How To Buy a USB Microphone Without Losing Your Shirt Should you buy a USB microphone for video blogging? Well, if you’ve ever used the microphone that is attached to most camcorders or small digital cameras, you’ve heard how thin the sound is.

When you buy a USB microphone you are getting one of the best things that has happened to podcasting, voiceovers and home recording since the invention of the microphone itself. Never before have you been able to buy a USB mic, open it up from its packaging, plug it into your computer, and start recording.

But the benefits don’t end there. You can use these types of mics in either a PC or Mac with no adjustments. Most Macs, PC laptops and PC desktops made in the last ten years have USB ports already built in.

Built-In Drivers

Normally when you buy a USB microphone the device drivers are built in as well. Drivers are little pieces of software that allow hardware to communicate with the computer.

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You don’t have to download a device driver from the internet or copy it over from an installation DVD. All you have to do is plug it in and the device drivers are installed automatically.

During your purchasing cycle you’ll find quality USB mics that rivals high quality studio mics. In the past, a “good” mic meant you had to buy a studio mic with a three-pronged XLR jack. Then you had to connect that to an XLR cable and connect that to a pre-amp.

Then you had to run another cable to your mixer. By the time all that happened you forgot what you wanted to record in the first place! Now, it is much easier to just start recording with microphones from companies like Blue, Samson and more.

Podcasters

There are so many podcasts available today that it would be difficult to even mention USB mics without talking about podcasters. With the rise of social media and user-generated-content, podcasting has come to the fore. a very reasonable price bloggers, internet marketers, educators, authors and experts world-wide are able to use USB mics successfully for their podcasts without losing any sound quality.

Should you buy a USB microphone for video blogging? Well, if you’ve ever used the microphone that is attached to most camcorders or small digital cameras, you’ve heard how thin the sound is.

Plus you get a lot of unwanted noise from the room or outdoor area that you didn’t want in your video. A USB microphone can eliminate all those problems.

One of the best reasons to get a USB microphone is for communicating over Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP). That basically means using software like Skype to make phone calls over the internet. No longer are you limited to cheap head-sets that make you sound like you are calling from inside a giant tin can.

Now you can get a USB microphone that sounds like you are next door when calling your friends and family on Skype. This is even more important if you are using Skype for business. You want to come across like a professional and poor sound quality is a clear sign of unprofessionalism.

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Dynamic and Condenser Mics

These mics come in two flavors: dynamic and condenser. Dynamic mics are very rugged. The internals are similar to how a speaker works but in reverse. Sound causes a diaphragm to vibrate which moves a coil relative to a magnet which creates an electric signal.

Because they can handle high volumes easily and are very durable, dynamic mics are often used by rock bands or any touring artist looking to buy a mic for the road.

Condenser mics are best suited for situations where you want to get a good mic for the very best sound. This type of mic is commonly used in studio environments. Inside a condenser mic there is a small capsule that has a thin membrane pickup on one side. Sound causes the side of the capsule to vibrate and the pickup outputs sound waves as electrical signals. When considering whether to buy a condenser mic remember that they are more sensitive than dynamic mics. Moisture will ruin a condenser mic so make sure to store it properly.

The next thing to consider is if you need cardioid, bidirectional (figure 8), or omni-directional. Cardioid microphones pick up sound in front but not the back. It is very resistant to feedback and is very often a stage mic.

Bidirectional, or figure 8, mics are sensitive to sound on the front and back and not the side. This type of pickup pattern is the one you want when are conducting an interview. In an interview, you want clarity of sound from two different people’s voices, but at the same time eliminate unwanted room noise.

Omni-directional mics pickup sound 360 degrees around. You do not need to worry too much about placement. For this reason, lavalier mics are usually omni-directional. These mics are best for doing group interviews, or recording a group of musicians.

Useful Features

Here are a few more useful features to look for when you buy a USB microphone:

 

  • Headphone Jack. Due to their nature, even the best USB microphone will have latency, or delay between emitting a sound and hearing it on the monitor. Latency can be confusing, especially to singers and musicians. A headphone jack right on the USB PC microphone itself will provide latency free monitoring. Your lead singer thanks you.
  • On-board control for Headphones, Master Volume, and a Mute Button. You’ll make yourself and your studio guests happy when you they have the ability to control the headphone volume (or mute it completely) from the microphone.
  • Polar Pattern Switch. These days you can purchase a USB microphone that can switch between cardioid, bidirectional, and omnidirectional. This is especially handy when the home studio will be used by many different groups and for many purposes through the day.
  • Stands and Shockmounts. Most USB PC microphones come with their own stands. Strongly consider adding a shockmount or boom stand (sold separately). A good shockmount will isolate the mic from unwanted vibrations and secure it at the same time. A boom arm allows you to change the microphone location easily, and let’s face it, makes you look cool.

 

When you buy a USB microphone you want good quality and sound that is easy to set up and won’t cost and arm and a leg. Well, thank your lucky stars you were born in these times of massive change in home recording and audio advancements.

It’s so easy today to buy a very high quality USB mic from legendary audio manufacturers for very reasonable prices. And never before has set-up been such a breeze : take it out of the package, plug it in to your computer and make magic. For podcasting, screen casting, video blogging, and home studio musicians, invest in a USB microphone that will be a welcome addition to your audio equipment collection.

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