How to choose a microphone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Need help choosing a computer microphone that is right for you? Here is some information about computer microphones that may help. Some tips: If you want a computer microphone for use by one person at a time (as opposed to multiple talkers and listeners at your PC), then the gaming, handset, headset, or hybrid configurations will work best due to the separation and isolation between the ear-piece and the microphone.

For speech recognition software, the gaming, headset and some wireless headsets usually work best by eliminating background noise. Similarly, for PC Gaming or Internet Telephony (voice-over-Internet, pc-to-pc calling) the gaming, headset and wireless headsets provide the added convenience of providing hands-free operation. These are usually your best bet when using voice recording applications like the netYAK Voice Client or VoIP software such as Skype, Google Talk and Yahoo Messenger. For conference calling, try the speakerphone option. In general, consider choosing a microphone with noise canceling technology.

Type 

Description

Pros

Cons

Sources

Gaming
Click to see Gaming Headsets

NEW!

Stereo headphones with a (typically) unidirectional microphone boom attached and usually USB computer connection.

Used "hands free." Typically very good audio quality for speech. Good choice for use with voice recognition software and Voice over IP (VoIP).

Can’t be used to "conference" multiple individuals at PC end of conversation.

Logitech

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Speakerphone
Click to see Speakerphones

Omnidirectional microphone with speaker that sits on your desk.

Used "hands free" for one or multiple people speaking (conference). Best option for conference calls.

May pick up background noise or other voices.

US Robotics

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Wireless
Click to see Wireless Microphones

Wireless mono or stereo headset & unidirectional microphone or omnidirectional speakerphone. Some models are Bluetooth enabled.

No wires & use "hands free." Typically very good audio quality for speech usually with noise cancelling features. Some models work with both computers & cell phones.

Be careful to check compatibility with computer and/or cell phone.

Cardo Systems, GN Netcom, Jabra, Motorola, Plantronics

Buy one now!

Boom / Desktop
Click to see Boom / Desktop Microphones

Omnidirectional microphone on a positional boom. Usually placed on top of desk or computer monitor.

Can be used "hands free." Flexible placement. Good for multiple people speaking (conference).

May pick up background noise, PC speakers, or other voices.

Jensen, Labtec, Plantronics, Sony, Telex

Buy one now!

Built-in

Click to see Built-in Microphones

Omnidirectional microphone built into a computer monitor or keyboard. Common on many laptops.

Can be used "hands free." Some can be used for multiple people speaking (conference).

May pick up background noise, PC speakers, or other voices.

Memorex, Proview

Buy one now!

Handheld
Click to see Handheld Microphones

Unidirectional and omnidirectional microphones available.

Can be used "hands free" with a stand. Some will work for conference calls.

May pick up background noise, PC speakers, or other voices.

Audio Technica, Labtec, Memorex, Sony

Buy one now!

Handset
Click to see Computer Handsets

Unidirectional microphone and speaker packaged like a telephone handset.

Comfortable and familiar feel of a telephone handset. Typically very good audio quality for speech and gives the most "natural" feel to Voice-over-IP (VoIP) calls.

Like a telephone handset it is difficult to use "hands free." Can’t be used to "conference," but may be easily passed to another speaker.

Riparius

Buy one now!

Headset
Click to see Headset Microphones

Mono or stereo headphones with a (typically) unidirectional microphone boom attached.

Can be used "hands free." Typically very good audio quality for speech. Good choice for use with voice recognition software.

Can’t be used to "conference" multiple individuals at PC end of conversation.

Jensen, Koss, Labtec, Plantronics, Recoton, Telex

Buy one now!

Hybrid

Click to see Computer / Telephone hybrids

Click to see PhoneBridge Telephone-to-Computer bridge
Click to see PhoneBridge Telephone-to-Computer bridge

Unidirectional microphone in hand set of a standard telephone instrument or
omnidirectional speakerphone.  Uses either an internal PC card or an external
adapter connected between the phone and the PC soundcard.
Comfortable and familiar feel of a telephone handset. Typically very good audio quality for speech and gives the most "natural" feel to voice-over-IP calls. Supports conferencing if phone used is a speakerphone. Cordless phones can be used.
Must be a "plain old telephone," not a digital handset. External units require an external power supply. Internal units require a PC slot.

GN Netcom, Labtec, Logitech

Buy one now!


Phonebridge

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Lapel
Click to see Lapel Microphones

Omnidirectional microphone that clips onto clothes or sticks to the side of your computer monitor.

Can be used "hands free." Some can be used for multiple people speaking (conference).

May pick up background noise, PC speakers, or other voices.

Jensen, Koss, Labtec, Sony

Buy one now!

     

For General Sound Card Troubleshooting, please visit Microsoft Soundcard Support.

 

Definitions

Condenser

Refers to the properties of the microphone that convert sound to electricity. Condenser microphones are powered, often by a small voltage from the PC.

Dynamic

Refers to the properties of the microphone that convert sound to electricity. Dynamic microphones utilize a magnet and are typically not powered.

Electrostatic

Refers to the properties of the microphone that convert sound to electricity. Electrostatic microphones are powered, usually by a small battery.

Omnidirectional

Refers to the direction from which the microphone will receive sound.  Omnidirectional microphones pick up sound from all directions.

Unidirectional

Refers to the direction from which the microphone will receive sound.  Unidirectional microphones pick up sound from one direction.
Noise canceling
Refers to the technology used in some microphones to eliminate background noise and feedback.
Echo canceling
Refers to the technology used to eliminate feedback, or echo, between the microphone and speakers.

If you wish to learn more about microphone technology you may find some of the sources listed above useful.  You may also wish to visit DPA Microphones (www.dpamicrophones.com) and click the “Microphone University” button for more information than you probably want to know.


netYAK.com does not warrant any particular microphone manufacturer or microphone type. The opinions expressed in the "Pros" and "Cons" columns are general in nature and may be overcome by a particular technology or feature. The microphone sources listed here are a representative sample and not a comprehensive list. Your results may vary depending upon your system and soundcard. Some microphones work better with some soundcards and not at all with others. Some soundcards may require powered microphones. Refer to your soundcard documentation for compatibility requirements. Copyrights and Trademarks are the property of their respective Companies.


netYAK.com, inc. is not responsible for the content of Internet links.

 

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This page updated on: 1/06/2010