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What microphone to use?


In seminars and customer meetings, the question on what mic to use keeps coming up. I am not an audio expert so you definitely want to do some research if CD quality is required. Usually, if I need high quality, I just go to a local recording studio. The hour there including editing is only around $50 and the quality is perfect, Plantronics headset to record audio for Adobe Captivatesince the room is sound proof and they work with $30k plus equipment. In most cases though, I just use a very simple and cheap unidirectional mic or my Plantronics headset. They do the job in 99% of the projects.

Snowball microphone to record audio in Adobe CaptivateA friend of mine has been using Blue Snowball USB mic to record the SMEs who think it's really cool because it has a bit of a retro look. This is an omni-directional mic, meaning, it will record audio from all directions including ambient noise. A quiet or soundproof room will give you best results. You might also want to invest in a Pop-Filter. They are cheap and worth it.

For audio editing, you might want to take a look at Adobe Soundbooth to have additional functionality such as noise or hiss reduction, audio filters, and effects. You can also easily compose music scores :)

Here is another tip from my friend: Get some kind of percussion instrument to create a sound you can easily recognize in the visual wave format. That way, you know exactly when to cut the audio between slides. When her SMEs mess up, she simply hits it twice to quickly find the second take.


If you don't mind using a handheld mic & stand, rather than a headset, you would have to go a long way (and spend a lot of money) to beat the good old Shure SM58 & SM57.

I've used these models for more than 20 years. One of mine - admittedly a spare now - is 18 years old and still sounds perfect.

I recommend the Rode Podcaster USB mic, together with Sennheiser HD280pro headphones. You just plug it into your computer and start recording in Captivate...you can monitor in real time with no delay and also hear the playback from Captivate through the built-in headphone jack. So no sound card is needed.

The issue is to get a completely quiet room rather than a perfect microphone. (e.g. a quiet computer no harddisk spinning sound, etc)

I'm using a Samson CO3U and it is absolutely fantastic. Excellent sound quality and it has a cardioid pattern so it is less likely to pick up noise.

It's a USB condenser mic and I got it for $99 on Amazon.com.