What Microphone do I use for Podcasting?

DJ Anime asks:“What kinda microphone do you use for radio podcasts, or even your tutorial videos? I’m looking to get one for making podcasts….”

Thanks for the question, I’m happy to let you know how I have mine set up.

My Microphones

I actually use two different microphones, depending on the situation I am in. I wanted a good quality sounding mic for my tutorials. In the beginning all my tutorials were simply screen shots, so I was not on camera. Because it didnt matter how my microphone looked, or the fact that it wasn’t on screen, I could use a bigger mic.
At the time I popped into my local store and spoke to a clerk about what I wanted. I was recommended a condenser mic for this.

Condenser Microphone

Condenser microphones are really nice quality and can be very expensive. I wanted the best quality, at the most affordable price and as such was recommended the MXL 770 Condenser mic.
what microphone mxl 770 condenser micAt the time this mic was $99, but now, at time of publication, you can pick it up on amazon for a very reasonable $75. The microphone came in a protected box with a suspension cradle. The cradle attaches to a microphone stand and suspends the mic so as to not pick up vibrations. I bought a simple desktop stand for cheap to get started, but in hindsight I would maybe opt for a more adjustable stand that allows you to move it around and set the height and position. I find that with the small stand, I have to get into awkward positions sometimes to talk and it loses fluidity when presenting.
phantom powerThis microphone has a male XLR connector on the bottom, which means it will plug directly into a mixer with a mic XLR input.

One thing to note however with a condenser mic like this one is the power. All condenser mics need what’s called Phantom Power, most mixers usually have this built in, but some do not, so make sure you know. I had to buy an extra phantom power unit to feed the mic. I now use this mic mainly for the radio shows, it connects through the phantom power unit (pictured above) and then into the DJM600. You can also send it into the Audio 8 XLR ‘mic-in’ too if you are using this or another similar audio interface with the mic input channel available.

Lavalier Microphone

A lavalier microphone or lapel mic, is a mic that attaches to your body and can be hidden. This works great if either you are moving around a lot whilst you are talking and therefore unable to keep returning to a fixed mic. OR, if you are appearing on camera and don’t want a microphone to be in the shot.

what microphone audio technica ar3350I currently use an Audio Technica AR3350 for my on camera recording. This has a small 1/8″ jack on the end, so you would need to make sure that mixer (or computer) you are using for the podcast has that type of input. Whilst these kind of mics are more often intended for use on camera, you are certainly able to connect them up to your DJ set up.

The one issue with this however, would be that you are wired up and this could cause some awkwardness with tangling up the mic with your headphones. Unfortunately the clip that attaches the mic to clothing broke quite soon into using it, so now I resort to taping the mic to my chest, a method used by many in the industry.

what microphone - zoom h1As my main purpose of the lavalier mic is for camera work, I use it in conjunction with a handheld recorder, the Zoom H1. The reason for this, is because connecting a mic to the camera can pick up some motor noise. The Zoom records the audio onto a micro SD card and later must be synced up with the video footage. Again this is one of the more economical options for a lavalier mic and there are much pricer microphones out there. I have not encountered any issues with the sound quality from this mic as yet and the H1 recorder is a fantastic entry level recorder.

Dynamic Microphones

I currently don’t own a dynamic microphone, the reason being is that you might lose out on some sound quality if you are on a budget. Once you start getting into the higher end price point then the mics are great quality. Having said that though, the AKG D5 does sound pretty good in the video below. The bonus with these kind of mics is that you don’t need phantom power and therefore are much more flexible.
They don’t pick up as much background noise, which could be good if you are in a noisy environment such as DJ’ing.

As I use a condenser mic, it picks up everything in the room, for this reason I must turn down the speakers in the room as I broadcast on the mic, otherwise I will experience a huge amount of feedback. This may still be somewhat true for the dynamic mic, but perhaps not as noticeable. It depends how close your speakers are to the mic.

Overcoming the Feedback issue

When recording a podcast or broadcasting live, I record out of my mixers (DJM 600) ‘record-out’. The levels coming out of this output are not effected when I turn down the master volume:

  • I monitor the outgoing channels in the headphones.
  • turn the master out right down.
  • turn the mic up and speak.

This way you can hear how the volume of your voice sits with the mix levels. Once done speaking, I lower the mic volume, increase the master output and stop monitoring all channels.

This could also be achieved by using a booth out instead. You simply need to make sure that whatever volume you need to decrease to turn off the speakers in your room, does not effect what is being sent to the record / live broadcast.

The video below shows some great examples of how different microphones can sound. I hope this answers your question and provides you with a little more understanding of what microphones might be suitable for your needs.

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