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Headsets with mic ($100-$200)?, Are the microphones any good?
toronado455
post May 1 2013, 19:08
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I've been considering getting a headset (headphones with built-in mic) for recording voice for a podcast. But wondering if the microphones on the ones in my price range ($100-$200) are any good.

All of the ones I've seen say something like "inline mic for answering calls on your iPhone" which makes me think the mic must really poor. If the microphones are only going to make my voice sound as good as a phone, then I don't see the point. I'd rather spend the money on a good set of headphones without the mic, and either use the built-in mic on the MacBook Pro, or get a separate mic.

But if any headsets (with mic) in my price range have a mic that is sufficient for recording voice, then I'd be interested in that. I don't need audiophile quality voice recording for this application, because it just needs to be good enough for a podcast. But I don't want horrible quality either.
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Propheticus
post May 1 2013, 19:55
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I can only speak out of my own experience: The Sennheiser PC 360 G4me I'm using has a pretty good mic. Several reviews list it's mic as a pro as well. I paid around 100 euros for it, don't know how much they charge you in dollars though.
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DVDdoug
post May 1 2013, 20:27
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There are some broadcast quality headset mics, but most "computer mics" or "gaming mics" are not that good.

If you want good quality and you don't really need the mic attatched to your head, you are probably better off with "studio style" USB condenser mic. These usually start at about $100 USD and go up to around $250. An example is the AT2020 USB. Some of these (such as the Blue Yeti) have a built-in headphone jack (for analog headphones) and allow zero-latency monitoring.

QUOTE
I'd rather spend the money on a good set of headphones without the mic,...
Good headphones aren't going to make your podcast sound better. wink.gif I'd put your money into the microphone.

P.S.
With a studio style mic that's not super-close to your mouth, room noise and acoustics are bigger factors. If you have excessive acoustic background noise, a headset mic would be better because it gives you a better signal-to-noise ratio.

P.P.S.
Most broadcast headsets have a microphone with a low-impedance balanced XLR connection that won't interface properly with a consumer soundcard.

This post has been edited by DVDdoug: May 1 2013, 20:48
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markanini
post May 1 2013, 22:11
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Dynamic stage mics can sound great for podcasts, arent as room dependent, and inexpensive, like the Shure SM58.
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toronado455
post May 1 2013, 23:08
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QUOTE (DVDdoug @ May 1 2013, 12:27) *
There are some broadcast quality headset mics, but most "computer mics" or "gaming mics" are not that good.

If you want good quality and you don't really need the mic attatched to your head, you are probably better off with "studio style" USB condenser mic. These usually start at about $100 USD and go up to around $250. An example is the AT2020 USB. Some of these (such as the Blue Yeti) have a built-in headphone jack (for analog headphones) and allow zero-latency monitoring.

QUOTE
I'd rather spend the money on a good set of headphones without the mic,...
Good headphones aren't going to make your podcast sound better. wink.gif I'd put your money into the microphone.

P.S.
With a studio style mic that's not super-close to your mouth, room noise and acoustics are bigger factors. If you have excessive acoustic background noise, a headset mic would be better because it gives you a better signal-to-noise ratio.

P.P.S.
Most broadcast headsets have a microphone with a low-impedance balanced XLR connection that won't interface properly with a consumer soundcard.


Thanks for the info. I like the idea of the studio style mic. This will be used with the MacBook Pro without an external mixer. So does that mean I will want to get a mic with USB? Could I get away with the Behringer C-1U?

Is it possible to get the mic, a mic stand (probably a table top stand), and decent headphones, all for <$200? (I need recommendations on the headphones too). How would you recommend I allocate my budget?

This post has been edited by toronado455: May 1 2013, 23:11
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DVDdoug
post May 2 2013, 00:28
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QUOTE
Dynamic stage mics can sound great for podcasts...
True, but performance & "regular" studio mics are low-impedance balanced with XLR connections. They don't interface properly with the high impedance unbalanced input on a consumer soundcard. (The SM57/58 is a fine mic. It's the most popular mic of all time and it will last a lifetime! )

QUOTE
...arent as room dependent
Most performance & studio mics are directional, but they all pick-up ambient noise and room reflections.

QUOTE
So does that mean I will want to get a mic with USB?
Yes. A USB mic basically has a soundcard built-in. That will save you some money. Otherwise, with any performance/studio mic, you'll need a USB audio interface with the proper "pro" mic input (because of the low-impedance balanced connection).

You can get a little "USB adapter" from Shure or Blue, but they cost $50 - $100 USD. You can also get USB interfaces with mic inputs starting at around $100 and they go way up from there. And, it's more wiring & "stuff" to mess with.

The biggest downside to a USB mic is that it's nearly impossible to record with more than one mic at a time. And, you can't use it live with a mixer or PA system.

QUOTE
Could I get away with the Behringer C-1U?
I don't know much about that particular mic, but it's exactly the type of mic I'm recommending.

QUOTE
...and decent headphones, all for <$200?
If you just need the headphones for monitoring yourself while recording, I wouldn't worry about the sound quality at all.

