Pick the Right Microphone

Learn everything you need to know to pick the right microphone, or set of microphones, for your podcast.

No matter what kind of content your podcast will carry, odds are you’ll need a microphone somewhere in the process. Many different microphone types are available, and some are specially tailored for a particular use. Matching the mic to your needs will give you better sonic results, and might even save you some money!

If all you want is to get your voice on a podcast, you can use the built-in mic on your computer or webcam, or get an inexpensive USB headset mic [Hack #12] or a basic computer mic with a mini-plug that can jack straight into your computer if it has a micinput. But if you want to get a richer, more professional, more radio-like sound, or if you are recording material out in the field, you’ll want a better mic.

Dynamic or Condenser

Microphones come in two types: dynamic and condenser. In general, dynamic mics are more forgiving of rough treatment and do not require external phantom power. Condenser mics break more easily if dropped and require phantom power to operate, which must come from a recorder, a mixer, a preamp, an internal battery, or a separate power source. Condenser mics almost always provide louder output, reducing the amount of gain needed at the often-noisy preamplification stage. And condensers often give a brighter, more detailed sound.

Neither type is inherently better than the other is. Very commonly used in radio studios ...

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