Despite the fact that setting up and teaching classes online is easier than ever in today’s digital age, there are lots of tutors, coaches and private teachers who struggle with the audio quality of their live-streams – even when their internet connection is working just fine. Since comprehensible speech is essential for getting any kind of message across, the sound needs to be spot-on. In this blog, I’m going to explain how you can take the audio quality of your online classes to the next level and, no, you don’t necessarily need to invest in a new microphone!
- Some Tips
- Increasing Clarity
- Using an external microphone
- Picking out the right kind of USB microphone
- See Also
First off, I’ve got a few tips that won’t cost you any money. While they’re fairly self-explanatory, I’ve included them just in case.
- Ask your students to mute their microphone whenever they’re not speaking.
- Position yourself as close to your microphone as possible.
- Use headphones or earbuds and ask your students to do the same.
Odds are, the tips laid out above aren’t enough to boost the sound quality of the microphone built into your laptop, tablet, or smartphone to the desired level and, let’s face it, built-in mikes usually just don’t sound all that good. In addition, desktop computers and laptops tend to not only capture the sound of your voice but the noise produced by internal components such as cooling fans and mechanical hard-drives. So what can you do?
Using an External Microphone
An external microphone can drastically boost audio quality and upgrade your online-teaching set-up.
- A USB microphone is by far the easiest way to go if you’re currently using a laptop or desktop computer for your classes. Most models are plug-and-play, don’t break the bank, and can often be hooked up to a smartphone or tablet as well. Bear in mind that in most cases, plugging two USB mics into one and the same computer won’t work.
- Check out our range of special Android & iOS microphones for smartphones and tablets if that’s what you’re using.
- More demanding users might want to opt for an audio interface. Since most ‘standard’ microphones feature an XLR input (in some cases a 6.3mm jack), they can be hooked up directly to an interface. What’s more, most audio interfaces allow users to plug in multiple mikes, which is great for teachers working in pairs, while another advantage that vocal microphones have over USB models is that there are more makes and models to choose from. However, bear in mind that if a ‘standalone’ microphone is what you decide to go for, you’ll need a cable and an interface along with it. For more information, read our Studio Microphone Buyer’s Guide, Audio Interface Buyer’s Guide, and Audio Cable Buyer’s Guide.
Picking the Right Kind of USB Microphone
USB microphones are available in all shapes and sizes. Here’s a quick overview:
- Table-top microphones include multi-directional boundary microphones as well as ‘normal’ desktop models.
- Lavalier and headset microphones offer an extremely focussed sound. These mikes are positioned close to the mouth to counter ambient noise and unwanted reverb, making them less suited for recording multiple voices or instruments at the same time.
- Plug-in microphones are great when you need a fuss-free way to interview people. Hook one up to your laptop, or get one that’s compatible with smart devices so you can walk around while you record sound using your smartphone.
- Handheld microphones are also cut-out for interviews and other forms of, let’s say, human interaction. Simply give one to or aim one at whoever’s doing the talking and most ambient noise will be largely ignored.
What’s Good to Know:
- Microphones equipped with a stand mount can be mounted on separate microphone stands. This is not only useful, but absolutely necessary at times.
- Wireless USB microphones are perfect if you want maximum freedom of movement. Who knows, maybe you’ve actually got a huge school board set up for teaching!
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