Microphones

How can I do voice dictation on my desktop?

Dragon Naturally Speaking

Episode 1533

Gayle from Covina, CA

Gayle wants to know if she can do dictation with her desktop. Leo says that she can plug in a headset or microphone to the audio jack in the back of the computer. Windows 10 has Cortana that can handle the dictation. She can also get software like Dragon Naturally Speaking, but these days, voice dictation is available as part of Windows OS. It's not perfect, but it works pretty well.

What's a good mic for video?

Plantronics USB headset

Episode 1490

Leon from Glendale, CA

Leon is a knife and armor blacksmith and makes videos on YouTube. He wants to improve the video quality over a webcam that he uses. He also needs a better microphone. Leo says webcams have a built in microphone that work close up, but from a distance, he'd really need an off camera mic. A USB microphone would work, since Leon uses a webcam. He would just need to configure it in the webcam software while capturing.

Is the Movo Wireless Microphone good?

Movo Wireless Microphone

Episode 1438

Paul from San Diego, CA

Paul has had an issue where Microsoft was installing newer drivers during an update that he didn't want. Leo says that he can choose to not install the newer drivers when he runs the update utility.

Paul also wants to know if the Movo wireless microphone works well. Leo says it's a good low-cost wireless microphone, but he's concerned because the cheaper a wireless mic is, the more likely he'll run into interference.

Why am I getting a hum in my recordings with Audacity?

Audacity

Episode 1393

Micah from Maine

Micah uses Audacity and he gets an intermittent hum on his microphone. Leo says that the mic Micah uses is USB and so a hum can't really find its way into the chain because the power is coming from the laptop, not an analog phantom power source. It could mean that the Digital to Audio converter is going bad, but if there's no analog loop, then there can't be a hum. So it must be software.

Where can I get a good lavalier microphone?

Audio Technica AT898 lavalier mic

Episode 1283

Larry from Petaluma, CA

Larry would like to have a lavalier microphone for his Canon Vixia. He doesn't want a wireless one. Leo says it's a good idea to start with a wired lav mic because he won't run into interference. He'll also want a unidirectional mic in order to filter out all the ambient noise coming from where he is recording. The downside is that if the mic gets off axis, he'll have to adjust it. So he'll want to constantly monitor the audio to be sure that the mic is aimed properly.

How can I get rid of a clicking sound in my recording?

Yeti Microphone

Episode 1266

Sigmund from London, England

Sigmund recently had heart surgery and they replaced one of his heart valves. It 'ticks' rather loudly, though. Leo says that Dr. Mom says it's not unusual for mechanical heart valves to have an audible ticking noise. Leo says that some mics, mostly condenser mics, are very sensitive and can pick up the faintest of sounds. That's why most studios use dynamic mics. They don't pick up a lot of external sounds. But condenser mics can be tuned to not pick up that. Sigmund should find that in his Yeti settings. He can also "declick" the audio recording through recording software.

What's a good microphone and mixer for podcasting?

Behringer Podcast Kit

Episode 1204

Brandon from Springfield, MO

Brandon wants to get a mic for his computer so he can do let's play Minecraft videos. What should he get? He wants a mic with XLR outputs. Leo says that a good affordable option is the Shure SM58. They're cheap at under $100 and very robust. He won't be able to break it. He should also get a mixer that has a USB connector that can interface digitally with his computer. Podcaster kits like this from Behringer are a great place to start.

What's the best mic for podcasting?

Heil PR40

Episode 1120

Jim from Atlanta, GA

Jim was podcasting back when Leo was still on TechTV. Jim had to walk away from it a few years ago but now he's ready to get started up again. He sees that Leo had recommended the Sennheiser SMD25 and is wondering if its still a good option. Leo says he wouldn't go with that. He uses a dynamic directional mic instead. Leo recommends Bob Heil's HeilSound PR40. It's great for studio work and it'll make Jim's voice sound really great. They're about $350.