Sound quality is right at the top of critical factors for success in creating podcasts. You can have the best content, but you won't retain listeners if the audio is indistinct or there are annoying background noises.
This article explains what features you need to look for when choosing the best microphones for podcasting and recommendations for the best podcasting microphones available from HP.
Microphones turn the sound waves created when we speak into electrical signals that can be recorded, processed and transmitted. There are two main types of microphones available, condenser and dynamic microphones.
Condenser microphones are ideal for capturing high-quality sounds in all their rich glory, as long as the sound isn't too noisy. Unfortunately, they can't handle very loud sounds; these cause significant levels of distortion that degrade the captured sounds.
Condenser microphones are perfect for recording in studio environments with little or no background noise, producing the highest quality recordings. These are the best podcast microphones for professional podcasters.
You should bear in mind that condenser microphones require a power supply to operate, either from an in-built battery or through a cable.
Dynamic microphones are ideal for capturing loud sounds such as musical performances or a voice spoken directly into the microphones. However, the sound quality is not as full and rounded as a condenser microphone.
Dynamic microphones are perfect for recording in an environment where background noise may be present, producing recordings that minimise noise levels. These are the best podcast microphones for home podcasters.
An additional benefit of dynamic microphones is that they do not require a power supply.
When it comes to capturing sounds, the design of microphones can determine from which direction they will respond to sound waves.
An omnidirectional microphone will capture sounds coming from any direction. In contrast, a directional microphone will only capture sounds from set sources. The latter can help block out unwanted sounds, a feature that can help when recording a podcast where other people may be present. Directional microphones are commonly available in 2 different types:
Cardioid microphones capture sounds mainly from one direction, perfect for recording one speaker.
Bidirectional or stereo microphones capture sounds equally from two directions, perfect for recording two speakers using one microphone.
The basic equipment requirements for recording an audio podcast are a computer with an internet connection, suitable digital recording software and a microphone. You'll also need a video camera if recording a video podcast.
As a bonus, it helps prevent the recording from picking up noise from the computer, such as fans or keyboard clicks.
For digital recording software, the good news is that there are plenty of free packages suitable for beginners and professionals. For example, the Microsoft Sound Recorder app is excellent for all Windows-based devices. At the same time, Audacity is a fantastic and highly recommended open-source and cross-platform package.
Of course, you'll also need a suitable location to set up this equipment. Ideally, this should be a space free from external noise and one that does not affect the recorded sounds. For example, large empty areas can create noticeable echoes or an unappealing hollow sound.
Sound quality is essential for a podcast to be successful. Poor sound quality, such as noticeable background noise, distortions or levels rising and falling, can all lead to a disappointing listener experience. As a result, these issues will make it less likely that the listener will access other podcast episodes or recommend your podcast.
Ideally, the microphone should be positioned at the correct distance and orientation from your mouth to get the best quality sound. This positioning is vital when using a directional microphone.
You should set up the microphone close enough to capture your voice clearly but not too close that it picks up the sound of your breathing. A decent-quality microphone stand that maintains the correct position while blocking any vibrations from affecting the microphone is crucial.
Ranking the Best 5 Microphones
These microphones offer the performance and features we believe you'll need to record great-sounding podcasts.
Of course, you may have specific requirements that need to be satisfied. In this case, the HP® website offers a complete set of filter options to help narrow down your search.
This extremely streamer-friendly microphone offers excellent sound quality with plug-and-play convenience via USB-C. In addition, it includes a handy tap-to-mute sensor with an LED indicator to remind you that the mute function is activated.
The SoloCast is a directional microphone with a cardioid polar pattern that has its highest sensitivity to sound sources directly to the front. This feature helps reduce the pickup of background noises to the sides and behind the microphone. In addition, you can customise the microphone's operation using the HyperX NGENUITY Software package.
The microphone comes with a flexible and adjustable stand that you can swivel to the optimum position for your podcasting environment. It also can be fitted to microphone stands and boom arms, with its standard fitting compatible with 3/8-inch and 5/8-inch threaded setups.
Our second recommendation is theHyperX QuadCast - USB Microphone, the ideal all-inclusive standalone microphone for the aspiring streamer or podcaster. The dramatic red lighting behind the black case creates a striking display that will stand out in any recording environment.
This condenser microphone delivers superior quality sound and comes with a conveniently located gain control dial that allows adjustment of its sensitivity for a simple setup.
A notable feature is that this is both an omnidirectional and directional microphone. Users can choose one of four settings for their desired recording preference:
You can set up this microphone to be omnidirectional to record sounds from any direction.
Alternatively, you can set up this microphone to be directional. This latter option can be a stereo, bidirectional or cardioid polar pattern, allowing the user to choose from which directions it has its highest sensitivity to sound sources.
This feature provides maximum flexibility for helping to reduce the pickup of background noises.
Like the SoloCast, the QuadCast includes HyperX's handy tap-to-mute sensor with an LED indicator to remind you that the mute function is activated. The microphone also has a helpful 3.5mm headphone connection to hear what sounds the microphone is picking up.
The microphone comes with an anti-vibration shock mount and a built-in pop filter that both help to reduce annoying background sounds when recording in a noisy environment. These features are handy for reducing the low-frequency noises passing through floors, walls, and ceilings.
The microphone also can be fitted to microphone stands and boom arms with its mount adapter's standard fitting that is compatible with 3/8-inch and 5/8-inch threaded setups.
The HyperX QuadCast S includes all the features and capabilities of its HyperX QuadCast- Red Lighting we've included above, but with a fantastic lighting feature. The dynamic RGB illumination is fully customisable using HyperX's NGENUITY software. You can change colours based on your branding or mood, or even complement the other equipment in the recording environment.
Our fourth suggestion is theOMEN by HP Mindframe Prime Headset. We've moved from standalone microphones mounted on a stand to a headset option. This headset was designed for gamers but is an excellent choice for podcasters who record on the move or prefer not to have to speak directly into a fixed microphone.
The OMEN offers terrific sound quality by employing dual microphones to block background sounds using noise-cancelling technology. There is also a helpful flip-to-mute feature for the microphone for simple muting. In addition, the audio settings for the microphone and headphones are customisable using OMEN Audio Lab software.
This headset includes on-ear volume control and the fantastic FrostCap Ear Cooling systems that make wearing the headset more comfortable over extended periods. These passive cooling ear cushions help you focus on podcasting.
As the lowest priced of our recommendations, this capable headset is the best budget podcast microphone.
The OMEN Blast includes most of the features and capabilities of the OMEN headset listed above. The main difference is that the OMEN blast has a retractable noise-cancelling unidirectional microphone. The volume and muting controls are also conveniently located on the headset cable to make them more accessible when you're using the headset.
Having the right microphone is essential whether you’re just starting or an established podcaster. It must be comfortable to use and offer excellent sound quality. Also, unless you record in a professional sound studio, it must be able to filter out the ever-present background noise we all experience.
The recommended best microphones from HP's range have been chosen based on the needs of audio and video podcasters. We hope this selection helps you select the perfect product for your own needs and make your podcasts a success.
About the Author: Stephen Mash is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Stephen is a UK-based freelance technology writer with a background in cybersecurity and risk management.
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