Home studio. The words conjure images of top of the line equipment in a soundproofed environment looking like something out of Star Trek. And of course, all that comes at a huge cost, most of which many of us can’t afford. Well, what if you just need something for professional quality auditions or smaller projects? Thanks to technology, it’s become more affordable to get a good, solid quality plug-and-play condenser microphone without spending an arm and leg. A common question I get is, “what brand should I buy?”. In general, USB condenser models from Blue, Shure, Samson, Marshall, and Audio Tecnica all have stellar reviews, typically in the $100-200 range, and also offer pricier ones if your wallet is fatter. Of course, online always has the best deals (Amazon, Sweetwater, Musician’s Friend).
If you are in a pinch, national chains such as Best Buy, Guitar Center, or even the Apple store can take care of your USB mic needs. For the past 6 months, I’ve sworn by my Audio Tecnica AT2020 USB condenser. I’ve been doing all my mobile auditions via the iPad. Now, the kicker with iPads is the lack of a USB port. The workaround is buying a $30 camera adapter kit, a tiny hunk of plastic that you plug your USB mic into, then plug into the charger port of the iPad. A tad cumbersome, and the connection can easily come undone. If you’re an Apple gadget fan, take note. Apogee just released the “MiC”. This is a USB condenser that is specifically designed for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. No USB port needed! The Apogee MiC has gotten stellar reviews from bloggers and customers and, having just acquired one, I can vouch for it’s awesomeness.
Also, on the topic of mics, audio engineer/producer/casting director, Juan Carlos Bagnell, just posted an excellent video explaining why many of them cost so darn much. I suggest bookmarking his blog, as he reviews equipment as well as sheds a lot of much needed light into the world of VO casting: SomeAudioGuy.blogspot.com