Choosing a Budget Microphone to Record Voiceover

Whether you are a podcaster or wanting to narrate your own audiobook or wanting to become a voice-over, choice of microphone needs some careful consideration. There are microphones out there that will give you a professional result for a relatively small amount of money and there are microphones that you should not even consider.

This article assumes you are looking for a microphone for voicing (maybe even singing) and are aiming to produce a high-quality audio product.

For £10 or less

Do not waste your time with headsets or very low-cost microphones that you plugin to your computer. These are okay for having a skype chat with somebody but not for quality recordings.

Recording Device 

You could spend a lot of money on a fancy audio computer or portable audio recorder but I am assuming you want to do this with the least amount of expense and trouble as possible. As such, I am also assuming that you have a computer to connect your microphone to and I will be mainly looking at USB microphones. Additionally, I will cover a low-cost high-quality audio recorder too.

Portable Recorder - Less than £100

Portable recorders or handy recorders, as they are also known, are devices that have decent quality microphones combined with a digital recording device. This basically means that the audio data is recorded to a memory card and can be transferred to a computer for editing later.

The benefit of this option would be that you have the flexibility of being able to record anywhere. Ideal if you want to record on the move. It may also be an option if you have too much noise around the area where your computer is.

There are several really good options.

Zoom has a range of models. The cheapest is the Zoom H1n. On Amazon it's currently £89 but it can be bought from other retailers too. 

There is also a range of other more featured recorders from Zoom, personally, I use the Zoom H4n but the H1n is ideal as a starter and a versatile recorder. Tascam also does a good range of portable recorders.

Buy on Amazon

USB Microphones

To keep this short I won't explore all of the USB benefits in detail here. However, let's just say that USB is much better at a lower budget because it sends a digital form of your voice straight into your computer. It does this by converting your voice from analogue to digital in the actual microphone and then sends the digital data into your computer. 

Analogue microphone send your voice in analogue form into your computer and it is converted into digital in the computer. On its journey, it will most likely have collected a lot of additional noise and unless your sound card is of a professional standard your computer will add its own soundcard noise. 

Basically, avoid anything that is analogue, It must be USB connector.

I am not saying analogue systems are bad, just that you will need to spend much more money if you go down that route.

Basic requirements for your USB Microphone

For our purposes, you need to look for a large diaphragm condenser microphone. These are the type where you talk into the front face of the microphone. It needs to also have a polar pattern that is cardioid, Super-cardioid, or hyper-cardioid. This means that the most sensitive part of the microphone is at the front where you will be speaking. 

Here are some good ones.

Samson SAC01UPRO USB Microphone - £63*

This microphone is the perfect budget choice and I have known professional voice overs who have used these microphones to record everything from TV adverts to Audiobooks. This one even has the headphone socket on the microphone which makes monitoring your recording very easy. 

This does need you to but a separate stand, although that can add versatility as you can choose between a desk stand, a floor stand etc

Here are links to it on Amazon. It currently has 76 reviews which 4.3 stars which means other people think it is great too.

Buy on Amazon


Blue Yeti - £112*

This is a very popular microphone with podcasters. The quality is amazing and it even has different polar patterns including cardioid. With 4.4 out of 5 on Amazon and over 1200 reviews, it is certainly a competent mic. It also comes with its own desk stand.

Buy on Amazon

 


Blue Snowball - £45*

Another USB microphone that has great reviews. On Amazon it has 4.4 out of 5 with over 1400 reviews. This one has a very distinctive look and has a desk stand.

Buy on Amazon

*Prices and info correct at time of writing this.

Other Useful Accessories for your microphones

Pop filter

A pop filter can be useful for preventing plosives (a blast of air that causes a pop in your recording). You often prevent this by using a good microphone position but a pop filter can help too.  

Buy on Amazon

Reflection filter

This only works on a microphone on a floor stand as it needs to connect to the stand. It prevents room ambiance from entering the microphone and getting recorded. We have an article about microphone positions and room ambiance. 

Buy on Amazon

Finally...

If you think a portable recorder will suit your workflow, do some research and read a few reviews before deciding. If you think a USB microphone will be better for your needs, consider where you will record and what noise your computer makes. For example, noise fans will be picked up by the microphone if you are too close to it. 

In any case, do some research and either but one of our suggestions, or choose one of the other makes. In all cases, you do not really have to spend a lot to get started recording high-quality voice over audio.

About the Author

Lee Pritchard is a composer and audio producer and the co-founder of MediaMusicNow. 

Edited by: Adam Barber


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Disclaimer: This content is for guidance only. We have no connection with any companies mentioned, this is my opinion. Links to Amazon may contain an affiliate ID which means we get a small commission if you buy via our link. All graphics are for illustrative purposes only and copyright to their respective owners.

 

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