Best Podcasting Microphone – Revisited!

Best Podcasting Microphone – Revisited!

micdodgeOver the years I’ve written several microphone reviews in my ongoing search for the one microphone that combines quality of sound, great features, and does not require very expensive equipment to operate. Those requirements make USB microphones very attractive, they plug right into the computer and show up as a digital sound device, they are powered from the USB bus of the computer.

In the last Microphone review I did in early 2009, the microphone I heard to most feedback on was the Blue Snowball, and rightly so. The Blue Snowball is a classy looking microphone with some great features. USB means you can simply plug it in and start podcasting right away (with some issues under Linux).

With the many advantages to USB and the obvious popularity, I set off to research and try out the absolute best USB podcasting Microphone. If you’d like to see my take on a few fantastic non-USB mics, check out my review on those.

I’ll be comparing what might just be two of the best selling USB Microphones, Blue’s Snowball and the Rode Podcaster.

Watch my In Depth Look video for even more details:

The Blue Snowball:

bluesnowballback_lStarting with the Blue Snowball, it has a few features I love, with it’s exaggerated 1920’s classic look. Some of the great features include:

  • Three operational modes, standard audio level, -10db pad, and a room mode. The room mode is great for using a single mic for a couple people… Though I find the quality takes a noticeable hit (see video for more). Over all I tend to really only find my self using the first main mode, unless I’ve setup a co-host with the Snowball, and he or she needs a little help keeping those levels in check.
  • The Blue Snowball is probably one of the most prolific mics on the market, so support is wide spread. This has not led to very solid Linux support, but it is usable out of the box on Linux, Mac, and Windows.

Overall I find the Blue Snowball to have a very true sound, if not a bit t00 thin that can’t really be fully restored in post without a lot of extra work. I find the stand the Blue Snowball comes with nearly useless, it’s too short and built cheap, however the hole the stand mounts into is a standard mic pole socket, so you can easily mount the Snowball to any standard mic mount.

The new contestant for my label of “best podcasting microphone” is the Rode Podcaster. It has a more serious look and design, I can tell that Rode was aiming for a pro look and feel, and I think they nailed it. It’s a hefty microphone, nearly 2lbs in weight, with a metal body and it has a really good solid feeling in your hand – though that extra heft can be felt in your laptop bag if you’re traveling and want to record on location.

The Rode Podcaster:

rodepodcasterThe Rode Podcaster has a few really great features that I feel put this microphone in a category of its own for the consumer market, such as:

  • The number one feature is the built in microphone jack. This means you can monitor your audio live, without the delay from USB. Something not possible with nearly all USB microphones and is such a critical way to avoid regretting a horrible recording session that could have been avoided with simply monitoring what was going into your recorder. The headphone jack being built into the mic means no delay, which is critical so your not finding your self getting tripped up by hearing your self on a strange delay. It does odd things to the brain.
  • Not content with just acting as headphone jack to monitor your self, the headphone jack also shows up as a USB audio output device on your computer. This means when your doing a Skype call, you can set Skype to send audio to that jack, so you don’t end up picking up the bleed from your desktop speakers on your mic. Direct monitoring and Audio out ability can really improve the quality of your recordings.
  • Overall I think the Rode has a great sound, it can be a bit quiet, so be sure you have your levels set right. But it’s always safe to error on the side of quite audio, you can boost that.. You can’t fix your recording if you clip out the entire time and blast the recorder with too much level.
  • Last but far from least, the Rode Podcaster is a top fire-end mic, with a very narrow pickup range. What the heck does that mean? It means you talk into the top of it, not the side of it quite simply. The advantage is it’s not awkward to use if you put it on a mic stand or boom. As for the narrow pickup range (this is better demonstrated in the video) stuff that is not directly in front of the mic, is hardly picked up. This is key if you are recording in a noisy room with PC fans, other background sounds, or have other hosts around you. One of the often missed causes of a bad sounding recording is when your hosts are picked up by the other hosts mics. Because they are not directly in front of the mic next to them that is picking them up, their voice has a poor sound quality, it gets mixed into the overall recording, and BOOM, you have some element in your recording killing your quality that is kind of hard to track down and figure out.

RodePodcaster-onmount1The Rode Podcaster does not come with a stand, so you’ll need something to mount it on. You can go with something simple and cheap, like a desk stand that sits right on your desk or a mic boom that clamps to your desk and lets you adjust the mic around to better fit how you are sitting. The desk stand also tends to transfer any noise on your desk into the mic, the mic boom can do this as well, but when you combine the boom stand with a shock mount, you can almost totally eliminate this issue.

To really get setup right, I’d recommend a boom and shock mount. I contacted the folks over at The (whom I got my Rode Podcaster from) and told them I was doing this review. They put together a full Rode Podcaster bundle that includes the Mic, boom stand, and shock mount for a great price. I don’t make anything off their sales (unlike the Amazon links above), I just know them and been happy with the service.

The One:

Over all I am giving the crown for the “Best Podcasting Microphone” to the Rode Podcaster, it’s built in headphone monitor, support for Windows, Linux, and Windows (Linux & Vista/Win7 after a firmware update) really make this a fantastic mic. When you factor in it’s high-end sound quality, exceptional build quality, and Rode’s reputation for making great mics – it’s a clear winner!


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