Need help finding a good microphone for political commentators who do interviews/discussions over Zoom.

1: I was just talking to someone about Noam's audio and he said what you guys said: That there's no need to buy him a fancy mic.

2: The only issue is that we don't actually know what model of AT mic Noam has, so it's impossible to know exactly how good his current mic is, and without knowing that we can't know how much there is to be gained from investing in a fancy one.

3: Speaking of fancy ones, consider this: "The Shure MV7 cardioid microphone is ideal for podcasting, game casting, live streaming, and music recording. It features voice isolation technology that clearly captures your voice or the desired sound by effectively preventing room or background noise. This microphone features USB and XLR outputs for use with various interfaces."

4: Or consider this (https://www.musicradar.com/reviews/rode-procaster-review): "Where other mics will market themselves as being suited to anything, Rode is quite clear that the Procaster is designed specifically with speech in mind."

5: I also need to help Noam get in the habit of always looking at the CAMERA and not looking at the person on his SCREEN. Someone suggested that you can draw a little happy-face and put it on the camera.

6: If you guys look at the videos I linked, is he looking (inappropriately) at the SCREEN rather than the CAMERA?

7: You could get Noam a "4K" camera, but that's an extraordinarily low-priority thing, right? In fact, is it even worth doing that?

8: I was just talking to someone about Noam's audio, and he said that the ideal situation is to have a mic that's as close as possible to the sound-source, like 7 inches away, pointed down to the person's chest to get the resonance of their chest. Does that make sense to you guys? It seems to conflict with the advice given upthread.

9: I know that it seems like my questions are growing and growing, but I promise that my questions will start to shrink and shrink soon, and eventually all my questions will be fully answered. Thanks for being patient with me, guys. I hugely appreciate your patience as I try to learn from your amazing expertise on these matters.

10: Any thoughts on this (just click through it and listen...note that you have to click "watch on YouTube" because it can only be viewed on YouTube)?


11: What can be added to the list below?

--get Noam to go into a quiet room (ideally a big room with big chunky bits of furniture, couches, bookshelfs and so on)
--speak into the side of the mic (I think that Noam knows this now, fortunately...just a rookie mistake on his part)
--speak slight into the side of the mic (???)
--regulate your breath (???)
--pop-filter (this is something that you can buy? which one do you recommend? it sounds like it was used in the studio interview I linked in the original post, but where in that video is a "pop filter" visible so that I can see what hardware you're referring to?)
--what software optimizations can I tell interviewers to do? anything regarding plosives? anything else?
--what software pitfalls can I tell interviewers to avoid? (avoid doing noise-reduction that creates swirly sounds, for example?)
--speak louder
--get a bit further away (what is the ideal?)
--someone upthread mentioned a "patient adjustment-session" (???)
--Noam and the interviewers should both have wired internet for better bandwidth and faster internet-speed to allow higher-quality audio/video
--should a noise-gate be avoided? doesn't it cause bad things?
--he should wear "discrete earbuds" (why not headphones?)
--he should "[positions] his mic" but what does that mean?
--he should "improve his technique" but what does that mean?
--and what else? anything else that can be done in terms of software/hardware/internet/technique/anything?
 
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TalismanRich

Well-known member
1: I was just talking to someone about Noam's audio and he said what you guys said: That there's no need to buy him a fancy mic.

2: The only issue is that we don't actually know what model of AT mic Noam has, so it's impossible to know exactly how good his current mic is, and without knowing that we can't know how much there is to be gained from investing in a fancy one.
If that microphone is connected via USB, then it an AT2020+USB. Audio Technica only makes two models of USB side address condenser mics, and the screen is distinctively different between them. AT doesn't make junk. The 2020 is completely serviceable.

3: Speaking of fancy ones, consider this: "The Shure MV7 cardioid microphone is ideal for podcasting, game casting, live streaming, and music recording. It features voice isolation technology that clearly captures your voice or the desired sound by effectively preventing room or background noise. This microphone features USB and XLR outputs for use with various interfaces."
The MV7 is a good mic, but I doubt it will be any better than what he already has. Remember that statements like that are usually written by marketing departments. The main advantage of the MV7 is that it is a dynamic mic, not a condenser. They tend to be less sensitive to background noise.
4: Or consider this (https://www.musicradar.com/reviews/rode-procaster-review): "Where other mics will market themselves as being suited to anything, Rode is quite clear that the Procaster is designed specifically with speech in mind."
See response above.
5: I also need to help Noam get in the habit of always looking at the CAMERA and not looking at the person on his SCREEN. Someone suggested that you can draw a little happy-face and put it on the camera.
The camera needs to be right at the very top edge of the screen.
6: If you guys look at the videos I linked, is he looking (inappropriately) at the SCREEN rather than the CAMERA?

