#1 Edited by BPRJCTX (704 posts) -

So, in the next few weeks, i'll be starting a Youtube channel about Video games, original, i know...

But anyway, now that i'm pretty much done choosing a good capture device, there's one more thing i need, to make this work...

And that is a Good "Enough" Microphone (i say enough, because i have to buy a somewhat expensive capture device, so i'm looking for a good mic, with a good low price).

But, the thing is, i'm somewhat confortable with video stuff, but i have no !"#¤ clue about sound...

I know the scientific basis of how sound works, and i can plug a sound system to my tv or PC, and make it sound good, but...

That's pretty much it, i have no idea where to start in the task of buying a good "enough" mic, i don't even know what to put into google...

I look at a mic on Amazon, i look at the pictures, "ok, it looks nice...", i look at the price, "ok, that's !"#¤ expensive, no..." , and proceed to close it, but, just before i do that, i take a look at the specs...

And it seriously looks like an alien language to me...

So, any audio engineers out there?

Or, just someone who knows more about it than me...

Cos, that's pretty much everybody!

Anyway, thanks.

#2 Posted by BitDistillery (14 posts) -

I have looked into mics for online recording in the past, depending on how much you are looking to spend here is a list (all are USB mics).

  1. Plantronics .Audio 655 USB Multimedia Headset ($30 on Amazon): this is the headset that Leo Laporte and the TWiT network recommend to guests.
  2. Blue Microphones Snowball USB Microphone ($67 on Amazon): Tested recommended this mic as a decent place to start in one of their Christmas videos (I think).
  3. Rode Podcaster USB Dynamic Microphone ($229 on Amazon): I don't have this mic, but do have a Rode mic for video cameras. I have been really happy with it and from what I read this is a great mic without the hassle of needing a mixer.

I hope that is a good place to start and good luck with the YouTube Channel.

#3 Posted by Sooty (8082 posts) -

It's more about your environment than the microphones themselves, you only need high end noise cancellation if you are dealing with a lot of background noise.

And well, it's YouTube. Not really a big deal as long as you don't sound like you're in a wind tunnel.

#4 Edited by BPRJCTX (704 posts) -

I have looked into mics for online recording in the past, depending on how much you are looking to spend here is a list (all are USB mics).

  1. Plantronics .Audio 655 USB Multimedia Headset ($30 on Amazon): this is the headset that Leo Laporte and the TWiT network recommend to guests.
  2. Blue Microphones Snowball USB Microphone ($67 on Amazon): Tested recommended this mic as a decent place to start in one of their Christmas videos (I think).
  3. Rode Podcaster USB Dynamic Microphone ($229 on Amazon): I don't have this mic, but do have a Rode mic for video cameras. I have been really happy with it and from what I read this is a great mic without the hassle of needing a mixer.

I hope that is a good place to start and good luck with the YouTube Channel.

Thanks a lot a man, yeah, i'm looking more for a mic, with a good price-quality relationship, so, $50 is where i feel comfortable at the moment, so i really like your $30 recommendation. Lol.

Btw, with the cheaper mics, there's really no need for an external mixer right?

I imagine i can just control the levels through software, but yeah, i really don't know much about audio.

But anyway, i really appreciate your input.

And regarding the channel, i'll probably post it here when i get it rolling, if it doesn't go against forum rules, i'm not sure.

#5 Edited by mlarrabee (2993 posts) -

If you can swing it, I'd go with the Blue Snowball. They're pretty unidirectional and their noise threshold is high, so they keep out room noise quite well. And, from what I've heard, they're plug-'n-play.

They'll get you quality roughly on par with a $120 XLR Samson, and without the need of an I/O device.

The video reviews on Amazon.com give a pretty good idea of what they sound like.

And you can't beat Audacity for recording for free.

#6 Edited by BPRJCTX (704 posts) -

@sooty said:

It's more about your environment than the microphones themselves, you only need high end noise cancellation if you are dealing with a lot of background noise.

