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[help] choosing mic for voice chat and podcasting

Hi, dear community!

I've been taking advantage of voice communication in games, work and other related stuff for years by now. But I'm not fully okay with the quality of the setup I have.

Namely, this is just a standard webcam stereo mic (built into the monitor), that works well enough. And it pick up just everything, even the sound of a tv in another room, not saying anything about my mechanical keyboard (not cherry blues). I already have some random dynamic mic, which is not that bad, but I don't have any audio interface to run it, except for my workstation synth.

 

So, are there any options that I can benefit from? My goals are:

  1. Less is more: I don't wanna have extra equipment, if that's possible. In other words, a usb mic is prefered. This also ensures some better portability (i.e. using it with a macbook on the sofa).
  2. $150 max, since I can't justify spending more on a mic for mostly old games, that utilize something like source engine, which has poor voice quality anyways. Although, I'd like to remove all the background sounds and noise.
  3. No head-mounted mics, 'cause I will be getting a proper mic mount for it.

Thanks in advance!

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If ya really want to save money, Neweer NW700. Sounds fine even just going straight into a 3.5mm mic jack, and you can maybe get a proper audio interface as well as the mic for under your budget (although it seems to have doubled in price since I ordered, so maybe just the mic).

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CPU: Xeon X5650 OC'd to 4.2GHz @ 1.35V (courtesy of @XR6)Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth X58 RAM: 6x4GB G.Skill Ripjaws X GPU: Asus RX 570 Strix Storage: 512GB Samsung 850 Pro and 1TB WD Blue PSU: EVGA 600B Case: Fractal Design Define C Cooling: H100i V2, be quiet! Pure Wings 2 (two intake, two exhausting through radiator) Monitor: 3x Dell P2210 on a Steelcase Eyesite triple monitor stand Mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 Keyboard: It changes, but usually Focus FK-9000 Mousepad: Steelseries QcK XL Headphones:  Sennheiser HD598SE and MEE M6 Pro

 

"If you don't measure things, it's not engineering; it's art." - Jack Ganssle

 

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56 minutes ago, kelvinhall05 said:

If ya really want to save money, Neweer NW700. Sounds fine even just going straight into a 3.5mm mic jack, and you can maybe get a proper audio interface as well as the mic for under your budget (although it seems to have doubled in price since I ordered, so maybe just the mic).

Nah, 3.5 jack is definitely a bad idea in that case. I see that there are neewer kits on aliexpress, that do include an audio interface. But do they really worth it? I think that it's better not to cheap out on the interface.

 

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35 minutes ago, paprikman said:

Nah, 3.5 jack is definitely a bad idea in that case. I see that there are neewer kits on aliexpress, that do include an audio interface. But do they really worth it? I think that it's better not to cheap out on the interface.

 

No idea if the interface is any good but the mic itself sounds totally fine (for the price) even just plugged into the 3.5mm jack and I've heard good reviews about the audio interface.

Quote me to see my reply!

SPECS:

CPU: Xeon X5650 OC'd to 4.2GHz @ 1.35V (courtesy of @XR6)Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth X58 RAM: 6x4GB G.Skill Ripjaws X GPU: Asus RX 570 Strix Storage: 512GB Samsung 850 Pro and 1TB WD Blue PSU: EVGA 600B Case: Fractal Design Define C Cooling: H100i V2, be quiet! Pure Wings 2 (two intake, two exhausting through radiator) Monitor: 3x Dell P2210 on a Steelcase Eyesite triple monitor stand Mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 Keyboard: It changes, but usually Focus FK-9000 Mousepad: Steelseries QcK XL Headphones:  Sennheiser HD598SE and MEE M6 Pro

 

"If you don't measure things, it's not engineering; it's art." - Jack Ganssle

 

🏳️‍🌈

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7 hours ago, kelvinhall05 said:

No idea if the interface is any good but the mic itself sounds totally fine (for the price) even just plugged into the 3.5mm jack and I've heard good reviews about the audio interface.

No, very no, OP, never go anywhere near those mics, they SUUUUUUUUUUCK a lot. And no, they come with phantom power supplies, I've never seen one come with an actual audio interface.

