Ahoy Microphone!

In episode 12 of Relay FM’s Upgrade, Jason Snell discusses podcasts, and his feelings about how people should just get out there and start making things. It really grinds his gears when people snobbishly push other people away. He defends the Blue Yeti microphone as a perfectly acceptable microphone. He does all of his podcast recording on it, so if it’s good enough for Jason Snell’s Podcast Empire, it’s good enough for you, me — anybody.

He also briefly mentions a few other entry-level microphones, some of which he has not had the chance to use, but have been recommended to him. One of those is the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone. Right after I had posted my podcasting setup, Listener Jeff asked me if I had used the ATR. (Sigh.)

Even Tim Smith, podcast proprietor of Good Stuff FM, was surprised by the quality of the microphone.

I found a nice video review on YouTube by Andy Slye if you want a quick lowdown.

One of the only drawbacks I’ve found with the ATR2100 is that I think it’s a little too quiet when I monitor myself with the built-in headphone jack. That was the first thing I noticed when I recorded with it instead of my Yeti, where I can hear myself more clearly. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it something to be conscious of while you record since you might not hear yourself getting quieter if you drift away from the microphone.

Which brings up the most important part: mic technique. When you use a dynamic microphone that minimizes sound outside a certain area from the mic, it means you need to talk inside that area. Who knew? This is one of those things where it’s easy to know that fact, but not aware that you’ve suddenly leaned back in your chair. Some adjustment can correct for these moments, but it would be in your best interest to pay attention to where the mic is, relative to your kisser.

One of the interesting features of the ATR2100 is that it handles both USB and XLR. The USB makes it easy for anyone to use, just like with the Yeti, and the XLR makes it easy to incrementally upgrade your recording environment to include a mixer. That dual functionality is pretty unique, and to be honest, piqued my interest. I’m probably not going to spring for a mixer anytime soon, but it’s nice to know I can. (I want a soundboard so badly, like you don’t even know. You don’t even know.)

What About the Yeti?

The Blue Yeti still has the Snell-of-Approvalâ„¢, and I still recorded a lot of decent stuff with it. It is also a more versatile microphone because you can switch between different recording patterns, push the mute button, and dial the gain to suit many situations. It is definitely more expensive than the ATR2100 though, and if I was buying My First Microphone over again, I’d go with the ATR2100. I bought my Yeti at Best Buy last year, in a (gasp) brick-and-mortar store because they had a sale going on and it ended up only costing me $80. Buying it at normal retail price, around $120, is kind of a bummer.

The thing that I felt like I was fighting with the Yeti was ambient noise. The space I have for recording is surrounded by paper thin walls that don’t block street noise, other tenants, or TVs blaring in the other units. A unique feature is the echo chamber on either side of the apartment building between my building and the neighboring buildings. It’s swell. Even little noises, like touching a piece of paper get picked up by the Yeti. I had to train myself to sit far away from the microphone so I wouldn’t fidget with anything and regret it later.

If you mostly plan to record just yourself, in your imperfect apartment, I strongly recommend you consider purchasing the less expensive ATR2100, it’s a real bargain at $60. Throw in the foam windscreen they recommend, like I did, because it’s what Amazon calls an “add-on” item. I believe that works best when it is added on to things.

Hashtag pro podcasters.

2014-12-16 21:31:00

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