some skill and finesse to get the best audio. It’s all about finding the sweet spot and keeping an ear out for any unexpected sounds.
What Kind of Podcast Mic Captures Music?
When it comes to recording music for your podcast and you want that sweet, sweet sound, choose a condenser microphone. These mics are like the audio equivalent of a gourmet chef – they pick up all the flavors, or in this case, the nuances in your music.
Condenser mics are like the divas of the microphone world, and they work some audio magic to make your music sound fantastic.
At their core, they’ve got a super-thin diaphragm that’s kind of like a musical superhero. When sound waves from your voice or instruments hit this diaphragm, it starts to vibrate.
Now, here’s the cool part: the diaphragm is placed really close to another charged plate, creating an electrical capacitor.
When it vibrates, the distance between the diaphragm and the plate changes, and that, my friend, creates an electrical signal.
This electrical signal then gets amplified and turned into the sweet music you hear. And because condenser mics are so darn sensitive, they pick up even the tiniest details in your sound. That’s why they’re the go-to choice for recording vocals, acoustic instruments, and all the musical goodness in your podcast.
Condenser Podcast Mic Considerations
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that condenser mics need a power source to keep that capacitor charged. This power, often called phantom power, usually comes from your audio interface or mixer. So, make sure you’ve got that turned on, or your condenser mic won’t be singing.
In a nutshell, condenser mics use the magic of diaphragms and electrical trickery to turn your musical vibes into glorious audio that’ll make your podcast pop.
Cardioid vs. Omni Podcast Mic Settings
Consider the polar pattern you need: cardioid for isolating your source (great for solo performances) or omnidirectional for that surround-sound vibe (perfect for capturing the atmosphere in a room).
These mics are sensitive, so make sure they can handle the volume if you’ve got some loud instruments in the mix. To keep out unexpected bumps in your recording you may also want a shock mount or a pop filter (or, more likely, both). They’ll help tame any weird noises that could sneak into your recording.
USB vs. XLR Podcast Mics
USB microphones, as I mentioned before, tend to be great for novices. On the other side of things, there’s the XLR podcast mic.
You see, XLR is more than just an abbreviation; it’s a symbol of pro-grade audio.
XLR mics have this special cable with three pins at the end that plug into an audio interface or a mixer. This cable isn’t just any cable; it’s like a superhighway for your audio signal, carrying it from your mic to your recording setup without losing any of its mojo.
XLR mics are like wizards for audio quality. They capture your voice with stunning clarity and detail, making them a go-to choice for musicians, broadcasters, and podcasters who demand top-notch sound. You know, just like how a wizard does.
Plus, XLR podcast mics often have options like different polar patterns and built-in controls, giving you a ton of flexibility in your recordings.
But here’s the catch: they’re a bit more high-maintenance than your everyday USB mic. You need an audio interface to connect them to your computer, and they might require a bit more fine-tuning.
Still, if you want that pro-level audio, an XLR mic is your ticket to podcasting greatness.
What Kind of Podcast Mic Captures Multiple Tracks at Once?
When you’re looking to capture multiple tracks at once for your podcast, you’ll want to turn to a versatile and flexible option. Enter the multi-pattern condenser microphone. It’s like the Swiss Army knife of microphones, ready to handle various recording situations.
Multi-pattern condenser mics, such as the Audio-Technica AT2050 and the Blue Yeti Pro, are equipped with multiple polar patterns, often including cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-eight.
These patterns allow you to choose how you want to capture sound, making them perfect for recording multiple sources simultaneously.
Do I Need a High-Tech Mixing Board for Podcasting?
While you may want a mixing board that connects with your computer if you plan to use something other than a USB microphone, you don’t need a mixing board to have a podcast. There’s nothing wrong with a USB podcast mic.
Here’s another way to look at it:
When You Might Want a Mixing Board:
- Complex Audio Setups: If you have multiple microphones, sound sources (like musical instruments or remote guests), or audio effects that need to be blended together seamlessly, a mixing board can be a lifesaver. It gives you fine control over each element, helping you create a polished sound.
- Live Podcasting: If you’re doing live recordings, whether in front of an audience or in a studio, a mixer allows you to adjust audio levels in real time. It’s like having your audio control panel to ensure everything sounds great as you go.
