• Kane Power

Top 5 Podcasting Microphones On A Budget


As a new podcaster, getting started with the right equipment can be overwhelming. Your setup needs to be simple, affordable, and it has to sound great! To help simplify your options, here are the top 5 budget-friendly podcasting mics for 2021, along with some quick tips on how to create quality recordings.

But before you choose…there are a few things you should know.


Microphone Types

There are two main types of microphones.


Condenser mics are extremely sensitive and provide highly detailed recordings, but that sensitivity means they capture everything in your recording environment. This is great for sound-treated studios, but for most podcasters recording at home, they capture too much background noise.


Dynamic mics are designed to handle loud input sources and are less sensitive than condenser mics. This makes them perfect for podcasting in all types of environments because they capture much less background noise, while still giving you a high-quality recording.


Connection Types

XLR is the connection for professional microphones. To connect an XLR mic you need an XLR cable and an audio interface, which connects to your computer via USB. XLR mics provide a higher quality recording than USB mics.


USB mics are affordable, convenient, and easy to use. Sound quality has come a long way and most people would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between USB and XLR. USB mics are great for solo podcasters and recording remotely, but if you plan on recording locally with more than one person, you’ll need XLR mics.


Top 5 affordable podcasting microphones


1. Zoom ZDM-1 – $99.95

The Zoom ZDM-1 is a newcomer to the podcasting game, with a price point that might indicate a lack of quality, but that’s not the case! This sturdy dynamic mic has an all-metal body and grille and performs well above its price range.


With a built-in shock absorption for reduced handling noise, and impressive rear rejection (great for reducing background noise), the ZDM-1 is the perfect XLR mic for podcasters who want great sound quality on a budget.


Even more impressive is the ZDM-1 podcasting pack which includes the mic, headphones, mic cable, pop filter and a stand for $199.


2. Samson Q2U – $149

The Samson Q2U has become the go-to entry-level dynamic microphone. This mics main advantage is its dual XLR and USB connectivity, which means you can start by connecting directly to your computer via USB, and if you decide to upgrade to an audio interface you can use the XLR connection.


The Q2U also features a headphone output on the mic for low latency monitoring and comes with a stand, cable, and pop filter included.



3. RODE PodMic – $192

The Rode PodMic is a high quality, end address, dynamic broadcast mic that will sound great in the studio, or the home office. Featuring an internal pop filter and shock mount, the PodMic is ready to go for any type of situation and speaker, and will simply connect via XLR to your audio interface.


While the PodMic is almost double the price of the ZDM-1, it has a richer, fuller sound and will have higher quality internal components.


4. Audio Technica AT2040 – $219

The Audio Technica AT2040 is another new dynamic podcasting mic and offers a ‘hypercardioid polar pattern’, which means it’s excellent at capturing what’s directly in front of it, and not much else. The AT2040 has similar internal shock absorption and built-in pop filter as other mics, but it also offers a more focused frequency range, which makes it easier for you to always sound great.


This is an exciting new XLR offering from Audio Technica and is great value for the price.


5. RODE Podcaster USB – $369

The Podcaster is a USB mic that really stands up to XLR mics in terms of sound and built quality. This mic is perfect for solo podcasters who want the convenience and portability of a USB mic, but don’t want to sacrifice on sound.


Although the Podcaster is pushing the upper range of ‘budget’ mics, when you consider the quality you get without having to buy an audio interface; it’s well worth the price.


Podcast Audio Tips

Podcasting is an audio medium so it’s essential we deliver the best quality audio to our listeners. Here are some simple things you can do to improve your audio.


Environment

Your recording environment makes a huge difference to your sound. Avoid big open spaces and hard surfaces (echo), in favour of small, furnished rooms. Set up in your closet for a more focused and intimate sound. Remember, your mic will capture everything you can hear, so remove those distracting background noises before you start recording.


Proximity

Speaking the correct distance from your mic will make your voice sound full and rich. Try to stay between 5 to 15cm (or 2 to 6 inches) away from your mic.


Pop Filter

Even though your mic might have a built-in pop filter, I guarantee you it’s not enough. Using an external pop filter will help reduce pops from plosives in your recording.


Gain

Gain controls the input level of your microphone. Too much gain and you’ll be too loud, too little gain and you’ll be too quiet. Check your gain before you start recording and make sure it’s set correctly.


Headphones

Always wear headphones while recording. Headphones allow us to hear how we sound as we speak, so we can correct volume and proximity issues at source, rather than in post. Wearing headphones when recording remotely also has the advantage of removing echo you might get from your computer speakers.

And there we have it! Hopefully, this article has removed some of the confusion around getting set up for podcasting. Which microphone are you going to get?


About Kane Power

Kane Power is the owner and head engineer at Precision Podcasting and has over 15 years of experience as an audio engineer and is a podcast fanatic. His mission is to make podcasts sound better.


Check out more of his work here!