7: You could get Noam a "4K" camera, but that's an extraordinarily low-priority thing, right? In fact, is it even worth doing that?
No. A 4k camera is NOT necessary for podcasting/Zoom or Skype calls. You are already looking at bandwidth limiting. Why try to shove more pixels downstream?
8: I was just talking to someone about Noam's audio, and he said that the ideal situation is to have a mic that's as close as possible to the sound-source, like 7 inches away, pointed down to the person's chest to get the resonance of their chest. Does that make sense to you guys? It seems to conflict with the advice given upthread.
You aren't going to get resonances off the chest. Better to put it slightly to the side, maybe 45 degrees, pointed at his mouth, so that wind blasts do not hit the microphone. You can get pop filters cheaply from Amazon. Something like this is less intrusive that the round fabric kind. Foam Pop filter for AT2020. The SM7B mic used in the 2nd video has an integrated foam pop filter on the front. The other alternative it so get a very good clip on lapel mic. Its less obvious on screen, it the big mic bothers him. They are used in TV all the time. Just don't forget and start to walk away with it clipped on!!!
9: I know that it seems like my questions are growing and growing, but I promise that my questions will start to shrink and shrink soon, and eventually all my questions will be fully answered. Thanks for being patient with me, guys. I hugely appreciate your patience as I try to learn from your amazing expertise on these matters.

10: What can be added to the list below?

...--he should wear "discrete earbuds" (why not headphones?)

Headphones are fine, but they look a bit wonky for interviews. A good pair of earbuds are unobtrusive and will eliminate any possible echo from speakers, which the software then won't have to deal with. Depending on the software used, sometimes you can turn off the noise reduction, if you have a quiet room no speakers to mute.
 
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Thanks much for the amazing response. This is an extremely good/helpful/useful forum and you guys all have a profoundly interesting/important/in-demand expertise.

1: If anyone else wants to jump in and respond to my 11 questions, I would hugely appreciate anything that you want to add (especially on the 11th question, where I had some question marks next to certain items in the list).

2: If you were to say how much Noam's audio would improve if he got the fanciest Shure mic, are we talking like only a 5% improvement, or...?

3: Is it possible that there's a particular mic that isn't the fanciest Shure mic that is ideal for Noam's particular super-quiet/super-deep/super-monotone voice?
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
You are imagining mics have magical qualities. Their primary task is to capture sound accurately. Secondary task is to modify that a bit with what is essentially changes in tone. They have other characteristics that help or hinder. Polar pattern. Do they pick up sound all around or are focussed in a direction? If they are directional, how much? Do they get progressively warmer and bassier as the mouth gets closer? How much? Are they prone to pick up breath sounds? Is a pop shield going to look silly? How accurate must aiming be? Most people with a large mic collection can listen to the source, listen to the room and pick the most appropriate mic, which could be the cheapest. There is a reason Shute SM58 mics are so common, it’s because they do a good job on most sources. Perhaps not an excellent one on any, but the same thing applies to US Presidential mics. For a very long time they have used SM57’s. They could use any fancy expensive mics, but they don’t. Nobody ever complained about the audio quality, only what they capture!
 

DM60

Well-known member
There are so many different ways to get this improved. Back many's point, probably isn't the mic. Did you try and rebroadcast through OBS? The allow for noise plug ins, EQ on channel inputs. That is if you are live, if you are not live, then you could look at some good video editing software, and they allow VST plug ins and audio channels and opens up your options.

Might be time to look beyond the mic and see what post processing options you have. I do know I have used the OBS noise filter to remove computer noise and without much fuss, I had a solid quiet sound.
 

Folkcafe

Active member
Now you want us to be Nom's image consultants? Do you realize how much PR specialists get for this sort of thing?

With the lockdowns, everyone has had to adapt including the broadcast pros. Many made makeshift setups at home to broadcast from. Someone being interviewed in front of their laptop isn't going to have the same production value as in studio. The public right now gets that. While what I do is video teleconferencing, I am often heard telling clients that the main communications medium is auditory. Focus on fixing his audio. Set up a remote call with him and work on mic position and his sound while on the call.

Alternatively you can take a page from what content creators on Youtube are doing. Tons of videos on how to set up diffuse lighting, staging a back drop and such.

As to cameras, it can get complicated. My company is doing production work for some of our clients helping with large scale Teams calls for virtual all staff meetings and townhalls. We are using Sony A6400's cameras with a Blackmagic Atem Mini as the capture device into the streaming PC. I have a laptop set up to chromakey company logos and lower thirds and another for presentation content. I'm using a small mixer with Shure wireless mics feeding into the Atem. We even adjust the audio delay due to the codec compression processing so that audio follows video perfectly. This gets you good production value even though we are only streaming out at 1080p. Depends on how far you are willing to take this but like all battles, at some point, you have to land boots on the ground (meaning, get professional help).
 