- Professional Sound: Mixing boards often offer higher audio quality and more precise control over audio parameters like EQ (equalization), compression, and effects. If you’re aiming for a top-tier, professional podcast, a mixer can help you achieve that studio-grade sound.
When You Might Not Need a Mixing Board:
- Simple Setups: For basic podcasting setups with one or two microphones and minimal audio processing needs, a mixing board may be overkill. Many USB microphones and audio interfaces have built-in controls for adjusting input levels and basic audio processing.
- Budget Constraints: Good mixing boards can be pricey. If you’re just starting and have a limited budget, you can achieve excellent audio quality with a quality microphone and a basic audio interface.
- Post-Production Editing: If you’re comfortable with audio editing software (like Audacity or Adobe Audition), you can adjust audio levels and apply effects during post-production. This allows you to fine-tune your podcast without the need for a mixer.
The need for a mixing board in podcasting boils down to your setup and goals. If you have a complex setup, live recordings, or aim for a professional sound, a mixing board can be your audio ally. But if your setup is simple, you’re on a tight budget, or prefer post-production editing, it might not be a must-have. Ultimately, it’s about finding the right balance between your podcasting ambitions and your resources.
Whether you choose a mixing board or not, what truly matters is your passion for podcasting and your commitment to delivering quality content to your audience.
Do I Need Special Headphones for Podcasting?
In the same vein, some people ask whether there’s a special kind of headphone you need as a professional podcaster.
The short answer is no.
The slightly longer answer is: Don’t use earbuds. You’ll want over-ear headphones, and if you’re shopping for audiophile-quality sound, you’ll want closed-back headphones.
I love Sennheiser’s 6XX headphones from back in the days of Massdrop. But they have open backs and, if I turn up my volume loud enough, some of that sound will leak into my podcast mic.
So choose the headphones you like. Look for comfort, and sound quality, and (most importantly for podcasters) make sure the sound doesn’t leak.
Premium Accessories for Podcast Microphones
Accessories are like the spice rack of the podcasting world – they add that extra flavor and finesse to your audio setup. Let’s explore some essential accessories for podcast microphones.
- Shock Mounts: A shock mount is like a microphone’s cushioned throne. It suspends your mic, isolating it from vibrations and jolts that might otherwise find their way into your recordings. This accessory is especially handy if you’re recording in a less-than-stable environment or if you tend to move around while podcasting. It ensures your audio remains clean and free from the pesky thumps and bumps that can ruin an otherwise perfect take.
- Pop Filters: Pop filters are like your audio’s bodyguards, shielding it from sudden gusts of air caused by plosive consonants like “P” and “B.” They’re typically made of a fine mesh or fabric that diffuses these bursts of air, ensuring your listeners aren’t assaulted by harsh, unwanted noise. Pop filters are a small investment with a proven impact on the clarity of your audio.
- Wind Protection: If you ever take your podcasting outdoors or record in a drafty room, wind protection accessories are your allies. Foam windscreens act as a first line of defense against wind noise, while furry windjammers provide heavy-duty protection. They keep the elements at bay, ensuring your recordings stay smooth and professional (and always uninterrupted), even when Mother Nature isn’t playing nice.
- Boom Arms and Stands: A microphone stand or boom arm is like your trusty assistant, holding your microphone at the perfect angle and distance. It’s a game-changer, as it allows you to maintain a consistent position while podcasting. No more hunching over or struggling with awkward placements. With the right stand or arm, your mic stays where you want it, leaving you free to focus on delivering your message.
- XLR Cables: XLR cables are the unsung heroes of your audio setup. They’re the dependable workhorses that transmit your microphone’s signal to your recording device. It’s crucial to invest in quality XLR cables to avoid interference and ensure a reliable connection. A weak link in your cable chain can lead to unwanted noise and signal loss.
- Audio Interfaces: For podcasters using XLR microphones, an audio interface is the bridge between your analog microphone and digital recording software. It converts the analog signal into a digital format your computer can work with. When choosing an audio interface, consider the number of inputs you’ll need for your setup, as well as any additional features like phantom power for condenser microphones.
