Wednesday, October 01, 2008

What is a good microphone for screencasting?

Recently, I wanted to produce some screencasts for work where I'd demonstrate doing something interactive with our software and embed that video in a blog entry. An example of a screencast I've recorded can be seen here.

The first thing I needed in order to be able to do this was a microphone. I considered using the microphone in my laptop, but that sounded awful. I also tried jamming a headset that came with our cordless phone into the mic input of my laptop, but it didn't fit.

So I did some quick research on microphones and came across this very helpful site. They produced audio clips of the same phrase recorded with microphones ranging in price from $35 to $269. The $269 mic sounds great, but the $35 Plantronics DSP-400 also sounded quite good.

I wanted to get started on my recording right away, and I thought the DSP-400 was a good value, so I went to my local Micro Center to see what they had in stock. They didn't have the DSP-400, so I got a similar but less expensive Plantronics microphone for $20. Here is a link to the microphone I bought on with my affiliate information included (they have it for $13.31):

Plantronics .Audio 310

Here are two recordings of the same sentence with the Plantronics .Audio 310.

First, as a screencast recorded with Camtasia and uploaded to Viddler as an FLV:

Second, as a .wav file:

I don't hear a ton of difference between the video and the .wav (which is good because if there was a big difference it would mean the Flash recording of audio was too lossy).

I'm relatively happy with the Plantronics .Audio 310. If I continue doing a lot of screencasting I may considering buying a nicer microphone, but for now this one is good enough to capture my voice without distractingly poor quality.

If you're in the market for a microphone for your computer, I hope you find this information helpful. Consider it my little contribution to the review of microphones everywhere.
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