A few of our clients pinged us about what microphones I’d recommend using for new podcasts in 2022. While I’m a little bit of a microphone snob—probably from my years in public radio—I think there are more, better options than ever.
In general, I often recommend folks check out Marco Arment’s microphone mega-review. However, if you want to know more about the microphones I’ve personally used for my own shows and for our podcast production clients, keep reading…
If you’re like most of our podcasting clients — high-quality microphones in somewhat noisy environments
If you’re not in a soundproof studio—and that fits for most of us working from home these days—you don’t have to take your high-end microphone into a closet or a pillow fort. Just use public radio’s best practices for field recordings:
- Audio-Technica AT875R Line/Gradient Shotgun Condenser Microphone — This is the “short shotgun” microphone I use on my own recordings (including Search and Replace), and it’s been reliable on my desk and in the field for over five years. Position yourself about 12-18 inches away, and it’ll practically ignore every sound from the sides and the back. You’ll need phantom power into your device from an adapter like the Shure X2u, and either an insulated desk stand or a shock mount.
- Shure BETA 87A Supercardioid Single-Element Vocal Condenser Microphone— If you’re in a very quiet space (but not fully soundproofed), you can upgrade to my favorite vocal microphone. Like most Shure products, it’s great at lots of things and nearly indestructible. It will pick up lots more ambient sound than a shotgun microphone, but you’ll get a little smoother sound in return.
If money’s no object and you’ve got a nearly soundproof space
- Shure SM7B Vocal Dynamic Microphone — I’ve used some version of this microphone in every professional studio I’ve ever worked in. It’s the gold standard for talk radio, but it picks up tons of ambient sound, so it’s only worth the upgrade if you have really great soundproofing in your space. (It has a little USB cousin that promises some ambient filtering, but I haven’t tried it yet.)
- Electro-Voice RE20 Broadcast Announcer — If you want to go full-throttle, shock-jock style, the RE20 brings out rich tones you never knew your voice had, especially if you run it through some compression. It will also pick up sound from three houses over, so you really need that professional space or a mighty pillow fort to get the most out of it.
Note that for both of these options, you’ll need a strong preamplifier — the Shure X2u can handle these, but you may prefer more subtle gain controls from something like a Scarlett.
If you want the least expensive option with the best sound for the money
- Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB Cardioid Dynamic Microphone — You can plug this directly into your computer and get rolling for under $100. I’ve recommended this microphone to clients who’ve loved it, and with a little bit of post-production processing, few listeners will notice that it’s not one of the higher-end options above. You will have to learn to stay close on the mic, though. If you veer too far away, you’ll drop out quickly.
- Pyle-Pro PDMIC58 — I’ve used this microphone for field recordings on location when I need to record 5-8 panelists at once and I’m on a budget. It’s a knockoff of the legendary Shure SM58, but Amazon will sell you two of these for about twenty bucks. So when a panelist spills coffee all over it, you won’t get too upset. (It will probably even still work, like mine did.) (You’ll still need an adapter for recording to a computer or a mobile device.)
And here are a few that often get recommended, but I personally avoid
- Blue Yeti & Blue Snowball — I own both of these, but almost never use them. They require a lot of fiddling to get a consistent sound, and our clients often don’t have the time or patience to learn how to set their space up just right.
- Other Big Condenser Microphones with Shiny Grills — I know they look cool in YouTube videos, but you’re gonna be fussing with these for days and your audio will still pick up conversations from neighbors down the street.
[Note: Those are affiliate links to Amazon that generate a little revenue for our team, but you can usually find any of these devices at your favorite local music shop.]