- Headphones: Closed-back headphones are your audio safety net. They let you monitor your recordings in real time, catching any issues like background noise, distortion, or clipping as they happen. Investing in a good pair of headphones ensures you can make on-the-fly adjustments to maintain audio quality throughout your podcast.
- Isolation Shields: Isolation shields are like portable sound booths. They’re particularly useful if you’re recording in a room without acoustic treatment. These shields create a sound barrier between your microphone and the surrounding environment, helping to reduce echoes, reflections, and room noise. This means cleaner, more professional-sounding audio without the need for extensive room treatment.
- Mixers or Audio Interfaces: Depending on the complexity of your setup, you might require a mixer or audio interface. Mixers are versatile devices that allow you to control multiple microphones, apply real-time effects, and manage audio levels. Audio interfaces, on the other hand, are essential for connecting XLR microphones to your computer, ensuring that your analog audio is converted into a digital format for recording.
- Mic Stand Adapters: These adapters are like puzzle pieces that ensure all your microphone and accessory threading sizes match up. They’re small but mighty, preventing compatibility issues and ensuring that your setup components fit together seamlessly.
With these accessories at your disposal, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle any podcasting challenge, whether it’s achieving pristine audio quality, maintaining professional control, or enhancing the comfort and convenience of your recording environment.
Building your accessory toolkit is a step toward delivering top-notch audio content to your podcast audience
Common Mistakes When Shopping for Podcast Mics
When shopping for a podcast microphone, it’s easy to stumble into a few common pitfalls. Let’s break them down:
- Ignoring Environment: One common mistake is not considering your recording environment. A high-end studio microphone might not be ideal if you’re recording in a noisy or untreated space. Conversely, a super-sensitive microphone may pick up every background sound, making your recordings a headache to edit.
- Overlooking Microphone Type: Not all microphones are created equal. Some are great for vocals, while others excel at capturing instruments or ambiance. Choosing the wrong microphone type for your intended use can lead to subpar audio quality.
- Budget Blindness: Going too cheap or too extravagant without considering your actual needs is a classic mistake. There are fantastic microphones at various price points, so it’s essential to find the sweet spot that fits your budget and requirements.
- Neglecting Connectivity: Not all microphones connect the same way. USB microphones are plug-and-play, while XLR microphones require an audio interface. Picking a microphone that doesn’t match your recording setup can lead to unnecessary complications.
- Ignoring Polar Patterns: Polar patterns dictate how a microphone captures sound. Not understanding which pattern is suitable for your recording scenario can result in unwanted noise or poor sound quality.
- Skipping Accessories: Accessories like a shock mount, pop filter, or windscreen can significantly improve your microphone’s performance. Neglecting these essentials can lead to annoying handling noise or unwanted plosive sounds in your recordings.
- Not Testing Before Buying: Buying a microphone without testing it first, especially in your recording environment, can be risky. Every microphone has a unique sonic character, and what sounds great in one setup may not in another.
- Lack of Research: Failing to research and read reviews can lead to unpleasant surprises. Learning from the experiences of others can help you avoid making an ill-informed decision.
When shopping for a podcast microphone, take your time, consider your specific needs, and do your homework. Don’t rush into a purchase based solely on price or popularity.
Finding the right microphone tailored to your podcasting goals and environment is the key to achieving professional-sounding audio. So, avoid these common pitfalls, and you’ll be well on your way to capturing the perfect podcast sound.
Final Thoughts on Podcast Mics
When you’re out shopping for podcast mics, keep two things in mind – the type of mic and what you need it to do. First, figure out which type works best for you. Dynamic mics are tough and handle noise well, while condenser mics capture all the little details. USB mics are easy-peasy, and XLR mics are for those who want that extra oomph. Pick the one that fits your recording space and style.
Next, focus on your podcast’s specific needs. Check your budget, see how much room you’ve got, and think about how many folks will be talking into that mic. Make sure the mic you choose has the right pattern (like cardioid, omnidirectional, or bidirectional) for your setup. Also, don’t forget the extras like pop filters, shock mounts, and boom arms – they can make a big difference in sound quality and how easy your podcasting life is. So, with these pointers in your pocket, you’ll be ready to snag the perfect mic for your podcasting adventures
With these in mind, you should be able to easily find a podcast mic for your show.