What Are the Best Microphones to Record Narration?

The question below came up in the Articulate Storyline forum.

Question - best mics

It’s a question I get a lot — many of you have asked the same question, as well.  So, I thought I’d share my answer with you below.  Make sure to see the reference links at the bottom.  There’s also a pretty useful primer produced by Andre Costa about getting good audio quality.  I think you’ll find it useful.

The Answer

Hi Luis,

I’ve used the Samson condenser mic you referenced.  It’s good. I’ve also used Blue’s Yeti microphone.  Both are very good.  If I had my druthers — and assuming your recording environment is relatively “clean” of ambient sounds — I’d opt for Blue’s Yeti, with the pop filter you mentioned.

The thing is, they’re so good that they will also record any ambient sounds in your recording environment. In fact, I now only use the condenser mics when I’m recording from my home office where my environment is better controlled than my business office — where there are a/c vents and non-padded / hollow walls.   It’s very noticeable.

Interestingly, when I record audio from my business office, I get better audio quality when I record using a plain ‘ol Plantronics headset with a boom mic and then follow that up with a little noise and bass filter processing using Audacity software (free). (Related reference:  How to Remove Background Noise From Your Screencast Audio.)

The Bottom Line

If you’re environment is clean of ambient sounds, I’d go with either of the condenser mics mentioned above. (Depending on your budget.) But, if you have limited control over your audio environment, I’d opt instead for a good headset / boom mic.  

“The Boom” headset mic is one I’m shopping for now.  It’s a bit pricey, but seems to be getting good reviews and is one a friend has recommended.

Also, I thought you might also find this funny, yet informative tutorial that was produced by Andre Costa about sound quality and microphone selection.

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Comments (2)

  1. Hi Mel,

    Thank you for all your insightful pages and videos. I wonder if you remembered to tell your subscribers about always trying to use a USB headset and/or microphone? The reason for always trying to use a USB mic is because when you use a regular mic plugged into the mic input, your computer uses the CPU to digitize your voice, which steals processing power away from the screen recording software. Unless your computer is fast enough to deal with all the processing at the same time, you may end-up with either poorer sound or poorer video quality.

    Another reason is that USB mikes include a translator that is dedicated to digitizing your voice. The electronic circuit in these devices is often better than the one included in your computer’s audio card, because it is designed to do only this task.

    I hope this helps.

  2. Jorge Olenewa

    Hi again Mel,

    I use a VXi Parrot USB monaural headset for voice recording. The mic quality is excellent and the cost is very reasonable. Check their products out at http://www.vxicorp.com.

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