Blog: Choosing the Right Microphone: Connectivity, Chats, Podcasts and Vocal

Which mike do I use to record a lecture? Which model is best for recording podcasts? Can I use the same mike for chatting and birding? What to use to record kids playing?

In Part I of this article, we discussed the types and varieties of microphones available on the market. But which one is the best for you? Let’s get going. But first, let’s see how you are going to connect your mike to a PC in order to use it with the marvelous MP3 Recorder Studio.

Connecting a Microphone to Your PC

Computer MicrophonesIn the context of this article, we’ll be talking about mikes you can technically connect to your PC’s sound card. This basically rules out most high-end studio-type microphones. These, typically, cannot be connected directly to a sound card, requiring a dedicated microphone pre-amp which, in turn, connects to the 'Line Input' of your sound card. While this setup can greatly improve audio quality, users of such extensive setups will be better served by audiophile quality sound cards and multi-channel recording/remixing software.

In this article, we’ll talk about the more affordable, low to mid-grade microphones a mere mortal can buy for slightly more than pocket change.

Voice Chats: a USB Mike

Microphones directly connecting to the PC via a USB cable are usually the cheapest, lowest-grade mikes money can buy. Not only do they have their pre-amps built-in, they also carry internal DAC (digital to analog conversion) circuitry. As these are typically available for just a few dollars, you can only imagine the quality of these components. Typically, you would use a USB mike for voice chats, and voice chats only.

On a positive side, these are cheap, light, extremely compact, simple to install and configure. No wire clutter, no batteries to replace (they are powered from the USB slot) and no pre-amps to configure. These take little space on your desk; some are clip-on and can sit on your monitor. MP3 Recorder Studio is a perfect tool to record voice chats.

Recording VocalRecording Podcasts, Audio Books, and Voice Prompts

If you want to record podcasts, audio books or voice prompts, you’ll need a higher quality mike than those of a USB type. As you’ll be speaking close to the mike itself, a good dynamic (low sensitivity) unidirectional (won’t pick up noise from around the room) mike will suffice. You don’t need a sensitive condenser-type microphone for this type of recording, or else you’ll be recording your breathing instead of just voice. There are models available for under $10 still providing sufficient audio quality for this purpose.

Recording Vocal and Musical Instruments

Have a basement band? High-quality audio recording can be more affordable than you thing. Vocal/instrument mikes don’t have to be overly sensitive and, as such, they are built as traditional dynamic microphones. Featuring higher recordable dynamic range and capturing a higher range of frequencies than mikes designed for recording podcasts and audio books, these mikes are still inexpensive and can be had for under $10 and up. Condenser-type mikes are still a no-go for this application. As usual with electronic equipment, sky’s the limit. While you can use MP3 Recorder Studio to record vocal and instrumental sound, you’ll still need a good multi-channel mixer to remix the sound.

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