I hear again and again questions on how to get a good, cheap microphone for doing video recording. People will usually forgive poor video quality but they have no patience for poor audio quality – especially for educational content.
I can show you a great mic for about $20 US and it will work with a phone, camera or computer. If you need a USB microphone, you can add a USB input to it and still keep the price under $30 US. But you may already have a suitable microphone and not even know it!
Many modern smart-phones come with a decent set of headphones with a built in mic. These mics are optimized for common vocal ranges and expect to be placed very near the mouth. With a little care this will work fine.
Mic placement greatly helps a cheap microphone
Mic placement is very important. Many people think that putting the mic very close to their mouth will improve the audio quality, but in fact it causes the mic to pic up breathing sounds, which is highly distracting. So instead, put the mic on your lapel or to the side of your mouth.
Also, whatever mic you use, you’ll want to speak loud and clear. Don’t shout, but pretend you’re speaking to a big group of people. This causes your voice to be much louder than any background noise. When you do this, make sure to do a sample recording first and adjust your microphone volume so that your voice doesn’t max out the recording level.
Also, make sure your microphone is attached to your clothing or your body so that it doesn’t rub against anything. There are few things as frustrating as nailing your presentation and then listening to the recording and hearing an over-powering rustling as the microphone rubs.
If you need to buy a low-cost mic
If you don’t have a suitable set of headphones with a mic, then here is the one I recommend. It is very sensitive, it works with a computer, a camera or a smartphone, so you can record with whatever device you like. It has a long extension cord so you can even attach it to something a few feet away and it will pick up the audio.
If you want it to be less conspicuous, the foam wind-cover can be removed and it practically disappears.
Best part: Cost is $22 USD, though it is worth more in my opinion.
If you need USB support, here is a great USB audio adapter for under $7 – Sabrent USB Stereo Adapter for Windows and Mac
When I bought the mic and usb input I also picked up a light-weight backpack tripod that has a smartphone adapter for about $17. With these three accessories, a smart phone, and a well-lit area, I have everything I need to record great video and audio anywhere.
Where to place your mic
Here’s my illustration for mic placement: