TPS 071 – USB Dynamic Podcasting Microphones with Matt McGlynn

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Microphones! Matt McGlynn from Recording Hacks joins me “in Studio” to talk all about microphones (a passion and hobby of his) and specifically those mics that work best for most podcasters.Recording Hacks

Matt’s site, Recording Hacks, is dedicated to “making audio gear accessible and useful to people.” Recently he has written a couple of great articles aimed specifically at podcasting. One of his most recent articles on the subject, “USB Dynamic Podcasting Mic Shootout” led me to bring him on the show for this interview.

On this episode we talk to Matt about his interest in microphones, audio production and gear. We focus on podcasting and the special requirements the average podcaster needs to produce a high quality recording.

The discussion isn’t only about microphones. We discuss other gear such as audio interfaces, mixer (pre-amps), and pre-amp boosters such as the Cloudlifter which provide extra (clean) gain.

Finally we wrap up with the results from Matt’s USB mic shootout. I’m happy that the mic I recommend here (ATR2100) for beginners and experts alike has a good showing.

Links mentioned in this episode:

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About Ray Ortega

Full-time podcast producer and host of The Podcasters' Studio and Podcasters' Roundtable, I enjoy sharing my ten years of experience making podcasts to help others improve or start their own show.

Comments

  1. In this episode you spoke a bit about video screencapture software. For the PC I've been using screencast-o-matic – and online service that you can subscribe to for $15 a year! I've found it to be very functional and powerful. In fact, there's little I need that I haven't been able to do. So… FYI – http://www.screencast-o-matic.com

  2. A. Nonymous says:

    Hmmm… in this interview the guest's sound quality is far richer than the host's PR-40. The PR sounds kind of honky or something and a bit raspy near the top end, but not what I'd call sibilant. Scratchy? Or maybe I hear some gurgly low end and that raspiness. Hard to say, but I've heard it in a number of podcasts from folks who obviously are coming from the Cliff Ravenscraft school. (And anyone else jumping when Leo Laporte says to.) At least it doesn't sound as bogus and pumped as Cliff Ravenscraft's multiband compressed output which just sounds ridiculously flabby at the bottom end for no reason. But here it sounds like Ray is off mic a few inches too many and since he's talking to a mic expert here, the guest actually sounds better than the host.

    I know the PR40 has become the darling of podcasting but really, I haven't heard anything that would make me run out and shed a few hundred bucks if I already have the mics I have on hand. I just don't think it sounds very good. I certainly get that a dynamic will be more resistant to background noise than a condenser mic, but there are plenty of other models out there. I'd reach for my Sennheiser 421 first, at close to the same price, and with a bit of sonic flexibility in the rolloff switch it has. I'd even reach for an SM-57 before the PR-40. No shit.

    (Play Jeopardy theme here)

    Just went and put on some Leo TWiT for a check. Yup, his sound is irritatingly raspy up top and with some odd bump in the lower areas (kind of at that real low point where mic stand/table rumble would be, somewhere in the <80 hz space), and what seems to be a hole in the lower mids. Even his panel of two other men and a woman sounded like that. It's not "just the voice." Ick.

    Monitoring with Mackie HR 824s at a fairly low level.

  3. A. Nonymous says:

    Hmmm… in this interview the guest's sound quality is far richer than the host's PR-40. The PR sounds kind of honky or something and a bit raspy near the top end, but not what I'd call sibilant. Scratchy? Or maybe I hear some gurgly low end and that raspiness. Hard to say, but I've heard it in a number of podcasts from folks who obviously are coming from the Cliff Ravenscraft school. (And anyone else jumping when Leo Laporte says to.) At least it doesn't sound as bogus and pumped as Cliff Ravenscraft's multiband compressed output which just sounds ridiculously flabby at the bottom end for no reason. But here it sounds like Ray is off mic a few inches too many and since he's talking to a mic expert here, the guest actually sounds better than the host.

  4. That was a fascinating podcast. It would be great to get Matt to review USB headsets. So often, podcasters have to interview people via Skype. So many great interviews are ruined because the guest is talking into a laptop mike, in a reverberant noisy area, or has a crappy headset. It would be great to discover if there are any dynamic USB headsets to recommend or supply guests on a loan basis for the interview.

  5. Just listened to this episode, Ray. This one should be up for some awards come that time of year. Excellent information and a great introduction to someone whose site I'll definitely bookmark and check in on. Also glad to hear his experience with the Cloudlifter matches my own. I love it.

  6. Ray, Great podcast! I really appreciate the podcasts you produce that get into some of the things we can do to improve our sound and this is one of your best. Matt does great work. I picked up a cloudlifter and am now working on incorporating it (when I plugged it in everything changed)

  7. Hi Ray,

    That has to rate as one of the best podcast episodes that I have ever listened to and kept me transfixed throughout. Matt's explanations were detailed and informative and his enthusiasm for the subject was palpable. His voice with his microphone, even via Skype, was sublime for a podcast.

    While you use the Heil PR-40 as most podcasters in the USA seem to do I must congratulate you on not swallowing the microphone as so many of your compatriots seem to do in an effort to get the article bass boost from a cardioid's proximity effect. And as for the muliband compressor technique of a certain other podcaster that your previous commenter mentioned, I find it incredibly unnatural and very tiring on the ears. Perhaps I'm just used to a different style being from the UK and being brought up on the BBC…

    I also agree with your previous commenter about the humble SM57. This microphone is VERY similar to the radio stalwart SM7B (as also used for Michael Jackson's vocals on Thriller) yet is one fifth the price at about $100! Even the SM58 (using the identical capsule as the SM57) is very difficult to tell apart from the SM7B to the untrained ear; try for yourself at: http://www.homestudiocorner.com/shure-sm7b-vs-sm5

    Anyway, excellent podcast, keep up the good work.

    Regards,

    Richard

  8. Ray, Thanks for a great episode! I really enjoyed the interview … it was full of great info. Right now I use a Mackie ONYX 820i (through firewire) for my podcast right now, but the volume on my mic (at the moment a SM-58) is painfully low. I have to crack both the level and the gain and I just hate doing that, so I've been thinking of purchasing a fairly clean/quiet preamp. But, after listening to this episode and learning about the Cloudlifter (and Fethead) I have began to wonder if those wouldn't be a better option.

    What do you think … preamp (ART, Presonus, etc.) or Cloudlifter/Fethead? I would love to hear your thoughts!

  9. I own or have owned the following mics:
    PR40
    MXL USB.009
    Audio Technica ATR2100
    Shure SM57 and Sure Beta 57
    Shure SM58 and Sure Beta 58
    Shure SM7B

    They all have their pros and cons – but in the end as someone who was born with a normal-guy-voice and zero interest in post-producing said voice – the Heil PR40 is the best mic I've used by far (for my particular voice/tone/inflection)

    Heil PR40 >>> R-05 >>> auphonic.com (Balance & noise) >>> Libsyn/Soundcloud >>> The Wild
    or
    MXL USB.009 >>> Skype >>> ecamm + R-05 >>> auphonic >>> Libsyn/Soundcloud >>> The Wild

    Note: If I was travelling around and/or handing the mic from person to person live – I'd take a Shure or Sennheiser mic over any other mic – any day of the week!!!

    @joshuacliston
    Australian Musician | Marketing Coach | Podcaster

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