See and hear the difference between popular microphones for audio and video podcasting:

I also mentioned the wonderfully versatile Shure A58WS-BLK Foam Windscreen, which works great on many ball-shaped microphones.

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As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.

33 comments on “Podcast mic comparisons – TAP119

  1. I have used the ATR-2100 for the last couple of months. It sounds great and if I actually do ever get out of my little studio, I can still record via USB and still sound decent. The improvements between the ATR-2100 and the Behringer XM1800S I previously used are not so noticeable though, and those were a steal, essentially $12 each in a three pack on Amazon. For low end mics, they’re both good for podcasting though I tend to recommend the 2100 because of its flexibility.

    1. The ATR2100-USB is also okay with some handling. When I compare it to the handling noise of the Nady SP-1, the ATR2100-USB could also seem like an interview mic if you have steady fingers.

  2. Dan says:

    I’ve been thinking about the stereo Giant Squid mic for convention interviews, but I’m worried that the mics will pick up too much room noise. Any thoughts or ideas about that kind of usage?

    1. That’s a great question. They’re condenser mics so will pick up more ambient noise. But you could turn down your recording volume and hold the mics much closer.

      The resulting audio wouldn’t be unusable, but you’d still have a lot of background noise. There’s also a “risk” with giving your interviewee their own mic. This puts them in control and makes the conversation a little harder. If you’re holding an interview mic, like the AT8004L(or better models), then you control the conversation and lead it by pointing the microphone.

  3. Personally, I think that the Behringer C-1U is also a good mic for people who are starting out and really good sound quality for the price.

    1. The problem with the C-1U is that it’s a condenser mic, which will instantly pick up more room noise than a Dynamic mic.

      1. dpeach says:

        Plus the problem with the C-1U is that it is USB only. So you are stuck in the original problem of shelling out lots of money for a mic that limits you to only being able to record one person at a time.

  4. Jim Kerwin says:

    Daniel,

    Regarding the GiantSquid mic — I assume from the price you quoted that you’re talking about the $40 cardioid mono mic, rather than the mic the site recommends as “great for podcasting and interviews,” namely the $75 “omnidirectional mono microphone.” Why would the site recommend the omni over the cardioid?

    Also, a note on the ATR-2100 USB: I just stumbled across a Dave Jackson post in which he wrote that the mic can be used as XLR and USB at the same time. His specific podcasting situation, as I recall, was to record his end of a “double-ender” (XLR to a PDR) while using the same a mic for the Skype conversation (USB to computer). That makes this unit a triple threat.

    Thanks for a very helpful podcast; but this is one that begs to be seen as well as heard. (I thought something was wrong with my new smartphone or the BeyondPod podcast player when you repeated the same phrase four times towards the end. It made perfect sense in the video, though!) Headphones definitely required for full appreciation!

    Jim

    (I apologize if this posts twice. Disqus did something strange the first time I tried to post.)

    1. Eh. Yeah, that spot where I repeated myself on different mics didn’t translate well to audio because I didn’t think to announce the mic I was on. When I realized this, it was far too late to correct.

      Actually, you got the information a little mixed up on the Giant Squid lavs. I bought the Omnidirectional Mono Microphone for $40 + shipping and 90º plug. They also make a Cardioid Mono Microphone for the same price. The Podcasting Omni Stereo Mic is two mono mics running into a stereo connection and it’s $75.

      1. Jim Kerwin says:

        I stand corrected (which is good, because I hope to place an order soon, if GiantSquid will reply to an e-mail query I sent a few days ago). But in a podcasting environment, why omni over cardioid? I can see omni for perhaps a “sound scape” (which I may be doing in Guatemala shortly), but normally wouldn’t a cardioid pattern cut down on unwanted environmental noise?

        1. Video mic needs are very different to studio. With a lav mic, an omnidirectional means you can clip it almost anywhere and it will continue to capture your voice well, even as your turn your head. Cardioid seems better for those people who don’t turn their heads.

          Yes, you’ll pick up more ambiant noise with an omnidirectional condenser mic, but that’s more allowable for video than for audio.

      2. Jim Kerwin says:

        One other item — I was trying to work out the difference between the more expensive AT2005USB (XLR/USB “professional”) and the less expensive ATR2100USB (XLR/USB “consumer”) mics, so I called A-T customer support. Bottom line: other than slight cosmetic differences, the AT2005 has a beefier — and magnetic — on/off switch, whereas the ATR2100 has a mechanical switch which is more likely to add a “click” into a recording when used. That’s it. I’m sold.

