Well, it’s been a while since I posted. Sorry about that. 😦 But, I come with what I hope is an entertaining tale today.
It all started in January. I had this cheap $20 USB microphone that I got a few years ago. I embarrassingly used it for podcasts, online classes I taught, and in general any time I needed to record online. I say “embarrassingly” because it wasn’t until I had replaced it that I realized what horrible sound it produced.
Well, in January, it broke. And, of course, just before a client session, too. I was getting out the microphone, and it just snapped off its base. 😮
Well unfortunately I had an online class to teach the next day. I sent out an emergency text to my brother-in-law saying I really needed a ride to the store because I had to get another USB microphone. He agreed, thankfully.
I figured we’d go to Walmart again and I’d find a decent version that fit my needs. But that was not to be the case. They had no such microphones, only headsets.
Buying a Microphone: My First Attempt
Okay, so we run to Radio Shack. They do have two USB microphones: a generic Radio Shack model for $40, and an Audio-Technica for $100.
Now I really wasn’t expecting to have to pay that much. I asked the guy there which he recommended, and told him I was using it mostly for podcasting. He recommended the $40 version, which I bought on the spot.
And it was okay. But, I found that there was a lot of background hissing noise, and, the microphone was far too sensitive. I started looking for some better options.
Buying a Microphone: My Second Attempt
I have no idea why I was all of a sudden obsessed with getting the best sound possible. I lived with a $20 microphone for several years just fine. But I guess hearing the difference between that one and this new $40 version, I started thinking about how much better it could be.
That’s when I came across the Blue Yeti (yes I got the black one, because I’m cool).
This was the closest I’ve ever gotten to a professional microphone. It was $106 when I bought it, plus I bought a pop filter and foam shield.
And, the sound was amazing! It was everything I hoped it would be. Very little background noise, picks up in front very well but really fades out the noises from behind and on the sides. Plus I could plug my headphones right into it so I could monitor what I sounded like.
It took a bit of alteration of our setup for podcasts and such, but we made it work.
Now How to Use the Thing?
Except, there was one issue. It was a bit soft. Okay, of course there is a gain control on the back of the microphone, but I didn’t want to turn that up too loudly.
As I did some research, I heard reference to this being a side-address mic. That’s great, but what does that mean?
I’ve used microphones throughout my life. I mean, I’m blind so I usually wasn’t the one setting up the microphones. But I was on TV several times as a child, I did public speaking on several occasions, etc. My knowledge of microphones consisted of, you point it at yourself and speak.
Apparently that’s wrong. Or, at least for this type of microphone it’s wrong. Who would’ve guessed? Likely everyone else, but again, blind and all. 😀
The way I used the Yeti at first is the only way I’ve ever known to use microphones. If you look at the image on the product page I linked above, you’ll hopefully see it. It’s on a stand, and is able to pivot vertically. You can fold it down into the stand. The way I had it set up when speaking was that I had the tip of it pointed towards my mouth. You know, the way I thought was pretty intuitive.
Then I hear about side-address microphones vs. end-address microphones. End-address was exactly the way I was doing it, but apparently that was wrong here. Yeti is a side-address mic.
But, what do they define as the “side”? I initially tried literally turning the body of the microphone about 90° so that the end was pointing almost to my left. Okay don’t laugh, that’s pretty ridiculous in retrospect. I sounded a bit muffled on a few occasions. I’m impressed it still picked up as much as it did, though.
Last night was the last straw. I needed to figure out how this thing worked. The sound was just not what I thought it probably should be, and I couldn’t figure out this side-address business.
Finally I found a diagram of what was meant by side-address. I copied the image URL and showed it to a sighted friend, who is my go-to contact when I need a pair of eyes to take a look at something for me. 🙂
I don’t want to steal the diagram outright, so here’s the page I found it on: http://redstarwebdevelopment.com/2013/06/yeti-pro-review/
It’s not exactly the same model I have, as I have the USB version of that same microphone, but it’s similar enough.
Anyway, my friend told me that for what not to do, it showed, well, pretty much what I had always been doing. So, there’s that.
For what to do, it showed the microphone basically vertically oriented, with what I had previously considered the underside of the mic pointed at the speaker. So instead of pointed at me, it was pointed basically straight up, so that the side of the microphone was aligned with my mouth.
That seemed crazy, but I decided to test it. I set it up last night, and did an audio recording where I did it as she said, then how I was doing it before.
Again, this microphone allows you to plug in headphones, so even without the recording, I could hear the difference immediately. The right configuration sounded crisper, more direct, more proximate if that makes sense. The other, wrong configuration sounded farther away, less direct, more echoey. (Is that a word? Oh well, it is now.)
Now, I’m far happier with my microphone, and I’ve learned something new. 🙂
I feel slightly embarrassed, but apparently it’s a common problem so I guess I’m not all that alone. And, at least I have an excuse. So there! 😛