If you are interested in starting to podcast, it is not difficult to get started. Once you have locked onto a great idea (and a market interested in hearing it), the next step is to acquire a few very key tools of the trade. One such tool that’s very important, is the podcast mic (e.g. microphone for your podcast.) A mic holds the largest impact on the quality of your podcasting recordings because it captures your voice and translates it from physical sound waves into digital bits and bytes. And there is no lack of microphones available on the market with wide ranging price points.
At RINGR, we’ve tested a ton of microphones for desktop and mobile podcasting. For mobile, we currently support external mics that connect to the TRRS headphone port on your device (TRS is a normal stereo headphone socket, phones have TRRS sockets which also have a mic line). The earbud style headphones with a built-in mic that come with your phone have a TRRS connector, as will some headsets (earphones with a mic arm) – those with only one plug. We find that earbuds or commodity headsets can provide very good quality audio and are readily available to many users/participants. With the new RINGR for desktop (browser-based), it supports any mic that is connected to your PC.
Besides standard headsets, there are much better quality microphones available on the market at fairly reasonable prices. For example, you can use any XLR studio microphone by plugging it into the iRig Pre (http://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/irigpre/) which has a TRRS connector to plug into your phone and XLR socket for the microphone. It supplies phantom power to the mic and has a headphone socket for you to plug into.
According to the IK Multimedia website, the setup of the iRig PRE is fairly simple – you basically take the microphone that you use every day on stage or in the studio and plug it into your device. We love it when it’s that simple! The iRig PRE works with iOS and Android. It doesn’t drain your device battery and its ultra-compact design (just slightly larger than a 9-volt battery) fits pretty much anywhere. The iRig Pre is a professional sounding mic preamp.
In addition to the iRig Pre, IK Multimedia makes a range of complete mics with TRRS connectors, including:
- A lavalier mic: http://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/irigmiclav
- A handsfree compact mic: http://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/irigmiccast/
- A handheld mic: http://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/irigmic/
What mic should I use with the iRig Pre?
We polled the RINGR crew to uncover some personal favorites. As a team, we LOVED using the large diaphragm Neumann mic from the studio with the iRig Pre. Neumann mic tend to be higher end but capture simply amazing sound (crazy sensitive and crystal clear audio). We used the TLM 193 in studio (the $1.5k non-switchable pattern baby brother of the $3k+ version of this mic).
As for mid to lower end brands, some of the Røde mics are good. We’ve used some of their shotgun mics (the NTG4) and were extremely pleased with the audio quality, however, shotgun mics are more often used as a video mic for isolation and not usually as a podcast mic. They can help you avoid unwanted ‘off-axis’ sounds (i.e. it picks up what’s in front well, and less from the sides) and could really help in noisy environments but they don’t work well in small rooms or in highly reverberate spaces.
We’ve even heard some people use a bass mic for vocals (given the right voice) or a cheap Shure SM57 (which is NOT designed to be a vocal mic). The key is to match the voice with the right mic (since all mics have some amount of coloring) – so we recommend that you try before you buy!
Lastly, I prefer to stick with my favorite one – and I love it! It’s the Apogee Mic 96k. It costs about $200-$230 and can connect via USB. I’ve done voice-overs for McDonald’s and the University of Illinois on it. I just put a sock over the top (as a pop protector) and record in my walk-in closet. The clothes do a great job of reducing bounce or echo and absorbing sound.
What about Bluetooth for Podcasting?
At RINGR, we do not support bluetooth audio devices as most compress the audio before transmitting it to the device and generally provide an abysmal level of audio quality (and RINGR is all about crystal-clear sound quality.). We’ve previously had lightning mic support on iOS devices, but due to some significant changes in the iOS audio APIs in iOS 8.3+ this is currently disabled until we have time to rebuild some of the audio routing. This is in progress and we hope to have lightning mic support again in the next few months. We’ll make an announcement (and update this blog post) when it’s available.
Advice from other Podcast Pros
A lot of great reviews have been written on how to find the best podcast microphones. Here are a few that we recommend you check out before purchasing:
- The Podcast Host (Colin Gray) “The Best Podcast Microphones on the Market” provides an excellent in-depth analysis of beginner to advanced podcast mics.
- Omnicore (a digital marketing agency) had a guide to podcasting titled, “The Top 10 Podcasting Microphones for 2015-16“ which is a very nice piece to read through.
- Fizzle.co has a unique study titled, “The Podcaster’s High Quality Microphone Shootout.” They ran tests on high quality podcast mics, explained how they did it (some good pointers were shared) and provided the results.
If you have any questions or need assistance setting up your podcasting mic with RINGR, please don’t hesitate to give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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