Choosing a good microphone for video podcasting

by Rob | February 25, 2013 12:04 pm

In the pursuit of creating an amazing podcast, many struggle to find a good microphone to keep their sound top notch.

You would think that having amazing video quality would be more important to a video podcast, but in reality having top notch sound is what will make you stand out from others in your niche.

Below are my favorite recommendations for high-fidelity sound on your video podcast.

USB Headsets

usb-headset-h530When I started podcasting I used a simple $50 headset to record my first 30 episodes.

Head-sets are great for the beginning vidcaster for a few simple reasons.

First, they are extremely easy to setup.  Just plug in the USB adapter into your PC/Mac and your off to the races.

Secondly they are generally cheaper than other solutions while maintaining the audio quality you desire.

A few cons with USB Headsets are the “Popping P’s” when you speak into the microphone and occasional “rubbing” the mic against your face while you speak.

You may also notice that if you exhale via your nose, the sound of your breathe will get picked up by the microphone.

[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ]TWEAK: Adjust the microphone boom so it is an inch or so away from your face and not directly underneath your nose. Generally about an inch from your face and off to the side works best.[/box]

USB Microphones

usb_mic_round-up5USB Microphones are the next logical step in upgrading your sound.  While they are a little bit more complex than a USB Headset, they offer many extra features that make this the best solution of this list while still keeping things simple.

Just plug one of these bad-boys into your PC and you have the exact same quality as those with a mixing board and a professional microphone.

There are literally thousands of different styles of USB microphones.  Some that really stand out are:

  1. Blue Yeti[1] – This is probably the most popular USB Microphone for video podcast creators.   Offering superb sound on a budget, this line of microphones starts at $60 and even offers a high-end version for only $200.
  2. Audio-Technica ATR2500[2] – This awesome microphone is only $52.99 on Amazon and offers great sound for those on a really tight budget.
  3. Audio-Technica AT2020[3] – If I had to pick one USB microphone to use on in my home studio the AT2020 is an amazing microphone.  While a little more expensive than it’s sibling ($138.99 on Amazon)
[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ]TWEAK: If you have a noisy studio (fans, computers, etc) you should look for a “Dynamic” microphone instead of a “Condenser” microphone. Condenser microphones have issues with noisy recording environments and will pick up the hiss of a fan or ambient noise outside of your studio.[/box]

Professional Microphones

microphone_headphonesWhen it comes to top notch quality you will want to opt for a mixing console and microphone setup.

It  would literally take me hours to explain the nuances of using a professional microphone and mixing console, but I’ll make it simple.

They are expensive, complex and generally reserved for those that have a descent sized budget.

When I started my podcasting adventure, I purchased what I thought was a perfect setup.  Turns out the “cheap” version I had purchased would buzz when I ever I tried to record a Skype call.

I ended up spending $2000 on various recording “upgrades” until I finally found a configuration that worked for my situation.

It turns out that I could have saved $1900 of that by just ordering a descent USB microphone mentioned above.

When it comes down to it, my sound quality is top-notch thanks to the investiment in hardware, but if you are on a tight budget DO NOT go this route.

Even if you have a descent sized budget you should hire an audio engineer (or soundman) to help you decide what equipment you will need to fit your requirements.

[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ]TWEAK: Hooking up a mixing console to a computer is PAINFUL! Save yourself some headaches and make sure your mixing console connects directly to your computer via USB or Firewire. This will help eliminate many problems with line noise and pesky sound issues down the line.[/box]


My Dad is very found of saying “use the right tool for the right job” and that motto has influenced me when creating my video podcasts.

Yes, you can go buy the best equipment on the market but should you?  What are your goals for your video podcast?  Do you plan on being a hobbyist podcaster?   Or are you vidcasting for your business?

For the hobbyist or small business owner I strongly recommend one of the USB microphones mentioned above.

If you are a mid to large business owner and have a descent budget, go higher an audio consultant and let them design the perfect system for you.

  1. Blue Yeti:
  2. Audio-Technica ATR2500:
  3. Audio-Technica AT2020:

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