Welcome to another edition of Tech Time. In this series we focus on a piece of technology we love from the past, present or future.
Like last time, we’re focusing on audio with a look at another important piece of tech you’ll definitely need if you want to record it: microphones.
You likely know already but a microphone is (according to the dictionary) “. . . an instrument whereby sound waves are caused to generate or modulate an electric current usually for the purpose of transmitting or recording sound (such as speech or music).”
Makes sense, right? But what microphone do you want or need?
For our purposes, which are mostly recording podcasts, but also audio books or music, we’re going to look at two different kinds of mics: USB and XLR. These refer to the way the microphone connects to your computer so you can use it for recording.
A USB mic is just that, a microphone that connects to your computer directly via a USB cable. Some of the ones we’ve used and like are the Blue Yeti, the Rode NT-USB and the one our podcast co-host Joe Dilworth uses (for the moment), the Blue Snowball. They’re relatively easy to set up and use, which is great for beginners.
XLR microphones use an XLR cable and are found in most music and podcast recording studio in the world. They are the choice of most pros and offer higher build and recording quality. Of course, said higher quality also comes with a higher price tag.
Out preferred XLR microphones include the Shure SM58, the Rode PodMic and the one used by our podcast co-host Chris Ullrich (and so many others), the Shure SM7B. Yeah, we know, the SM7B is expensive. But it really is one of the best.
To use an XLR microphone, you’ll also need an XLR cable and a device like the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. We discussed the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 in a previous post. Again, the higher quality requires more expense and a bit more setup. We produce podcasts and other audio professionally, so we think it’s worth it.
If you’re just starting out or don’t want to spend a lot of money (we get that), you can absolutely use a USB microphone like the Yeti or Snowball from Blue and record audio with software such as Apple’s Garage Band. That’s how we started and you can get some good sound that way.
So that’s a bit of information on microphones. We plan on doing a more in-depth series on podcast recording in the near future, so keep an eye out for that. Until then, happy recording!
Images: Shure / Rode
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