And well, it's YouTube. Not really a big deal as long as you don't sound like you're in a wind tunnel.

Haha, yeah, but i'm the kind of guy that, if i tell myself i'm gonna do something, i'm gonna try to do the best i can.

usually that leads to not do anything at all, but, that's beside the point...

And, i didn't even think of that, so, i'm gonna be recording during the day, and i don't think there will be other people in the house making noise, but, i don't know how much the mic might pic up backgroung noise from the neighbours...

I don't have the money to sound proof my room, so, should i look into noise cancelling?

#7 Edited by Nonused (217 posts) -

#8 Edited by charlie_victor_bravo (1047 posts) -
@bprjctx said:

Haha, yeah, but i'm the kind of guy that, if i tell myself i'm gonna do something, i'm gonna try to do the best i can.

...

I don't have the money to sound proof my room, so, should i look into noise cancelling?

If quality is a goal you should also consider Blue Yeti and Blue Spark -microphones. From videos I have watched, Blue Spark does good job of picking only the voice. Problem with it is that it requires XLR-cable.

In my experience cheaper mics and mobo soundcards do not mix well and results are noisy.

Simple way to improve sound quality is to record under blanket, seriously test it out. You can set up curtains or other pieces of cloth while you are recording to minimize the room noises. Also you should look into dynamic sound compressing.

#9 Edited by Sinusoidal (1666 posts) -

For simplicity's sake, you want either a dynamic, or a USB condenser microphone.

Dynamic microphones are what most people picture when they think of a microphone.

This is a Shure SM58, and you can't really go wrong with it. With the right cord, you can plug it straight into your sound card, and provided said sound card isn't an utter piece of shit, you'll get a decent sound out of it. Dynamic microphones require that the sound source be pretty close to the mic itself, so ambient noise like your neighbor's dog will not be much of a concern. You can find a functional (read: not terrible, not great) dynamic mic for $20-$30 if you shop around a bit. (The Shure up there runs closer to $100)

Most of the mics people are suggesting here are USB condenser mics (Samson, Blue.) Condenser mics are "hotter" (they pick up everything) than dynamic mics. They produce better recordings at the cost of being highly susceptible to ambient noise. I've heard that some of the lower quality ones (Blue Snowball, Samson Meteor) can be a bit tinny too.

In the end, the sound you get depends more on your ability to use the mic than the mic itself. If you use Audacity, (you should, it's easily the best free audio software) make sure your levels are set correctly for your normal volume of speech. (The little green input meter at the top should be hovering most of the way to the right when you are speaking, not crammed all the way to the right constantly, nor barely moving or hanging out at the left.)

And yeah, like the guy above me suggested, blanket over your head and the mic isn't a bad idea to eliminate room noise, nor is using some compression to even out your volume. Just be careful not to rub the blanket on the mic while you're recording.

#10 Posted by MikeJFlick (443 posts) -

I don't know, but what I do know is, make sure you buy a wind-shield or a microphone muff to prevent some of the more annoying pops you can get otherwise.

#11 Posted by Szlifier (496 posts) -

Dynamic compression is VERY important. Make sure to apply it to the recording in post process.

#12 Posted by BPRJCTX (704 posts) -

If you can swing it, I'd go with the Blue Snowball. They're pretty unidirectional and their noise threshold is high, so they keep out room noise quite well. And, from what I've heard, they're plug-'n-play.

They'll get you quality roughly on par with a $120 XLR Samson, and without the need on an I/O device.

The video reviews on Amazon.com give a pretty good idea of what they sound like.

And you can't beat Audacity for recording for free.

Wow, that mic sounds pretty good, no pun intended.

And thanks for the freeware audio editor, as well.

#13 Posted by BPRJCTX (704 posts) -

@bprjctx said:

Haha, yeah, but i'm the kind of guy that, if i tell myself i'm gonna do something, i'm gonna try to do the best i can.

...

I don't have the money to sound proof my room, so, should i look into noise cancelling?

