Entry level Microphones for podcasting

Everywhere I read about entry level podcast microphones, two models come highly recommended: Audio-Technica ATR2100 and Samson Q2U

However these are really difficult to find (online and in store).

What other great options are out there for a similar price and quality?

Thanks!!

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I have the Shure SM48 and have been happy with it. Use it mostly for calls frankly but it’s nice and folks seem to appreciate the better sound. It’s about $40 but you need an XLR interface (I have the cheap Behringer one and that works perfectly fine).

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Marco Arment (Overcast app) did a big comparison of mics a while back, and updated it a few months ago

https://marco.org/podcasting-microphones

Wirecutter and other reviews have focused on the $150 Blue Microphones Yeti USB mic as best for the price. It too is sold out in most places, however. (And when not in demand because everybody’s stuck at home you’d be able to occasionally get it on sale for around $90)

In the $100-$230 range take a look at Rode Procaster, Rode NT-USB, and Audio-Technica AT2035PK

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The ATR was updated with a newer model that has USB C connectivity. I found it on Amazon and purchased it recently. Here’s the link. Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB… https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07ZPBFVKK?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share

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Thank you all.

I should’ve said I would prefer a USB one so I don’t need additional gear.

It looks like even the ATR2100x is sold out everywhere :frowning:

Will check the other options mentioned here, and please keep them coming :grinning:

I’ve got the Rode Podcaster which I use to record my podcast, Keep Practising. It’s fine but not as good as I had hoped. Now I’m tempted to get an Audio Technica ATR-2100X once it is actually in-stock and available.

I have the ATR-2100 - I’ve found it great. I have a Micro Center near me and they have a couple in stock of both the ATR2100 and [ATR2100X]

My sense from this wonderful summary and from a search trying to keep at a certain budget level is that choosing anything under $100 is making a compromise either on the mechanical integrity of the components or on the quality of the sound under various conditions (or both).

Somewhat tangentially to this thread, I am looking to up my screen casting presence during the picture-in-a-picture mode. I’m particularly interested here in systems that will keep me from having to wearing a headset or from having to show a mic in my face. So, I guess that I am going for the “overhead boom” type system. It seems that the ATR2100x can be a good entry level without the initial need for XLR yet allowing the future possibility of expanding to XLR. The two sample voice prints for this system on the reference site (with USB versus XLR) were not noticeably different to me.

As I am narrowing to this as my choice, I’d appreciate any feedback on the use-case that I have … to suspend the mic as a boom mic out of the picture during screen casting.

Not from what I see on Amazon here or here.


JJW

You can get outstanding results with a $100 mic and proper sound insulation/mic placement/voice technique and with post-processing (eg EQ, gate, limiter, compression, de-essing - to sweeten audio, remove background noise, make audio levels consistent, etc). (I’d also budget a mixer/interface [because I’d probably choose an XLR mic for greater choice and flexibility], a boom and an extra windscreen - but they’re not essential.)

If you’re looking for a simple plug-and-play USB mic you limit your options, and if you don’t consider spending money on eliminating reflections or post-processing you’re going to get inferior results even with $500 mics. There are entire podcasts that go in-depth on podcasting gear, technique and related issues.

If I remember right, StarTalk Radio started out with a $150 Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ USB mic, won an award or two, no one complained about the sound, but then they got the budget to go upscale.

If you’re screencasting with yourself in the picture the boom will be in the picture - you need to be that close. Booms offer flexibility but don’t expect them to work with podcast mics like TV/movie booms do; they need proximity.

Everybody makes a boom (and Chinese manufacturers make cheap knockoffs for a fraction of the price). This article highlights the better recommended models, which will run $100+.

If you’re looking to get a simple USB-based podcasting setup with a boom I think the bang-for-the-buck choice is the $220 Blue Microphones Yeticaster Studio package, which comes with mic, shockmount, boom arm, C-clamp, PreSonus Studio One Artist DAW software (usually around $99, and included with some audio hardware) offering pro-level mixing capabilities, and
iZotope Ozone Elements (normally $30-70) for EQ and imaging via nearly 100 presets.

It’s very easy to spend 2x-5x as much for better performance, so of course it depends on one’s real needs and one’s budget. I have a lot of experience with audio, not much specifically with podcasting, though. But there are plenty of sites, subreddits and YouTube videos that will offer tons of advice at different price levels.

Ha! This is the limit. I cannot invest time now to post process. I have to invest time to learn how to get the components and my production methods together in a smooth workflow.

Good to know. This is where I need to head first. Get awards (accolades) from the students for the content without the presentation tools getting in the way. Then, up the game by improving the quality of presentation tools and methods (i.e. post processing).

In this regard, I already have an assembly of software recording tools, Camtasia and perhaps Ecamm, lined up. When I would start adding different or yet more software to this mix, I will honestly play around too much and never get my real work done by the time it is due.

I have a BlueParrot 250-xts headset that has improved audio quality on my “live” lectures. I will keep using this even with the new mic because it gives me some freedom to “bounce around” during the live lectures. I just hope to be able to avoid wearing a headset (or having a mic in the picture) for asynchronous videos.

I am actually thinking of the ATR2100x with the boom setup, if for no other reason that it adds the ability to use XLR later.

But, if the mic will be in the picture regardless, I might just step back (figuratively speaking) and focus on the workflow.

In case it matters, I will be using my iSight camera on my MBP until I can get a trusty 1080p webcam (e.g. the Brio). I’ve got iCamera to narrow the FoV and expect Ecamm to help there too.

Certainly, I can crop stuff later in Camtasia, and with some forethought, might be able to arrange the mic on the boom to be “close enough to crop out”. Absent that I post-process to cut off my head, I won’t be able to crop out a headset. (Ha!)


JJW

ps … I’ve decided for the moment to “stay out of the picture” figuratively speaking. I’ll continue with my Blue Parrot headset (or a USB headset that I have as a backup). As I noted, I have to focus on the workflow first, then improve the technology.

In the meantime, I’ve heard good reports about the Blue Yeti products and am now leaning toward something from this set (nano, pro, or X) rather than the ATR mics, if for no other reason than that the desktop form factor appeals more to how I see my workflow developing.

Thanks @bowline again for the reference to the review of the mics. It helped immensely. As an additional reference, I was pointed to Sweetwater and found it also to be a good site to review such components.


JJW

Sweetwater is an awesome store. They’re like the love-child of Apple Store and B&H Photo. I’m a longtime customer.

You won’t find the absolute lowest price with them, but they have fantastic phone support and they often extend warranties or bundle items with music hardware.

When recording with a desktop mic you’ll need to be careful about table noise - a boomed mic with close proximity usually won’t pick up typing sounds, but the Yeti might.

For regular podcasting or video you may outgrow the Yeti, it’s hard to say. During the lockdown I’ve been watching a few Twitch channels of people playing role-playing games and I was a little surprised, though maybe I shouldn’t have been, at how most people were split between using boomed mics… and corded white earbuds (with a few using earbuds just for monitoring)

Sound quality ranges from adequate to good.

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And Sweetwater sends candy with their orders.

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So does B&H. I wonder who came up with it first.

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I agree with the Sweetwater recommendation. I’m a musician so I have a slight bias. Customer support is amazing - and worth a slightly higher price. If I were looking for a particular piece of gear I’d call my representative (Evan Neiman) and get his advice. They are total pros.

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Have a look at some of the Rode or Sennheiser shotgun mics. It’s quite a common use case for Youtubers to have a mic set on an arm above the camera, as close to you as possible but just out of shot. They’re going to be XLR though.