I recently received an email from someone asking me how I got the voice recording in my videos to sound so clear and strong. The answer to that question is much more complex than I'll deal with here, but that person asked me mostly about the microphone I used, and if that could make a big difference in getting better recordings. Here's what I replied:
A few weeks before this year's pandemic started affecting the US, I started live-streaming on my YouTube channel.
In the past, I've helped run live streams for various events, from liturgies in a cathedral to youth events in a stadium. (I even wrote a blog post on the topic a few weeks ago.)
For larger events, there was usually a team of camera operators. We also had remote control 'PTZ' cameras, and dedicated streaming hardware like a Tricaster.
For my own livestreams, I had a very limited budget, and only one person (me) to operate the camera, produce the live stream, and be the content on the live stream!
In the world of radio and professional podcasting, there are fewer than a dozen 'go-to' microphones. Each of the classics (e.g. the Shure SM7B, the Neumann U87, or the EV RE20) has it's own advantages and a few marquee users, but one mic seems to rule the roost when it comes to versatility and ability to color almost any voice with the 'talk show' sound, and that's the EV RE20.
The RE20 mounted in the 309A shockmount.
A few months ago, I decided to get more serious about my recording setup in my home office. I do a lot more screencasts both for my YouTube channel and for other purposes than I used to, and I can't stand poor audio quality. Therefore I finally decided to get some sound absorption panels for my office, rearrange furniture a little for better isolation, and—most importantly—buy a proper USB audio interface and microphone.
The blog has been a little bit Drupal-heavy the past couple months, as I've been stalled a bit in terms of my 'maker'-style projects and other hardware-based projects. The main reason for that is this guy:
I'm halfway through rebuilding/re-foaming an old Electro-Voice RE20, beloved by many a radio personality, and the process has taken a bit longer than I expected!
I've been doing a lot more screencasts lately, and as part of my retooling of my downstairs office for better screencast quality, I'm also trying to get the best possible audio recordings. The RE20 is one of the best mics I've ever used in terms of taking a not-professional-voice (like mine) and making it sound halfway decent.
At this year's php[tek] conference, I decided to record my own sessions (one on a cluster of Raspberry Pis, and another on tips for successfully working from home). Over the years, I've tried a bunch of different methods of recording my own presentations, and I've settled on a pretty good method to get very clear audio and visuals, so I figured I'd document my method here in case you want to do the same.
Hello everyone! I'm finally back from the hospital and on the mend. It turns out I had mono, and the combination of a couple immunosuppressants and the mono hit me pretty hard. It was interesting being in the ER, ICU and general hospital floors, and if I weren't wiped from a crazy-high 104.6°F fever in the ICU, I would've spent more time looking at all the awesome devices into which I was plugged!
Needless to say, I'm feeling much better, and I even got back to work today!
Contest - Win a RØDE smartLav! [Update: contest is over]
Note: The contest is over; see the winner here.
Server Check.in (one of the services I run through Midwestern Mac) is holding a simple contest: leave a comment on the blog post Contest - Win a RØDE smartLav!, and you're entered to win a Rode smartLav microphone, to which I gave five stars in my review.
tl;dr: Offers little more than the built-in iPhone microphone, but it's a good mic for the price, and is very useful in certain situations.
Since adding my comprehensive overview of audio input and microphone options for iPhones a couple years ago, there have been many purpose-built microphones that are made particularly for smartphones. IK Multimedia's iRig Mic Cast microphone is one of these purpose-built devices.
tl;dr: The iPhone microphone I've been waiting for, just a little more expensive than I'd hoped!
[Note: You can win a FREE smartLav, courtesy of Server Check.in (an awesome website monitoring service), by posting a comment on this blog post.]
I've gotten this question enough times via email that I thought I'd create a quick blog post mentioning what I think is a good deal for a video camera setup for recording short videos, ideally with one person speaking.
In such a situation, since you probably won't see a major difference in picture quality in anything under $500, I'd skimp a little on the camera itself and just make sure the video camera you buy has an external microphone input, then buy a microphone like the Audio-Technica ATR-3350 to clip onto the person being recorded.
A microphone goes a long way towards making quality video—many people think the camera's the most important part of a video recording setup, but it really isn't (unless you're doing a top-notch production!). That's how I can use the tiny iPhone camera as my primary video camera and record good videos, since the iPhone accepts external microphones so easily.