Suggest a mic for remote lessons
So with the quarantine here to stay for (what I foree to be) a good long while in the US, I have moved to online lessons and will be doing so for a while.
The laptop built-in microphone is...in not so many words, pretty terrible (I use a Macbook Air or "borrow" my work's Dell Precision workstation), from the tests I have run. Sound quality really goes in the trash, and it's harder to vary tone color (plus I'm convinced there is some sort of dynamic range compression going on).
So I'm looking for a decent quality microphone that will at least help somewhat with this. Preferrably USB, let's set a budget at...$100? Maybe $150?
I was hoping someone would ask this question at some point. I hear you can't go wrong with the Blue Yeti microphone. It goes for $129.99 on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Yeti-USB-Microphone-Silver/dp/B002VA464S?th=1
The Audio-Technica 2020USBi is a very good mic. Amazon has the FiFine USB mic for around $40 and it's not bad. I bought one as a backup for my AT2020USBi mic since I can't afford not to have something for offering my on-line lessons. I compared the AT2020 and the FiFine mic and while it's clear the AT2020 is the better mic, the FiFine is pretty decent, and a whole lot cheaper. Both mics have volume adjustment knobs on them, both plug into USB and work either plugged directly into the computer or plugged into a USB hub.
I've got a Shure SM57 and a Shure SM58 plugged into a stereo USB preamp.
If you are doing Zoom lessons, get a Zoom brand microphone. They work great. We have a Zoom recorder and use the microphone from that. They come in a variety of levels starting around $100.
Just use the built-in mic on your webcam, if you don't have a webcam, get a decent one. Video will always be more important than audio anyway. I have a Logitech C270, one of the best price/quality webcams.
So Carrie Salisbury's blog post says she's using a Samson USB condenser mic.
Paul that's exactly what I do, although it will make your expensive mics sound like inexpensive mics :-). FWIW I've had issues in the Zoom app with higher sampling rates.
Stan I'm not talking about a top-of-the-line Telefunken or Neumann microphone and then lamenting the fact that it's not going through a $4000 channel strip. I'm talking about a $100 AT2010 that I happen to keep in my gig bag. By the way the AT2010 was recommended to me by a good singer, a man for whom I have tremendous respect as a musician, who told me he has tried a lot of very expensive mics and that one is outstanding for the price.
I've been using the Yeti Nano on my desktop and the regular Yeti when I set up with my laptop. Students tell me the sound of my instrument for demonstrations is much better with them.
I'm using the same Zoom Q4n that I use for performance recording, plugged into my Macbook Air. I tripod-mount the Zoom, allowing me to place the camera at a better distance and at a better angle. I set the microphones to the X/Y position.
I've got a Zoom H1n, but it's such a flimsy little toy for the money, that I can't bring myself to spend the bigger bucks on the video version of it.
I just ordered this:
I got a Rode usb condenser mic recently for like $200. It seems pretty good, but I haven't done a comparison. Hopefully I can upgrade to a Dont or a Wieniawski soon.
I saw that on Amazon and had the same basic thought, Christian. LOL Great minds run in the same gutter.
A dad is not the guy who created the child. A dad is the guy who created the joke.
I'm guessing the reason all those USB condenser mics get such great reviews is that they're mostly purchased by folks who are accustomed to the sound they're getting with their built-in laptop mic. I don't even know where the mic is on my laptop, but presently that's what I'm using to teach.
When USB turntables were new I read a review that said the worst analogue kit was better than the best USB kit. But those days are probably gone.
"When USB turntables were new I read a review that said the worst analogue kit was better than the best USB kit."
The Q4n has the best audio capture of any of the Zoom devices, as far as I know. The video is perfectly adequate for student or amateur needs. Resolution is plenty sharp for YouTube.
I use a Shure MV88 mic. with my iOS devices for recording. The sound quality is quite impressive - it might work for virtual lessons. The connection is the Apple "lightening" connecter however, not USB, so it would be used with an iPhone or iPad. It is ~$150 USD on Amazon. The Shure webpage is: https://www.shure.com/en-US/products/microphones/mv88
I use a Yeti. Sounds fantastic. My teacher notices the difference.
Paul, the microphone on your laptop is most likely the two little holes, one on either side of the laptop's camera.
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