[Gear In Review Podcast] GIR10 – Microphones

Hosted by Reed Smith and Bobby Rettew, MA

In the last episode we explored 360 cameras; in this episode we are microphones for content creation. There are lots of microphone options for content creators and healthcare communicators when considering podcasting, voice overs, or even recording an interview to transcribe for a blog post. In this episode, we will look at three portable microphones that are cost effective and showcase different levels of production value. Each one connects different, whether using a USB cord, plugging into your iOS device, or using professional audio cords; each one provides a unique option for content collection and creation.

Here are links to portable hard drives we discuss:

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Reed Smith: Hey, everybody. This is Reed Smith.

Chris Boyer: And this is Chris Boyer.

Reed Smith: And we are co-hosts on a show called Touch Point, which is a podcast that’s dedicated to the discussions on digital marketing and online patient engagement strategies, not only for just hospitals, but health systems and physician practices.

Chris Boyer: In every episode, we’ll dive deep into a variety of topics on digital tools, solutions, strategies, and other things that are impacting the health care industry today.

Reed Smith: And while you listen to this show, we would certainly love you to check out ours.

Chris Boyer: All you have to do is swing on over to Touchpoint.health for more information and also some of the other shows that are featured on the Touch Point Media Network.

Reed Smith: Hey. Welcome back to another episode of Gear in Review. I am Reed Smith joined by Bobby Rettew.

Bobby Rettew: Good morning or good afternoon, whichever one.

Reed Smith: Yeah, depending on when you’re listening to it, I guess.

Bobby Rettew: Yeah.

Reed Smith: We’re recording … of course, Bobby and I are different timezones, but I’m barely still in the AM. I guess you’re now on the PM, right?

Bobby Rettew: Yeah, I should be eating lunch right now.

Reed Smith: Yeah. Well, there you go.

Bobby Rettew: Yeah. There you go.

Reed Smith: Well, we’re back for another episode. Thanks for all the support and feedback. If you have topics or suggestions you would like us to review, cover, etc, let us know. Everybody is pretty good about tracking us down, which you know I’m on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Be sure to head over to touchpoint.health and check out some of our past episodes, as well as other shows with Touch Point Media Network.

But today we’re going to talk about microphones, well, certain microphones, I should say.

Bobby Rettew: Yeah, we’re going to talk about microphones just for audio capture and really audio capture to voiceover for that voiceover project podcasting, just to record voices or music or even sound effects.

Reed Smith: Yeah, or quite honestly, I mean I use mine and we’ll get into more of this, but like for webinars, Webexes, that kind of stuff.

Bobby Rettew: That’s smart. I like that.

Reed Smith: I don’t know it makes a whole lot of difference, but it’s already set up since we do this, the podcast, a fair amount and so I use it for a multitude of purposes. So we’ll talk about a couple different things, the way they connect, portability, what you’re actually recording, the device you’re recording on to makes a determination of which microphone you might want to use and when. But like Bobby mentioned, this is strictly if we think about just from an audio standpoint. We’ll talk about audio as it relates to video capture maybe on a subsequent episode so, again, keep that in mind.

So where do you want to start? I think maybe let’s talk certainly there is a point in time that maybe you’re capturing audio strictly just off of a device, right, predominantly your phone. It’s just whatever is being captured. You’re recording the kids running around and that’s fine and good, but why is that not always the best solution? Why would you maybe want a microphone?

Bobby Rettew: First of all, it’s all about quality. You want to be able to capture a quality voice recording that focuses on your voice and the sound, versus the sounds that’s happening around you. There’s a lot of different ways to do that. I think back to my days of television when we would have to record voiceover for stories out in the field. The way that we did it was we would put the reporter inside of the live truck, you know the truck we drive around with the big satellite on top?

Reed Smith: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bobby Rettew: The photographer, videographer like myself would sit outside. We’d give them a wireless mic and they could pin it as a lapel and they would read their script.

As the technology got better, we found these special mics that were extremely expensive that you’d put up to your lips that were over a thousand dollars that would record the voice, but even if the generator was running, you couldn’t hear it. That’s 10 years ago so the technology has come so far for content creators like ourselves that we have access to tools quickly that we can record high-quality voice.

I think there’s kind of three areas that we can kind of talk about. One is connecting with a USB cable to your laptop. Most laptops have a USB connection and so you could plug a microphone in that way and record. Two is through a traditional audio cable for you, audio people, out there. An XLR cable. It’s one of those cables if you look at the end, it has three little prongs in it. Then something for your iOS device. So we have three options, I think, we’re going to kind of look at depending on your capability, flexibility or expertise.

Reed Smith: Absolutely. I think maybe let’s start with the desktop scenario. Not that this isn’t portable because it is portable, but you got two options, you mentioned them. You can connect via USB, which is going to be the most, I guess, lightweight or easiest way to do it. Or you can connect via XLR.

What’s the two differences there? I think USB, that’s pretty straightforward. You got a cable coming out of a microphone, it’s plugging into your USB port. You change your audio settings on your computer and away you go, right?

