Best Microphone in 2020 for a Podcast Guest

September 23, 2020
Authored by:
Richard Lau
Featuring:

If you have been invited to be a podcast guest, one of the first questions will be what microphone you have available to you. The sound of your voice and the quality of your audio recording directly affect the podcast audience's ability to hear your message. Not paying attention to the sound different microphones have on your voice recording can have a devastating effect on the final podcast quality. Today we will cover:

  • Dynamic Mic vs Condenser Mic
  • Blue Yeti vs ATR2100x
  • Dynamic Mic vs Audio Panels
  • An Even Cheaper Option

Here is a video where  you can hear the difference between a dynamic microphone and a condenser microphone:

What's the Best Microphone for a Podcast Guest?

As you can see in the video there is a tremendous difference between microphones and choosing the right microphone as a podcast guest is essential and simple. Over the past few months, I have been a podcast guest talking about Logo.com and our logo maker on more than a dozen podcasts. Each podcast is recorded on the platform preferred by each podcast host. Whether this is Zoom, Skype or a web-based recording service, your computer's microphone is of paramount importance.

It is better to buy an external microphone rather than use the microphone built into your webcam or laptop. This makes sense seeing as those are tiny microphones that give a tinny sound to your voice. I didn't understand when I purchased my first external mic because there are two utterly different microphone styles: condenser microphones and dynamic microphones.

The clear choice for a podcast is the dynamic microphone. Don't regret your purchase.

Don't Buy the Blue Yeti as Your First Microphone

I had seen and heard of the Blue Yeti microphone, and it seemed to be well-reviewed. The Blue Yeti is a condenser microphone, very popular and looks great. The build quality is fantastic. I bought one along with a boom arm and started my podcast guest journey using PodcastGuests.com and Matchmaker.fm to find podcasts to appear on. Andrew Alleman from PodcastGuests runs a directory of podcasts and was recently interviewed on our Logo.com blog.

Don't Build Your Own Audio Treatment Panels

At this point, I should talk about my home office, where I record my side of the podcast sessions. Since my days are spent focused on our logo design tool, my home office is functional, not an audio recording studio. It's not fancy, and you can always use these 50 free zoom virtual backgrounds to hide any mess or spruce up your home office. There are no audio panels on the wall, no baffling or other audio treatment effects in the room. Just a standard four-wall room with a thin door, windows and a rug on the floor. This does present a problem. I have had Podcast hosts tell me that the room sound is a bit on the echo-y side. And being that I do not live alone, noises in the house outside of my closed office door drift into the room and are recorded as background noise.

Dynamic Microphones Replace Sound Absorbing Panels

I spent a few hours on YouTube watching videos about building audio panels to absorb echo and background noise. I looked at the various options of purchasing some for a lot of money and making my acoustic panels. I didn't do either option at the end of the day. I decided to see if a change in the microphone I am using could avoid all of that work and expense.  

After joining with InterviewValet.com to get even more places to be a podcast guest on, I learned that there are two types of microphones: condenser microphones and dynamic microphones. A condenser microphone is always actively listening and is very good at picking up all of the sounds occurring in or near the microphone. This is great for an ASMR video recording but not so great if you want the sole sound to be recorded to be your voice.

On the other hand, a dynamic microphone is one that you typically see a singer or speaker using when they are on the stage of a noisy room. The microphone picks up their voice and is not passing through the sounds from the rest of the room. A dynamic microphone does this by having a smaller or tighter "ear," which means that you have to have the microphone much closer to your mouth than when using a condenser microphone.

Mic Placement in Relation to Your Mouth

If you've ever looked at a recording of a radio show host speaking into their microphone, you'll see just how close they are to the microphones' head. Or when you watch a singer on stage, you can see how closely they are holding the microphone to their mouth. It's usually just a few inches. When you are on a video conferencing call with your coworkers, you don't necessarily want to have a microphone in your face. That's where a condenser microphone is instrumental. The mic can sit off the side or out of the web camera shot and still pick up your voice nicely. It's also picking up any background noise, though.

