16th March, 2017
Continuing the series of articles exploring the creative process (which started with an article about starting creative projects), I wanted to share some more tips on audio projects and how the most expensive microphone might not be the right one for you.
If it isn't clear by now; I love audio to an almost nostalgic extent. The power of audio to take your mind to fantastic places and stir emotions is unsurpassed.
Audio is also a lot easier to work with than video, put simply; it takes less effort to get it good. You have one less medium to worry about and as a creator that can be very reassuring.
Finally, it demands a lot less of your audience. Unlike video which is fighting for your attention; audio can compliment whatever else you want to do with your time, whether it's going to the gym, cleaning the house or driving to work, a good audiobook or podcast is the perfect companion to so many of life's activities.
So if you want to tell a story, motivate people to join your cause or share some earth shattering news then you might think you would need an expensive, professional microphone. Well that's not the case, read on to find out why you don't need a lot of money to make an impact with audio.
In a future article we will talk more about how different situations and locations will have an impact on the type of microphone you want to bring and the sort of setup that you will need to get the best results, but for now lets have a look (and listen) to the microphones I use, how good they are and which ones could be right for you.
Have a listen to the audio accompaniment below to hear samples of and descriptions of the microphones.
My most commonly used microphone is a desktop microphone that just plugs into your computer's USB port. The particular one I use is the Blue Yeti and this is great if you're making a podcast, recording an audiobook or doing some voice-over on a video. This microphone has a lot of different settings and features. For example it allows a person to sit in front of the microphone and record themselves, but if you have an interview subject sitting across from you then with a simple flick of a switch you can record both people at the same time. However, this microphone is a bit pricey at £120 considering its age and it certainly isn't portable.
The next microphone is the RØDE Reporter and as the name suggests it is the kind of microphone you would typically see a television or radio reporter holding whilst giving a report or interviewing a subject. Again, this is another premium quality and premium priced microphone at about £130. This microphone cannot plug directly into your computer and requires further equipment for the actual recording. This obviously increases the price and the amount of knowledge required to use it.
RØDE VideoMic Me
The RØDE VideoMic Me is the microphone that I carry around in my bag. It is a little shotgun microphone which plugs into the headphone jack of my mobile and really increased the audio quality of the videos I record as well as being a great little microphone for just doing some narration. It is very good at capturing sound directly in front of it and excluding most of the sound from other directions. For this reason it is not so good for recording interviews as it requires you to direct the microphone to whoever is speaking which can be a little distracting and cumbersome.
The final will cost about £500-£600 to buy and it's really good for picking up the sound of your voice in many directions and with the addition of a cheaper windsock (or even just one of the socks from your drawers) it can work great in many different conditions.
I am, of course, talking about the microphone attached to our smartphones.
With product presentations generally showing off how good the cameras are, behind-the-scenes the microphones have been getting steadily better to the point where I actually feel comfortable recommending using a smartphone microphone for some audio projects. If you want to start an audio blog or get a quick interview done with somebody then the sound quality of these microphones is great (as you would have heard in the audio accompaniment to this article). Only an audio connoisseur would be able to notice a difference between some of the more expensive, specialist microphones and the one located on your phone.
So if the fear of having to buy some new expensive, unwieldy and complicated audio recording equipment is putting you off then don't worry. The most expensive microphone you will ever own is probably in your pocket right now, waiting for you to use it on your next audio project.