USB Microphone Buying Guide | Home Recording 101
Posted by Austin Bazaar on 15th Dec 2014
USB microphones are suitable for a variety of applications, from podcast recording to producing your own instrumental demo tracks. But what makes USB microphones so special, and what is the best USB microphone for your home recording studio? Read on to find out.
Why Buy a USB Microphone?
Improved Audio Quality
Have you ever recorded something using the built-in microphone on your phone or camera and found that the audio sounded warped or distorted? Using a USB microphone is an easy way to improve the quality of your demo tracks, podcasts, voice-overs, lectures, and much more.
USB mics are designed to capture high-quality audio, minimizing background noise so that you can mix and master tracks on your home computer. Many of them are designed with condenser microphone elements that produce warm, rich recordings of vocals and instrumental tracks alike.
For those new to recording or podcasting, USB microphones provide one of the most cost-efficient ways to produce high quality recordings. If you plan on using traditional studio recording microphones, you can't get around the additional expenses of cables, audio interfaces, and in some cases, recording devices.
A USB microphone allows you to transform your computer into the recording device, and many USB recording mics even come with their own audio editing software. There is also lots of free DAW (digital audio workstation) software available that is perfectly sufficient for things like podcasting or recording audio for YouTube videos.
Ease of Use
Most USB microphones are easy to use even if you have limited recording experience. Many models are "plug-and-play," meaning they will be recognized by most operating systems and can be used immediately with little configuration. Having less equipment also makes it easier to take your recording on-the-go.
Home Recording Tips
To conclude, here are some important things to consider when recording at home:
Some USB microphones are compatible only with certain operating systems, and having a low-quality sound card could lead to issues while recording. Before you purchase a USB microphone, be sure that your computer meets the minimum system requirements of that model.
The space you choose to record in will definitely affect the quality of your recordings. For example, audio recorded in a large, empty room can produce an echo effect since the sound is bouncing off all of the walls.
Your recordings will sound best if you have a quiet room to work in. Carpets are helpful if your house has wood or concrete floors, as the material will help absorb sound bouncing off the floors. Positioning the microphone relatively close to your sound source is usually best.
- Pop filter - This handy accessory helps reduce the "pops" that can be heard when you are recording vocals (You typically hear those pops when pronouncing plosive consonants like "P"and "T"). They also protect your microphone from saliva, which can damage or corrode your microphone over time. If you plan on recording vocals, a pop filter is an invaluable accessory.
- Headphones - Although you can play back your audio on monitors or regular computer speakers, this won't give you a full picture of your recording's audio quality. Invest in a decent pair of over-the-ear headphones to monitor both during and after recording.
- Microphone Stand -Since USB microphones are usually placed on desks, the vibrations from computer equipment or even your own movements can sometimes effect the quality of your recordings. If you do not have a steady, vibration free workspace, you may want to use a microphone stand to avoid messy recordings.