Bobby Rettew: Yeah. So we can kind of go both ways. There are two XLR or cabled audio microphones that I use on a regular basis for voiceover type of applications.

One is we have a Shure SMB7B. You can find that on B&H Photo or on Amazon to check it out, but it is dedicated just with the cable coming out that can only plug into another audio device. It’ll plug into an audio recorder or a mixer, a board. We would call it a mixer board, something you might see at a church that manages all the microphones inside the church. You plug it in and you can select the level. This one is for professional voiceover artist, for people that understand ranges of voices and how to apply them, but the really good for voiceover artists that really want rich sound and are committed to high, high, high-quality voiceover artist. So a great, great microphone.

You could also plug this into a camera. You find a lot of people that have the ability to take this mic and can plug it into the XLR input of a video camera. Most DSLRs do not have that capability. Only video cameras have that capability so that one is an option. Love it. It’s a great tool. It’s about a $400 microphone so that’s the high-end microphone.

Reed Smith: A distinction to make here is if you’re using an XLR cable, there’s a pretty good chance you need somebody that’s a sound guy or knows how to run a soundboard because there’s usually, not always, usually, if the microphone requires an XLR cable, there’s not a lot of settings on the microphone itself. It’s all running through a processor that then goes into a computer so you need somebody that knows all the little knobs and switches and dials and the little [inaudible 00:07:57], what all that stuff means and how to set it all up and use it.

That’s the potential downside, right? It’s not quite as consumer-friendly. The other downside is it’s not quite as portable because you have more stuff that you’re toting around, right?

Bobby Rettew: Right. And it’s kind of good to come out of the gate with the biggest and baddest thing that someone could use to record the best possible audio, but it takes the most stuff to do it and it takes the most expertise so that’s professional, right?

Reed Smith: Yup. But then, again, the positive side of that is that you’re getting the highest quality and you have the most flexibility in what it is that you’re capturing and trying to capture. Obviously, with a lot of these things, like you mentioned earlier, that ambient or background noise is what you’re trying to reduce in a lot of cases and this gives you the ability to kind of dial some of that stuff in.

Bobby Rettew: Right. And the reason why I brought this up is for you, communicators, content creators, marketing people, if you walk into a voiceover session and you see something this size set up into an audio board, you know that you’re in a position to record professional voice, right? So you know that the tone is set for that.

Now let’s move away for something that’s more portable and friendly for us, content creators, communicators that are on the run and that we’re recording in lots of different settings and sessions with portable laptops. Is that fair, you know, maybe jump to that?

Reed Smith: Yeah, absolutely. So that’s going to require you plugging the microphone in via your USB port and there’s a million of those out there. We’ve kind of honed in on one that, I don’t know, we like it. It works well for us and I think might be a good option for folks.

Bobby Rettew: Yeah. Reed, I think you use the same one. You and I like it a lot. It’s the Blue Yeti. I have the Pro version. I think, Reed, you have the USB version. They’re the same microphone. They both have the ability to plug USB into your laptop. It has an earphone plug on it as well and it has the ability to adjust the headphone volume on it.

My favorite part of this microphone is you get to select the direction at which it records. So I’m sitting in front it and it’s only recording that’s on the side of the microphone that I’m talking. Whereas, you can set it up for bidirectional. You can flip a switch and someone can sit on the other side of it and it will record both of you, but nothing on the side. Then it has the option for omnidirectional, all the way around the microphone so you could have five people talking around the microphone and it will record it. It gives you a lot of flexibility to record.

The best part about this microphone it’s the barrier to entry on it from a price perspective for the USB version is around 150 bucks. It’s cost effective, it’s very portable and I can … it allows you to fold it up and if you remember back to our bags episode, I throw it in my little Think Tank back. It’s a shoulder bag, looks like a pocketbook. I could put the microphone, I can put the USB cord and I can put my earphones in it and carry it with me anywhere I want to go.

Reed Smith: Yeah, it’s great. It’s got a nice heavy base you can set it in the middle of a table. If you’re doing kind of a group interview or maybe interviewing a subject matter expert or something like that, it works well for that. Of course, you can attach a pop filter to it, which reduces some feedback and things like that.

But, again, couple different ways to connect. The pro version allows for both USB and XLR connections so you can go either direction with that. Or you can get more of the consumer version. Again, form factors exactly the same. Couple different color options, but form factors is exactly the same. Plugs directly into USB. Allows you to plug in your earbuds or some external headphones which, again, we’ll get into more of that and the [inaudible 00:12:09] side as well. But, anyway, great option. There’s a ton of different USB mics out there. This is the one that at Touch Point we’ve got several of them that we use, the different show hosts use, and so we’ve had good luck with it.

Bobby Rettew: Yeah. People love this mic mainly because it looks really cool. When you pull it out, people are like, “Oh, that’s a cool-looking microphone.” It kind of has that professional look, too. Especially to your point, Reed, you mentioned the colors. This has a lot of fun colors to it, so when you pop it out for an interview or a podcast, whatever it may be, people are like, “Whoa, that’s kind of a cool microphone.”

