Learning to network

December 9, 2006

Choosing the right mike

Filed under: Learning, podcasting, Publishing, Technologies — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 6:28 pm

In my local computer store the other day I was browsing for a stereo headset with a mike. I suddenly realised I was not equipped with enough knowledge to make an informed choice, so held back until doing some research.

My 2.1 speakers kick the music out nicely, and with my little cheapo boundary mike sitting under my screen I can happily skype away to distant friends and colleagues. However, I thought it would be good to be able to switch over to a more private and intimate chat, from time to time, and I am planning on starting to record audio streams ready for podcasting, and didn’t want to pick up so much ambient noise on my tracks.

Fortunately I found some excellent advice on the Web Audio Advisor site. David Caban claims to offer “the best advice on creating web audio for your website” and he certainly has plenty of articles that cover all sorts of aspects of recording. Not only did he answer my immediate questions as well as other sources my research turned up, I am pretty sure I will come back for further advice as I progress into podcast recording.

One of my concerns was about being able to easily switch over from my desk-mounted audio to the gear on the headset. I considered having a 2-way 2-gang stereo audio switchbox, but that was not easy to find without visiting a specialist (and maybe paying specialist prices). Seeing a proliferation of USB headsets (including mike) I thought Plug and Play would be a good alternative – merely inserting the USB connector should make the headset become active, but I was not sure about cutting out the other mike and speakers. More importantly I was concerned about the thought that USB could massively dent the quality. And there I was quite wrong!

All the sites I found agree that USB is more likely to IMPROVE the audio quality than depreciate it, so I might kill two birds with one stone there. I might still need to switch sources in software, between the headset and the desktop, but this is easier than buying switchboxes and running wires around the place.

The only downside is that the only cheap wifi-skype phone handset I have found so far only accepts audio jack connections for the headset – but I am sure that is a market that will develop more before I actually decide to buy one of them.

OK, I will admit that I still haven’t found a good answer to the other thing I thought of in the shop – how important is a fluffy baffle on modern microphones? But seeing as I am currently looking in the €30 to €60 range, I doubt the mike in question would be of high enough quality for it to matter.

1 Comment »

  1. The article http://distlib.blogs.com/distlib/2006/07/how_important_i.html mentions a “fancy” mike and discusses some points that might be worth considering further down the line. Also, at the end of the day, the Samson C01U they review retails well under €100 so its not like its megabucks.

    Comment by artemgy — December 9, 2006 @ 6:57 pm

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