 

OP, if you want a 'not too bad' microphone that rejects a fair amount of noise and you don't want an interface right now the Samson Q2U might be for you. First of all it's one of only two USB microphones I would ever recommend due to also having an XLR connectors so that if the USB section dies (as USB mics often do) you can continue to use it as an XLR microphone. The gear recommendations in my signature have some other options listed and some useful information to help you decide what microphone and interface (if any) to purchase.

 

Sloth

Sloth's the name, audio gear is the game
My Microphone and Interface tips and recommendations

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1 minute ago, The Flying Sloth said:

No, very no, OP, never go anywhere near those mics, they SUUUUUUUUUUCK a lot.

Considering I paid under 40 CAD (new and not on sale or anything) and I got a decent mic, decent stand, decent...well, decent everything.

 

 

They don't SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK a lot, they are fine for most people.

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SPECS:

CPU: Xeon X5650 OC'd to 4.2GHz @ 1.35V (courtesy of @XR6)Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth X58 RAM: 6x4GB G.Skill Ripjaws X GPU: Asus RX 570 Strix Storage: 512GB Samsung 850 Pro and 1TB WD Blue PSU: EVGA 600B Case: Fractal Design Define C Cooling: H100i V2, be quiet! Pure Wings 2 (two intake, two exhausting through radiator) Monitor: 3x Dell P2210 on a Steelcase Eyesite triple monitor stand Mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 Keyboard: It changes, but usually Focus FK-9000 Mousepad: Steelseries QcK XL Headphones:  Sennheiser HD598SE and MEE M6 Pro

 

"If you don't measure things, it's not engineering; it's art." - Jack Ganssle

 

🏳️‍🌈

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7 minutes ago, kelvinhall05 said:

Considering I paid under 40 CAD (new and not on sale or anything) and I got a decent mic, decent stand, decent...well, decent everything.

 

 

They don't SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK a lot, they are fine for most people.

No, they SUUUUUUUUUUCK a lot, for 40 CAD you could have got two Behringer C2 SDCs and they're damn good mics for the money.

 

The NW/BM series mics are quite literally as basic and cheap as it is possible to make an XLR microphone with a massive noise floor and sound quality that rivals some headsets on a good day. If you want to see my point just unscrew the bottom and take a look at the componentry on the board, one tiny transistor, two capacitors on the back and some miniscule resistors as well as the capsule being a sub - 50 - cent electret element. Compare that to the componentry on a half decent electret mic like the transformer coupled output on the 3035 or even just the densely populated C2.

Spoiler

BM series

bm800-circuit.thumb.jpg.7a9edbf60c19d28792556cb06d84dd8f.jpg

3035

AT3035-pcb.thumb.jpg.cbf02f70649c1ebc4a93c6f5dd62b109.jpg

C2

30739366995_039b0fd8d4_z.jpg.341efe16d091e6ac9d12e6add36e9a78.jpg

 

Sloth's the name, audio gear is the game
My Microphone and Interface tips and recommendations

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40 minutes ago, The Flying Sloth said:

No, they SUUUUUUUUUUCK a lot, for 40 CAD you could have got two Behringer C2 SDCs and they're damn good mics for the money.

I can't find them for under $70, much less for $20.

 

 

I understand you can get better sound quality for $40. But you'd be lucky to not get a used mic for that little. Trust me, I looked extensively, and if I just wanted a plug-and-play solution, the Neweer was the best full setup for $40.

Quote me to see my reply!

SPECS:

CPU: Xeon X5650 OC'd to 4.2GHz @ 1.35V (courtesy of @XR6)Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth X58 RAM: 6x4GB G.Skill Ripjaws X GPU: Asus RX 570 Strix Storage: 512GB Samsung 850 Pro and 1TB WD Blue PSU: EVGA 600B Case: Fractal Design Define C Cooling: H100i V2, be quiet! Pure Wings 2 (two intake, two exhausting through radiator) Monitor: 3x Dell P2210 on a Steelcase Eyesite triple monitor stand Mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 Keyboard: It changes, but usually Focus FK-9000 Mousepad: Steelseries QcK XL Headphones:  Sennheiser HD598SE and MEE M6 Pro

 

"If you don't measure things, it's not engineering; it's art." - Jack Ganssle

 

🏳️‍🌈

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15 minutes ago, kelvinhall05 said:

I can't find them for under $70, much less for $20.