DM60

Well-known member
Now you want us to be Nom's image consultants? Do you realize how much PR specialists get for this sort of thing?

With the lockdowns, everyone has had to adapt including the broadcast pros. Many made makeshift setups at home to broadcast from. Someone being interviewed in front of their laptop isn't going to have the same production value as in studio. The public right now gets that. While what I do is video teleconferencing, I am often heard telling clients that the main communications medium is auditory. Focus on fixing his audio. Set up a remote call with him and work on mic position and his sound while on the call.

Alternatively you can take a page from what content creators on Youtube are doing. Tons of videos on how to set up diffuse lighting, staging a back drop and such.

As to cameras, it can get complicated. My company is doing production work for some of our clients helping with large scale Teams calls for virtual all staff meetings and townhalls. We are using Sony A6400's cameras with a Blackmagic Atem Mini as the capture device into the streaming PC. I have a laptop set up to chromakey company logos and lower thirds and another for presentation content. I'm using a small mixer with Shure wireless mics feeding into the Atem. We even adjust the audio delay due to the codec compression processing so that audio follows video perfectly. This gets you good production value even though we are only streaming out at 1080p. Depends on how far you are willing to take this but like all battles, at some point, you have to land boots on the ground (meaning, get professional help).
About a year ago I was trying to use my Sony Alpha for a camera, turns out the auto focus square can't be turned off (I was converting camera HDMI output to live), using a Mirabox for conversion. It didn't work and then purchased a Sony AVCHD handycam with Mirabox on a camera tripod. That is a nice 9.2 mega pixel camera for around $200. Using my Presonus interface for mic inputs. But using OSB begins to change the equation.
 

Folkcafe

Active member
About a year ago I was trying to use my Sony Alpha for a camera, turns out the auto focus square can't be turned off (I was converting camera HDMI output to live), using a Mirabox for conversion. It didn't work and then purchased a Sony AVCHD handycam with Mirabox on a camera tripod. That is a nice 9.2 mega pixel camera for around $200. Using my Presonus interface for mic inputs. But using OSB begins to change the equation.
Which model Alpha? You should be able to shut off the data screen starting with the A5100 up through the A7 series. Setting is buried deep in the menus of my A6400. I set up the custom button for this. Elgato has a camera look up for capture compatibility of the hdmi out. Elgato Camera Check
 

DM60

Well-known member
Which model Alpha? You should be able to shut off the data screen starting with the A5100 up through the A7 series. Setting is buried deep in the menus of my A6400. I set up the custom button for this. Elgato has a camera look up for capture compatibility of the hdmi out. Elgato Camera Check
This is the Alpha 58 that is older and I even reached out to Sony, my particular model/age won't do it. I can still record, but can't use it live. I researched the heck out of it. If you know of a way, you have my attention. :)
 
Alright, just my final post (I think). This is an extremely good forum. Thanks so much for the amazing help.

What can be added to the list below?

--get Noam to go into a quiet room (ideally a big room with big chunky bits of furniture, couches, bookshelfs and so on)
--speak into the side of the mic (I think that Noam knows this now, fortunately...just a rookie mistake on his part)
--speak slight into the side of the mic (???)
--regulate your breath (???)
--pop-filter (this is something that you can buy? which one do you recommend? it sounds like it was used in the studio interview I linked in the original post, but where in that video is a "pop filter" visible so that I can see what hardware you're referring to?)
--what software optimizations can I tell interviewers to do? anything regarding plosives? anything else?
--what software pitfalls can I tell interviewers to avoid? (avoid doing noise-reduction that creates swirly sounds, for example?)
--speak louder
--get a bit further away (what is the ideal?)
--someone upthread mentioned a "patient adjustment-session" (???)
--Noam and the interviewers should both have wired internet for better bandwidth and faster internet-speed to allow higher-quality audio/video
--should a noise-gate be avoided? doesn't it cause bad things?
--he should wear "discrete earbuds" (why not headphones?)
--he should "[positions] his mic" but what does that mean?
--he should "improve his technique" but what does that mean?
--and what else? anything else that can be done in terms of software/hardware/internet/technique/anything?
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
Noise gates can be great for shutting off things you don’t need, like a tom tom drum mic that actually hears the other drums, but think of them as an automated fader finger. Every recording space has a sound. The gentle quiet hum of a computer fan, even the sound of the sea outside. They are soundscapes and help reality, but they MUST be very very low, but audible. A noise gate that closes when the subject is not speaking silences everything and people hear it.zoom also does this as part of its job, to stop those noises being sent to everyone, and we know how it sounds. So cross off your noise gate.
 

arcaxis

Active member
Not sure why Noam doesn't simply hire a pro sound engineer/producer to do his audio. He purportedly has a net worth of $5 million, can certainly afford a pro, and I'm sure there are a few around looking for work. :-)

Even Rush Limbaugh (RIP) had an engineer/producer
 
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