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View Full Version : Need Help Choosing a Microphone




blastair
Jul 26, 2011, 05:38 PM
I would greatly appreciate some advice from any of you that have experience with audio recording. I'm looking to purchase a microphone (and related accessories) to record a storytelling podcast I want to start (think This American Life). Basically, I'm looking for the best microphone to record both at my house, but also make some field recordings as well. But that's not all there is to it.

I also make some films, and would love it if the mic could be used as a boom for filmmaking.

Does such a set-up exist around $100? Thanks in advance for the advice!



lethalillness
Jul 26, 2011, 08:14 PM
I think your asking for way too much for a $100 microphone. All you will be able to get at that price is a cheap USB microphone which will be decent enough for your podcasts but don't expect to sound like your recording in a studio as most expect. :)

Honestly, I would save some more money and go for a better price range because as far as USB mics go the one I'd recommend is the Yeti Pro. If you can't push your budget to that then go with the AT2020 USB version. It's a decent starter mic.

What I would not do is go for any interface and xlr mic sub-$300 each. In my honest opinion it is a waste of money because it will sound equivalent to the USB mic at a except it will cost you double to six times of the price just a USB mic.

The advantage to the USB mic would be if your using a laptop, it's as portable as the laptop. As far for booms you can buy a boom stand separately.

Experience: I own a professional design and recording studio and have been to school for audio engineering.

flipnotik
Jul 26, 2011, 08:20 PM
Honestly, I would save some more money and go for a better price range because as far as USB mics go the one I'd recommend is the Yeti Pro. If you can't push your budget to that then go with the AT2020 USB version. It's a decent starter mic.


A definite +1. With the given budget, a good usb mic will suffice for what you are trying to accomplish. Like what lethalillness said, audio technic a has some great options, and i've heard some positives of the Blue's snowball usb systems.

Papanate
Jul 26, 2011, 09:43 PM
You are asking a lot for $100.
Your best bet is the suggested USB mic route since you
Won't need the rest of the peripherals like a Mic Pre
And Sound card.

The Audio Technica AT2020usb (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/552791-REG/Audio_Technica_AT2020_USB_AT2020USB_Condenser_Microphone.html) is a fine mic for this application.And at
$96 is right at your budget.

As for film work I have a suggestion - shoot your film and record the dialog and other sound in post. You could set your USB mic to record ambient and possibly some dialog - as long as you slated the takes syncing would not be an issue. It may seem like a lot of work but you end up with a better sounding video - and I might say more professional product.

Or if you bumped the budget up you could buy a Apogee One (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/632519-REG/Apogee_Electronics_ONE_ONE_USB_Audio.html). The One has a great condenser mic on board that would do very well recording Podcast. And later when you could afford a Shotgun mic ( what is used by Pros in film to capture dialog) you have a built in Mic Pre. Of course you could also crank up the Ones mic and get every pin drop in a room!<g>

zimv20
Jul 26, 2011, 10:04 PM
yep, you'll be hard pressed to find what you want for the price you're willing to spend.

i'd suggest you do not get a USB mic, as that's completely impractical for field and film work. and a side-address mic, even such as the non-USB AT2020, won't work well for film.

if i had only $100 to spend for a single mic for all that, i'd get an sm57. that's pretty much your $100 right there, you'll need extra $$ for cabling and a boompole (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/606236-REG/K_M_23770_000_55_23770_Carbon_Fiber_Four_Section.html).

Papanate
Jul 26, 2011, 10:12 PM
A SM57 or SM58 is impractical since he doesn't say he has a Mic Pre or Audio Input box.

zimv20
Jul 26, 2011, 10:35 PM
A SM57 or SM58 is impractical since he doesn't say he has a Mic Pre or Audio Input box.

he also didn't say he didn't. if he does, then a USB mic makes no sense.

i think it makes no sense for location, regardless. who wants to be connected to a laptop when booming a moving scene? what if the requirement is to record audio straight into camera? that's the norm these days.

Fishrrman
Jul 27, 2011, 09:12 AM
"I would greatly appreciate some advice from any of you that have experience with audio recording. I'm looking to purchase a microphone (and related accessories) to record a storytelling podcast I want to start (think This American Life). Basically, I'm looking for the best microphone to record both at my house, but also make some field recordings as well. But that's not all there is to it."

If you can hold off until late August/early September, you might consider the soon-to-be-released ZOOM H2n handy recorder.

No, it's not a "mic" per se, but a handheld stereo recorder. It _can_ be used as a stereo USB mic, however. And it will have -4- built-in mics for stereo and quad imaging.

It will cost more than $100, however -- but will still be very affordable.

blastair
Jul 27, 2011, 11:25 AM
First I just want to thank each of you for your suggestions.

To add a little information, I currently only have a MacBook Pro, and a Griffin iMic. So yes, I pretty much don't have anything. I do my video recording on a Canon T2i DSLR, and would like to maybe choose an audio solution that would work with DSLR video for at least a few years (I might get a T3i, or it's successor, eventually).

That being said, I think I've kind of narrowed it down to 2 possibilities, either a USB mic (probably the Yeti) or a portable recorder (the H2 or H2n).

