How to choose the ideal microphone?
The pandemic, the confinement and teleworking have led millions of people to acquire new habits, customs and needs. In times when communication between colleagues, friends and family occurs, most of the time, through electronic devices, it is almost an obligation to have a basic technology at home that guarantees a good exchange in these virtual spaces.
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And it is that when entering a work video call it is essential to look at how your image looks, and one of the first questions that are asked in this type of meeting is the classic ‘Do you hear me well?’, to avoid problems with the audio for the development of the call.
So, camera, microphone and headphones They have become basic tools for teleworking, but also for multiple activities that were enhanced as a result of confinement: video games, streaming and podcasts.
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The importance of having a microphone that captures sound cleanly can sometimes be underestimated. Whatever activity you are doing, making sure your voice is heard is usually the most important thing. clearly, without uncomfortable noises or clutter.
Microphones that are built into computers, for example, tend to capture a lot of noise that you probably wouldn’t want to be heard. For this reason, the best option will be to look for a specialized external device to capture audio.
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Microphones that are built into computers tend to pick up a lot of noise
In the world of these products, and as in most markets, not necessarily the most expensive will ensure better results. The truth is that microphones should be sought based on the needs of each user and the use that they are going to give them. In other words, the ideal microphone for podcasting will not always be the best option for gaming or teleworking.
Likewise, it is vital to bear in mind that the microphones don’t work alone. Everyone, according to their budget, their environment and their needs, should worry about adjusting and adapting their workspace or content creation to optimize the use of these devices.
“It is ideal to have a good microphone that at least have the cardioid polar pattern”Explains Guillermo Amador, who has been in the world of podcast creation for years and is currently HyperX Marketing Manager for Latin America.
Microphone polar patterns are those that determine the space around devices where they are most sensitive to sound. That is, from which side or sides of the microphone the audio is captured.
The cardioid polar pattern “takes the sound that is in front of the microphone and a little around the user,” says Amador, who also clarifies that this is usually the best option because most people place the microphone close to their mouth and what they are more interested in capturing the sound of their voice and not of the environment that surrounds them. These devices give importance to the sound coming from the front of the microphone, completely ignore the sound at the rear and capture only a little of the sound at the sides.
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There are also the microphones with an omnidirectional polar pattern, which are used, for example, to place them in a conference room where there are many people and that achieve that “everyone who is speaking is heard at the same volume”, and those with Bidirectional polar pattern, which capture sound from the rear and front surroundings of the device.
It is important to note that there are multi-pattern microphones. That is, you can adjust it to your needs. If you need to capture just your voice, you can put it in cardioid mode; and if you are interested in recording or transmitting the sound of your surroundings or the voices of second and third parties, select bi- or omnidirectional modes.
Most of the microphones leading the market today have in common the ease of USB connection to your computer. So you don’t have to worry about extra adapters to use them. Also, they are capacitors. This makes them ideal for accurately capturing sound.
Shure, Rode, Blue, HyperX, Logitech, and Sennheiser are some of the leading brands in the microphone market. Each one offers specialized products for different needs, and their prices can vary from 180,000 to 900,000 pesos. There are, of course, more expensive top-tier microphones. How to choose the right one? Check the specifications of each device and take into account details such as the capacity and quality of audio capture, the polar pattern and, of course, its use.
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Now, to get the microphone to capture the audio in a cleaner and clearer way, there are certain recommendations that you can take into account. You must adapt your workspace or content creation.
Diego León, Logitech country manager for Colombia, explains that not all microphones can perform 100 percent in spaces that are too open. If that’s the case, Leon recommends, it’s best to get a microphone for a more professional profile that “improves the possibilities of audio capture.”
On the other hand, regarding the components that you should have in the recording place, Amador suggests having carpet floors (which help the sound not bounce off the floor), avoiding empty walls (hanging pictures that help absorb sound ), have the windows closed and, as far as possible, have curtains and acoustic or soundproofing foams. These foams can be found for only 10,000 pesos or, failing that, they can be replaced by egg cartons that can help soundproof a room.
All of these tips are to avoid a lot of acoustics in your workspace or content creation. HyperX’s marketing manager explains that acoustics allow sound to bounce a lot, something that is not sought in these types of spaces, as it generates echoes and noises that can become uncomfortable.
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In the same way, headsets or headbands are a basic complement to microphones. These headphones will ensure that the return of audio or noise from others does not leak into your microphone. “Small hearing aids tend to let other sounds in,” which is “Unpleasant when you do podcasting or streaming.”
In addition, there are other tips for content creators, be they podcasters, youtubers or streamers.
The first thing is to make sure that the environment is going to be as quiet as possible to avoid third-party noises that interfere with its content. This can be done by using an isolated room or even by adjusting production schedules. “The first podcasts that I did I recorded at dawn because it was the only moment when I could have silence, ”recalls Amador.
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For the creation of audiovisual content, such as streaming or video recording, the expert explains that there are already several microphones that are designed to visually complement live broadcasts or videos. These have quite a striking physical appearance (with RGB lights) that it can add a colorful touch to your image. In addition, they usually have an arm that will give the user the facility to move it permanently and accommodate it at their convenience. Diego León explains that this component will help those who do not have much space on their desk or work table.
How good are cell phone microphones?
Félix Riaño, broadcaster, podcaster and author of the book Todo sobre podcast, told EL TIEMPO that a cell phone with a built-in microphone is effective enough to record a podcast. It also recommends that if you do not have a recording studio or an adequate space to capture audio, you can resort to “recording inside a car parked and turned off”.
ANDRÉS GALINDO FERNÁNDEZ
On Twitter: @MrTegias
Tecnósfera EL TIEMPO journalist
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