If you want to buy headphones (or speakers) for listening and you want good sound quality, I always recommend that you go to the store and listen before buying. Headphone specs don't tell you much, and personal opinions & preferences vary.

You don't need to spend this much, but I've got a pair of Sennheiser HD-280s (about $100). It has a reputation for being one of the best sounding in its price range, and they are sealed/isolated. I'm not saying that's the best choice in that price range, because I don't know... But, it's not a bad choice.

For mixing or other sound production the pros always recommend monitors, not headphones. (It's normal for the artist/performer to monitor with headphones while recording.)

If you search this forum, you can find several posts with headphone recommendations. GoodCans.com has recommendations in various price ranges with a minimum of audiophile nonsense. (But, they only recommend stuff that they sell.)

This post has been edited by DVDdoug: May 2 2013, 00:30
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toronado455
post May 2 2013, 02:13
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DVDdoug, thanks again for the great info. Do the ear cushion/pads on the HD-280 twist off to remove them? (is the "HD-280 Pro" the same?)

This post has been edited by toronado455: May 2 2013, 02:14
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markanini
post May 2 2013, 03:16
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There are now inexpensive XLR to USB interfaces. Also I just remembered there are dynamic USB-mics avaliable, Audio Technica ATR2100-USB is one. Recordinghacks.com is a good resource to check out. For headphone I'd recommend Superlux HD669F, excellent monitor headphones for cheap. Spend the rest on a desk boom arm.

This post has been edited by markanini: May 2 2013, 03:28
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MikeFord
post May 2 2013, 07:52
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When you say voice and podcast, are you singing or spoken word? Making a rant reply or something with artistic intent?

Headsets make compromises for utility over sound unless you spend a LOT. Many good ones have no SQ and focus solely on intelligible communications, ie may sound harsh, but the words are clear. I suggest picking a set of headphones you like separately from the microphone. Cheapest good microphone I've seen is the Behringer 8500 essentially a copy of the Shure SM58.
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Brand
post May 2 2013, 11:01
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The main advantage of a headset is that the mic is always close to your mouth, even when moving around etc. So it will typically capture your voice better than a computer desk mic, which will also pick up more room noise and table/keyboard noise.
The quality of the mics in headsets varies, so I wouldn't generalize too much. I've heard some decent sounding inexpensive headset mics, from Plantronics, Sennheiser.. but I suppose it depends on what kind of voice quality you're looking for.
EDIT: here's an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siQ_wmX3HIE
The main problem IMO is the occasional wind noise (popping). But it's a headset that goes for $37 (on Amazon), so take it for what it is.

Note that the Macbooks (AFAIK) only have a line in and might not work properly with electret condenser mics, which are typical for computer headsets.

The best in terms of voice quality would be a separate mic on a boom arm, but it will cost more and take up more space.

This post has been edited by Brand: May 2 2013, 11:08
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RonaldDumsfeld
post May 2 2013, 12:10
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fwiw. I use my PC to record what are called shoutcasts. Effectively live audio commentaries for e-sports. A podcast.

When I first started colleagues recommended a headset. Specifically a model from Steelseries which cost me 75 UK pounds. It turned out to be rubbish. The USB software was intrusive, the mic sounded tinny and surprisingly vulnerable to placement (it twisted easily), headphone sound quality was comparable to dedicated headphones costing less than half as much and since, like most similar models, it used a electret condenser mic it required 5V power via the ring contact on a 3.5mm TRS plug, which was not always convenient.

So now I use a regular pair of quality tracking cans (Sennhiesser HD 25-1 11) and a low cost Chinese knock off studio condenser mic (MXL V67 currently $100 on amazon) mounted on a cheap gooseneck stand from Maplins. It is plugged into an audio interface (MOTU Ultralite or the less expensive but still excellent M-Audio Fast Track Pro).

Now I sound like I'm reading the news on the BBC rather than Bugs Bunny on helium.

If you don't already own a dedicated audio interface (recommended btw) then a USB mic is, as others have already suggested, is the way to go. Pop filters are cheap or you could make one yourself.
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toronado455
post May 2 2013, 20:26
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QUOTE (MikeFord @ May 1 2013, 23:52) *
When you say voice and podcast, are you singing or spoken word? Making a rant reply or something with artistic intent?
Voice acting. Artistic intent, but not singing.

I'm really liking the idea of the USB studio style mic on a boom arm.

Here's what I'd like to get:

1. Table top mic stand with weighted base and height adjustment, and adjustable-length boom arm
2. USB studio style mic
3. Headphones (wired w/3.5mm plug)

If I can figure out a way to get all of that for $200 I'd be happy. I'd like to order everything from B&H.

This post has been edited by toronado455: May 2 2013, 20:30
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MikeFord
post May 3 2013, 01:47
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QUOTE (toronado455 @ May 2 2013, 12:26) *
QUOTE (MikeFord @ May 1 2013, 23:52) *
When you say voice and podcast, are you singing or spoken word? Making a rant reply or something with artistic intent?
Voice acting. Artistic intent, but not singing.

