Do you want to sound like what you hear on the radio or other podcasts produced by major broadcast outlets when you’re doing your own podcast? We are going to compare the microphone type, pickup pattern and amplifier to help you choosing the best microphone for podcasting.
Condenser or Dynamic Microphone
Condenser microphones usually are more sensitive and provide a higher output level. A higher output level can be useful because the signal doesn’t need to be amplified as much by the mixer. Condenser microphones have better response to high frequencies than dynamic microphones. This gives condenser microphones a crisp, detailed sound; however, it can be a problem for podcasters who record at home where you can pick up a lot of unwanted lip smacks, saliva and other noise from the human speaking voice. On the other hand, dynamic microphones focus on the signal pushed into it and naturally mask these irritants.
Omnidirectional vs. Cardioid Pickup Pattern
When choosing a microphone for podcasting, one of the first things you'll want to think about is the pick-up pattern. Omnidirectional microphones pick up sound more or less equally in 360 degrees. Cardioid microphones, on the other hand, pick up sound in a heart shape rather than in a sphere; they register what is front of the microphone and a little bit of the sides, and ignore sounds at the back. An omnidirectional microphone works well for recording ambient sounds outdoors. Omnidirectional microphones pick up surprising amounts of sound from all around, including room noise, computer fans, traffic, and chair squeaks. Cardioid microphones are great for capturing the voice of the person speaking into the microphone without picking up as much noise from the environment.
USB vs. Analog
USB microphones are an affordable and easy to use option. They are designed to plug directly into your computer's USB port; they convert analog sound to digital and send it to your computer. Analog microphones are not designed to be plugged directly into your computer, so they require another piece of hardware, called a pre-amp, to get the analog into a digital device. Analog microphones are more versatile. You can plug them into a traditional sound system. You can also plug them into a digital device by using a converter/pre-amp. Using a pre-amp also has the advantage of amplifying signal.
On all accounts, avoid headset microphones. It’s great for gaming and talk on Skype, but not designed for high fidelity audio.
The microphone is the first link in the connection between you and your audience. Not all microphones are created equal. Different models are designed for different purposes and achieve different results when used correctly.