Are you starting a podcast? Or maybe you want to start a YouTube unboxing channel. Or start livestreaming on Twitch. No matter the avenue, you need to make sure your product is as professional as possible. The most important component of your product that will make you perceived as professional might surprise you.
It’s not the video quality in the case of Twitch, YouTube, and the like. It’s surely not the content if the trending videos on my YouTube feed are any indication.
It’s the audio quality.
This is obvious for podcasts and radio broadcasts, but it’s the case for videos too?
Even on Twitch, YouTube, and social media streaming sites, audio quality is significantly more important than video quality. Video quality has grown exponentially in the past 10 years. Anyone with an iPhone 8 and up can take “pro enough” video.
But audio isn’t quite there yet. We don’t have quality microphones we carry around in our pockets. Quality microphones (and supporting gear) cost a whole lotta snapple still (do people still use that expression?). Plus, the difference between OK video and OK audio is vast.
There’s a reason recording studios spend so much time and money acoustically treating their rooms. Pro podcasters are using $5k microphone and some serious outboard gear.
OK, so audio is important. How do you get pro quality audio at home?
I’m going to walk you through some basic gear to solve problems common with at home recording and streaming, and give you
If you already have a $2k audio setup, this article isn’t for you. But if you’re just getting started, or are using a makeshift setup of any kind, keep reading. I’ll show you how to get the best quality audio at an affordable price.
Best Microphones For Podcasting and Live Streaming
As a disclaimer, I would stay away from non-name brands. There are a lot of bad microphones out there, especially on sites like Amazon. They’re cheap in every way, not just price. Go with a brand you recognize, like the ones on this list.
You really do get what you pay for here. The higher up you go, the better your audio quality will be (among other benefits). I made sure to include multiple price points to work with any budget. Be sure to keep reading past the microphones, there’s one other mic related item you shouldn’t go without!
Blue Yeti USB Microphone
Anything by Blue is high build and audio quality. The Yeti USB mic is this same Blue quality in a mic that plugs directly into your computer. If you don’t have an interface, or want something that’s easy to travel with, a USB mic can be very useful. It has a headphone out for self monitoring and an on board gain control. The mic has a desktop stand and can be mounted to any standard mic stand.
Audio Technica AT2005USBPK Podcasting Microphone
Audio Technica has long been known for their microphone quality. This handy kit includes an adjustable “DJ” style boom mic stand that pro Podcasters (and DJs...) use. You also get a couple goodies like a cable and headphones, but the mic and stand are the real treasures. The Audio-Technica AT2005USBPK microphone can be plugged straight into your computer via USB, but also has an XLR output if you’re using an interface.
Speaking of interfaces....
The Ultimate Podcasting Microphone Setup
The Blue and Audio-Technica microphones are good, and if you don’t have/don’t want to use an interface, they’re great options. In order to elevate the quality of your live streams or podcasts though, you’ll want a more professional microphone setup for podcasting and live streaming.
If you’re ready to take the quality of your product to the next level, here's the set up that will get you there.
The crème da le crème. The industry standard. I saved this microphone for last because it’s really worth saving up for. It’s a little more expensive than the Blue or AT mics, but absolutely worth its weight in gold (or bitcoin? Is that a thing again?).
This is pro level studio microphone that has a wide frequency range, with an added boost in the mid range frequencies that makes your voice more present. It has an “air suspension” internal shock isolation that lets you freely handle the mic without making a bunch of noise.
Coda MB-1 Microphone/Preamp Booster
Most of the consumer or prosumer sound boards and preamps don’t have quite enough volume for the home recorders and podcasters. The microphone itself has very little output so you would normally compensate by adding volume at the preamp level (or computer level if you’re using a USB mic). This inherently creates a lot of noise and lower audio quality.
In studio environments microphones are boosted by expensive preamps. These preamps provide clean gain to boost the volume without noise.
The MB-1 preamp booster does exactly that. It’s a professional grade preamp booster that gives you 25dB of clean gain for your microphone. The MB-1 has a noise rating of –70dB. These two combined give you more than enough volume without the hiss and hum.
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Interface
You have your Shure SM7B microphone and your Coda MB-1 preamp booster, now let’s put that clean and boosted signal through some high quality preamps. Having a preamp isn’t just a couplet or adapter for your mic to get into your computer. It gives you control over your level (no clipping please!) and acts as a preamp giving you better audio quality. The Scarlett series is highly affordable and the 2i2 is perfect if you only have one or two mics. And it’s USB powered so you don’t have to fuss with power cables.
Mic Stands And Accessories For Podcasting And Live Streaming
Ready to get your podcasting and live streaming studio up and running? Don’t forget about these must have accessories!
WBC Canare Star Quad XLR Cable
Something that is constantly overlooked in the audio world is quality cables. You spend a lot of time and money buying a good microphone and interface, but then let the signal pass through cheap cables. These WBC mic cables use Canare 21AWG 40 strand conductor cables and Amphenol connectors to give you the cleanest, lowest impedence signal possible.
Boom Arm Mic Stand
You could use a boom mic stand like you’d use on a stage if you’re a performer. But they’re a little clunky for at home use and there’s a better option anyway. This! It safely mounts onto your desk or table using an adjustable clamp. The boom arm itself is highly adjustable to get your mic in a comfortable and ergonomic spot.
Microphone Isolation Shield
Do your podcasts and live streams sound like you’re recording in a bathroom? Or subway? Even if your room is carpeted and you have some sound absorption, you can still get some echo that lowers the quality of our product. A microphone isolation shield is a cheap way to fix this permanently and give you professional results.
Pro YouTubers use these for video overdubs, pro Podcasters use these for recording at home. You can take this with you when you travel for consistent voice quality. These can even be used for tracking vocals for bands.
With these simple and affordable tools, you can make sure the quality of your voice recordings and live streams are as good as they possibly can be. If this helped you decide on the best microphone setup for live streaming and podcasting, would you share this with a friend who might find this useful?