I'm really liking the idea of the USB studio style mic on a boom arm.

Here's what I'd like to get:

1. Table top mic stand with weighted base and height adjustment, and adjustable-length boom arm
2. USB studio style mic
3. Headphones (wired w/3.5mm plug)

If I can figure out a way to get all of that for $200 I'd be happy. I'd like to order everything from B&H.

You don't have a pair of headphones? They don't need to be anything special from what you say you plan to do, so any you like should be fine. On the cheap end I like the Sennheiser CX200, around $15 shipped when on sale.

My preference would be a good microphone, XLR cable, and a separate input device, Behringer seems the cheapest good brand.

Stand you can get from any source, they are cheap until you get fairly fancy.

Plenty of choices should come in under $200, better quality and more versatile input devices might be better sourced used.
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toronado455
post May 3 2013, 07:25
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Thanks for all the responses. I've decided on the headphones and mic stand. Now I just need to choose a mic. Here's my shopping list so far:

Sennheiser HD 429 $54.88
On-Stage - DS7200B Round Base Desktop Microphone Stand with Telescoping Shaft $12.95
On-Stage - MSA7040TB - Telescoping Boom Arm for Microphone Stand $16.95

Subtotal $84.78

That leaves about $100 budget for the mic.

Here are the mics I'm considering at the moment:

Audio-Technica AT2020 USB $98.99
Audio-Technica ATR2500-USB $59.99
Behringer C-1U $54.99

Is monitoring latency going to be a problem with the MacBook Pro? Do I need a mic with the headphone jack on it?

This post has been edited by toronado455: May 3 2013, 07:26
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toronado455
post May 3 2013, 16:37
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Being that I'm concerned monitoring latency may be an issue, I've decided on the Audio-Technica ATR2500-USB microphone which has a headphone jack.

That puts my grand total at $144.77 before any tax or shipping charges, which is pretty much exactly where I wanted to be in my price range. I'd even have a bit left over for a cheap pop filter or shock mount. But I like the idea of a DIY pop filter.

Hopefully this is a better solution than using a <$200 headset. This isn't for professional use, and given the budget, there is no way it could be anyway. But it's just to try out podcasting. Upgrades can always be had if the podcasting goes to a more pro level.

Thanks again for the helpful responses and links. I'm not ordering for a few days yet, so if anyone has any alternate suggestion(s) I'll consider it.

This post has been edited by toronado455: May 3 2013, 16:38
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markanini
post May 3 2013, 17:28
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I think it's well worth spending $5 extra on the headphones for these: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/7539...Ear_Studio.html
The kind of mic boom arm I'd suggest looking in to: http://recordinghacks.com/2012/05/30/micro...m-arm-shootout/
Aside from that I think you're on the right track.
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Dynamic
post May 3 2013, 19:24
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A couple of links that might provide food for thought:

How The Amp Hour Podcast Is Recorded (USA-to-Australia link-up sometimes with remote guests around the world) - via Chris Gammell's Analog Life

The Amp Hour sounds really good compared to a lot of Skyped chats and Google Hangouts other than those in Studio Mode which use CELT (thanks to Mumble's use of CELT and lately Opus/CELT). It's also a fairly quick-to-edit show - they want to get it released and get on with their lives, not spend hours editing the audio and releasing the podcast three days later.

Chris uses the AT2020USB microphone.

At the Australian end, Dave Jones has made home-made spouse-friendly acoustic treatment wall-hangings. He uses a Samson C01U microphone.

There are some other microphone reviews I found in the past on youtube, including classic Shure SM58 and some USB mic reviews by Andy White who I believe makes a marketing podcast from Brighton UK.
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toronado455
post May 4 2013, 06:43
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QUOTE (Dynamic @ May 3 2013, 11:24) *
A couple of links that might provide food for thought:
Thanks. Great videos. I really like the DIY acoustic panels. The rundown on the various mics helps to put things in perspective. Noticed that both guys use shock mounts and pop filters.

Interesting that Chris isn't bothered by the monitoring latency enough to do something to solve it. It would definitely bother me. But I suppose you don't always need to be monitoring while recording. Basically, get everything working and levels set etc, then just remove the headphones, record, and listen to playback afterward.

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toronado455
post May 6 2013, 00:56
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I've never used a mic stand before. I read a review on B&H that said the mic (ATR2500) and the mic stand I'm getting don't work together. How could that be?

Could someone familiar with mic stands and boom arms let me know if the gear I'm buying will work together?

(will the On-Stage MSA7040TB boom arm connect up with the On-Stage DS7200B stand base, and will the mic connect to the boom arm, and do I need any other accessories to make this work aside from what is included?)

Also, should I consider getting one of these kick drum mic stands like the Ultimate Support JS-KD50 Kick Drum/Amp Mic Stand which has an included boom arm (instead of combining the DS7200B base with the MSA7040TB)?

(The guy in this video seems to like the Ultimate Support JS-KD50 and seems to believe it works good as a desktop stand)

This post has been edited by toronado455: May 6 2013, 01:26
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