Scrutiny Saturday – Microphones for under $50.

By | January 16, 2016

It’s the future! Video recording (cell phones/DSLRs) and editing (PCs, software) tech are all cheap and on point. So WTF microphones?

Why are microphones the weak link when it comes to creating quality A/V products? Shouldn’t video be like, a million times more difficult (and by extension, expensive) to produce? Whatever the reason, most microphones seem relatively expensive and really crappy when compared to the miracle of miniaturized video acquisition technologies. I’ve searched high and low to find viable audio input solutions; as promised, what follows is what I’ve found.

The bad:

Abco Tech Mini Bluetooth Headphones – Earpiece – with Hands Free Calling and Crystal Clear Sound. $19. In a recent What Can I Get Away With Wednesday I revealed that you cannot get away with paying $20 for a bluetooth headset to record audio. The apps are lacking and the sound is bad. Moreover, this did not pair with my Win7 machine (Win7 does not do BLE). That’s not to say it’s not a good value as a handsfree set, it’s just not good enough for audio recording.

Audio-Technica ATR3350IS Omni Lavalier Microphone for Smartphones $20. – If, like me, you were under the impression that Audio-Technica made quality stuff, this product will disillusion you. Sound so bad you’ll think it was defective. I did and sent it back.

The good:

Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser Microphone – $35. This is semi-portable really. You can use it to podcast or Let’s Play from a tablet/laptop/desktop quite nicely. It’s not suitable for field recordings or talking heads however. It isn’t designed to clip to your lapel. It is designed to deliver quality sound, pack away quite nicely, be durable, and look good doing it all. Don’t buy into the Blue Yeti Youtuber hype; this is definitely a viable alternative IMHO.

Neewer® 2X 3.5mm Hands Free Computer Clip on Mini Lapel Microphone (2X Lapel Microphone) – $5 (for two, free shipping)! For the price of $2.50 this is a great microphone. It’s a good microphone at nearly 10x the price. Really, you’ll be surprised at how good two bucks fifty cents can sound. Seriously.

Miracle Sound Deluxe Lavalier Lapel Clip-on Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone (for smartphones) – $20. Is it truly miraculous? That’s yet to be seen. It arrived DOA. I’m exchanging it for another and will update this section after I’ve tested it out.

Update: It is really good! Plug it into a cell phone and you’re all set for field recordings!

The alternative:

If you’re dead-set on a cheap cell-phone-less workflow, check out the Pyle PDWM96. I can’t vouch for it personally, but Tomas Villegas does in the following video:

As I’ve said before: If you’re a game developer, eventually you’ll need to speak and be heard. Whether you’re creating a video pitch deck, crowdfunding video, video interview, podcast, or Let’s Play, you’ll need decent audio. I suggest the Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser for semi-portable podcasts and Let’s Plays. For talking heads, you’ll need a lavalier mic and I suggest either the Neewer® 2X 3.5mm Hands Free Computer Clip on Mini Lapel Microphone or Miracle Sound Deluxe Lavalier Lapel Clip-on Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone according to your budget/quality demands. Best to budget for both in your studio spreadsheets.

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