        1. Exactly. The internals are the same.

  5. I’m looking to replace my Blue Yeti (the USB only one, not the pro that has XLR as well). I’m wondering if the ATR-2100 would sound just as good as the Yeti plus give me the flexibility to move out to a mixer setup when I decided to.

    1. I think it will. The ATR2100-USB is a dynamic mic and the Yeti is a condenser mic. This means the Yeti picks up more room noise but the ATR2100-USB will focus more on what’s in front of the mic.

      1. Ordered myself the ATR2100-USB (took a bit of wrangling to get it in Canada at a reasonable price). Excited to give it a go!

        1. I look forward to hearing how it works for you! What was the price you ended up paying?

          1. Luckily my brother lives in Orlando and my father is currently down visiting, so I got the Amazon.com price. Any place that would ship it to Canada was charging 70-80 dollars! Just need to wait for my father to come back up with the mic in tow.

  6. Ron Eastwood says:

    Hi Daniel,
    Good info! I have often wondered about the comparative sound quality of a headset mic like you see a pop singer or conference speaker use. It seems like they would be better than any of the others for personal mobility. But what about the sound? Any experience with them? Any chance a vendor would lend you one for a “shootout”?

    1. By “headset,” do you mean like a typical USB headset? These are usually terrible quality unless you buy a really expensive, professional model like you may have seen me use at CES with the TechPodcasts Network.

      I’m much rather buy the ATR2100-USB for $35 than spend the same on a headset mic.

      Or were you referring to the ultra-small mics that speakers use? Those are near $1,000 for a good one. Leo Laporte was using one for a while but ended up disliking the quality and switched back to the Heil PR40.

  7. Ross PR says:

    Loved the review of these. I heard about the AT2100 from Patt Flynn then found you on a related video. I’m looking at getting the Zoom Hn4 to start as I may need to do some filed recording for my podcast starting this month so can’t afford that and the Heil so the AT2100 is a great option to start. Thanks for taking the time to create this!

    1. Thanks, Ross!

      Just know that the ATR2100-USB doesn’t perform well with the Zoom H4n’s mic preamps, so you’ll want to run a noise-remover to get rid of the hiss.
      Faithfully,

      Daniel J. Lewis

      1. Ross PR says:

        That’s good to know thanks! I’ve been looking at the H4n vs the Tascam DR40 and honestly don’t know if there’s an advantage of one over the other. Your thoughts?

        1. I haven’t been able to compare them side-by-side for podcast use. They’re both great recorders.

  8. Thanks Dan, I’m just finally using my AT2100 thanks to your review. Gotta work out why my levels are soooo low when I plug it in via USB

    1. This could be that your system or recording software has the input volume really low. If you’re on Windows, you may need to install the drivers to get better levels.

      1. Thanks Dan, I’ll go find the drivers! I’m on Windows 8

      2. Hi Daniel – I’ve done google searches and scoured Audio Technica’s website to no avail. Would you have a suggestion on where to look for a driver?

        Thanks!

        1. Well, then I guess there isn’t one. Make sure your system and recording software don’t have the input level set really low. If you’re using Audacity, this would be a volume slider next to a microphone icon.

  9. Brent Bishop says:

    Daniel, Thank you for all the work you do and help you provide. I for one am very thankful to you. I’m a long time listener and but this is my first comment… or, er question. I currently have a Nady SP-1 and am thinking of upgrading to the AT2100. Is the difference between them in sound enough of a difference to warrant the upgrade? I am currently running the SP-1 through a Bheringer Q502-USB. Please keep up the good work and know that you are appreciated!

    1. You’re welcome, Brent!

      I think the ATR2100-USB / AT2005USB (they’re essentially the same, and now competing in price) would be a minor quality upgrade. The Nady SP-1 tends to sound a tiny bit more muffled than the other two microphones. The biggest advantage you would get would be the convenience of a USB mic that would be easier for traveling and recording solo shows than taking a mic and mixer.

      So my advice would actually be that you’re probably fine keeping what you have and saving your money for a bigger jump in quality, or upgrading something else.

  10. Longbox Review says:

    Hi Daniel. As I was watching the video, I kept trying to figure out the microphone positioning. It looks like you have the mics positioned in front of you, but turned to the side somewhat (so that you’re not speaking directly into the “top” of the mic). Would you please elaborate on your mic positioning? Thanks.

    1. Yes, that’s about right. I recommend that your mic point at the space in front of your mouth from a 45º horizontal angle. This gets the microphone out of the way so you can read your notes, see your cohost, or be seen better. But it primary benefit is that your speaking breath does not directly hit the microphone. Thus, you get far fewer plosives (pops in the mic), and far less of the “wind” noise plosives can make on a pop filter.

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