 

 

I understand you can get better sound quality for $40. But you'd be lucky to not get a used mic for that little. Trust me, I looked extensively, and if I just wanted a plug-and-play solution, the Neweer was the best full setup for $40.

Human malware has screwed the prices a little, still available on Thomann for $60 the pair though, and no, those NW series of mics should never even be an option, they're preying on people who are trying to buy ISK BM series mics, they're a scam, and the mics suck, a lot.

 

Besides, there's nothing wrong with used mics, a Perception series or MXL used mic in that price range has a real condenser element, not an electret like the mics we've been discussing so far and they vastly outperform the NW series mics. Besides, if you paid more than $6 for that mic you overpaid.

Sloth's the name, audio gear is the game
My Microphone and Interface tips and recommendations

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1 minute ago, The Flying Sloth said:

Human malware has screwed the prices a little, still available on Thomann for $60 the pair though, and no, those NW series of mics should never even be an option, they're preying on people who are trying to buy ISK BM series mics, they're a scam, and the mics suck, a lot.

 

Besides, there's nothing wrong with used mics, a Perception series or MXL used mic in that price range has a real condenser element, not an electret like the mics we've been discussing so far and they vastly outperform the NW series mics. Besides, if you paid more than $6 for that mic you overpaid.

Call me naive or an "audio normie" or whatever, but I think it sounds fine; for the price, I can't complain. If I were to get everything seperately (stand, cables, etc) I would be looking at *maybe* $20 for a used mic. I somehow doubt I will find something that will sound phenomenally better than the Neweer.

 

I personally always vouch for used stuff (mics in this case) but I just find it hard to believe that I can source everything I get with the Neweer (again, that's stand, cables, desk mount, etc) for under $40 and, at the absolute minimum, have the mic sound better than the Neweer.

Quote me to see my reply!

SPECS:

CPU: Xeon X5650 OC'd to 4.2GHz @ 1.35V (courtesy of @XR6)Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth X58 RAM: 6x4GB G.Skill Ripjaws X GPU: Asus RX 570 Strix Storage: 512GB Samsung 850 Pro and 1TB WD Blue PSU: EVGA 600B Case: Fractal Design Define C Cooling: H100i V2, be quiet! Pure Wings 2 (two intake, two exhausting through radiator) Monitor: 3x Dell P2210 on a Steelcase Eyesite triple monitor stand Mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 Keyboard: It changes, but usually Focus FK-9000 Mousepad: Steelseries QcK XL Headphones:  Sennheiser HD598SE and MEE M6 Pro

 

"If you don't measure things, it's not engineering; it's art." - Jack Ganssle

 

🏳️‍🌈

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@The Flying Sloth, @kelvinhall05

thanks for the detailed discussion there. I'd like to note one more time that I already have some cheap dynamic mic. Even if it's not that great, it makes sense of buying some audio interface for the mic, which can suit my need at lower price. On the other hand, it's pretty difficult to place on a pantograph, since it has to be pointed directly at me (I have a dual monitor setup).

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1 minute ago, paprikman said:

@The Flying Sloth, @kelvinhall05

thanks for the detailed discussion there. I'd like to note one more time that I already have some cheap dynamic mic. Even if it's not that great, it makes sense of buying some audio interface for the mic, which can suit my need at lower price. On the other hand, it's pretty difficult to place on a pantograph, since it has to be pointed directly at me (I have a dual monitor setup).

NGL I had to google what a Pantograph is but honestly, the cheap Ebay scissor arm does a perfectly fine job for me.
If you want to use the mic you already have the Behringer UM2 will be the best option for you, cheapest audio interface on the market.

