The Ultimate Podcasting Mic Shootout

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podcast microphonesAnyone shopping for a new podcasting microphone, or a voiceover microphone, or even a studio vocal microphone should know that the broadcast industry has relied on a very small handful of mics for the past 30 years. Broadcasters know something that you might not: how to get a great vocal sound.

Sure, there are dozens of so-called “podcasting microphones” on the market, made to serve every point in the price spectrum. Before you buy, consider that just about NONE of them are used by any radio station in town.

So when I began my search for the ultimate podcasting mic, I took a cue from the broadcast industry and gathered all the best radio microphones in the world. Then I added a few up-and-coming models, a few low-cost models that most people probably already own, and a cult mic that sounded, frankly, terrible.

I recorded a short narration with each one, taking care to duplicate gain staging and environmental factors for all sessions. Then I published the audio files without labels and invited hundreds of people to listen to each mic without the burden of preconceptions of what any of them SHOULD sound like.

Sure enough, one of the classic broadcast mics bubbled to the top. And one more bubbled to the bottom. In between you’ll find microphones new and old… some expensive, some not, some that are single-purposes workhorses and some that wear a surprising number of hats with grace and style.

The audio samples demonstrate each mic’s basic sound profile, as well as proximity effect, sensitivity to plosives, and susceptibility to sibilance.

In the end, I had to crown two mics as the winners. And by the rules I’d laid out, that mean I had to buy both of them.

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