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How to choose the best microphone for your voice recording?

How to choose the best microphone for your voice recording?

You might feel overwhelmed because of all the available options in the market.

What if we told you there are a few simple principles you can use to make a decision in 3 minutes?

At The Voice Keeper, we have been working with voice technology for more than a decade. Over the years, we’ve gathered a huge amount of wealth and knowledge, and we’re more than happy to share what we learned about choosing the right microphone.

But first…

Did you know that you probably already have a great microphone and it’s in your pocket?  The iPhone’s microphone is superb and if you record in a quiet room, it will catch 95% of your natural voice.

If you have an iPhone, you can start creating a digital voice right away for free with The Voice Keeper voice banking app.

If you don’t have an iPhone and you don’t want to compromise on 95% of your voice quality, we’ve created a guide to help you to choose the right USB headset to use with your computer or tablet. Read on!

But first…what is a microphone for?

It might seem like a simple question; microphones are 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 the quality of your voice.

Compare it to the concept of resolution in photography; with a low resolution, your picture will come out grainy, and 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 personalised voice!

 


 

How to choose the right microphone in order to create a digital voice?

The two basic rules when it comes to selecting the right microphone include:

  1. Never use your laptop’s built-in microphone.
  2. Get a ~$40 USB, headset microphone from an established brand.

 

And now, for the details.

Three recommended microphones

These are not affiliate links and we do not make any profit from these suggestions. They are purely based on our experience and the results we have achieved in the last decade in creating personalised digital voices.

Sennheiser SC260/230 — the safest choice

Sennheiser SC260/230
SC 230/260 USB
Image from the Sennheiser website.

This one falls on a slightly more expensive side, but in our experience, it is the best microphone we’ve ever used. Over the years, it has helped us create several amazing voices!

Sennheiser SC260/230 is a heavy-duty microphone, designed for busy and demanding call centres. We used this microphone at a busy expo in 2019 and the results were fantastic, despite the surrounding crowd and noise!

Note: There is no need to buy the CTRL or II sub models.

Sennheiser PC-8 — A cheaper alternative

Sennheiser PC-8
Sennheiser PC-8
Image from the Sennheiser website.

Similar results to 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 achieved similar results with the Logitech headsets. They gave us good results, but they were less durable.

Microsoft LifeChat LX 3000 & 6000 — The runner-ups

Microsoft lifechat LX 6000
Microsoft lifechat LX-6000
Image from the Microsoft website

We have also achieved good results with Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000 & 6000.

We recommend sticking to the business line and staying away from the gaming series.

 

A more detailed look at microphone choices

Perhaps none of the microphones listed above are available where you are. Or, you’ve read different advice before, and already own one from another brand. The guide below will help you verify if the microphone you own is appropriate for creating a digital voice.

We want to keep stressing the importance of choosing the right microphone, and there are good reasons for it. As for other considerations—noise level, echos, or tuning—with the technology we use at The Voice Keeper, they are less critical.

 

Following the simple recommendations below, you will ensure the time you spend recording isn’t wasted.

 

A headset microphone is your safest choice

We recommend using headset microphones as they are often the safest choice. You can almost make no mistakes when using them. And, if you pick one from a well-established brand, headset mics can do the 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 of them have very good noise and echo cancellation features.

Even amongst the noise at the ASHA 2019 expo—with over 600 people around us — we managed to create high-quality voices. We used one of our favourite brands and the microphones simply cancelled the surrounding noise.

 

Which microphones we do not 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 The Voice Keeper, 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 specialised knowledge to configure them properly and position them correctly. This just adds time and complication to the whole process!

Another con is that they’re more sensitive to echos. And, echos are very common when you record your voice in a home environment, which is where most of The Voice Keeper 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?” it’s a sign you shouldn’t buy one!

Snowball Mic
Example of a snowball microphone.
Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

2. Laptop microphones

Do we really need to say it again? Don’t use your laptop’s microphone.

Well, you could use it if you are just experimenting with our 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

We don’t recommend using 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 to stay away from them!


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