If quality is a goal you should also consider Blue Yeti and Blue Spark -microphones. From videos I have watched, Blue Spark does good job of picking only the voice. Problem with it is that it requires XLR-cable.

In my experience cheaper mics and mobo soundcards do not mix well and results are noisy.

Simple way to improve sound quality is to record under blanket, seriously test it out. You can set up curtains or other pieces of cloth while you are recording to minimize the room noises. Also you should look into dynamic sound compressing.

Wow, that's an amazing idea.

It's probably just something everybody knows if they're into these things, but to me that sounds genius.

I'll definitely be trying that, if i feel like my mic is picking up too much background noise.

Just one thing, XLR mics might not be the best option for me, because i would also have to get a mixer right?

Or is there some kind of USB Adaptor?

#14 Edited by Stonyman65 (2765 posts) -

Shure SM58. It's all you'll ever need.

#15 Edited by casper_ (907 posts) -

well if you wanna do voice stuff you need a CONDENSER microphone. just make sure you dont get a dynamic mic because they are directional and are used with relatively high volume stuff (ie mic'ing guitar amps etc.)

a good cheap one is the Snowball by Blue and the extra benefit is you can just plug it in through usb as opposed to having to buy an interface with basically any other mic.

#16 Posted by Chtasm (455 posts) -
#17 Edited by charlie_victor_bravo (1047 posts) -

@bprjctx said:

Just one thing, XLR mics might not be the best option for me, because i would also have to get a mixer right?

Or is there some kind of USB Adaptor?

XLR mics usually require 48V phantom power, which makes them sound more manly but makes them require external source of power (like a mixer).

There are USB adaptors and Firewire versions as well. These are "audio interfaces" and range from adapter stick types to full blown mixer boards.

#18 Posted by Branthog (5583 posts) -

Your absolute best choice is the Heil PR-40, but it will cost you a few hundred dollars and then you'll still have to buy a popscreen, arm, and spider.

If you're looking for affordable, but decent quality, you could go with a Blue Yeti or Audio Technica 2020. Generally, you want to avoid USB mics and USB headphones, but the Blue Yeti has a pretty good reputation and should put you ahead of about 95% of everyone else creating content on youtube.

Over time, you will probably want to get a mixing board and learn how to use it. I wouldn't do all this at once, though. Start with a good mic (you'll surely find other uses for it in the future, anyway). Once you've used it long enough, you'll get an idea of what is lacking in your production and what you want to do next. Maybe your next step won't even be a mixing board. You might find out that what you really need is to invest in sound dampening wall material for your recording room, next.

#19 Edited by beardfish (113 posts) -

People here that are recommending XLR mics / mics that require phantom power should note that having an expensive microphone with a crappy pre-amp completely defeats the purpose.

Start with a good pre-amp, or at least A pre-amp. You'll find that you can get a lot more usable gain. You want to be able to turn up the gain knob without introducing a ton of noise into the recording

If your sound card has a line level input (not a microphone input as that will add noise into the equation) - you can go for a presonus or an ART, Rane, Grace, etc. cheap pre-amp. If your sound card is terrible, then you will likely need an external audio interface to handle the a/d conversion.

Only then should you look into reasonable microphones. There's a reason why SM57's, SM58's, MXL67's, studio projects mics, have all been mainstays for cheap recording for a long time.

go to sweetwater.com and price a microphone and pre-amp combo out

now

Those USB mics from reputable companies like RODE and Blue don't sound like a bad idea now do they?

#20 Edited by charlie_victor_bravo (1047 posts) -

Hmm. Things are complicated. Maybe somebody should try summon @vinny -spell?

I am also looking into buying a better mic, and I am approaching this from the angles "What kind of mic is best for the way I work (=large diaphragm condenser)" and "If I get tried of the whole thing, what kind of resale potential it has (XLR mic can be used in more situations and one with good brand name holds value better)".

