What is the Best Microphone?

Note: This post is a refresh of a previous blog bost

Ever heard the saying, ‘Audio is King’? One of the most difficult parts of a video is getting quality audio, in my opinion. And, there have been studies that show that the quality of your audio affects your audience’s perception of the quality of your presentation more than the visuals. Poor audio = people think poor presentation. Kathy Sierra has a great blog post on the effect of sound on users that you can read here.

I struggle with audio especially when I’m out of a controlled environment. I often like to make videos on the road at events – usually in a noisy conference hall with high ceilings. This is a less than ideal recording situation.

So, I thought I’d round up a bunch of different microphones at work and compare them for you. Matt Pierce, the Training Manager, and I headed to our soundbooth and tested 6 different microphones. We used Audacity to record the audio at 44,100Hz. We tried to have as much consistency as possible, but we had to adjust the audio levels on each microphone. You will see in the screencast what level we recorded at. Also, I made the links a hotspot in the video, so you can click them if you’d like more info about the microphone. The screencast is short – running 1:30.

The text we used was from the classic book, ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by Lewis Caroll:

bq. “Alice was not a bit hurt, and she jumped up on to her feet in a moment: she looked up, but it was all dark overhead: before her was another long passage, and the White Rabbit was still in sight, hurrying down it.”

Also, you should always check your microphone’s manual to see where the most sensitive spot is on your microphone. That will dictate where you speak into it. *Hint* – it may not always be on top.

We liked the Audio-Technica Microphone as well as the Samson and Lapel microphones. What microphones have you tried that you like? Any tips to share with us and other readers?

Interested in making videos using a microphone like these? Give Camtasia a try!


It was suggested that I add prices for the microphones. So, here you go! *Note:* I could find most of the microphones/webcam cheaper than MSRP on places like Amazon.com.