How do Podcast Microphones Work?

2 podcasters using microphones

Your audio quality is one of the most critical elements that determine the success of your podcast. A smooth, clear, and rich voice not only catches the attention of listeners but also holds it.

Even though you can fix errors through audio editing, it is better to learn how microphones work and then use them the right way. It will help you avoid spending time and energy on removing errors and focus more on creating quality content.

This article explains all that you need to know about how a podcast microphone works. We have also reviewed the best microphones to help you create a good podcast microphone setup. 

Why Do You Need a Podcast Microphone?

A podcast microphone is one of the must-have equipment for podcasting. It is required to record your voice to transfer it to your listener’s ears. You need a good quality microphone because:

It Allows you to Record your Voice on your Computer

A microphone is a device that converts sound waves into electrical signals, which you can record, amplify, and then send to your listeners.

You can record your podcast to your computer via a microphone, then edit it to remove background noises, mistakes, etc., to make it sound perfect.

It Helps you Get More Physiological Responses from your Listeners

As compared to a video, audio can produce a stronger physiological response. In one study, researchers gave participants videos and audiobooks. In the end, they discovered that audio stories produced stronger physiological responses (such as an increase in the heartbeat and skin conductance, etc.) compared to videos.

Therefore, you must take advantage of the power of sound that can make bodies react naturally. Your podcast microphone setup should be able to capture the voice of your co-hosts and guests clearly. It will help you create a stronger impact on the hearts and minds of your audience.

It Makes a Podcast Sound Professional and Builds Credibility

When you speak with a clear and crisp voice, your audience takes you seriously and believes that you are sincere about your work. It indicates that you are a dedicated podcaster who is willing to provide his listeners with quality work.

This eventually builds your credibility. More and more listeners get attracted to your work, and you become able to build a large following.

Since competition is high, using a microphone to produce good quality voice is a great way of beating your competitors who do not consider voice quality important. The audience would certainly follow a podcaster who sounds more professional and dedicated compared to a podcaster who lacks these characteristics. 

What do Podcast Microphones Plug Into?

A podcast microphone can plug into computers, mic preamplifiers, or any other external device based on the type of connection it has. The connection type has a great impact on the sound quality.

Below are the common podcast microphone connection types.

USB Connector

USB (universal serial bus) connectors are used in microphones that have an analog-to-digital converter, which automatically transforms analog signals into digital signals. This means you will not have to invest in a separate dedicated tool.

This plug-and-play connector gets to work as soon as it is plugged into a computer. A USB microphone is a good choice for budget-conscious people. Its downside is you cannot connect more than one USB microphone to your computer at a time.

XLR Connector

Microphones with XLR (stands for external line return) connectors can only record analog signals, so you will need a separate analog-to-digital converting device called the audio interface. These connectors can have different wiring schemes. They can have from 3 to 7 pins.

The 3-pin XLR connector is one of the most common forms of XLR. The audio quality of XLR microphones is better than USB microphones. You can use it for different kinds of recordings. It is costly compared to a USB microphone.

TRS Connector

Tip-ring-sleeve (TRS) connectors are not as popular as XLR and USB connectors, but they still produce balanced audio. They are available in different sizes. 1/8″ or 1/4″ diameters are more common.

TRRS Connector

A tip-ring-ring-sleeve (TRRS) connector has dual rings, three contact regions, and one ground. They are usually used in headsets and MP3 players. 

 TRS and TRRS microphones do not produce as good audio as XLR and USB microphones do. That is why most of the podcast microphones have USB and ULR connectors.

Why Would You Need Two Microphones?

If there is only one person recording a podcast, he would need only one microphone. But you would need two microphones if you have a co-host or guest with you. Each microphone will be for each voice. 

Can You Do a Podcast with One Microphone?

You can do a podcast with one microphone only if you are alone. Some people try one microphone, two voices approach, but it does not produce a clear sound. It is difficult to mix and control such audio. That is why it is recommended to provide each participant with a separate microphone.

If you have no choice but to use one microphone for two or more recorders, you will have to choose a microphone with a suitable pickup pattern.

  • A unidirectional microphone captures sound waves from only one direction. It is used when there is only one participant.
  • A bidirectional microphone can pick up sound waves from two directions, making it suitable when recording two participants.
  • An omnidirectional microphone picks up sound from all directions. You can use it for two or more participants.

Though using one microphone for multiple participants is possible, it is not considered ideal. It will capture background noises, and you will have to do a lot of editing to improve audio quality. 

How Far Should a Microphone be From You or Your Guest?

As a general rule, a microphone should be 4 to 6 inches away from your mouth. If it is too close, then it will produce a boomy voice, and if it is too far, it will pick up background noise and reduce voice quality. The angle of a microphone should also be towards your mouth so that it can capture your voice directly.

If you still cannot decide, then use your hand as a guide. For this, take your fist and place the tip of your thumb on your mouth such that the other end of your fist connects to our microphone’s surface. Remove your fist, and the distance your face is at is a good starting point. 

What are the Best Microphones for Podcasts?

Below is a list of the top microphones that are suitable for different podcasting scenarios. 

Best USB Podcasting Mics

Shure MV7

Shure MV7 uses plug-and-play operation and can be plugged into Mac and Windows computers. Its directional cardioid pattern focuses mainly on your voice and eliminates background noise. There is a touch panel that allows you to adjust settings easily.

Shure MV7 has a metallic body that makes it durable and lasting. You can download MOTIV Desktop Application to enjoy some additional features. 

Blue Microphone Yeti USB

One of the worth mentioning features of the Blue Microphone Yeti is that you can switch its polar patterns between four available patterns. The allowed patterns are unidirectional, bidirectional, omnidirectional, and stereo.

It has a dial on the back that allows you to adjust gain controls without any software. The red LED mute button tells you if your mic is active or not.   

Best XLR Podcasting Mics

Rode PodMic

This microphone is designed especially for podcasting and contains all the essential features that a podcaster could use. Its solid construction is built to last. The dynamic capsule of the mic has stainless steel mesh grille protection. There is an integrated pop shield to improve voice quality. It uses only a cardioid polar pattern.

Entry Level Mics

Samson Q2U

 Samson Q2U is a USB/XLR handheld microphone that you can connect with a Mac or Windows device and a mixer system. The on/off switch lets you control audio output. Its polar pattern is unidirectional, meaning you can use it only for one person.

It comes with a tripod stand, foam windscreen, a stand extension, and mic clip.

Mobile Podcasting Mics

Samson Go Mic

Samson Go is a portable USB microphone that is compatible with all Mac and Windows devices. It has a compact design, so you can attach it to your laptop or place it on a desk. You can switch its polar pattern between unidirectional and omnidirectional patterns.

It comes with a USB cable, stand, cable clip, and carrying pouch.

Conclusion

A microphone is a device that converts sound waves into electrical signals that you can store or edit on your PC. Creating clear audio that is free of distractions is a key to making your podcasts successful.

If you are recording a podcast with a guest or co-host, it is best to have a separate microphone for each one of them. You should maintain a distance of 4 to 6 inches between your mouth and a microphone to ensure your voice is neither to loud nor dull.

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