#21 Posted by beardfish (113 posts) -

@charlie_victor_bravo:

"What kind of mic is best for the way I work"Because you're recording next to a computer you are going to pick up noises you didn't even know existed, this is why you should try to avoid a condenser mic and go for a dynamic. The next problem posed is that a dynamic microphone requires a decent amount of gain to make a good audible recording - this requires a good pre-amp (which will add to your cost, even more so if you need an audio interface for that preamp to get it into your computer).

Overall I would recommend going for a usb dynamic microphone like the RODE podcaster.

"If I get tried of the whole thing, what kind of resale potential it has (XLR mic can be used in more situations and one with good brand name holds value better)"

Again, having a microphone with an XLR output means that you're going to need a pre-amp / audio interface to make use of a good proper microphone - thus raising the barrier for entry quite a bit. For resale on a microphone, nobody wants a microphone somebody's gross mouth was on - expect 50-60% resale value max depending on popularity / demand of any particular mic, as well as the condition it's in. If you went this route, you'd also be looking to sell the pre-amp and audio interface if applicable. Cheap pre-amps are a dime a dozen, in excellent condition expect 50% resale if it sells at all.

#22 Edited by BPRJCTX (704 posts) -

For simplicity's sake, you want either a dynamic, or a USB condenser microphone.

Dynamic microphones are what most people picture when they think of a microphone.

This is a Shure SM58, and you can't really go wrong with it. With the right cord, you can plug it straight into your sound card, and provided said sound card isn't an utter piece of shit, you'll get a decent sound out of it. Dynamic microphones require that the sound source be pretty close to the mic itself, so ambient noise like your neighbor's dog will not be much of a concern. You can find a functional (read: not terrible, not great) dynamic mic for $20-$30 if you shop around a bit. (The Shure up there runs closer to $100)

Most of the mics people are suggesting here are USB condenser mics (Samson, Blue.) Condenser mics are "hotter" (they pick up everything) than dynamic mics. They produce better recordings at the cost of being highly susceptible to ambient noise. I've heard that some of the lower quality ones (Blue Snowball, Samson Meteor) can be a bit tinny too.

In the end, the sound you get depends more on your ability to use the mic than the mic itself. If you use Audacity, (you should, it's easily the best free audio software) make sure your levels are set correctly for your normal volume of speech. (The little green input meter at the top should be hovering most of the way to the right when you are speaking, not crammed all the way to the right constantly, nor barely moving or hanging out at the left.)

And yeah, like the guy above me suggested, blanket over your head and the mic isn't a bad idea to eliminate room noise, nor is using some compression to even out your volume. Just be careful not to rub the blanket on the mic while you're recording.

Thanks man, this was a really helpful post, and with all the other posts in this thread, right now, i'm leaning more towards the USB Condenser Mics, because:

One, i don't have a lot of money to spend on a mic, so, getting a good mic, a good mixer, and whatever else i would need to make that work, is just not an option for me right now.

And second, i will be doing some scripted commentaries, but i'll also be doing something along the lines of a Quick Look or a Let's Play, and that wouldn't be easy to set up, or to even work, with a mic really close to my face.

So, on USB Condenser Mics, are Blue and Samson the best options in terms of brands?

And if so, what are the best mics from them, to someone on a budget?

Thanks.

#27 Posted by BPRJCTX (704 posts) -

@mikejflick said:

I don't know, but what I do know is, make sure you buy a wind-shield or a microphone muff to prevent some of the more annoying pops you can get otherwise.

Yeah, i've noticed that, and i'll be ordering one of those along with whatever mic i end up going with.

@szlifier said:

Dynamic compression is VERY important. Make sure to apply it to the recording in post process.

Yeah, i think i have an idea, but i'm not really sure about what Dynamic Compression actually is.

@stonyman65 said:

Shure SM58. It's all you'll ever need.

Yeah but, Mic, mixer, cables, to expensive to even consider.

@casper_ said:

well if you wanna do voice stuff you need a CONDENSER microphone. just make sure you dont get a dynamic mic because they are directional and are used with relatively high volume stuff (ie mic'ing guitar amps etc.)

a good cheap one is the Snowball by Blue and the extra benefit is you can just plug it in through usb as opposed to having to buy an interface with basically any other mic.

