10 Best Microphones: Reviews and Buying Guide

Musicians, podcasters, creators, video commentators, speakers or singers – anyone who wants to seriously record language, instruments or vocals at home, for example, to produce their own podcasts from the audio material, should sooner or later for the first time on the purchase of good microphones for his project thinking. Because the built-in microphone of the laptop, Handy and Co. are in fact not suitable when it comes to a more professional audio recording with a correspondingly professional audio quality. The mobile phones score today with a high resolution in the video area and there are now numerous apps for the professional recording of audio material, but in terms of microphone technology, external condenser microphones are clearly ahead of the game.

When it comes to voice, voice or instrumental recordings, an external, higher-quality microphone should always be used, which can be connected via USB to the respective device for recording. However, with the steadily growing number of suitable USB condenser microphones can quickly lose the overview. Read in our great practice comparison and USB microphone advisor which USB and podcast microphones in which areas really score and what you should consider when recording with the external microphone.

Top 10 Microphones

What should you pay particular attention to when buying a USB and Podcast microphone?

There are many types of microphones on the market, from vocal microphones to wireless microphones and directional microphones. The choice is almost limitless. First, before buying a USB and podcast microphone, the well-known motto comes to mind: “What costs nothing, nothing can be good.”But is that really true? Why should more money be spent when it is cheaper? Understandably, not everyone wants to spend the same amount of money to gain their first experience in the field of audio recording. To try out a cheap microphone first enough, which meets your own requirements. Accessories such as microphone amplifier, windscreen, and microphone spider are not necessary for the time being. However, if you have more serious intentions, you should think about which type of microphone is actually needed for which application. For example, do you prefer to record a vocal part, or do you just want to record a spoken text, for example, to set your own videos or podcasts to music later?

Each application always speaks for a different microphone, as highlighted in our product overview in comparison of the 11 best USB and podcast microphones on the market. Some microphones are just better for voice recordings and others are great for vocal or instrumental recordings. Sometimes the design can also play a role, for example, if the microphone is also seen in the recorded video itself.

Checklist before purchasing a USB or Podcast microphone:

  1. With which devices (for example, mobile phone, laptop or camera), the microphone can be operated properly? With which devices do I want to use it mainly?
  2. Is a separate power supply necessary or does the condenser microphone have to be operated with a 48-volt phantom power supply?
  3. For which application should my microphone be suitable? What exactly should be included? Tip: Think of areas that may not be relevant at the moment, but that may become important later.
  4. Do I need additional software or can I start recording right away? Is any additional equipment required, such as a microphone spider, tripod or microphone stand?
  5. How much am I willing to spend for a microphone and where exactly are the price differences?

It’s best to choose one of the numerous models from the list at your fingertips, which you can either purchase online, at numerous specialist technical shops or at specialty music stores. Some websites also offer a small soundcheck online, which is very helpful before you buy a microphone. In brief audio files, some recording situations are briefly presented, for example, vocal or voice recordings, which you can listen to directly on the homepage of the respective provider.

Pro Tips: Record podcasts properly

Anyone who thinks that a podcast is just an audio recording made available to other users over the Internet is wrong. Podcasts are basically like small radio broadcasts in an audio or video format, which are published on a regular basis via the Internet or in a podcast app or regularly presented to subscribers. And the number of listeners is growing steadily. Not for nothing is already on Apple iPhone since iOS 8, the app podcast preinstalled. The fact is, a professional podcast can also bring in new customers at the enterprise level. An effective podcast but wants to be properly planned and created. Even though there are numerous video podcasts, the audio podcast is the better alternative when it comes to the best balance between cost and benefit. You finally wanted to get started and record your first own podcast? Read in our guide what you should pay attention to.

What makes a good podcast?

The typical length of a podcast is between ten minutes and one hour. Podcast subscribers often use times when you can listen to a program while doing something else. For example, in the morning in the gym, during long car rides or at the weekend at the housework. These are almost always situations in which music could be heard. The podcast thus represents a sensible alternative to music and radio – the personal radio, so to speak. A podcast is about learning something about a topic that interests you and, through that, learns something or benefits from the experiences others make in their podcast.

About the power of the spoken word

Who does not know this phenomenon – even those who rarely listen to the radio can immediately recognize a moderator by his voice. It’s also fun to listen to a voice and the spoken word, and the text you read makes it a form of familiarity and closeness when a once-familiar voice is heard again. Even who thinks now that he or she has no special (speaking) voice. Let’s just say it’s special because each voice is unique and unique.

Selfie and Interview at Podcasts: What content do I want to produce?

Anyone who runs his own homepage and regularly reports there on a blog or the news about current personal things has actually already created the first basis for entry into the podcast world. These lyrics can be used well as starting material for the first podcast recordings. Most of the time they just have to be reworded and the first selfie podcast is done. The interview is another, especially popular podcast content. For this purpose, the moderator brings different guests into the program and asks them interesting questions, which are then answered in an entertaining or informative way and thus offer the listener real added value. When creating podcasts, it is important to have a certain regularity, which is why setting up an editorial plan can be useful. This plan specifies in advance what should be sent in the first 15 broadcasts, for example.

