To record directly onto your computer the obvious solution is a USB microphone. Or is it?
Recording and sound editing software such as the open source Audacity have made recording and editing on your computer simple and powerful.
(Did I mention that Audacity is FREE?!)
But to use Audacity (or other audio software) you first need to get a sound signal into your computer.
Yes, there are a few USB microphones that plug directly into your computer.
Here’s one from MXL, a leader in quality microphones.
And of course for day-to-day recordings of adequate quality, you can use a USB mic with headset earphones, perfect for applications such as Dragon Naturally Speaking.
I have this USB headset. It is comfortable and does a fine job.
But for higher quality recording of voice for podcasting and song, guitar and other instruments, you may want to consider a different solution.
To record or broadcast better sound quality, you want a condenser microphone. Condenser mics require “phantom power.”
Problem: The USB port isn’t set up to provide the “phantom power” needed to to run a condenser mic.
Why do I want a condenser microphone? Is it that much better than a USB microphone?
Condenser mics are the standard for studio recording and performance.
Condenser mics come in many shapes, sizes, sensitivities, dynamic ranges and prices. Using condenser mics offers you (and your budget) options.
Dynamic condenser microphones such as the Shure PG48-XLR Cardioid Dynamic Vocal Microphone with XLR-to-XLR Cableare the recognized workhorses of vocalists (and rugged enough to pound nails).
Condenser mics offer excellent signal to noise ratio (low hum) and gain (amplification).
Condenser mics use the standard three-prong XLR connector. That means buying condenser mics is an investment in equipment that interfaces with standard amps, mixers — basically everything. Whereas, USB mics have one purpose – to connect to your computer.
It’s the Sound
I’ve used both types of mics. Even a medium-priced condenser mic has a rich, powerful sound. You can really hear the difference.
OK let’s assume you now are convinced that condenser microphones are the way to go.
How the heck do you hook up a condenser mic to your computer?
Enter the TASCAM US-200 2-in/4-out USB 2.0 Audio Interface . . . → Read More: Talking (or Singing) to Your Computer? USB Microphone vs. USB Audio Interface