Audio Microphones

Hi there does anyone have any recommendations on microphones that can be used for recording voiceovers/narration for eLearning? All development is done on articulate and captivate at present so we would like something that connects directly to the laptop/pc and something that ideally reduces background noise. any recommendations would be great thanks

45 Replies
David Anderson

This might be another active thread

I just ordered the Shure PG42 (usb). It's available in USB and XLR and goes for under $200. From the demos I've heard it's going to be a popular mic.

Check out this demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlTCCgd8j58

We have a lot of users so hopefully they'll share their favorites and working examples.

Zara Ogden

Hugh Gardner said:

Zara King said:

I have a snow ball and i really like it. I have added a filter to help with noise.

http://www.bluemic.com/snowball/


Did you use the "Pop" filter from Blue, or something else Zara?
No nothing that fancy just a plain black double filter that connects to the base of the mic. My boss baught it so i am not sure where he picked it up.
Gabriele Dovis (italgo)
Zara Ogden

As for editing I have not heard of anything better then Audacity. Once you get use to it it is fairly easy to use. My worst enemy in all recording is the Air System in the building. It causes so much pain. I don't have the guts to ask for a sound booth yet...lol...I want some other toys first...

http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

Gustaf Sylvin

Actually, the mic only half the truth. Most laptops have really lousy soundcards. Buy an extranal one like:

http://line6.com/podstudioux1/

Try to find a condenser shotgun microphone like:

http://rodemic.com/microphone.php?product=NTG-2

It has built in battery which eliminated the need for external mixer table. Also it is super cardiod which makes it perfect in noisy environment.

But of course a small mixer table makes life even easier.

Wayne Vermillion
  • Yeti mic by Blue - Yeti is even better than the very good Snowball, according to the online reviews I read before purchase. Price is now below $100 through B&H Electronics. Pop filter cost about ten dollars.
  • Audacity software (probably the single most-concurred element on this forum.)
  • Home-made desktop recording studio based on the Hogan Port-a-Booth, but my final cost was about USD$25.00. I used a cardboard box, 2" acoustical foam, and duct tape. (Zara, this eliminated my older building's ventilation system noises.) The prototype is on my desk at home, using an old beach towel for baffling; I stapled the towel with 2"-4" loops.

Total cost of all above: ~$125.00. I don't have to leave my cube to record and edit, with results to my ear that are identical to Dell Computers' dedicated, very-high-dollar recording studio and dedicated engineer, where I recorded previous to this project. Bear in mind that the wider the lesson distribution, the more varied the user platforms, so some/many users won't be able to notice any difference once quality is above the minimum.

Leah Hemeon

Hi all,

I'm using a Samson C01U with a homemade pop screen (thanks to Tom for the link on one of his blogs... I'm resharing... http://bit.ly/1b35s ) I wanted to go with the snowball but had some trouble sourcing it in Canada.

I have a Mac which seems to have a pretty good sound card at least for my needs and use Audacity for editing.

I highly recommend a sound dampening booth of some sort as the smallest of noises do tend to get in the way. There are some that you can make for pretty cheap and that's what I did.

I do also recommend recording outside of Articulate (sorry guys). I find it easier to edit directly in Audacity and then export to .wav to import into Articulate rather than try to do it all inside Articulate. Also, sometimes I have to record someone else and it's easier to do with Audacity I find.

Andy Bowyer

On the question of the "internal sound card" issue, try the MicPort Pro from Centrance.

http://www.centrance.com/products/mp/

I just picked one up for myself, and after some minor hoop jumping involving driver installation (...and expansion of my vocabulary with some interesting new swear-phrases...) couldn't be more pleased with the result.

This unit is essentially a pre-amp (with optional phantom power), sound card, headphone monitor, and XLR to USB interface that offers a lot of bang for the buck.

Ron Price

I use the Samson Go Mic sometimes (good, especially if you need to travel) - Pretty cheap - not bad sound.

