Once upon a time, it took a significant amount of audio gear to record anything. However, with the continuing evolution of digital technology, recording audio is easier than ever. It is completely possible to record your own voice with a simple microphone plugged into your computer. Computer microphones for recording vary in function and quality, so you need to spend some time getting familiar with your options and picking the right computer microphone for you.
Decide what type of sound source you will use your microphone with. If you are recording spoken-word vocals, a simple desktop computer microphone or headset microphone will likely get the job done. If you need to record musical instruments, singing vocals or even broadcast-quality spoken vocals, however, you will want to opt for a higher-quality microphone. Computer microphones for recording musical instruments also need to be easily adjustable.
Choose between desktop and headset microphones. If you are recording musical instruments or multiple vocals on one microphone, you will have to opt for the desktop microphone. If you are only recording your own voice, a desktop or headset microphone will work. There are several benefits to headset microphones; they move with your head so that the distance between your mouth and the microphone always stays the same, and they usually have built-in headphones.
Pick between a USB connection and an analog audio connection. USB computer microphones connect to your computer without using your sound card. There may be software you have to install for a USB microphone to work properly. Analog audio connection computer microphones connect directly to your sound card via eighth-inch plugs. Typically a headset microphone will have two plugs – one for the microphone and one for the headphones. Desktop computer microphones have only one plug.
Set your price range. Computer recording microphones can cost less than $10 and well over $100. If you are recording audio for personal use, you can probably go for a cheaper microphone. A higher price tag doesn’t always mean a better microphone, but if you are recording for professional purposes, you should spend the extra cash for a higher-quality microphone.
Check the specifications. For speech purposes, you want your computer microphone to have a flat frequency response between the frequencies of 300 and 4000 hertz. You also most likely need a unidirectional microphone as opposed to an omnidirectional microphone. Unidirectional microphones only pick up sound in front of the microphone, while omnidirectional microphones pick up sound from all directions. For music purposes, you want a microphone that covers as much of the full range of frequencies as possible. Unidirectional and omnidirectional microphones work well for musical sources.
Tips & Warnings
- A microphone with a cardioid pick-up response specification is a type of unidirectional microphone.
- If you'll be recording to your computer, avoid microphones with an XLR connection: They often do not work well with computer sound cards because of impedance differences. In fact, using a low-impedance XLR microphone with your sound card can damage the microphone.
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