USB Microphone FAQ
1) What Is A USB Microphone?
A USB microphone is simply a regular microphone with the in-built ability to interface with a computer. Traditional microphones need external devices to convert their audio to a signal the computer can understand. The USB option simplifies this process and thus may make your life easier. There is just as much variation among USB mics as there is between regular mics, so it is always important to read reviews and think carefully about what microphone will suit you the best.
2) Sound Quality: USB Microphone v Standard Jack Microphone
A standard microphone requires a pre-amp and an analog-digital converter in order to record its sound to a computer. A USB microphone has these built in to its design. The quality of the pre-amp and A/D conversion can make a big difference, but many USB mics now feature high-quality processing that can compare favorably with standalone devices. Therefore, the differences depend more on the individual microphone design than if it is standard or USB.
3) Is A USB Microphone With Headset Better Than One Without?
Many headsets are designed for comfort and portability and may sacrifice sound quality to meet these ends. A dedicated microphone may therefore be better suited to recording audio. However, headset mics can certainly be very good, and so long as you get a good one you can expect audio that is adequate for most purposes. Which option is best for you will depend on your particular requirements.
If you’re recording music or a podcast, go for a desktop. If you’re making phone calls, go for a headset.
Often USB headsets, like the Logitech USB Headset H530 will have a noise-cancelling microphone and are usually designed to work well for internet calls using software like Skype.
4) How To Use A USB Microphone For Recording Lectures
USB microphones are ideal for this sort of purpose since they require no external devices in order to work. You can very easily set up a laptop and a microphone on the lectern or from the audience and record the audio with simple recording software.
This software is often inexpensive or even free; Audacity is a common choice. The resulting audio can then be edited and compressed to a smaller file size in order to make it available online.
One USB mic which people have said they use for recording lectures is the Samson Go Mic.
5) Which USB Microphone To Use With Dragon Naturally Speaking?
Speech-recognition software primarily requires very clear, noise-free audio. This is because the clearer and cleaner the audio is, the more accurately the software can transcribe it.
This is a situation in which a noise-canceling headset microphone is an ideal choice. Nuance, the creators or Dragon Naturally Speaking, have a section on their website that provides recommendations for current and legacy microphones.
Remember to always plug in the microphone BEFORE starting up Dragon and don’t unplug until you’ve closed your profile.
If you look at what people are buying on Amazon, they frequently buy the Logitech USB Desktop Microphone when they buy Dragon Naturally Speaking.
6) Can You Use A USB Microphone With A Pre-Amp?
Many modern pre-amps have USB connections for just this purpose. Since the microphone itself has a pre-amp and an A/D converter built-in, the external pre-amp is not strictly required. However, many people find that when they are recording multiple tracks at once, it is convenient to plug everything into the same interface. Typically, a good USB connection will not alter the sound at all, so you do not risk any signal degradation by using this approach.
7) Which Windows 7 Compatible USB Microphones Are There?
In most cases, the operating system is not a big concern. USB mics are typically plug-and-play devices that will be compatible with most systems. Plus, given that Windows 7 has been out for some time now, there has been plenty of time for companies to tailor their drivers and software to work with the new OS. The short answer is, you almost certainly do not need to worry about whether a microphone will be compatible.
How Do I Connect A USB Mic To A PA System?
This depends on the PA system. Some modern systems may have the ability to receive a USB signal. However, many older types may not. If the PA will only accept analog inputs, then you need a digital-analog converter to take the USB signal and convert it into something the PA will recognize. Many standard audio interfaces will perform this task just fine, though not all will. You might want to look into getting a portable device that is easy to carry with you for this task.
9) Which USB Microphone To Use With Your Tablet
Since tablets are designed for different purposes than desktop computers or laptops, they will not necessarily work so readily with any given microphone. In this case, it is important to check for compatibility before you buy.
However, recording via a tablet is becoming more popular, and you can now get USB mics that are dedicated to this particular task. Some are of very high quality and can be used for professional recordings. It is a good idea to fine one that is guaranteed to work with a particular model of tablet.
If you’re keen on good looks, and who isn’t, then check out the Samson Meteor mic which will look great with an iPad.
10) Which Is Best To Record With, A USB Or A Condenser Mic?
This is a bit of a red herring because many USB mics are condenser mics.Traditional condenser microphones are often seen as a holy grail of recording quality. Some of the most famous recordings have used analog condenser mics. However, for many purposes, they are overkill. You can get a perfectly good sound from modern USB condenser microphones, so unless you really need the absolute best and are willing to spend the money to get it, a USB condenser mic like the Audio Technica AT2020 will work just fine.
11) How Do I Connect My USB Mic To My iPhone?
USB mic recording has not been very successful so far with the iPhone. However, we are starting to see models of microphone dedicated to exactly this purpose coming onto the market. Apogee’s “Mike” is a good bet, as it was designed by a reputable audio company and is dedicated to this exact task.
12) What Is A USB Microphone Adapter?
Essentially, an adapter allows you to change the audio signal from one form to another. The microphone naturally produces an analog signal, but computers can only deal with digital signals. An adapter can change the audio from one to the other, and the best ones do not change the sound in the process. A second use of adapters is simply to accommodate different connectors. If your system has the wrong plug, a simple inexpensive adapter may be all you need to get up and running.