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For making video-tutorials/screencasts, what is a good, yet affordable microphone and what additional extras do I need?

The tutorials will revolve around programming, so things to consider might be filtering out the typing-noise; I won't be singing or playing instruments.

My budget is around $150. What I have learned so far (mainly from amazon customer reviews) is that I should probably get a "condenser mic" (why?), that I will need a stable stand/mount (so that shaking the table doesn't influence the audio?) and that I should probably also get a "pop-filter" (why exactly?).

As you can see, any help would be greatly appreciated!

Mics that have been suggested to me so far are:

I would like something that I can plug into my PC (Windows) and that readily works.

PS: I have been browsing around this site and found some similar questions, however I found that those often revolve around having to record multiple persons simultaneously or involve lots of tech speak.

PPS: In case you were wondering, this is not related to my other question about Christina's mic. That was just curiosity. I think my needs are different.

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3 Answers

Type of mic

There are three basic kinds of mics you're likely to run into: dynamic, condenser, and ribbon. Dynamics are straightforward moving-cone mics, condensers use an electric field, and ribbons use a very sensitive and delicate metal ribbon.

Both dynamic and condenser mics will work great for your purposes, so you don't necessarily have to restrict yourself if you don't want to. Condensers, in my experience, tend to be slightly "crisper," and a bit more sensitive to subtleties, but tend to require "phantom power" from whatever they're plugged into (usually a preamplifier, often built into a mixer or USB interface). I find this sensitivity to be an important quality for music, but for making tutorials where you just want to have a clear, understandable voice, I don't see any advantage over a dynamic unless you specifically prefer the sound of them. Ribbon mics are delicate and expensive and don't offer much advantage to recording voiceovers, so you can safely ignore them for now.

The go-to dynamic mic for many purposes is a [Shure SM-57] or SM-58 (the 58 is the same thing with a different grille, aimed at vocalists). These are often recommended because they are inexpensive (generally under $100 US), work great, mostly hold their value on the used market, and are durable to an almost silly level.

The disadvantage compared to the two mics you posted (which seem fine to me) is that those mics already have the recording interface built in, so you don't need any other hardware. Since I imagine you don't need to do any hardware processing to your microphone signal, having it built in would be pretty convenient.

Directionality

To reduce typing noise, make sure your microphone is directional, and point it towards your mouth (maybe slightly off, experiment for the best sound). A directional mic pics up sound mainly from one direction, so sounds from the other directions are de-emphasized. You can take advantage of this property to reduce keyboard noise. The Audio Technica you linked is directional (it claims a 'cardioid' polar pattern on the Amazon page, which will work nicely) and I imagine the AKG is as well, as it's pretty common. Avoid "omni" or "figure-eight" pickup patterns as these pick up from more than one direction.

Stand/mount

You need some kind of stand for your mic, because it will sound inconsistent as you move around, and because holding it in your hands is a giant pain in the rear, especially when you're trying to type.

For podcasting at home, you probably either want a small desktop stand (like the Audio Technica mic you linked appears to come with), or a freestanding one like this. You'll also need a mount that fits your mic, that screws onto the stand (many mics come with one). If you have the space, I would advise the latter, because an on-desktop stand tends to transmit thumps and desk noise to the microphone, and you're going to be typing a lot. By not having the mic physically coupled to the desk, you can avoid a lot of this.

Many mics have a highpass-filter option which filters out lower noises like thuds and bumps to some extent. It helps, but I'd still recommend a separate stand.

You can also reduce this using a shockmount. They generally look like the one pictured on this wikipedia page. I personally haven't found them necessary for just speaking into, but I felt it was worth mentioning.

Pop filter

The purpose of a pop filter is to help reduce noise from certain kinds of sounds called plosives. These are the popping "p", "t", "b", and other sounds that are annoyingly over-emphasized in microphones because of the little blast of air that comes out of your mouth. A pop filter helps reduce that air movement while keeping the sound pretty much untouched otherwise. These don't have to be expensive or elaborate - nylon hose stretched over a ring works great, as do inexpensive commercial solutions.

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Condenser mic va. dynamic mic: personally, I think either is a good choice for general recording. The basic difference is that Condensers' signals are based on capacitors and Dynamic on electromagnets. Condensers are more susceptible to weather conditions, as the pickup element is generally very tiny, but the small mass of material that needs to be moved by the sound waves to produce signal results in a larger dynamic range. They require a power source...usually a AA battery, or, in your case USB. What I've noticed about dynamic mics is that they have a narrower dynamic range but it's really hard to get feedback out of 'em 'cause they'er less susceptible to the environmental noises around. it's almost like it takes more powerful sound waves to get 'em going. For voice applications though, I've got both in my kit, and they work just fine.

The AT2020 is a good choice, but I doubt, unless you go with a lavalier, that you'll be able to effectively isolate your voice from environmental sounds like keyboards. Unless you invest in a silent keyboard. Surprisingly, computer fans are terribly noisy when there's a mic nearby...I think we're so acclimated to the white noise that we don't nmecessarily hear it all the time. To counter that, get a cheap furniture pad and clamp it to your desk--assuming the computer's under the desk. Just make sure there's enough airflow; you don't want to wrap the box tightly and have it overheat 'cause the vents are blocked.

That being said, AudioTechnica's ATR3350 is an OK mic for voice recording. It's economical records really clean audio, and while it's not got the best dynamic range, I've found it to be more than adequate for recording speech. It has a miniplug end that you should be able to plug in to your computer. http://www.soundprofessionals.com/cgi-bin/gold/item/ATR3350 .

There are USB lavaliers -- http://www.soundprofessionals.com/cgi-bin/gold/item/SP-USB-LAPEL-2 -- but I've personally not had experience with them.

Lavaliers usually have pop screens that come with them standard; they help soften the hard POP of a 'P' sound, and sibilance in "S" sounds. If you choose not to go with a lavalier, I have two pieces of advice for you:

1.) do not have your mic on the same surface on which you'll be working. Suspend it from the ceiling, get a floor stand...you'll be surprised how well vibrations from your tabletop record...even if it's not visibly shaking or moving, sound waves are travelling through it. 2.) Pop screen on the cheap: Get a wire coathanger. Make a loop about 8-10" in diameter. Pull a pair of panythose over the loop. Add a second or third pair if you're no happy with the results. Clamp it to your mic stand, position it between your mouth and the mic...you are good to go.

good luck! d

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Get a Yeti! It has a dial and multiple capsules so you can change it depending on your recording needs.

I got 1 for my birthday and I've bought 2 friends mics since then. My girlfreind uses it for voice over gigs and we use it when we're guests on podcasts.

It's great multipurpose and easy to use, runs on USB.

I use it with Audacity , free editing software.

http://www.bluemic.com/yeti/

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