Creating Your First Audio Product – Choosing a Microphone

Audio products — teleseminars, mp3s, podcasts — are amongst the easiest product to create. No information products marketer should be without at least one audio product. Even if that product is only an audio book. And like any product the tools you use to create the product greatly affects the quality of the end product.

But what do you need in order to create audio products?

At its simplest you need only four things… a computer, software, a microphone and a script. The most important thing you need — beyond the script — is the proper microphone.

So how do you choose the proper microphone? After all there are all kinds of computer microphones out there in the market. They range in price from two dollars to several hundred dollars.

How can you be sure that you are buying the right one for the job without overspending?

When selecting your microphone it helps to understand what the choices are and what each is best for and what to look for.

There are two major classifications of microphone — directional and omni-directional.

Directional microphones pick up sound in only one direction. At its simplest this is accomplished by having the microphone exposed in one direction. For example, we’ve all seen headphone microphones that have openings in only one place… normally pointed at where your mouth would be.

Omni-directional microphones pick up sound from many directions equally. This generally requires that the microphone “head” have perforations in a number of directions. For example, most desktop microphones have holes in the end of the microphone as well as in several spots around the circumference.

Omni-directional microphones are best used to pick up background noises such as a group conversation. Directional microphones are generally used to pick up localized sounds such as a single person speaking. For audio products, you generally will want to pick up each speaker’s voice rather than a group with background. Even if you need to use multiple microphones and tracks, a directional microphone will work better.

The second element to consider is the configuration of the microphone. Generally there are four configurations… desktop, headphone, clip and boom. While in theory any of the configurations will work, in practice most people only have access to certain combinations.

Desktop microphones are the inexpensive microphones used by many computers. Most laptops, in fact, have a built in desktop microphone. These microphones can work well for telephone purposes with the proper drivers. However, most desktop microphones are omni-directional. They simply will not work well for creating audio products.

Headphones are the next most popular microphone. They range in value from very inexpensive to very expensive. Frankly, for most people, inexpensive is as good as an expensive headphone. Headphones generally use directional microphones. They are your best choice for creating audio products.

Clip mikes are a type of microphone which clips to your clothing. They may be either omni-directional or directional. Frankly it doesn’t matter in this case. Both are intended to pick up the speaker’s voice only. Generally, you will get a cleaner recording with less noise from a directional clip mike; however, you will need to spend more time ensuring that you get an acceptable sound level. Clip mikes are good for speakers who like to move or where you are making a video at the same time. However, they tend to be expensive and purchased after you know what you are doing.

Boom mikes are generally used with video recording. These are the long microphones that stick out from professional cameras. They can be omni-directional, directional or semi-directional. Generally, they are not used for audio recording. Instead they are used where a microphone in the picture would be distracting.