Computer Microphones : What Is Best For You?

With such a wide variety of computer microphones available, how do you know what to buy? This guide will help you choose a computer mic that meets your needs. When choosing a microphone for computer use, the most important factor to consider is the way you intend to use it. What works for one person may not work for another.

One question you may have when choosing a microphone for your computer, is whether to buy a wired or wireless microphone. Wired computer mics are usually cheaper than wireless ones. But, in terms of sound quality they are not the best. Usually, such microphones are in the standard desktop microphone form and come with new computers. The advantage of a wireless microphone is its flexibility, but it's more expensive. Some wireless microphones clip on your clothes or come as an earpiece, like a bluetooth cell phone device. The headset is more popular. A headset includes earphones and a microphone, similar to those used by telephone operators.

computer microphone

When choosing computer microphones, another thing to consider is the input for plugging the microphone into your computer. Some microphones can be plugged to the dedicated 3.5mm inputs on your laptop or desktop computer, while some of them are plugged to a USB port. In terms of use, there is no major difference, but since computers come with more USB ports than dedicated microphone inputs, the USB solution is a bit more practical. With USB, you have more options for plugging your microphone. If there's a problem with one USB port, you can switch to another. The same cannot be said for a "non-USB" faulty microphone input.

Are you planning to use your computer microphone for online chatting like Skype and Google Voice? Then you're better off with a headset. The advantage of a headset is that the microphone is constantly in position. You don't have to worry about volume drops. If sound quality is important to you, you're better off with a headset microphone as opposed to the standard desktop microphone. Standard desktop microphone models cause feedback more easily, picking up the sound of the person at the end of your conversation and sending it back. If you're looking for a laptop or PC microphone for conference calls, to record audio or create podcasts, a headset microphone is a better option.

Are you using your computer microphone for online gaming? A headset microphone is a good choice. This ensures hands-free operation. It is also a healthy alternative because of the fact that you do not have to bend towards the microphone. It encourages proper posture.

For speech recognition purposes, you will have to spend some more money and buy a quality computer microphone. A good microphone for speech recognition should ensure very clear sound. You should look into buying one with a built-in noise cancellation feature. This would reduce background noise and help to ensure accurate speech recognition. A headset microphone is the best option for this since the microphone stays the same distance from your mouth at all times. You can adjust the microphone in an optimal position and leave it there.

Something else to consider when buying a microphone for laptop or desktop computer use is whether the microphone is unidirectional or omnidirectional. Omnidirectional microphones pick up sound in all directions. In addition to capturing your voice, they will pick up sounds from the room and the rest of the house, even the sounds of barking dogs, cars or sirens outside. Unidirectional microphones pick up the sound directly in front of them. When you speak into your microphone you can rest assured that it is not picking up noise from all over the place. Most desktop microphones are omnidirectional. This is one reason I prefer headset microphones. If you want your voice to be captured clearly, get a unidirectional microphone, NOT an omnidirectional.

computer headset and microphone

So what if you want to pick up sounds from the entire room? In some cases you may want to pick up sounds from the room. For instance, you may want to pick up the voices of everyone in the room or even in the house for that matter. You may be going about your house tasks while having a conversation on your computer. In such a case you're not at your computer. Maybe you're not comfortable with a headset and want some mobility. In such situations, you're better off with an omnidirectional computer microphone. But the sound quality will not be very good.

Another thing to pay attention to when buying a microphone for your computer is the microphone's frequency response. For quality sound, get a microphone with a response of 100 Hz to 8 kHz minimum.

The best quality sound you can ever get is by using a top-of-the-line but very expensive studio microphone, along with an audio interface. For professional sound recording, you can't just plug your microphone into your computer; you need a professional audio interface. The sound card your computer comes with is not good enough. This option is best for musicians, producers and studio engineers. This is much more complex than the options we spoke about earlier.

So what are the best computer microphones to buy? Except for professional studio work, my personal preference is the headset. Almost every headset model is a unidirectional microphone with noise canceling features. A headset will capture your voice very well without picking up nearby sounds that can distract your listeners. While desktop computer microphones are cheaper, they do not re-produce sound very well. Headset microphones are made by companies such as Logitech, Plantronics, Altec Lansing and Labtec. If you decide to buy a headset microphone, make sure its a stereo headset.

Before choosing a computer mic, be sure to read reviews from customers who have already bought the particular microphone you're thinking of getting. These are usually their honest opinions and can guide you in choosing a microphone that meets your needs.

Further Reading:

  • Things to look for when buying computer microphones.
  • Guide to a computer recording microphone.
  • Guide to choosing microphones for laptops.
  • Guide to choosing microphones for computers.
  • Microphone software for amateurs and professionals.
  • Laptop Microphone guide.

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