What Microphone to Use When Recording a Podcast – USB vs XLR


Episode Summary

If you’re looking to start your own podcast, the first thing you would need is a microphone. There are plenty of options out there, so we go over the differences between a USB and an XLR microphone and which ones are better when it comes to podcast recording.

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Episode Transcript

[Nemanja]: You may think starting a podcast is really complicated. The truth is, it’s quite simple. All you need is some basic audio equipment and sometimes you don’t even need that. But let’s say you decided to start recording some interviews and you want to do it the right way. 

The first thing you would need is a microphone. There are plenty out there, so which one do you choose?

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Okay, so first things first. There are a couple of options that you can choose from. The easiest one is getting a USB microphone. A USB microphone is exactly that, a microphone that has a USB output that you can plug directly into your computer. The mic itself contains a pre-amplifier that amplifies the low output microphone signal  and an A/D (Analog to Digital) converter that converts the electrical signal of your voice into binary code that the computer is able to read.

They are simple to use, plug-and-play types of mics that you can use without any hassle. However, in my experience they don’t really sound that good. Especially the Blue Yeti Microphone, I really don’t recommend using that one. But, if you want a good USB microphone, then I’d suggest either Rode NT USB or AudioTechnica ATR2100 which also has an XLR output, meaning you can use it as a standard microphone coupled with an audio interface. So that’s a really good option if you want to upgrade someday to using a mixer and/or an audio interface.

The other way of connecting  a mic  to a computer is actually the  way we do it in audio production, regardless if we’re recording a podcast or recording vocals in the studio. We do that by using XLR microphones. XLR, simply meaning, that the microphone has an XLR output which is a three-pin connector which has been standardized by the Audio Engineering Society as the most common way of connecting mics.

The main difference between these types of mics and the USB mics, is that the XLR microphones don’t have a pre-amplifier built into them or the A/D converter. They are essentially just a microphone. In order to use them, you’d need external equipment to do so. For example,  you can buy a mic pre- amp or a mixer and then a separate a/d and d/a converter or you can buy an audio interface, which is basically all of those things put into one box,together with some other neat features like the headphone amp, for example – if you want to use your headphones,  etc..

Now this is where most people tend to give up. They hear these terms like XLR, preamps, audio interface and they don’t have the energy or the time to learn about all of that. Which is fine, but in the end, it’s really not that complicated and I’m here to walk you through every step of the way, which is why we’re recording these videos.

So if you want to do it the right way, I’d recommend going for the XLR microphone, simply because they sound way better and you can use them to record professional sounding audio, which you can’t really achieve with a USB microphone. Or you can, but to an extent.

There are a couple of types of XLR microphones that you can choose from and we’re going to be covering that in the next video, so make sure you tune in for that.

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