I love the Yeti, by Blue. . .  It is really nice.  (not as travel friendly - TSA is always curious about it, and it's big) Here is a pic of mine in its on little portable sound booth (cardboard box line with foam)

Jared Cameron

I'm having some trouble convincing my boss to approve the purchase of one of the mics suggested in this blog - the Blue Snowball for example is about € 85 on Amazon. Can anyone give me some solid reasons as to why we should be investing more in one of these Mics? (and what would be the impact of using a cheaper option?)

It's the first time we have added audio to screen captures in Captivate and so I will need to justify the cost!

Thanks in advance

Brian Dusablon

Jared Cameron said:

I'm having some trouble convincing my boss to approve the purchase of one of the mics suggested in this blog - the Blue Snowball for example is about € 85 on Amazon. Can anyone give me some solid reasons as to why we should be investing more in one of these Mics? (and what would be the impact of using a cheaper option?)

It's the first time we have added audio to screen captures in Captivate and so I will need to justify the cost!

Thanks in advance


Jared, the easiest way to get buy-in for one of these is to give them some samples and point out the quality differences. You can find samples at multiple places online, or I'm sure one of the folks here would be happy to share samples. In reality, $100 for a mic that could last a decade or more is a great deal. Poor audio quality in online training is one of my pet peeves. If the audio sucks, your learner will check out on slide 1.

Especially if you have folks that only want to (or only can) develop at their desk, a high quality mic is a must (as well as the accompanying equipment like the padded box, pop screen, etc.).

Brian Allen

Brian Dusablon said:

 Poor audio quality in online training is one of my pet peeves. If the audio sucks, your learner will check out on slide 1. 

Especially if you have folks that only want to (or only can) develop at their desk, a high quality mic is a must (as well as the accompanying equipment like the padded box, pop screen, etc.).


Agree 100% with Brian's comments - if you gather samples include a few examples of "bad" quality voice over to help build your case.  Also agree that $100 is a very good price compared to many audio recording solutions...  It's easy to spend several hundred dollars (apiece) for professional quality mics.

Also, many times folks will be tempted to forgo the expense of a pop screen, but this should be considered essential and will pay for itself many times over with the time it will save you from either re-recording or trying to edit bad recordings full of "pops" and "hisses".

Wayne Vermillion

Jared, what is a good way to make comparative samples available to you? I've got 1st-generation audio and 2nd-gen audio versions of the same lessons. Maybe a couple of slides of each would show the differences. Let me know how you'd like to receive them, as we're behind a firewall.

UPDATED: samples sent via direct email; if no receipt, please advise.

Andy Bowyer

Jared--

Here's a "Mic Shootout" page you may find helpful.  Lots of samples...maybe too many...of really good sounding mics:

http://transom.org/?p=7517

Also, if you want, download my "Narration Tool Kit" for an example of how my ElectroVoice RE20 sounds.  Of course, that mic is a bit cost-prohibitive, and is a dynamic (not condenser.)  Here's the link:

http://www.abvoices.com/elearning-narration-tool-kit/

That's a free download, and you may be able to use it for other things as well.

For what it's worth, the AudioTechnica 2020 gets rave reviews, and it's under $100.  It's a good solid condenser mic, and sounds (I'm told) very nice.  My next studio upgrade will feature the AudioTechnica 2050 (I'm pretty sure that's the one I'm going for...)  It's a bit more pricey, but well worth the investment I'm told by my studio guru.

It may be worth your while to record samples with what you have and then play them side by side with some of the other examples.  Nothing speaks louder (no pun intended) than real-world comparisons.  And I totally agree that poor audio can be an immediate tune-out for learners.

Best of luck.

Will Findlay

I usually use a Zoom H2 Audio Recorder. I find it so much less hassle the way it records to an SD memory card. It is like a digital camera in this respect -- no need to have audio recording software running on a PC/laptop while recording. The drawback is that it is not a condenser mic so it does pick up more ambient noise, but it is just so darn convenient!

I then import the audio file into Audacity (beta version) and chop it up using markers. Then I import the segmented files into Articulate.