A common question I am getting is which mic is better for streaming: condenser or dynamic?
My answer is the dynamic microphone.
The main difference between a condenser vs a dynamic mic for streaming is the direction which the mic is picking up the sound. While dynamic microphone is very one directional and can focus on your voice, the condenser mic tends to pick up everything else.
Streaming setting: controlled vs non controlled
Most streaming take place in one bedrooms’s or a more casual setup. It is not common to have a controlled studio-like setting from what I have seen from many gaming streaming folks.
As such, a dynamic mic is more ideal. You can position the mic such that it is directed towards your face and picks up only your vocals. It is made to reject noise that is coming from other directions. As such, your mic wouldn’t be picking up the usual bedroom noises, such as those from a fan, doors, mouse clicks, keyboard typing etc
A condenser microphone on the other hand is made to absorb as much sound as possible from every direction. If your streaming service is coming from a controlled studio, it is more suitable. You can have music for example coming from a different direction as your voice. The condenser mic can still pick that up.
Convenience: Condenser vs dynamic
A dynamic mic offers 2 conveniences relative to a condenser mic
- Power: A dynamic mic does not require phantom power while a condenser mic does
- On and Off: A dynamic mic allows you to turn it on or off via a simple button. A condenser mic needs you to unplug the power
From a streaming point of view, convenience usage is important as you will be recording frequently. Also, there will be many situations when you need to turn off the mic.
A common example, your throat gets itchy. For dynamic mic, it is just a button press to off the mic while you cough away. For condenser, you need to turn your head away. If you are slow and cough into the mic, your audience will get a huge feedback in their ears.
Tone: Warm vs cold
One of the main attraction of a condenser mic is that it makes your voice sound much warmer.
Dynamic mic is more sterile in comparison. You also seem to lose a bit of depth in your voice quality.
However, in the world of streaming, do you need warm tones for your voice? Personally, I think reducing background noise is much more important. Hence, I wouldn’t consider a condenser mic over a dynamic mic just for this benefit.
Tips on using dynamic mic for streaming
When you are recording your streaming in a living or bedroom, there are all kinds of sound that will impact its quality. The good news is you can improve it.
- Use a noise gate: This accessory can be used to pick up only certain decibel range, such as your voice. You will need to adjust the thereshold to find the setting that best suits your vocal range. It is a lot of trial and error. The end result, however is a cleaner and noise fee streaming audio experience.
There are currently quite a few noise gate software. Noiseblocker is one of them. It is free for one hour per day. If you need more hours, there is a paid version for $10 a month.
Compare to other free versions, Noiseblocker can be tuned to specific sounds to block. If your room has some constant noise such as air conditioning, the software will block these for you.
- Get a boom arm: Another tip is to set up your dynamic mic closer to your mouth via a boom arm. This is a moveable mic stand that can be anchored to your desk. If you have watch streams before, you will see this being used quite often.
The innogear boom arm set is a good option to consider. Along with the arm, it comes with a windshield and pop filter, which further blocks the environment noise.
- Use Audacity for post production: If you are still unhappy with your streaming audio after the above, your final option is do post production. Audacity is a commonly used software you can download for free.
Best dynamic mic for streaming
If you need some recommendations on a good dynamic mic, here are some options. I have some crazy list out there that recommends mics that are over ‘qualified’ for what streaming needs. This is a simpler and more affordable list.
- Shure sm57 Dynamic Mic: For the budget conscious, the Shure 57 is a great choice. It doesn’t pick up unnecessary noise, which includes even the keyboard typing. It wouldn’t even pick up the pops when the mic is near your face if you have a pop filter on.
- Heil PR 30: A more expensive mic vs the sm57. The main difference is the PR30 picks up sounds in more details without post production. Question is whether do you need such quality for streaming? If not, the sm57 will be more than sufficient.
- Rode Procaster: This is another expensive mic which has better quality recording relative to sm57. Again, the quality is there but do you need it for your streaming?
A dynamic mic is probably the right choice for streaming. While a condenser mic has warmer tones, it is not as important as having no background noise and being easy to use.
The only downside to using a dynamic mic is you need to be in front of the mic all the time. If you shift your position, the volume and audio quality will change. Keep that in mind when you are streaming!