How to build a profitable podcast.
One of the most frequent questions people ask me is:
“Which podcast microphones are the best?”
This happens most days...
I simply reply with a very annoying answer:
So, I have decided to go a little deeper into the answers in this article, and analyse the best podcast microphones that are currently available.
Some think that price and quality are related in the microphone game... this turns out not to be the case.
One type of microphone may help you produce a better quality podcast at a lower cost...
There are several factors to consider, like the format of the podcast, your level of experience in podcasting, the recording environment, budget, and your personal preference.
These factors all determine which podcast microphone you should invest in, these must be considered before purchasing.
OK let's get into it...
But before we proceed, let's first take a quick look at why you MUST invest in a microphone if you want to grow your show:
When I was about to begin my journey in the world of podcasting, I spent $17 on my first mic.
It was a complete joke.
I think I sounded better when using the built-in microphone on my ancient Macbook.
Audio-quality matters to listeners, and if you give them lousy audio quality, they won't be subscribing.
You should avoid internal microphones like the plague.
Buy a decent podcast microphone.
What you don’t want to do is work your ass off to create great content but get ignored by listeners because you sound like their 19th century transistor radio.
For your show to be successful, a microphone is essential.
Yes, editing and other production factors also determine how good you ultimately sound, but your microphone is where your great sound will begin. If it fails there, there is little good that editing will do to refine your sound.
And now finally before we jump into describing the microphones themselves, let's learn some definitions:
USB Microphones: These types of microphones are the easiest to set up, and most newbies start with them. All you need to do is plug the mic directly into the PC’s USB port, and start recording. They are relatively easy and convenient to use.
However, their sound quality is not as good as an XRL mic...
XLR Microphones: The XLR microphone is the next level... it is used by professional audio engineers.
The connection is a bit more complex than the USB microphone. You will need an audio interface rather than plugging directly into your machine:
Audio Interface: This serves as a sort of "booster" for your audio-quality.
It is used to connect a standard XLR microphone with your recording device (e.g. you laptop or desktop computer):
Dynamic Microphones: This type of microphone does not need to be plugged into a power source to operate. They are cheap, and they offer good quality sound regardless of your choice of recording environment.
It is a good option for when you are on the move:
Condenser Microphones: Most professional audio studios use a condenser microphone.
They cost more than the dynamic microphone, but they produce better sound quality. You get to enjoy a clear, crisp, and well-detailed sound.
However, unlike the dynamic microphone, they need a power source to operate correctly, and they are a little fragile compared to the dynamic microphone:
Gain: Gain controls the microphone output, kind of like volume control in microphones.
Plosives: Notice the harsh microphone sound you get when you hear some hosts say "p" or "b" into the microphone? These sounds are called plosives, and by adopting good microphone techniques, these can be avoided.
Pickup Pattern: The pickup pattern is the level at which microphones pick up sound from different angles and directions. Some microphones will only pick up sound directly in front of them, while others pick up from two or more angles.
Pop Filter: This is a small piece of hardware that is placed in front of the microphone. It helps to refine the sound that reaches the microphone and eliminates some harsh sounds.
Now that you have learned common microphone terminologies it's time to discover the best podcast microphones you can get in the market right now...
This microphone is excellent for podcasters that want to record on the go. You can easily plug this in anywhere, anytime and begin recording – this is the smaller version of the Rode microphone, as it has a bigger brother. They produce the same quality in sound, but the NT-USB Mini is portable and easy to carry around:
You could record at home, or choose to record your podcast in another location away from home; the Rode NT-USB Mini will make your life easier by doing this. It is easy to set up and transport with you everywhere you go.
Because the manufacturers built it to be suitable for mobility, they included a built-in pop filter which helps to eliminate the cringe plosives. The pickup pattern of the NT-USB Mini is only one dimensional, as it only picks up sound made directly in its front – this helps it to reduce background noise, but not totally.
If you mostly record your podcast on-the-go and you always need a quick equipment setup, this microphone is an excellent option for you. It offers both sound and convenience.
This microphone is unique in its way, as it supports both XLR and USB connectors. It is a dynamic microphone, and it is excellent at eliminating background noise compared to others. You can record in a location with people or a room that isn’t sound-proof, and be sure that it will not pick up a lot of background noise:
The Samson Q2U has both the USB and XLR connector which means it might be the best for podcasting newbies. You can use the USB connection at the start and upgrade to an XLR connection later. All you need to do is get a good audio interface.
The Blue Yeti is quite popular among podcasters. It is a USB microphone famous for its versatility, durable design, and it is easy to use. It has a stand built with it, so you don’t need to get a stand for it. All you need to do is plug it in and start recording. It has condenser capsules that help your voice sound crisp and clear:
Asides being easy to set up and use, the Yeti offers flexibility in pickup patterns. You can set it up as stereo, omnidirectional, cardioid, and bi-directional. In the case of an interview podcast, for example, you do not need an extra microphone. All you need to do is set up the Yeti to bi-directional, and it will pick up the sound from both angles.
You can set it up for multiple guests in a round table, all you need to do is set it to omnidirectional, and you are good to go.
The Rode Procaster is an XLR microphone. You will need an audio interface to record your sound – this might prove costlier, but you are sure of great sound.
And when you compare it to pro microphones that offer this level of sound quality, you will find out that it is MUCH cheaper:
It is a dynamic microphone, so it eliminates background noise to a great extent. It also has the in-built pop filter that helps to eliminate plosives.
It is a big brother to the Rode NT-USB Mini, and they are both good quality. Like the Mini, you can record in a room that isn’t sound-proof or in a busy location.
It is a microphone that will give you studio-quality sound while recording at home. The good thing about the Procaster is that you will still sound incredible even if you record in a location like your office.
The Shure SM58 is a high-quality podcast microphone, and it allows for mobility. It is used a lot in music concerts. It is quite durable as it can survive drops, pounding, and drowning.
These qualities make it perfect for outdoor podcast recording:
It is also great for digital recording in case of interviews in locations that are not your studio. The Shure SM58 is great for road recording and on-site interviews.
The Lyra came to market in 2019, and it sports a unique design. It might spot an old-school microphone design, but it delivers incredible sound.
You don’t require a stand or accessory to use it:
The Lyra has four settings for pickup patterns. It has a tight stereo wide stereo, front, and front and back. Like the name implies, the front and back setting will allow mic sharing with one guest, but both of you need to be close to the mic – as the quality drops with distance. The wide stereo setting is perfect for multiple guests in a round table discussion.
The Lyra might be a USB mic, but it offers excellent sound quality in that category. It gives crisp and crystal clear audio.
When you think of simplicity, think of the Fifine K669. This USB microphone has its tripod, and it is easy to install on types of PCs, including the Mac. You can also move around with it, as it is durable enough to withstand it.
It has an in-built EQ that will help you sound great:
The Fifine isn’t the best in terms of sound quality, but it is excellent for beginners. It does not cost a lot, and you can always upgrade to bigger and better one when your podcasting skill increases.
There are several other great podcast microphones, but I have picked the above seven across different budgets and categories. These seven are excellent in their respective categories and give a good overview of the space.
To choose a microphone for podcasting, you have to consider your budget and your current level of podcasting maturity right now. There is nothing stopping you from upgrading your microphone in six months as you level up your podcasting game.
Most podcasters dream of growing their audience... and let me tell you right now. The first step to doing this is to work with a microphone that is right for you.
Regardless, there is no substitute for action… so pick the microphone from the above list that you think most suits you and your podcast, and let’s get started!