What Technology Do You Need?
Below is an answer I’ve sent to many people regarding what technology is needed for audio production. I am NOT an expert in this area–this is just what I have learned through my experience.
Recently I’ve started dabbling in videos so I’ve been learning more about that. I thought it was time to update the post with some video recommendations. Mostly I’ve just included links –but hopefully that will save you some time.
I mostly made this post for me to keep track, but thought I’d share with you as well.
Your mic is probably the most important part of your setup. The microphone has a BIG effect on the overall quality of your recordings (more than anyother piece of equipment).
If your budget is limited, spend your money here. Many people ask if they should get a dynamic or condenser mic. Dynamic mics work very well in broadcasting situations where you want to isolate a voice and eliminate background noise, but they’re more expensive. Condenser mics create a more “natural” or “live” sound, but pick up a lot more background noise and require a better mic technique. (I went with the most popular dynamic mic for voice recording the Shure SM58, however most people consider the Heil PR-40 to be a better microphone (it’s more expensive). These micas REQUIRE a pre-amp or audio interface to connect to your computer.
If you don’t want to do that you can go with USB mic.When doing a “quick” recording (NOT for my podcast) I use a USB microphone (Blue Yeti THX-Certified USB Condenser Microphone). I think it’s the best “low cost” USB microphone available. I researched and tried several of them. http://www.bluemic.com/yeti/ You can get it online for about $100 —
B &H oftens has kit that includes the headphone and wind screen.
However, no matter what brand you choose, for a LOW COST alternative, you definitely want a USB microphone…(using USB eliminates certain electrical noises that you get if you use the other kind of microphone that plugs into a computer).
If you have budget and want to get a better mic..then read on for more details about that…
For slightly more money, you can get a really good set-up with very high quality sound using a Shure SM 58 Microphone–but you’ll need to buy a mixer to use it. I recommend the Eurorack UB802 by Behringer —It’s small and reliable. (Update: Not made anymore, but Behringer and Mackie make good equipment in general. I’m sure you can find a small mixer that would work.)
Finally, if you want excellent sound quality you’ll also want to invest in something that you may think is useless, but actually helps TREMENDOUSLY.
It’s called a pop screen. I thought it didn’t matter but later realized I was making a big mistake. (An untrained ear can definitely hear the difference –but it’s for certain sounds only.)
I now use Stedman proscreens. You can get cheaper ones, which I also did at first, but since I record so frequently I ended up breaking two of the cheap ones. Ultimately, I bought the more expensive one and it’s held up.
Finally, the last thing you may want to invest in is a guitar stand. You’ll want your microphone suspended in some way. If it’s on your desk you’ll get vibration noises, but more importantly, when you are recording if you move around as you are talking or use your hands, you are likely going to have to record. When the mic is suspended you don’t have to do worry at all. Less time spent recording. Again, I resisted this idea due to cost in the beginning and now realize it’s really the only way to go if you record frequently.
I wanted to mention if you want EXCELLENT sound and have the money to spend, then you might consider Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording that mentioned in the beginning of the message.
Many broadcasters considers condenser mics the best (but that assumes you have a quite studio to record in!). You’re on your own for this one…(I have twins that are 7 years old– i have to record in my closet to get quiet dead sound!!)
(Update: Here’s a guy that’s done a more recent review of all things recording…I looked at it quickly and it seems he’s on target, but I did not review in detail.)
Finally, don’t forget you still need traditional good communication skills.
Here are few more relevant useful links:
http://www.bestcovery.com/best-usb-microphone-under-100 (USB microphones)
http://homemusicstudio1.com/best-home-recording-mic-under-100/ (inexpensive microphones)
http://www.squidoo.com/best-earbud-headset-with-microphone (USB headset mic are OK for quick recording)
http://audacity.sourceforge.net (Audio editing software)
Update (November 2012 additions for video):
(This is video to make a teleprompter for $35 – the guy that makes )
http://www.skaeser.com/servlet/the-542/Lights-Video-3000-Watts/Detail (light kid under 400 that is decent)
Camera suggestions for starting out:
(I use this one, but I don’t think you can get them anymore. I like it because it has the audio in cable! )