In the audio universe, everything begins with the microphone. However, when you are on the move, you face a big challenge of producing music because traditional microphones and other tools aren’t convenient. This is where a USB microphone comes in handy. All you need is to attach a single cable to the computer and you have a full-blown recording studio. Let us understand the technology behind this mic so that you can make a smart buying decision.
What is It?
Don’t be fooled, the USB mic contains all the elements that a normal mic contains including a fully functional diaphragm, capsule and more. The only difference is the inclusion of 2 circuits: the A/D converter and an onboard pre-amp. Having the online preamp saves you the hustle of having an external mic preamp or connecting the mic to a mixer.
An A/D converter converts the mic’s output from analog direct to digital so that you can plug the mic direct into the computer to use it with recording software. The converter makes the whole process easy – plugging the mic into the computer, running your software and recording your mix.
The mic comes with an audio interface incorporated directly into the body of the mic, making the mic plug-and-play and very convenient. You don’t need an extra piece of software to record audio. The mics will work using the standard drivers and audio manager on your operating system, whether Windows or Mac. Some companies also give you additional control software that you can use to adjust the volume level and other parameters. You can also get mics that give you the capability to plug the earphones into the mic itself, making everything easier.
A Variety to Choose From
These mics come in a wide variety of sizes, types, pickup patterns and features. You get to choose a mic with a smaller diaphragm or one with a larger one. USB mics with a larger diaphragm have a larger surface area for recording, making them ideal for those situations that need rich detail and higher sensitivity. On the other hand, choose a mic with a small diaphragm to enjoy a high level of internal shock mounting, so that you can hold the mic without producing any handling noises. Check out some of the top mics at http://microphonegeeks.com/pro/usb-mics/.
Most of the USB mics you will come across feature a cardioid pattern. The heart-shaped design is very useful since it focuses on the sound source without being too wide or too narrow, making it the perfect mic for different uses. This pattern also makes it possible to enjoy perfect sound emanating from off-axis sources while rejecting sound from the rear. However, you need to experiment with the placement so that you get the perfect sound. See how the mic you have behaves at different positions and distances.
You will find various situations ideal for a UB microphone:
Lugging several pieces of audio gear can be inconveniencing and tiresome. Why not carry a USB mic to the venue, plug it into your computer and spend more time concentrating on gathering the information you need?
If you have an idea or a message you wish to pass across, you can use podcasts. However, it becomes challenging because you need to concentrate on the information you wish to deliver, rather than spending more time on the setup of the equipment. The easy to set up, plug and play nature of these mics make them superb for podcasts. All you need is find a convenient place, plug the mic into the laptop and you can share them with the world.
When it comes to voiceovers, sound quality becomes paramount. Many voiceover artistes aren’t sound engineers; all they need is a quick setup that can allow them to do their thing. Having a USB mic lets you enjoy unlimited sound quality without the need for dozens of cables and gear. You also don’t need extensive expertise to get into the game.
Whether you are an artiste traveling on the road or you have just come up with an idea you wish to record, a USB mic becomes very useful. This gives you a quick and effortless way to record your audio within minutes.
You can also add clarity to your VoIP sessions, Skype, news gathering or capture any multimedia project. You can also record the rehearsal for review. You can do all these using a single cable connection. No fuss. No muss.
Dynamic or Condenser?
Simply put, dynamic mics come self-powered and create a signal using the sound pressure that moves a cartridge coil located between a set of magnets. On the other hand, condenser mics work by applying an external current to the circuit in the mic. This current is referred to professionally as phantom power.
Condenser mics offer a smoother audio response over a wider frequency range. Dynamic mics can handle a higher dynamic range and use a more powerful magnet structure, making them perfect for stronger vocal performance.
What Speed Should You Choose?
The speed, often referred to as the sample rate, is denoted in kilohertz (kHz). To make sure you capture the whole spectrum (or most of it) of frequencies within the range of the human hearing, you need to have a mic with a minimum sample rate of 44.1 kHz, which is the rate used on CDs. This rate is adequate for general recording purposes. A higher sample rate is ideal for professional production, offering the best editing and definition options.
You also need to consider the bit depth of the mic. This refers to the number of bits of info each sample holds. This depth determines the resolution or detail of each recording. CDs use a 16-bit depth, which is the minimum your USB mic should handle. You can as well go for a 24-bit sample, which some of the USB mics can deliver comfortably.
Latency refers to how long the sound takes to be converted from raw sound into the digital format. Latency can be a problem especially during playback. Generally, the higher the USB mic quality, the lower the latency. This is one of the reasons to avoid cheap mics especially if you plan to use them for real-time monitoring.
Above and Beyond
There is more to a USB mic than just picking any and connecting it to your computer. In as much as it makes things easier for you, you also have to make sure you get a perfect mic. With so many options available on the market, you ought to take time and choose what suits you. Once you have the best mic for your task, you are assured of mobility and convenient recording.