So many teachers have asked me for tips on what they can do to consistently get great recordings of their students. One of the easiest ways is to add a better microphone to your setup. It makes sense that if your input device has a better dynamic range that it will give your recordings better dynamic range. What I mean by that is that your recordings will sound more crisp and alive.
Most new laptops come with a built in microphone and they will do in a pinch but the audio quality is less than desirable. An easy was to create better recordings of your student’s performances and not entail becoming an audio pro is to add a reasonably inexpensive microphone to your setup. There are many great microphones available but they are not plug and play (usb).
Most good to excellent quality microphones are expensive and have a three pin XLR connection on them. This type of connection will not plug into your computer. To do that you will need a digital interface that will not only let you to plug in your mic but also digitize your audio signal so the computer can use it. Using a USB microphone allows plug and play recording with no external and expensive interface because it is built right into the mic itself.
I have used several of the most popular and there are several good USB mics on the market. They are all a little bit different and produce different results. One of the best I have found so far is the Samson G-Track Condenser microphone (another great one is the “podcaster” see previous post). It is a great all purpose mic that will dramatically upgrade your audio recordings. Street price is around $100 which is a bargain for the amount of quality it will add. The best thing is that you will not have to study audio engineering for it to make a big difference. USB mics are easy to use and set up.
One of the nicest things about this mic is that it is also a digital interface for your other input needs. Samson has added standard 1/4″ and stereo phono inputs on the mic so it can act as a digital interface for inputting other sound sources such as synths/guitar/or stereo mixes of other files from other audio devices such as when you want to lift and edit the soundtrack from a video.
If you go to the Samson homepage found here, you will be able to hear the difference. They have audio samples posted that will give you a better idea of what you will get for your money. For the average none tech geek it will be a pleasant and easy addition that will make a dramatic difference to your recordings. It will be the best hundred dollars you have spent.
Here are some of it’s features.
Large diaphragm studio condenser microphone
Mic and Instrument/Line gain control with clip LED
Stereo input jacks for instruments or line level signal
Stereo headphone jack for no latency monitoring with level control
3-position headphone switch for stereo, mono, computer monitoring
SuperCardioid pickup pattern
USB bus-powered and compliant
Audio I/O and USB cables included
Desktop microphone stand included
Optional shockmount available