Switch Out Your Condenser Microphone for a Dynamic Microphone

But when you want to make sure that your voice's sound is the top priority, it is worth switching out your condenser microphone for a dynamic microphone. As a podcast guest, you don't choose whether the podcast host will also video record your podcast session. They often do this if they are also publishing the podcast session to their YouTube channel. If you are using a dynamic microphone, the microphone will be extremely close to your mouth and appear in the video recording. Trust me; It's worth the compromise.

As we are a podcast guest, we are looking at this with a budget in mind. Surprisingly, dynamic microphones are not much more expensive than condenser microphones. In fact, some are cheaper.

Pricing in USD in Sept 2020. Go for the $99 Mic!

One of the most popular, if not the most popular, condenser microphones, is the Blue Yeti. One of the most popular dynamic microphones is the Audio-Technica ATR-2100x. Both are available on Amazon. At this point, we could jump into talking about hertz recording levels and other gibberish that quite frankly is unnecessary for a podcast guest to learn about. Does it matter what numbers mean when we just want to listen to the differences? We will know it when we hear it.


Comparing the Blue Yeti vs ATR2100x

Both the Blue Yeti and the Audio-Technica ATR-2100x connect to your computer via USB. You can have both microphones connected to your computer at the same time. Then you can go into the audio/video settings of Zoom or Skype and use the pulldown menu to select which microphone you want the program to be recording from. Thus you can use the condenser microphone during a regular video conference call and then quickly switch to a dynamic microphone when recording as a podcast guest. A straight forward test quickly and dramatically shows the difference between these two microphones. As a podcast guest, the clear choice for your microphone is the Audio-Technica ATR-2100x. It does an incredible job of cutting out the echo from a standard non-treated room. And it does very well in ignoring background noises.

Think about it this way: you're putting time into preparing to be a podcast guest, time and money into finding a podcast to be a guest on, so you need to ensure that the final product is easy to listen to and that your voice is accurately recorded with a deep rich sound.

An Even Cheaper Dynamic Mic Option: Samson Q2U

If you are a podcast host, you could justify spending even more money on more expensive dynamic microphones. As a podcast guest, an entry-level dynamic microphone is more than sufficient. While the cheapest dynamic microphone that is still popular appears to be the Samsung Q2U, I went with the Audio-Technica ATR-2100x after watching hours of YouTube product reviews and seeing that this was a recommendation by professional Podcasters as an entry-level dynamic microphone for people starting their podcasts. If it is good enough for a budding podcast host, it's going to be good enough for you as a podcast guest. But the proof is in the pudding. Really what you want to hear is a side-by-side test of the Blue Yeti condenser microphone versus the Audio-Technica ATR-2100x dynamic microphone. 


The Test & Optimal Distance

To record my voice on these two microphones connected to the same computer, I simply opened up Zoom, created a new call, clicked on record and spoke into the microphone. I switched back-and-forth between the two microphones and then ended the call. Zoom will automatically save the recording to your local computer hard drive. Listening back to the differences in my voice being recorded by the Blue Yeti and the Audio-Technica ATR-2100x clearly shows that the Blue Yeti condenser microphone is picking up the room's echo as well as more of the background noises. The Audio-Technica ATR-2100x, on the other hand, has a deep rich recording of my voice, especially when my mouth is close to the microphone. I think 2 to 3 inches from your mouth is the optimal distance when using the Audio-Technica ATR-2100x dynamic microphone as a podcast guest.

A dynamic mic will try to ignore the background noise, and that's what you need in a live, home-office environment. The ATR2100x is the winner over the Yeti Blue for podcast guests.

The Clear Winner: ATR2100x

So there you have it. From my personal experience as a podcast guest, the microphone to buy is the Audio-Technica ATR-2100x microphone, which connects to your computer with a USB cable. Save yourself the hours of research that I have personally done on your behalf and grab one from Amazon. While you are there, you will want to consider also getting a boom arm. But at the very least, you can now choose the correct microphone to use as a podcast guest. Good luck!

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