Podcasting, and specifically the microphones uses for podcasting, have been getting a lot of press lately since podcasting has gotten huge on the internet in the past 5 years. Literally every other person has their own podcast now, and we think its great! Its a great way to share your thoughts with the world, exercise your free speech rights, conduct interviews with Obama, and even make a bit of bread if you get popular. You really never know how many people will check out your podcast, no matter how ridiculous the topic. Take H3H3 for example… 🙂
Podcasting can really be done anywhere, since your main tool is really your laptop, some good software, and a decent microphone. You can even use platforms like Skype, Hangouts, and Viber and podcast from the comfort of your smartphone (eg. where ever you go).
But, for the serious and even semi-serious podcaster, getting a quality mic is a big deal. Sure, some people use a crap microphone and it can work (eg. Macbook Pro internal mic), but wouldn’t you rather just get a good one? Its always nice to actually hear what people are saying, and it can honestly add a lot to your podcast because you’re not going to be annoying the fuck out people with your crappy mic and static-y voice. For God’s sake, think of the wee ones!
All that said, you don’t have to spend $1000 on a good podcasting mic. Heck, you don’t even have to spend $500? (wow, this sounds like an infomercial from the ‘80s – Ronco Food Dehydrator, anyone?) But seriously, you actually don’t. Of course, you *can* spend $1000+ on a good mic, but you don’t have to. There are many great mics available now for affordable prices, which is why we’ve come here today, which is to share with you some of the best types of microphones for podcasting which are both handy AND affordable.
The Audio-Technica ATR2100
If you’re looking for a microphone that can get you started into the world of podcasting, then this is the microphone for you. It comes with two outputs – a USB digital output which is perfect for using with your PC or laptop, and an XLR analog output that you find with conventional stage performance microphones. That means, you can essentially do two tracks at once, one via USB, and one via XLR. Your USB will allow you to record a track direct to your laptop if you have the right software (which you’ll probably want to get anyway, as a podcaster), and your XLR can allow you to hook up to a mixer, so amplify your voice, do a live broadcast, or what have you.
You can also hook up your XLR to a pre-amp and record two separate tracks onto your computer, if you so choose. This is something you might want to do if your vocals are a super important part of your podcast. Also, it has a built-in headphone jack, which is perfect if you want to check on your output. All in all, this is a great mic for podcasting which is considered to be “entry level” due to its affordability.
Here is a great video review of the Audio Technica ATR 2100.
The Samson Q2U
The Audio-Technica ATR2100 is great for US-buyers, but can be quite difficult to come across if you’re outside the U.S. On the other hand, the Samson Q2U is arguably more popular outside of the U.S. due to its availability, although these two mics are nearly identical.
The Samson Q2U is another cardioid mic, which means that it has the ability to obtain clean and precise vocal patterns, making it great for something like podcasting. Once again with the Samson Q2U, we have both the USB and the XLR ports which you can use the same way as the previous mic.
The mic pictured here comes with a great little package that you can get which includes a desktop stand, some decent Samson Playback headphones, a mic clip, USB and XLR cables, and it even comes with Cakewalk Music Creator as well. The asking price is pretty great, so you should take advantage while you can, as this is essentially all you need for a podcast.
Here is a great video review of the Samson Q2U.
The Shure SM58
This microphone is really easy to spot at music events because it’s so widely used. Literally every rock star ever has used one of these, and once you get to know the look of the Shure SM58, you’ll start seeing them everywhere. It generally comes with a cable (or not), and that’s about it, but is still a very dynamic microphone and not a bad bet for a beginner podcaster. They have an amazing quality because no matter how many times they get dropped or knocked into a puddle, they still seem to run great! Isn’t that amazing?
If you want to do in-person interviews, this microphone is great to use with a Zoom –H5. If you want to get a mic that will likely outlive you, and can really take a pounding, the Shure SM58 is perfect. Oh, and one thing we can’t forget to mention is that most mics have a problem with P’s and need a good pop filter. Not the SM58. This is the kind of mics that punk bands use, screaming into it for hours on it.
Of course, you can treat this mic with more elegance, get it a proper stand, and use it for podcasting, because this is THE standard for performances mics around the world.
Here is a comparison video between the ATR 2100 and the SM58.
The MXL 990
This is one of the first microphones to be considered high quality that reached the hands of different musicians looking for an affordable but higher quality mic, and, eventually, it reached the podcasting community.
The MXL 990 is a condenser microphone, that comes with an XLR analog output, which means that in order to use it you need a high-quality mixer and some slick software to take full advantage.
Or you could just go with Garageband, but we recommend something a little more immersive. So, if you really want to be a podcasting expert, go donate 8 quarts of blood, get that cash, and go get yourself a MXL 990.
Will the MXL be the podcasting mic for you? Take a look at this video review and hear one man’s opinion.
The Heil PR40
There are many podcasters out there in 2016 using this microphone because they want a high quality no-nonsense microphone that will produce the best quality sound that they can get at a price that won’t break the bank.
Although users do admit that it is a good microphone, some beginner podcasters have an issue with price, which can be upwards of $300. Hence it gets labelled “overrated” sometimes. That said, perhaps “overpriced” might be a better way to describe this mic.
However, other customers do believe that the price is well warranted. Why? Because it is not only a sensitive mic sound wise, but it is designed to be classy and elegant. Its features include its zinc-die cast bottom, steel body, neodymium magnetic structure, and its dynamic frequency range. If you are willing to shell out a few more dollars, this mic is a great all purpose mic with great sound and it is perfect for podcasters.
Take a look at this video review of the Heil PR40.
The Shure SM7b
This is one of the best microphones in the podcast industry, used by amateur and pro podcasters alike. Whereas the Shure SM58 is known for its durability, the SM7B is known for its cardioid clarity. It’s completely worth the asking price, which is more than reasonable for a mic like this. It is a microphone of exceptional quality and has extremely clean and natural sonic representation which makes it appropriate for either speech and music.
Technically speaking, it sports a bass rolloff and an emphasis on the mid-range, giving the Shure SM7B plenty of presence, and even a graphical display so you can see the mic’s response to your voice. You can hear the sound of the SM7B on a lot of CBC radio broadcasts if you live in Canada.
There is also a built-in pop filter with this mic which makes it especially suited to podcasts, because things like breathing and certain sounds like P’s and B’s are dealt with by the mechanics of the mic, and by the wild screen that comes with (which is detachable), and so there’s no need for a pop filter here. Close up vocals sound warm and rich with this mic.
In addition, the mechanics of this mic are designed to block out background noises and interference by other signals that are within range of the mic. It comes with a locking yoke mount as well, but no stand, so that’s on you. All around, podcasters have nothing but praise for the the Shure SM7B!
Check out this video review of the Shure SM7B to see if it suits your needs.