What is a USB microphone?
A USB microphone is actually a stereo packaged in a single device.
In addition to the microphone itself, these types of devices internally include all the electronics necessary to process the analog audio signal ( preamplifier ), convert it to digital ( ADC – digital analog converter) and encode it to send it through the communications bus to the computer. .
One of the advantages of a USB microphone is that you simply have to connect it with a USB cable to the computer , which will recognize it as an audio input device.
The recording is done on the computer, using a recording or sound editing program.
Advantages of USB microphones :
- Easy to use
- Good sound quality
- The USB cable transmits a digital signal, no interference or electronic noise problems.
- Being an ‘ all in one ‘ we do not have as much flexibility as with a traditional sound equipment
- The characteristics of the set are as follows: microphone + preamplifier + analog-digital converter, there is no possibility of changing any of these elements
- To simplify a bit: think that a 100 euro USB microphone will have internally a 50 euro microphone and a 50 euro sound interface
In any case, with a USB microphone you will be able to achieve more than decent sound quality.
If you don’t want to complicate your life, it is an excellent option.
But if you want to go a little further, I recommend you look at the option of using an XLR microphone with a sound interface . It seems a much more complex configuration a priori, but the truth is that it is not. And in the long run it will give you more flexibility.
Recommended USB microphones
Criteria for choosing models:
- Sound quality, especially focusing on voice recording
- Good value for money
- Ease of use and additional features
- That can be placed on an arm, articulated stand or independent mic stand
All these microphones include their own mic stand to place on the table, but to avoid that the microphone picks up small shocks, keyboard, mechanical vibrations … it is preferable to place them on an articulated arm or mic stand that isolates it from the table.
Must-have accessories for studio microphones
There are three very useful accessories for recording studio audio:
- The pop filter
- A damping system (anti shock or spider)
- An articulated boom or microphone stand
The pop filter
Anti-pop is a very important element.
When we speak or sing, some sounds (p, t, b…) are emitted with a jet of air.
The microphone picks up the sound but also receives the jet of air, which moves the diaphragm and will appear as an explosive ‘ pop ‘ in the audio which is very annoying.
The pop filter lets in all sounds but stops or attenuates that airflow.
The most effective pop filters are screen filters, which are placed a few centimeters from the active surface of the microphone.
The foams that are placed on the microphone reduce the effect somewhat but in general the screens work better.
The pop filter also protects the microphone from saliva.
It is possibly the cheapest and most effective accessory of all.
Anti shock – Anti vibration support
Most, if not all, USB microphones include a stand or small desktop tripod to place the microphone on the table.
If the microphone is attached to any rigid element, all the vibrations that this element picks up will be mechanically transmitted to the microphone and will appear as annoying noises in the audio: any blow on the table, the vibration of the keyboard …
The anti shock mount (it is also known as a spider, shock mount …) what it does is that the microphone itself is suspended in some way by means of elastic elements that act as a shock absorber to absorb vibrations and shocks.
Articulating microphone boom / stand
Another of the elements that sooner or later you will end up buying.
The small stand or tripod that comes with USB microphones is fine to start with, but it does have some drawbacks:
- It transmits to the microphone all the vibrations of the table (small bumps, frictions, etc.)
- It forces us to adapt our position with respect to the microphone
- They can get in the way of our movements
We can solve or improve all these problems using an articulated arm.
The articulated arm can be anchored to the table (most include a clamp with a screw to adjust to the thickness of the table) but if possible try to anchor it to another piece of furniture or surface that is not in direct contact with the table. This way you eliminate a lot of vibrations that come from the table.
What articulated support do I choose?
There are thousands of articulated arms, in every price imaginable. In this type of mechanical products, the quality is usually quite proportional to the price.
If you do not want to spend a lot of money, choose a cheap one to start, about 20-30 euros you can find many models. Tonor, Trust Gaming, Neewer .. are brands that have some arms with good value for money.
A leap in quality would be for example the Rode PSA1. Without being a professional range product, the difference in materials and in the arm spring system is noticeable.
Any microphone that includes a standard thread or threaded clip can be mounted. For example it is compatible with the Blue Yeti, with the studio Rode of course … and if the microphone has a strange thread, you would simply have to buy a thread adapter.