This really depends on your needs and what your goals are with hangouts.
Here’s what I was looking to accomplish. I wanted to graduate from a headset mic to a great sounding dynamic mic in a price range that fit my budget. I really didn’t want to dump a lot of cash only to find out that my headset would’ve been just fine or worse, that a fancy mic on a boom was overkill.
My friend Ben Brady suggested the Audio-Technica ATR 2100 USB / XLR, And he was so convincing, this is the one I chose. Watch the video to see our Google Hangout discussion.
What will you be doing in your hangouts / Why do you need a mic?
If you’re just chatting with pals and making new friends, I think that a headset is just fine. I have been using the Skype Everyman talk because it is USB, has great sound, is portable, and cost around $25.
I also like my love my Logitech ClearChat wireless (discontinued). It is the best sound, best price ($40), awesome range, and best of all, a mute button on the headset, perfect for long hangouts. The downside is the mic wire is notorious to fail. I had two pairs, and I had to solder but of them. But I still love it.
But because I do a lot of tutorial videos and interviews, I wanted something a little more professional; I started looking at dynamic microphones.
I watched plenty of videos and read a ton of reviews and everyone seemed to be talking about the same few models. So I decided I would start there.
I had my choices narrowed down to the AT2020 USB, The AT2020 XLR, the Blue Yeti, and the Heil PR-40. I went to Ebay and started watching auctions on used mic’s. My budget was no more than $200 for a full setup, which included accessories (boom, shock guard, and pop screen.)
But what about the other choices, and why did I not choose them?
First comparing the difference from the Audio-Technica AT2020 USB Condenser USB Microphone (aff) and the AT2020 XLR. The XLR was a little cheaper. Not really sure why. One very important thing to consider is that the XLR needs a mixer or USB adapter to connect to the computer. I didn’t spend a lot of time researching mixers, but it was enough to see that they cost right around $100. So the USB model was the one I was considering. But them I thought, “what if I want to get a mixer someday, I would need to get a new microphone”. Something to consider.
Both models sell retail for around $150, but E-bay auctions you can pick them up for around $50. There are a lot of them online and many people are bidding on them. This tells me that you could get one, try it, and if it’s not what you want, you should be able to resell it fairly easily and not lose a lot in the deal.
The next one I was looking at was the Blue Yeti USB Microphone (aff). I didn’t see as many of these being auctioned. This tells me that this microphone is one that you buy and hold onto. The one that I was watching sold for $78 and had minor wear. Looking at the sold listings, it seems that you should be able to get a used one for around the same price. I have heard many great things about this one, so don’t ignore it if you can find it for the right price.
The next one I considered was the big dog, the Heil PR40 (aff). This appeared on many posts as the best microphone for podcasts. It has incredible reviews, and many podcasters give it high praise. The major downside to this one was the price tag. It comes in around $325 retail and auctions run around $235. That’s as far as I went with that one.
So I bought a new Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone (aff). I paid $35.97 with free shipping. It lists for around $60 most places. What I like best is the price. Also, it came highly recommended by many others here on Hangouts.
I like that it can be either USB or XLR. It’s plug and play and I can upgrade to a mixer if I want in the future. You can plug your headset directly into it, and it does not need any drivers. It has great sound, and it was in my budget. It came boxed with a stand, a USB cable, a 3 meter XLR cable, and the microphone.
I think I made the best choice and this is the perfect microphone to make the transition from headset to dynamic.
I would love to hear your thoughts about your favorite microphone for Hangouts.
(photo credit: Jason Petefish)