There are so many variations of the versatile rig that I just had to tell you about
some of them.
Option 1: Create your own USB mixer
There are a lot of good mixers that would be perfect for Podcasting. Companies like
Behringer and Peavy sell many mixer models for less than $100. As an example, the
Behringer Eurorack 802 mixer offers 8 inputs including 2 XLR microphone inputs for
less than $50. These mixers can easily be made into an USB type mixer by adding
a little interface. Behringer makes one called the UCA202 USB interface ($30 street).
Plug your mixer’s output into one end of the interface and plug the interface’s
USB cord into your computer and you just created an USB mixer for less than $100.
Option 2: The Chinese studio-style condenser microphone
Not that many years ago studio-style condenser microphones were so expensive that
only recording studios used them. When trade with China opened up, the world was
flooded with inexpensive electronics. Included in these shipments were Chinese copies
of elite German microphones priced at 1/10 th of the original version. These microphones
are awesome in their sound quality. Studio-condensers offer a clarity and depth
that no other microphone can, but like any other diva, superior performance comes
at a price. Studio-style condensers are fragile creatures that can be destroyed
with a simple knock. They require phantom power, which also limits where you can
use them. Their supreme sensitivity requires special precautions like using a pop
filter and possibly a shock mount. If you can accept these demands, a condenser may
be just right for you. Here again, the magic price point of around $100 will get
you a fine sounding microphone and a good value too. Brand names of quality Chinese
condensers include Behringer, Nady, CAD, Samson and MXL. At PSR we have used condenser
microphones from Nady and MXL and we have been very pleased with them.
Option 3: The super-cheap Chinese dynamic microphone
The Chinese manufacture more than studio microphones, they also make a lot of dynamic
handheld mics that are copies of the Shure SM57/SM58 series. Is it possible that
these super cheap microphones sound good? Yes they do! In the past a cheap microphone
sounded dull, flat and lifeless. But these microphones have a open clear sound that
is amazing at this price point ($10-$30). Nady’s “Star Power” series, Samson’s R11
and Behringer’s XM8500 are good examples. Now you may ask if these microphones are
truly as good as the original Shure mic. Honestly, they sound almost as good but
other factors (see SM57/SM58 benefits) are unknown.
Option 4: No USB option
OK, by now you have figured out that I’m a big fan of USB devices. However, if you
already have a great sound card you can forgo the USB option. This scenario uses
Option 1, but instead of connecting your mixer to an USB interface you patch directly
from your mixer to the “aux-in” on the sound card. To get an idea what a good sound
card sounds like, click here.