It seems that the USB mic route would obviously be better for in-house recordings and post-production film audio, while a Zoom-type device would be ideal for recordings in the field and recording audio for video during actual production. Does anyone have experience with the H2 or preliminary experience with the H2n? I'm wondering if going portable recorder route would be able to produce comparable sound quality to the Yeti?

zimv20
Jul 27, 2011, 12:17 PM
is there a reason you don't want to record audio alongside the video? separate devices get out of sync if they're not slaved to the same clock.

blastair
Jul 27, 2011, 02:14 PM
I've heard the recommendation from a few different sources to record audio off-board when using a DSLR, though I know that it creates an extra step when syncing.

The two primary reasons that it interests me is because recording on a device like a Zoom shows recording levels and also allows monitoring (I am pretty sure?). Neither of these options are available with the Canon T2i and other similar-range DSLR video setups as far as I know.

zimv20
Jul 27, 2011, 02:34 PM
The two primary reasons that it interests me is because recording on a device like a Zoom shows recording levels and also allows monitoring (I am pretty sure?). Neither of these options are available with the Canon T2i and other similar-range DSLR video setups as far as I know.

what actually happens in the field is that the audio guy has a (non-USB) mic going into a compact mixer, usually from Shure or SoundDevices. that mixer provides phantom, headphone monitoring, levels, meters, panning, etc.

The output of that mixer goes to camera so that audio and video are laid down together, in sync. typically that connection is wired, but often real pro's will do so wirelessly. (and they'll also have a compact recorder, as well, from SoundDevices, that's not only sync'ed to camera clock wirelessly, but will automatically go into/out-of record mode when the camera does).

for your purposes, i suggest you get a (non-USB) mic that either mounts on the camera, or is boomed and connected via an XLR cable. you would plug headphones directly into camera for monitoring, and when setting levels you can look at the camera's level meters. Much of what happens when shooting, though, is done via listening.

Booming is hard to do well, and even with a fairly static scene, one must keep the mic positioned on the current speaker, out of frame, on-axis, and in time to catch the start of the dialog every time actors deliver lines. that means you're actually moving a lot, which is why trying to do all this while recording to a laptop seems somewhat absurd to me.

doing all audio in post also seems absurd to me. heck, you're on location with all the sound happening as it's being shot, why not just capture it then and be done? or only dub the lines that you didn't get, instead of trying to have everyone lipsync everything later, and try to foley-in all the noises that one would expect to hear to match what they're seeing on camera?

blastair
Jul 27, 2011, 02:44 PM
zimv20,

Wow thanks for all your advice; you certainly know much more about recording audio for video than I do. The microphone that I want to buy would be primarily for podcasting, with the bonus being it could perhaps be used for some video. After reading your reply, I'm thinking that maybe I focus more on a solution for the podcasting side of things, and perhaps spring for a Rode video mic sometime in the future, rather than trying to kill several birds with one stone.

zimv20
Jul 27, 2011, 02:54 PM
yep, two mics may be a much better route here, especially if you don't have, nor plan on getting, an audio interface.

blastair
Jul 27, 2011, 03:21 PM
Cool thanks for that tip. I still would love to hear from anyone that might be able to weigh in on the sound difference between something like a Yeti and a Zoom H2/H2n.

Papanate
Jul 27, 2011, 03:31 PM
Cool thanks for that tip. I still would love to hear from anyone that might be able to weigh in on the sound difference between something like a Yeti and a Zoom H2/H2n.


The Zoom will be a bit brighter on the high end with perhaps a little more definition in the mids ( articulation of dialog IOWs ).

However while the Zoom route is not a bad idea - I see extra steps involved when using it.

Such as...Record your dialog for your Podcast on the Zoom, then output it to your Mac to get it Podcast Ready. That's an extra step that I don't like to take. Recording on your Macbook with a USB Mic...audio straight in and you don't have to worry about anything else.

blastair
Jul 27, 2011, 03:36 PM
Thanks Papanate. I was kind of wondering about the extra step you mentioned, but I did find the following featured highlighted on the Zoom H2n's website (http://www.samsontech.com/products/productpage.cfm?prodID=2080):

You can even use the H2n as a USB microphone, letting you record directly to your computer.

This is super intriguing, and leads me to lean a little more in this direction.

Papanate
Jul 27, 2011, 03:53 PM
You can even use the H2n as a USB microphone, letting you record directly to your computer.

This is super intriguing, and leads me to lean a little more in this direction.


It is done via the USB port...so you are just plugging the USB onboard the Zoom to the USB on your Laptop. It is not a bad solution.

blastair
Jul 27, 2011, 09:56 PM
I just wanna thank everyone once again for weighing in on this thread. Right now I'm thinking about getting the H2n When it comes out, and hopefully eventually getting a Rode video mic for the video specific needs. The option of the H2n being a USB mic kind of sealed the deal, meaning that it's a great device for in-home and field recording.

HoldernessMedia
Jul 27, 2011, 10:10 PM
I just wanna thank everyone once again for weighing in on this thread. Right now I'm thinking about getting the H2n When it comes out, and hopefully eventually getting a Rode video mic for the video specific needs. The option of the H2n being a USB mic kind of sealed the deal, meaning that it's a great device for in-home and field recording.

Just reading through these posts and I agree the Zoom is the way to go for you wanting to do both podcasting and field recording. You'll appreciate the portability. I don't do very much field recording, but I've tried recording audio for video while tethered to my laptop through an interface, it's a bit ridiculous doing it by yourself even if you're not moving around that much. Disaster waiting to happen.