If you are live streaming, you are undoubtedly aware of the importance of good sound quality. To get this right, you need the right microphone. Many high-quality microphone types are relatively inexpensive, but there are many to choose from so it can be a difficult decision. In this guide, we will discuss the key features to consider when choosing your live streaming equipment.
The importance of a good mic
With inadequate sound quality, you are sabotaging your streaming career before it even begins. Your streaming microphone captures and holds your voice to transmit it to your audience, and a standard microphone built into your headphones is simply not good enough. You need something of studio-quality to get the desired result.
So what mics are available?
There are really only two types of microphones to consider: condenser microphones and dynamic microphones. The former is based on the properties of an electric condenser and can be bought even on a fairly modest budget. The latter converts sound into an electric signal by means of electromagnetism, eliminating background noise very effectively but often at a high monetary cost.
These are fairly widespread and offer superb sound quality. They include a membrane that captures minute vibrations but require a constant recharge. This means the capacitor requires constant phantom power.
Though the sound quality is outstanding, the sensitivity of the membrane means it will pick up background noise from the room. For this reason, you may need to focus on sound insulation in the room to get the best results, or it will pick up room reverberation or even sounds from the street outside.
The reduced sensitivity of these mics makes them very appealing. They will neutralise things like echoes and background noise, making them a popular option for concert venues and other live performances.
Ultimately, their recording quality is not a lot better than that of a condenser mic in a well-insulated room, but the cost of a dynamic microphone is typically much higher.
Parameters to consider for live streamers
You should consider the following factors when making your decision:
- Directivity: for live streaming, a unidirectional mic is usually sufficient.
- Sensitivity: this is indicated in dB. The lower the value, the more quiet sounds the mic will pick up.
- Frequency response: this refers to its ability to record a range of sounds from quiet to loud with no distortion. A wider range will mean a more natural sound.
The basic, simple microphone type for those on a budget is to go for a USB microphone. They are easy to use, simple to set up and reliable. Their plug-and-play functionality is very appealing for many, particularly when their sound requirements are relatively basic.
If you want a slightly more sophisticated setup, you could go for a high-quality XLR microphone. This connection ensures the best-quality sound due to the complexity of the connection type, but it does not come with an analogue digital converter and preamp. This means you will need to buy an additional piece of equipment to use in your live stream: an audio interface.
Though these are an additional expense, they can be worth the effort. They work by converting the analogue sound of your voice into a digital signal for your computer to recognise. It will give you greater control over the quality of your sound, but new streamers should avoid getting lost down the rabbit hole of high-end hardware.
Consider the following features for your audio interface:
- Phantom power to give you greater versatility
- Number of inputs (something that USB microphones cannot accommodate)
- Built-in audio effects like an equaliser (EQ), compression and noise gates. These things can help you fine-tune your audio quality straight out of your microphone
The bottom line
If you want to succeed in live streaming, you cannot avoid considering what type of microphone to use. The considerations covered in this guide may sound complicated in parts, but do your homework and explore your options and you are bound to find the right one for you.