 

Sloth's the name, audio gear is the game
My Microphone and Interface tips and recommendations

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3 hours ago, The Flying Sloth said:

NGL I had to google what a Pantograph is but honestly, the cheap Ebay scissor arm does a perfectly fine job for me.
If you want to use the mic you already have the Behringer UM2 will be the best option for you, cheapest audio interface on the market.

Eh, I have checked out a review of the UM2 and it sounds terrible, much worse than my moxf6 line input. Idk if I should look into something a bit more expensive, but with a reasonable sound quality.

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1 minute ago, paprikman said:

Eh, I have checked out a review of the UM2 and it sounds terrible, much worse than my moxf6 line input. Idk if I should look into something a bit more expensive, but with a reasonable sound quality.

What makes you apprehensive about the UM2? It's 4/5 on Sweetwater, 4.3/5 on Amazon and as far as I'm concerned that's a good review score (and Linus used it in a recent video)
You want to use a cheap dynamic mic and microphone choice has a vastly more drastic effect on audio quality than the preamp (within reason). If you want an extremely high quality input the minimum I'd recommend is a Behringer C2 and a UMC202HD, I personally use the C2 as my daily driver mic despite owning mics 50x the price. Get it close to your moth on a scissor arm to take advantage of proximity effect and it will sound great.

If you honestly think it sounded worse in a review than the line in on your midrange synthesiser the reviewer must not have been using a quality source, either that or the unit was busted (not that I've been made aware of a busted Behringer interface, ever, they're damn hard to kill if experience is anything to go by)
 

Sloth's the name, audio gear is the game
My Microphone and Interface tips and recommendations

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25 minutes ago, The Flying Sloth said:

What makes you apprehensive about the UM2?

I mean, it sounds junk to me, in comparison to what I can record right now with this common mic connected to the workstation synth. Namely, this interface sounds like it lacks highs, some resolution, the amp can't handle peaks and dynamics well. By saying that, I refer to this review.

 

I totally agree with you that there are many factors that can make this interface sound bad. And I would've definitely checked it in the store before getting one, if only it was possible right now. I never get any audio equipment without testing it live.

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51 minutes ago, paprikman said:

I mean, it sounds junk to me, in comparison to what I can record right now with this common mic connected to the workstation synth. Namely, this interface sounds like it lacks highs, some resolution, the amp can't handle peaks and dynamics well. By saying that, I refer to this review.

I would agree with you if you were considering using the interface as a primary recording interface, though you suggest you will be using it for voice chat and podcasting (with a dynamic mic that lacks the detail that may be added in a higher end interface), both of which sacrifice the detail and low noise floor you would see in a more expensive interface in favour of high compression ratios in both dynamic compression and file size.

As for that review, I mean, the price difference in the interfaces is massive, absolutely massive to the point where I wouldn't consider it a fair fight. It's no surprise to anyone that the interface costing 6 times less sounds worse and the reviewer did it no favours, noise reduction plugins are standard practice for audio production and they can take that (extremely minimal) hiss right away, when comparing the two using the Slate plugins they were not gain matched, you try playing two sources of different volume through the same effect chain and see if you still get the same sound, like, you just won't. The UM2 also doesn't have dedicated drivers supplied (they are available you just have to go looking and honestly it's not a big deal unless you're trying to record high end audio), the reviewer used Asio4All drivers which while helpful are not at all optimised for this specific interface. Having reasonable expectations for a budget interface, understanding gain staging, using the correct plugins and common sense alleviate most of the issues the reviewer had with the interface. 

Again, if you're looking for a recording interface the minimum I recommend is the UMC202HD, has current dedicated ASIO drivers and sounds damn fine. I personally use its much bigger brother, the UMC1820 and I'm extremely happy with it.
 

Sloth's the name, audio gear is the game
My Microphone and Interface tips and recommendations

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@The Flying Sloth the 'big brother' looks like a killer in terms of both price and quality. I've had the ESI u22 xt from the same price range, which didn't impress me a lot and had a huge channel imbalance on the headphone monitor output. So I had to return it.

 

From what you've mentioned above, looks like I'd better be getting something at ~$100 price point. I also like the quality of the Scarlet solo. And that feels like falling into the rabbit hole.

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