How to choose the best microphone for your voice recording?
Challenge. That’s what you feel when faced with a choice of microphone for creating your synthetic voice. Among too many options, you feel lost. What if there were simple principles you could use to make this decision in 3 minutes?
You know where this post is going! There are simple principles you can use to guide your choice of microphone. At TheVoiceKeeper we’ve been working with voice technology for more than a decade. We amassed a wealth of knowledge and, we’ll be happy to share what we learned about microphone choices.
But first…why is this questions important?
What is a microphone for?
It might seem a simple question. The microphone is responsible for capturing the sound of your voice, so that it can be converted into digital bytes.
The accuracy of the conversion rate is what decides about the quality of your voice. Compare it to the concept of resolution in photography. With a low resolution your picture will come out grainy, with a high resolution it will be more accurate.
It’s the same with conversion rate in voice recording. The higher the conversion, the more accurately the recording reflects your real voice.
You don’t want your voice to come out “grainy” like an old picture, right?
Already have a good microphone?
Head to TheVoiceKeeper app to create your personalized voice!
How to choose a microphone?
If you’re new to the topic of audio recordings and start reading about microphone parameters…Chances are, you’ll feel lost.
Deciding on the right tool can seem so complex, that you might be tempted to drop it entirely, and rely on your built-in computer microphone. This would be detrimental to the quality of your synthetic voice.
Luckily, today, we don’t need to buy ultra-expensive, professional microphones. However, we still need to buy wisely.
Two basic rules for microphone selection
Firstly, if you don’t have patience to read the rest of this post, we can summarize the core rules in just two lines.
- Never user your laptop’s built-in microphone.
- Get a ~$40 USB, headset microphone from an established brand.
And now, for the details.
Three recommended microphones
Before we move on to the general principles of microphone choice, we’ll start with three more specific recommendations.
These are not affiliate links, we make no profit form these suggestions. It’s purely based on our experience and the results we achieved in the last decade of creating personalized synthetic voices.
Sennhesier SC260/230 — the safest choice
It falls on a slightly more expensive side, but this is the best microphone we’ve ever used. It helped us create many amazing voices!
Sennhesier SC260/230 is a heavy-duty microphone, designed for a demanding call center scenario. It’s also the same microphone we used to create voices during the expo we mentioned above. The results were fantastic in spite of the surrounding noise!
Note: There is no need to buy the CTRL or II sub models.
Sennheiser PC-8 — A cheaper alternative
Similar results to those of Sennheiser SC260/30 can be achieved with a cheaper Sennheiser microphone, the PC-8.
What you waive here is the microphone’s physical durability—it can feel more fragile.
We feel the same regarding Logitech headsets. They gave us good results, but they were less durable.
Microsoft LifeChat LX 3000 & 6000 — The runner-ups
We recommend to stick to the business line, and stay away from gaming series.
A more detailed look at microphone choice
Perhaps none of the microphones listed above are available where you are. Or, you’ve read different advice before, and already bought another one. The guide below will help you verify if the microphone you chose is appropriate for the task at hand.
We keep stressing the choice of microphone, and there are good reasons for it. As for other considerations—noise level, echos, or tuning—with the technology we use at TheVoiceKeeper these are much less critical.
Following these simple recommendations below will ensure the time you spend recording isn’t wasted.
Headset microphone is your safest choice
We recommend headset microphones since they are a safe choice. You can almost make no mistakes when using them. And, if you pick one from a well-established brand, headset mics can do highest quality work.
Are there any specific directions on how to use them? Not really. Just place the mouthpiece close to your mouth. Don’t think about it too much, the distance should feel natural.
Why do we trust headsets?
Headset microphones have been used in noisy call centres for decades. Because of that, many them have very good noise and echo cancellation features.
Even among the noise of the ASHA 2019 expo—with over 600 people around!— we managed to create high quality voices. We used one of our favorite brands (more below), and the microphones simply canceled the surrounding noise.
Which microphones we don’t recommend?
1. Microphones that are far from your mouth
We don’t recommend microphones that are placed far from your mouth. Even if they are of high quality, expensive, or from a well-known brand.
At TheVoiceKeeper, we’ve received many sub-optimal recordings and synthetic voices created with such microphones. Remember, expensive doesn’t equal best-suited for the task at hand!
Why? The reason is that it typically takes more specialized knowledge to configure them properly and position them correctly. This just adds time and complication to the whole process!
Another con of those is that they’re more sensitive to echos. And, echos are very common when you record your voice in a home environment, which is when most of TheVoiceKeeper’s users record.
Conclusion? Try to avoid the snowballs, the goosenecks, and other such types.
If we were to rephrase this rule, we’d say: If you have to google what the microphone’s name means, it’s probably not the right choice!
So, if you thought “What on earth is a gooseneck microphone?” when you read the sentence before, you shouldn’t buy one!
2. Laptop microphones
We don’t need to say it again, do we? Don’t use your laptop’s microphone.
Well, you could use it if you are just experimenting with or technology. Or, if you have a high-quality laptop with a perfect microphone array. But, since those are very rare we’d stick to the general rule that laptop mics are a no-no. So are the microphones of webcams.
3. Analog microphones
Don’t use analog microphones, the ones that connect to the 3.5 mm computer jack. While many of them are expensive and can seem to be good, we tend to get mixed results using them. Better stay away!
That’s pretty much it!
Three top microphone choices, and three types of microphones to avoid. Now you have all the confidence you need to take the next step.
Ready to record?
Head the TheVoiceKeeper app and start creating your personalized voice.
Cover photo by Petr Macháček on Unsplash