Microphones for Remote Teaching

Committing to online teaching means that we must step up our remote content delivery game. Students were very forgiving in the spring of poor online experiences given the sudden and unexpected nature of the switch to remote teaching. However, now that we have had months to prepare and the experience of delivering online content, our students will expect a much better experience going forward.

Why should you trust me to help you prepare for remote content delivery?

I have nearly ten years of experience delivering online content to college students. I got my start by recording my class sessions (aka lecture capture) for students to review after the fact. I have taught both undergraduate and graduate online courses. I have also advised other faculty on how to get the most out of their online course content delivery.

So what do I need?

Providing great remote content means you need hardware and software. For now let's focus on basic hardware needs for recording audio, things like a microphone. I'll address other hardware (cameras and assorted accessories) and software solutions in future posts.

Fixed/Desktop Microphones

There are many things that go into high quality audio. Your audio quality will improve dramatically, even with a bad microphone, if you move the microphone closer to your mouth and you record in a quiet environment. For example, recording using the microphone in your wired, ear bud style headphones will almost always be better than using your computer's built in microphone. Having said that, you can improve your audio quality with a good, dedicated microphone.

I have a used a Blue Yeti Microphone for the last seven years. It is nearly impossible to beat for the price. The audio quality is superb. Reviewers regularly identify it as one of the best podcasting microphones.

Buy the Blue Yeti here.

One word of caution, the Blue Yeti is a condenser microphone, which means it will be much more sensitive to picking up background noises than a dynamic microphone. Dynamic microphones tend to be more expensive, so going with a condenser mic is the more popular option for folks who are just starting out.

The exact set up for my Blue Yeti can be found here.

Wireless Microphones

Fixed microphones are great for when you are sitting at your desk and can speak directly into the microphone. But what if you need to move around? For that situation the best solution is a wireless microphone.

The Rode Wireless Go is my new favorite wireless microphone. It has great audio quality and can be used with any device than can accept an external microphone; that means you should be able to use it with your computer, phone, tablet, and most stand-alone cameras. It is easy to use and has superb wireless range.

The transmitter has a built-in microphone, but can also be used with a lavalier microphone or other add-on mic, so the sky is the limit for this little mic.

Buy the Rode Wireless Go here.

It is worth mentioning my old stand-by for recording in-person lectures, the Revolabs xTag. I have used this mic as the primary microphone for my live lectures for the last ten years. It is a great mic and is perfect for recording audio to a computer. Its receiver connects to your computer over USB, which means the set up will charge while you are recording, a handy feature. There is a mute button on the microphone itself, which is perfect for the occasional sneeze. It isn't as versatile, as it can't be used with phones or stand-alone cameras, but if you plan to always record into a computer, then it is a great option.

Buy the Revolabs xTag here.

A Note on Headphones

You will be much happier if you can listen back to your recordings using high quality headphones. These don't need to be prohibitively expensive, I use a pair of Sony MDR-7605 headphones plugged directly into the headphone jack on my Blue Yeti Microphone. If you are broadcasting your course live or participating in a audio/video conference call, any headphones are a must to reduce feedback.

Buy the Sony MDR-7605 here.

Conclusion

I hope this was helpful to anyone who is looking to improve their audio quality. I have received many compliments from students for my audio quality. They really do appreciate the difference. Good audio quality lets the students focus on what is being said rather than being distracted by how it is being recorded.

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