Reed Smith: Yup, and we’ve used it onsite. Of course, we use them in our offices and studios, but we use it onsite and different conferences to capture interviews and things like that. Again, I think, you look a lot and the reason we like this microphone and it seems to works really well, number one, cost, but number two, it’s made by a company, Blue Microphones, which makes some of the highest quality condenser microphones for recording artists and things like that, that you’ll find that are in the thousands of dollars for a microphone. So, again, the lineage there and some of the shared technology is really cool. Again, there’s other good ones out there, but this is one we’ve had good luck with.

Bobby Rettew: By the way, I think we’re both talking on a Blue microphone, Yeti one, to record this right now.

Reed Smith: Yes, we are. We are. Then last, but not least, is, again, even more on the go would be how do you capture really good audio via your phone or your iOS device? So it could be an iPad, I guess, and I’ve seen people do that, but predominantly your phone. We’ve had really good luck, obviously, capturing interviews this way, but not that you can’t just interview somebody from your phone, but it’s best to, again, have a little better piece of hardware to do that with.

Bobby Rettew: We have to admit that, Reed, you turned me on this microphone. I think you were at South by Southwest. You saw this mic and you called me up. You’re like, “Man, we got to get this guy.” It is the Shure MV88. It is an iOS microphone that plugs directly into your phone, your iOS phone and it has the ability to flex it around. You can move it up and down. It comes with a big old windscreen on it.

The best part I love about this mic is the app that comes with it. It allows you to select the direction you’re recording the audio, it really cuts out all the background noise. It produces a high-quality audio file and, honestly, it sounds really good in noisy settings. Reed, you’ve had a lot of experience interviewing people especially at conferences with this and it really sounds good.

Reed Smith: Yeah, the very first interview we did was actually from the Shure booth. Again, Shure microphones, a well-known name in the industry. Matter of fact, the mic Bobby originally talked about the pro mic, Shure mic. If you go into most radio stations that’s what you’ll see, the most common one that bands and singers use. If you think about the one with the little silver ball on the top, that’s a Shure microphone in most cases and so well-known.

They had a booth at South by Southwest. I thought it was a really cool microphone. They let me borrow one and I interviewed Dr. Brian [inaudible 00:15:44] and which, coincidentally, is the host of the Exam Room podcast. We did that from the floor of South by Southwest, which is really loud and really busy. You can tell we’re on a trade show floor, but the audio is so good and the capture is so good that it actually gives a little ambience that you have this background noise. It’s not a distraction so it’s really cool and it plugs directly in. Bobby mentioned the piece of software that comes with this. It’s a great piece of software.

I think the coolest part is the settings that you set in the app, those setting are actually stored in the microphone, the piece of hardware. So you unplug it, go about your daily life. Next time you get ready to record, maybe it’s a similar situation, you plug that mic in and all those settings pop back exactly the way you had them. You don’t have to go back in and reset the settings every time if you’re doing a similar-type recording. I think that’s something really handy. Price point, again, it’s around at $150, $200 price point. It’s just a great piece of hardware.

Bobby Rettew: Yeah. So for the content creator, as health care marketers, marketers, communicators out there, here’s a couple of things that we use these mics for. Number one, recording voiceovers. All three of these mics can do it for voiceovers for radio, for a video project. All three mics can do that.

Second, podcast. We’re doing a lot of portable podcasting here. We’re not fixed into a studio. We like to go and talk to people on location so the two, the MV88 and the Blue Yeti, are perfect for on the go.

The third thing that I do a lot of is when I’m doing a lot of writing, many times I want to record an interview with someone just to get that information. So I’ll sit down and have a conversation. I’ll use one of these mics to record it. Then I’ll take that audiofile and transcribe it through rev.com and I can use that as blog content or any other content for articles that I write.

So we’re doing a lot of things with these mics in a versatile setting for content creation for our clients and it’s provided great opportunities.

Reed Smith: Well, there you go. There’s three great options. Something on the high end, if that’s the direction you’re going or maybe replacing a piece of equipment, something that’s more of a prosumer, but will do everything you need it to do from more of a desktop setting or plugging into a laptop, for example, and then if you’re truly ultra, on-the-go, iOS application.

We appreciate your feedback. Let us know what you’re using, what questions you might have. We can certainly dig into any of these categories further down the road. I appreciate all the support. Be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcast. Visit touchpoint.health for all the shows on the network and we will see you next time.

Bobby Rettew: Yup. Also one last thing. If you like this podcast, please rate us on the five star and leave us a review. We love hearing what people think and how you like us.

Reed Smith: This show is made possible in part by the Social Health Institute. Through research and partnerships with health care organizations around the country, the Social Health Institute explores new and innovative ways for hospitals, heath care organizations to develop and enhance their social media and digital marketing strategy. To learn more about the Social Health Institute, visit them online at socialhealthinstitute.com. That’s socialhealthinstitute.com.

This has been a Touch Point Media Production. To learn more about this show and others like it, please visit us online at touchpoint.health.

 

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