You’re going to need a good mic! This doesn’t need to break the bank, but it’s the #1 thing I’d recommend to make sure your show sounds great from day 1. I’ve tried 10+ mics & here are my two favs:
(1) Audio-Technica ATR 2100 ($80-$100) – “best bang-for buck”
These sound great & are what I used for my first 40 interviews. They isolate your voice well to reduce background noise & they come with both USB & XLR connections.
That means you can plug them into your laptop to record with a USB connection into Zoom or Skype. Or you can connect them into a sound interface or portable recorder (see below) if recording in person.
Update: this mic is sometimes sold out, so if unavailable, a similar alternative is the Samson Q2U.
(2) Shure SM7B ($399) – “the best mic in the game”
If you want to take things to another level, this is the mic I upgraded to & wish I had from the start. It’s buttery smooth. Has incredible sound isolation to reduce background noise. And is trusted by pro podcasters & radio stations.
If you think about the time and energy you put into your project, I think it’s a great investment. Optional, but I also use a cloudlifter ($149) that connects my mic to my recorder. This boosts the sound to get the most out of this mic.
Note: this isn’t a USB mic, so you can’t plug it straight into your laptop like the options above. You’ll need a sound interface. I use a Zoom H6 portable recorder (more details below), which allows me to record in person, and remotely by plugging it in via USB to my laptop.
Mic Stand + Accessories
Mic Stand – the ATR2100 already ships with a basic stand which is handy. But it doesn’t really get the mic close to your face. I upgraded to have a better stand that sits on your desk ($39) – which you can see in this episode with Tyler at charity: water.
For recording at home, I have this boom arm ($99) which frees up space on my desk & allows me to get the mic as close as I want.
Foam Cover – if buying the ATR2100, get a $4 foam wind cover to help reduce background noise & dirt on the mic
Tips For Recording
10 secs of silence – as you hit record, capture 10 secs of silence before you start speaking. Your mics will pick up any constant background noise that most rooms have. Then in post-production, you can use the 10sec sample to clean out that noise through the rest of your audio.
Mic Technique – learn how to talk into a mic properly. It depends on which mic you have, but for both of the above, you want to keep a couple of fists away from the mic. Here’s a 4min video that shows you the difference between a few popular mics. Option (2) in the video is the Shure mic above which is how you’ll want to talk into these mics.
Zoom H6 Portable Recorder ($299) – this is the portable recorder that I record most of my podcasts on. I can plug in up to 4 mics for 4 guests. It records onto an SD card like a charm.
I also like that it gets the laptop out of the way so we can record a convo without any distractions. For remote interviews, you can also use this device as a sound interface into your laptop. For example, I plug the Shure mic into this device, which then connects to my laptop.
SD Cards – I use these for video (higher speed, more space) and these for audio (you want high quality, reliable and enough space, H6 takes up to 128GB)
If you have a question, feel free to ping me on Twitter (@bzaidi)