Mic shopping can be frustrating.
The choice of microphones out there is confusing and overwhelming.
It’s difficult to know what to spend, what brand is best and whether the quality of your recording will be good enough to sell. I remember feeling exasperated that no one could actually give me a straight answer about which mic to buy, and anxious that if I bought the wrong one my recordings would sound awful.
That’s when it helps to have a real expert on your side. I persuaded a BBC sound engineer to let me interview him (full podcast here); and he revealed the five surprising mistakes to avoid when buying your first microphone.
1) Searching for ‘The One’.
The first mistake that people make is trying to find out the “main one” that other people buy, or the “best one”. But there isn’t a correct answer. It depends on you, your budget and your project. These days the differences between microphones are much less important than they used to be; there are just so many great value mics out there.
2) Thinking You Need to Know About Microphones
Actually it’s amazing how little you need to know.
When making digital recordings a microphone has three jobs to do. It needs to be a transducer to transfer sound into electrical form. Secondly, it needs to amplify that electrical signal with a preamplifier. Finally it has to transfer the analogue sound into digits that a computer can understand. Amazingly a USB mic does all of those three things in the one microphone and a £10 to £25 USB mic will do this reasonably well. So all you really need to know is that if you want to record at home using your computer you will need a USB microphone.
3) Spending Too Much
The third mistake some people make is thinking that you need to spend a lot of money to create a professional quality recording. If you’re making mp3s don’t get hung up on microphone brand names, and don’t spend too much. You can buy a low priced mic on Amazon and upgrade later when you have the budget. Alternatively go to your local music equipment specialist shop, if you have one, and have a chat about your options with a member of staff that knows what they are talking about.
4) Focusing on Technical Details
Don’t get hung up on learning about recording technology. Your message and your personality is far more important than your technical ability. Content is everything.
5) Thinking You Need a Pro Audio Engineer
You don’t. If you want to assess the quality of your recording just trust your instincts: Put yourself in your listeners’ shoes. Make it good enough for YOU. (If you want to know when to go professional I answer that question in my e-course Monetise Your MP3s.)
The Mic in Your Handbag
You may be surprised to learn that you probably already own two or three high quality digital microphones – they are inside your smart phone!
If you want to add a passive income stream to your business but haven’t got the time to set it up, try this: Start small by making a three minute recording with your smart phone that will be ready to sell in 60 minutes. Click here to find out how.
Now I’d like to hear from you. If you already have a mic, which one did you buy and why? If you’re looking for your first microphone, what questions do you have that aren’t answered here?
Sharing your experience in the comments below could help other readers who are new to recording.
Thank you so much for reading. If you can think of someone you know that would like to make their first audio recording please share this post with them. It may be that looking for the right mic is the one thing that was holding them back.