Let’s talk microphones in this post. Your microphone requirements will be determined by what you will be doing. “What microphone should I get for YouTube video?” is a common question. Are you just going to be sitting in front of your computer doing screen casts or webinars? Will you be up moving around illustrating on a whiteboard? will you be doing product reviews or interviewing people? Will you be using it with a stand alone camera or your computer? Are you working in a quiet or noisy environment? All these scenarios will determine which mic is best for you.
Two of the main types of microphones you will encounter are dynamic or condenser microphones. A condenser microphone will require some sort of an external power source to supply what is called phantom power. This power is supplied in one of two ways. Either a battery will go inside the mic or it will be hooked up to a mixer which will supply the phantom.
For most applications I would recommend a dynamic microphone which will not require any external power and is best suited for a home use type of production. I see a lot of people recommend a condenser microphone for your first home mic but I have to disagree with that. Unless you have a soundproof room I would not even think of using a condenser. Your neighbor might be out mowing his yard when you start to shoot or the other neighbor’s dog might begin barking. All of those sounds will be picked up on a condenser microphones so I stick by my dynamic mic recommendation.
There is also the pickup pattern that you should consider. Cardioid or omni directional. A cardioid will pick up sound primarily from the front and not so much from the back side. So if you are sitting at your desk and have external speakers or sound coming from your computer you can set the mic with the front towards you and the speakers/monitor to the rear. That way the sound from behind the mic will be minimized.
An omnidirectional mic will pick up sound equally 360 degrees around the microphone. My recommendation would be cardioid to be more suitable for most applications and better able to filter out unwanted noise. Like computer hard drives, fans, monitors etc.
Price Vs Quality or Does It Fit Your Budget?
Price versus quality. As with most electronic equipment the usual rule of thumb is the more you pay for the item the better the quality will be. But, there are some give and takes when it comes to quality versus price. Most of us will not be using out microphones for professional projects. If we are just doing webinars or screen casts we do not need a professional microphone so the lower priced microphones will probably do us just fine.
If you are doing voice overs or those type of production the you are being paid for then you might want to step up to a more professional microphone. So, there is some give and take when it comes to price/quality issues. If you are doing a lot of interview type videos like man on the street type gigs then you will want something that can endure being outdoors, packed and unpacked numerous times and withstand an occasional drop.
My Number One Recommendation (UPDATED)
This was originally my number recommendation but that has changed to the Samson G Track Pro (SEE my review here). Even though I changed my recommendation if price is a major issue for you then stick with the ATR2100. It is still a good mic.
My number one recommendation for a good all purpose microphone would be the Audio-Technica ATR2100 USB/XLR microphone. Looking on Amazon one listing for the 2100 has 1700 reviews and average rating is 5 star so you can see there are a lot of satisfied buyers of this microphone.
The Audio-Technica ATR2100 is a dynamic microphone with a cardioid pickup pattern. It has a USB and XLR connection which I’ll explain in a minute about the benefit of XLR connection. The frequency response is 50-15,000 HZ which is good. Normal human hearing range is about 20-20,000 HZ and that is when we are young before the sounds and noises of the world start to diminish that range.
The ATR2100 has a on/off switch and a 3.5 mm TRS headphone jack. The Microphone comes with a stand clamp for a standard microphone stand, a small desktop tripod stand, a 2 meter mini USB cable and a 3 meter XLR female to XLR male cable.
The advantage of having the XLR connection would be in the case you might add a partner to your webinar hosting or podcast. In that case you would probably need two microphones. If you ever get to the point of needing two microphones your computer connection will not be able to handle that. With two mics you will need a mixer and a preamp hooked up ahead of a computer connection. That is where the XLR connection will be beneficial because you will just need to buy one additional microphone. Without the XLR connection you would have to shelve the 2100 and buy two more microphones. You can also take it to the field and connect to a sound system for a live performance.
The XLR and USB connections can be used at the same time. This would be beneficial in the case you are doing a webinar and perhaps would like to increase your exposure and make it also a podcast. The USB connection would go to your computer for the webinar and you could connect to say a Zoom H4n audio recorder via the XLR. Then you would have the audio recorded for your podcast.
To be honest, the stand that comes with the Audio-Technica 2100 is pretty flimsy so it won’t hold up to much use. But it might be sufficient for your needs. I have seen some packages where a small pop filter was also included. So, it can save you and additional expense down the road if you expand your audio requirements.
I think you will find the Audio-Technica ATR2100 is a versatile microphone that should work well for most webinar/screencast type applcations. I see some rate this Microphone higher than some of the other popular webcast/youtube type productions. I will cover some of these other microphones later.
This post is getting a bit long so I will write about other microphone recommendations over the next few post. I will also do a post on microphone technique to help you get the best sound from your microphone no matter which one you decide to use.
One side note, you need to take into consideration the newer USB 3 ports, which are blue instead of black. I have heard on some windows computers that some microphones using usb 2 (most usb microphones) will not work on a windows computer with the usb3. This is not an issue on Mac only on some windows computers. I am looking into a solution and I will update this post when I can verify a solution.
That’s going to pretty much wrap up this post on the Audio-Technica ATR2100. I’m always reading publications so if I find any more pertinent information on the 2100 I will update this post.
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