When it comes to choosing a microphone, we are going to find very different models in the market in terms of types, polar patterns or acoustic specifications, so before listing what a good microphone should be for streaming we will review what to take into account.
This characteristic refers to the range of sound that a microphone is capable of picking up. It is measured in hertz and is displayed from low to high frequencies. For a streamer this specification is not as important as for a vocalist, but better to look for those microphones that offer a wide range of frequencies.
Impedance is the opposition to the alternating current provided by the microphone at its output and it is usual that, depending on the type of microphone, they are divided into low impedance (50-1000 ohms), medium (5000-15000 ohms) and high (more than 20,000 ohms). Also, the longer the cable, the more impedance there will be.
If we are looking for a microphone to stream – or podcasts – of quality, better consider those that have up to 600 ohms.
The polar pattern or the direction (or directions) in which the microphone picks up sound is key when choosing a microphone for streaming. The main classification refers to:
- Omnidirectional, capable of picking up sounds from any direction. Although it may sound very attractive to us, in practice it captures surrounding noises, such as the keyboard itself, so they are not highly recommended for streamers and gamers.
- The bi-directional profile microphones pick up sound from two opposite sides, the front and the rear, making them interesting for duos or interviews (or streaming as a couple).
- Microphones that pick up sound in one direction are the most used for streaming and have different polar patterns, among which are cardioid (the most popular) and then hypercardioid and supercardioid. The profile of the cardioids is heart-shaped, picking up sound from the front – where the mic is pointing – and some from the sides.
- The shotgun are highly directional microphones are especially capturing the sound with a front and offering great precision in the audio jack.
Each type of microphone has different characteristics, so they are more or less suitable for gaming, streaming, podcasts, music, etc. So we have to choose the best microphone for our all purposes of entertainment. A good grouping of the types of microphones and their main characteristics is:
- Dynamic or moving coil microphone. Used for live concerts as handheld microphones. They’re rugged, tolerate distortion (so they’re great for high-noise environments), have low impedance, high outputs, and don’t need a preamp or phantom power.
- Glass or ceramic microphones are cheap and offer high output voltage, high sensitivity and impedance (a lot of noise), especially if they carry long cables. They are fragile and serve to capture words, but not for music.
- Condenser microphone, used for high quality sound and details due to its acoustic qualities – low impedance and wide frequency -. They are used at a professional level for both vocal and instrumental capture. They require food.
- The electret microphones are basic, they offer good frequency response and require no external power. Its operation is similar to those of a condenser.
- The ribbon or ribbon microphone was common in recording studios in the 1950s. Its output is low, it has very low impedance and it needs an amplifier. Its price is usually high.
- The USB microphone is condenser type but integrates a preamplifier and an analog-digital converter that allows you to record directly from your computer. It is used to record words and give voice to videos and video games, which is why they are the most common microphones for streaming due to their simplicity and ease of use. These types of microphones are a simpler alternative to those that require an audio interface with an XLR cable to connect it to the PC.
- The wireless microphone is not that use different technologies, but that integrate an external wireless module built or installed to be able to use wireless. Of course, at the cost of increasing the probability of interference. They are also more expensive and fragile.
After reviewing the types of microphones, it is clear that when choosing a microphone to record voice we will be between USB microphones or a dynamic or condenser microphone with an audio card and an XLR cable.
We have already anticipated that the most common type of microphone for streaming will be the USB type, since it offers a combination of functionality and simplicity: it is enough to connect it to the computer for it to be operational. In this sense, we save additional elements, something that affects both the price and the ease of use.
Yes, at the cost of losing quality, since they do not reach the level of the XLR alternative. However, within this scenario of use, the result of a good USB microphone is very suitable.
Another point to take into account is latency, or what is the same, the delay between sound recording and playback, something that generates an undesirable echo sensation. However, some USB microphones include software to minimize this effect – and other features – and monitor it through a jack output.