Yeah, i'm leaning more towards a good USB Condenser Mic, because, for let's play's, it really wouldn't be confortable to have a mic right on my face.

Right now, i'm trying to decide between the Blue Snowball, good mic, relatively cheap, or the Blue Yeti, better mic overall, but with a bigger price to match...

It seems like the Samson Meteor is also a good option, on the cheap side.

@chtasm said:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00029MTMQ/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_5?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A1TSN35NIS24VZ

Now YOU TOO can slip a microphone underneath your shirt during a live stream!

Hahaha, that really made me laugh man.

#28 Posted by charlie_victor_bravo (1047 posts) -

@bprjctx:

If you are still looking, I made this:

Basically it is pure, simple recording using Blue Spark mic (yes, I went nuts and bought it) connected to Alto S-8 , that is in turn connected to PC. MSI afterburner is used to record the gameplay + game audio + speech simultaneously into a one file.

#29 Posted by BPRJCTX (704 posts) -

@charlie_victor_bravo: Yeah, thanks man, actually, i went ahead with one of the most suggested mics here and aorund youtube, the Blue Yeti.

I just got it yesterday, so i haven't even got it out of the box yet, lol.

But i'll be doing some tests in the next few days, with both audio, and video, as i've also just got my capture card along with the mic, so, when i'm ready to go, i'll post my first video here.

It'll probably be more along the lines of a test /introduction, than anything else, so don't expect too much from it, haha.

Btw, you said you recorded the game and the commentary as one file, does that mean you still have different tracks for the game video, game audio, and commentary audio, or is it just on file, one track?

Cos that wouldn't be good.

@branthog said:

Your absolute best choice is the Heil PR-40, but it will cost you a few hundred dollars and then you'll still have to buy a popscreen, arm, and spider.

If you're looking for affordable, but decent quality, you could go with a Blue Yeti or Audio Technica 2020. Generally, you want to avoid USB mics and USB headphones, but the Blue Yeti has a pretty good reputation and should put you ahead of about 95% of everyone else creating content on youtube.

Over time, you will probably want to get a mixing board and learn how to use it. I wouldn't do all this at once, though. Start with a good mic (you'll surely find other uses for it in the future, anyway). Once you've used it long enough, you'll get an idea of what is lacking in your production and what you want to do next. Maybe your next step won't even be a mixing board. You might find out that what you really need is to invest in sound dampening wall material for your recording room, next.

Yeah, i went with the cheaper and easier option, the Blue Yeti, and i really feel like i'm good to go, i'm not opening up a studio, and i sure as hell don't have the money to spend on that kind of high-end audio equipment.

And yeah, we'll see if this thing gets to a point where i'll want to get better equipment.

Cos, if i ever reach that point, that means this was a success, so here's to spending thousands of dollars on audio and video equipment, cos i'm just swimming in money like Scrooge McDuck!

#30 Posted by charlie_victor_bravo (1047 posts) -

@bprjctx said:

Btw, you said you recorded the game and the commentary as one file, does that mean you still have different tracks for the game video, game audio, and commentary audio, or is it just on file, one track?

Cos that wouldn't be good.

It is one avi-file with video plus game audio and mic mixed together. And yes, it is not good way to do things because you cant make any VO edits afterwards.

#31 Posted by BPRJCTX (704 posts) -

@charlie_victor_bravo:

Yeah, i'm no expert at all, but that's what i thought.

I one way, i guess it's good because you don't have to sync up you commentary with the video, and that can be hard if you don't use tricks like, doing something in the game and saying it out loud as you do it before you actually want to start, so it's easier to sync it up after you're done.

What i'm gonna be doing is, saying "Start", the moment i press start, and then do like 10 to 20 seconds of moving up and down in the main menu, as i say the words "up" and "down".

I saw that in a youtube video, and that seems like a good way to save yourself some trouble, but you've been doing this a lot longer than me, so, if you have a better idea on how to do that, let me know.