How to choose a microphone for PC


If you record podcasts, videos or streams, play games with friends using voice communication, then a microphone is a mandatory part of the process. Notebook users probably think about this issue much less often, since almost all of them have a built-in microphone or headset.

In order for the headset to work on a PC, you need special software. Yes, and the leading podcasts and bloggers make high demands on the quality of recording and sound processing. Therefore, today we are talking about how to choose a microphone for a PC that will allow you to record sound, communicate, and even record vocals or musical instruments.

Source: Lifehacker Australia

USB microphone or traditional microphone?

In order to figure out which is better, it is worth borrowing experience from the recording experts, that is, the owners of home studios. And the first thing you need to pay attention to is the type of microphone connection.

USB microphones have a number of advantages over standard microphones, that is, those that are connected via XLR or 1/4 input.

The most significant is the absence of the need to install additional software. The microphone will immediately be picked up by a computer or laptop and, if you have a DAW application (digital audio workstation), you can immediately start recording.

USB microphones also have a built-in digital interface, so they are often less expensive than buying the microphone and interface separately. So, if your budget is limited, then you can consider buying a USB microphone.

There are, however, limitations that apply to USB microphones. There are no ports for them on most mixing consoles or interfaces. Therefore, if you still want to choose the option with the ability to connect to them, you will have to look for a model with an additional XLR connector.

This matters because the remote or interface will give you more control over the equalizer and sound settings, as well as its quality.

Convert audio to digital format

One of the functions of audio interfaces in a computer and some mixing consoles is to convert the analog signal from a microphone to digital so that the computer can process it further.

With USB microphones, this feature is built right into the device itself, and it also affects some of the specifications that will be important when recording sound. Sample rate, bit depth and hardware latency. When recording podcasts, this will be less important than in music, but you still need to take into account all the possible properties of the device.

Converting analog sound to digital is carried out by fixing a large number of samples. The speed and depth with which the samples are recorded determine the quality of the final digital track. Thus, the sampling rate and depth give an indication of the quality of the recording.

Source: Blixxo High Quality Lavalier Microphones —

Sample rate

It is also called speed and is measured in kHz (kilohertz). In order to cover the entire frequency range that is accessible to the human ear, it is necessary to use a frequency of at least 44.1 kHz, which is what is used on CDs. For sound recording, this frequency is usually used as optimal. Therefore, it is important to consider that the microphone must support 44.1 kHz as the minimum sample rate. Professional devices often use 48 kHz or 96 kHz. This is due to the fact that such equipment works with other devices and is designed to give the highest sound quality and the ability to edit it.

Bit depth

On a digital recording, bit depth determines how many bits of information will be contained in each sample. This, in turn, gives us an understanding of what the resolution and detail of the recording will be. CDs use 16 bits, which is the minimum requirement for your microphone. Professional devices use 24 bits, and some USB microphones do.

Hardware delay

This characteristic refers to the delay between the moment when the sound reaches the microphone and the time it takes for the signal to be processed to be converted to digital and ready for playback. This characteristic is less important for those who write down the text, but is fundamentally important for the musician. It is this indicator that works when you record a new track while listening to the old one or several others through headphones. Generally, the higher the microphone quality, the lower the hardware latency. And this is the reason why musicians prefer more expensive models.

Some manufacturers of USB microphones solve this problem by including headphones on the microphone body specifically for real-time music.

Condenser microphones or dynamic

Many people know that there are two main types of microphones. But not everyone is well aware of why and which ones are suitable for what. We mean that the PC microphone will not play the role of a sound amplifier, that is, it will not be used on stage.

When creating microphones, manufacturers also mean the same thing, a USB microphone for a computer will be designed for recording. Therefore, most USB microphones are condenser, not dynamic.

Condenser microphones have a wider audio frequency and better transient response, so they are more commonly used for recording, even in studios. For stage use, they are inconvenient, including because of their more compact size and sensitivity when it comes to loud sounds. Here the endurance of dynamic microphones, as well as their size, is much more convenient.

However, some manufacturers have begun to include a USB port in the design of dynamic microphones so that they can be used both on stage and when recording. This is a kind of travel option, which, however, is not ideal for the home. An example of such a microphone is the Audio-Technica AT2005USB.

Source: Wirecutter

Membrane size

The microphone membrane is another parameter that varies from model to model. It is the membrane that first encounters the sound wave. Large diaphragm models are versatile and sensitive. They are much better at recording low frequencies.

A small membrane is well suited for recording acoustic instruments such as guitar and highs. If you’re recording something where acoustic music is implied, then it’s worth considering.

polar pattern

Microphones pick up sound in different ways and from different directions. In some cases, an omnidirectional microphone will be more suitable for you, which will pick up the environment, etc. But when it comes to chatting and video recording, you’re better off choosing a microphone that picks up sound from one direction and focuses on the voice. This is how cardioid microphones work. They got their name from their heart-like shape. They often pick up sound from the front, partially suppressing other sounds. The semi-cardioid polar pattern has an even narrower direction and is the most suitable for recording.

An omnidirectional microphone is required when recording multiple people, such as for a group podcast. Or when recording multiple instruments in a small room.

A multi-directional microphone is another option that combines the functionality of both. These microphones have a switch that adjusts the sound pickup. If you are not sure what type of recording you need, this microphone will be the best choice.

Functionality of USB microphones

Standard microphones differ significantly from USB microphones. Since the latter are designed to work with certain recording software, they usually get special buttons and controls on the case. There will almost always be a volume control on the microphone, in some cases a direction control.

Some models are equipped with real-time monitoring functionality to match the sound to previously recorded tracks.

The Mute button also appears on some microphones, and allows you to mute the signal. This is convenient for those who play games and communicate in voice chat. Low-pass filtering blocks extraneous noise and sounds.

Source: Dell

The Blue Yeti is one of the most popular microphones used by many bloggers and gamers. It not only provides high quality sound, but also offers an affordable price. The functionality of this microphone is convenient and after some time you will not be able to wean yourself from it. Blue Yeti is suitable for both Mac computers and Windows devices.

Blue Yeti received 4 modes of operation: for recording one voice, conferences, interviews and recording music. The versatility of this device best explains its popularity. You can connect headphones to the Blue Yeti, and the stand is thought out in the design, which allows you to adjust the location of the microphone.

The Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ is a model for vocal recording, but thanks to its features, it offers much more than it costs. The microphone is connected via USB and is installed directly on the table. There is also a headphone jack on the case, so you can hear what you are saying into the microphone. It is not recommended to use it simultaneously with columns for more than obvious reasons. In short, this microphone is versatile and convenient for any task.

When traveling and in any situation where you do not have access to the main microphone, Samson Go will come to the rescue. This little microphone plugs right into your computer (both Mac and PC), requires no drivers, and can stand on your desk or clip onto your computer.

Plus, Samson Go received a headphone jack, frequencies from 20 Hz to 18 kHz, and even a carrying case. It is suitable for communication, and for recording podcasts or videos. And most importantly, he can always be with you.

You may need a microphone for various tasks. Someone wants to record their own videos, someone plans to record music or even create entire orchestral compositions using a computer and musical instruments. In any case, in order to choose a microphone suitable for your tasks, you need to understand the basic requirements and characteristics. Now that you understand the parameters of microphones, it remains only to understand your goals and make a choice.


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