What do I really need to record my first podcast?

In addition to a good microphone, more hardware is needed to professionally record the first own podcast, such as a microphone spider, a tripod or a microphone stand. As recording software, for example, GarageBand, a fully equipped recording studio right on your Mac, or Audacity, a free sound studio to record, edit and play audio files in Windows, can be used. There are also numerous other free or paid offers on the net.

What is phantom power and what is it needed for a recording?

The term ” phantom power ” refers to a special type of remote supply of signal sources in audio engineering. These are usually condenser microphones that are powered by the so-called phantom power. Important: If no phantom power is available, no signal can be transmitted. The phantom power is simply transmitted via the microphone cable after a corresponding switch has been activated for this purpose.

Useful microphone accessories

If you buy a microphone, you have the choice of all sorts of accessories. To record your first own podcast, you do not really need a lot of equipment like a microphone amplifier or other technical highlights. A microphone for the PC or a laptop, headphones (for monitoring) and a free software for recording (such as Audacity) – finished is the first professional recording setting the home studio. After all, modern USB microphones offer much more technology than can initially be assumed, as our overview has already shown. The integrated sound card in the housing offers, for example, the option to provide a headphone connection directly to the USB microphone, which is particularly useful for monitoring via headphones. However, a few more extra things can also provide useful services for a really good recording. For example, it is particularly important to securely secure the studio microphone in a corresponding professional holder, before any vibrations. Here make so-called microphone spiders especially good work. The spider decouples all disturbing noises, which can occur at any time during a recording due to body or impact sound, from the microphone. After all, you do not want loud rumbling or annoying rumbling with the sound signal and thus in his recording. The microphone is simply clamped in the elastic suspension of the spider. This suspension consists of a zigzag rubber band which ensures that the microphone can oscillate completely free. This annoying impact sound in the recording is finally a thing of the past because especially condenser microphones are particularly sensitive when it comes to impact sound and other types of shock during recording.

Often also a so-called wind protection or pop protection can prove to be very useful. It is used in almost all professional recording situations in the recording studio because the wind or pop protection reliably protects against the so-called explosive sounds in a recording situation. They may arise, for example, when the phrases (“B” or “P”) are pronounced at the beginning of a word or in the middle of it. In this case, it can unpleasant “aufpoppen” without a pop-screen in the recording, that is, only by the pronunciation of the letters “B” or “P” unpleasant and popping noises are produced by the speaker or singer. Finally, this should be prevented or effectively protected against it – hence the name “pop protection”.

Finally, a holder on a tripod ensures optimum stability. Microphone spiders can be easily attached to it. If necessary, an adapter for screwing is needed, the bracket, spider and tripod securely connect. The microphone stand is often used in conjunction with a so-called gallows. At best, the gallows ensures that the condenser microphone can be placed exactly in front of the mouth, just as it is known from the radio stations. The fact is that only by a good and stable attachment and the right distance to the microphone be complied with. The rule of thumb here is to keep a hand-width distance between the microphone and the recording source (ie the mouth in this case). Those who consider these points when setting up the home studio for voice or vocal recordings should soon be able to quickly use his recording equipment professionally. Then it’s time to focus on what’s most important – the performance – rather than messing around with a non-positionable tripod or annoying recording noise.

Tips for the best sound while recording

One thing is certain, every voice and its sound is unique. To get the most out of your own voice, some things should be considered. So it is recommended, especially at the beginning always several test shots in different places in the room with different microphone positions to make, in order to find out where your own voice actually sounds best. Numerous aspects such as the distance and the inclination to the microphone membrane namely, affect the sound during each recording. The closer the speaker or vocalist is to the microphone, the less space is recorded during the recording. Thus, the voice closer to the microphone passenger and bulbous sound or just lighter and thinner, if the distance to the microphone is increased accordingly. The angle at which the microphone is spoken or sung can also contribute to sound optimization. Here it is always necessary to test different microphone placements and distances to get the best sound depending on your voice. Also conceivable are other microphone positions, for example, next to, above or even below the mouth, because not every speaker and singer must always be recorded from the same position and distance. It is always important to avoid overloading during recording. The singer or speaker can, therefore, be a bit louder places also remove something from the microphone so that an otherwise well-controlled recording at this point does not suddenly start to “clipping”, ie suddenly begins to oversteer.

Pro tips for sound optimization in the recording room

For a long time it was believed that the famous egg cartons on the walls are of some help when it comes to optimizing a room in terms of sound, As a result, many music training and recording rooms have landed numerous “egg boards” on the ceilings and walls. Unfortunately, without success, not to mention the ugly look. In fact, egg cartons do not do much harm when it comes to reducing the resulting sound. It is cheaper in any case, first to select a space for the recording, in which there are no particularly large windows or tiled surfaces, but for a fluffy carpet as possible. If possible, parts of the walls should also be hung with Molton or curtains or carpets. If the room is furnished with other furnishings, all pieces of furniture that contain a lot of fabric or upholstery in an acoustic optimization, such as a sofa or a daybed with many help her pillow so that the recording sounds even better.

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