3 min read

Don't Skimp on the Mic: How to Pick the Right Podcasting Microphone as a Beginner

Don't Skimp on the Mic: How to Pick the Right Podcasting Microphone as a Beginner

So you want to start a podcast but don't want to break the bank on equipment? The good news is you don't need to spend thousands to get good audio quality. But you also can't just rely on your laptop microphone or earbuds if you want people to actually stick around and listen.

The microphone is the most important piece of gear for any podcaster. Investing in the right external USB mic can take your podcast from garage quality to pro-level without spending a fortune. Here's what to look for as a beginner.

Here are the links for the mic + boom arm in the video: Samson Q2U https://amzn.to/3KZsSWl Heil Boom Arm https://amzn.to/3Pdaw6O

The Goldilocks Zone: Finding the Just-Right Mic for Podcasting

You'll want a USB microphone in the $50-100 range, like the popular Samsung Q2U. This hits the "goldilocks zone" for beginners - not too expensive but good enough quality to make a difference. Mics in this range provide a major upgrade from built-in laptop mics or AirPods while still being affordable.

Avoid the temptation to go cheaper with a sub-$50 mic. These might seem like a good deal but often have quality issues like background noise and poor recording capability. You want an entry-level mic but not the cheapest of the cheap.

On the flip side, you also don't need a $500+ professional-grade microphone as a beginner. Those are overkill and you won't get $400+ more value out of them. Start with an intermediate USB mic in the $50-100 range and upgrade later once your show takes off.

Get That Mic Close to Your Mouth

Proximity matters when it comes to microphone quality. The closer you can get the mic to your mouth as the sound source, the better your audio will be.

This is why having a boom arm is so important. It allows you to maneuver the mic right in front of your face as you record. Leaving the mic sitting on your desk creates more distance from your voice, which equates to worse sound quality.

Boom arms run $35-100 depending on the model. Even cheaper options provide plenty of benefit though by getting the mic off the desk and next to your mouth. This simple step can drastically improve the recording quality.

Control the Environment: Room Treatment Basics

Even the best microphone will struggle in an echo-y room with no sound treatment. Hard, reflective surfaces cause reverb, background noise, and other issues.

As a beginner, you can tame room problems with some simple DIY treatment:

  • Hang thick blankets on walls as makeshift sound dampeners
  • Place foam squares in corners to absorb echoes
  • Close windows and doors to minimize outside noise

You don't necessarily need fancy acoustic foam panels right away. Think creatively and work with what you have at home to control reverb and echo issues.

Better room treatment allows your voice to come through clean and clear, which keeps people listening.

Quality Audio Leads to More Listens

Here's the bottom line: audio quality matters. In the crowded world of podcasting, poor audio is an easy reason for people to skip your show and move on to the next one.

Investing in an external USB mic, boom arm, and basic room treatment shows you care about your listeners' experience. This will set you apart as an amateur podcaster and get more people to stick around and engage.

You don't have to go overboard on costs and equipment. Start with the basics recommended here. As your audience grows over time, you can upgrade to more advanced gear. The goal is listeners who stick around long enough to become loyal fans - and that starts with audio they actually want to listen to.