Microphone Headset Suggestions?
April 16, 2018 6:20 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to find a headset (or mic/headphones combo) that I can use for spoken-word recordings and online conversation, so the microphone part of this setup is important to me. I'd also like to be able to hear my voice while I'm recording, so it'll be important to have mic monitoring. Noise reduction on the mic would also be a huge plus.

I'd like to find a headset (or mic/headphones combo) that I can use for spoken-word recordings and online conversation, so the microphone part of this setup is important to me. I'd also like to be able to hear my voice while I'm recording, so it'll be important to have mic monitoring. Noise reduction on the mic would also be a huge plus.

Budget:
the aread of $50-100 USD would be ideal, and I'm not opposed to buying used or refurbished if it helps the price. (I also don't mind a bit of DIY?)

Source:
I'd be connecting my headset either to my desktop (PC) or laptop (Mac) computers. I'd prefer not to use Bluetooth. Wired is fine.

Requirements for Isolation:
The more isolation the better, and these would be primarily for use at in my home studio, probably not often at home.
Will you be using these Headphones in Public?

Preferred Type of Headphone:
full-sized. a game-designed headset, or will that not work for me?

Preferred tonal balance
For my purposes it would be best to get the most accurate sound of my voice, but sure it would be nice for music to be generally well balanced as well.

Past headphones
I currently have the Plantronics .Audio 326, a $12 office pair but they're uncomfortable and i'd like an overall upgrade.

Preferred Music
As I said the microphone is most important to me, but also I'd like them to be comfortable to wear for long periods.
posted by dylan_k to Technology (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
If the Plantronics Audio 326 are uncomfortable, you probably want an over ear solution. You definitely want a closed back for isolation purposes.

The right way to do this (from an audiophile perspective) is to purchase a Modmic and attach it to headphones. Modmic has a business version that runs $50, which is half your budget.

Personally I prefer AKG or Audio Technica headphones. But you really can't go wrong with any of the other larger premium brands for $50 closed back over ear headphones. But to get "good" ones, you'll have to go more expensive. I think these Sony MDR7506 are great, but the combo puts you $30 over budget.

I do think your idea of getting a "gaming" headset is fine. Just know that they offer a number of features you really don't need. And those features are suspect. However, they do check all of your boxes ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I can't really recommend a specific set unfortunately
posted by teabag at 7:23 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Normally I'd recommend a nice office headset - however, most are on-ear, not over-ear. Sennheiser is always a good bet for microphone quality, and their PC8 USB is $32 on Amazon. So teabag's solution upstream might be a good bet.

Otherwise you're left with:
  • an entry-level broadcast headset set - e.g. the Yamaha CM500 at $60 - good reviews but note this set has analog connections (ie, not USB)
  • a gaming headset - I have no experience but you might start with Wirecutter on gaming headsets and look for where they mention microphone quality.
  • a budget mic + headphones + XLR-to-USB interface for < $100 - this setup won't have noise cancellation, but if you get a dynamic mic and use proper mic technique (ie, get close to it), your recording quality might even be better. Pyle Pro $12 mic (with cable) + Behringer U-phoria UM2 $30 will make any audio snob nervous but will leave you enough for some headphones and a mic stand. (Or google "budget podcast microphone" for lots of advice.)
Cheap closed ear headphones can be super uncomfortable, so beware! Something like the $80 Sony MDR-7506 are popular in studios in part because you can actually wear them all day (and they sound nice).
posted by troyer at 5:05 PM on April 17


These are great suggestions. Thank you, I'll look into them.

I suppose this detail got lost in my lengthy question, but is there a good way to also accomplish mic monitoring?

That's the feature, also known as side-tone, where the sound from the mic is also played back on the headphones. I'm looking for a solution that avoids the latency delay caused by setting up the mic-monitoring in the computer's operating system.
posted by dylan_k at 10:51 AM on April 18


Many gaming headsets have mic monitoring. The microphone quality isn’t what you’d get out of something like a Blue Yeti, which is probably what I’d go with, and that does have a headphone output for hardware no-latency monitoring. Unfortunately a refurb Yeti would be your whole budget, and no headphones.
posted by supercres at 7:35 PM on April 18


I suspect a gaming headset is the right fit for you for their combination of ease of use, noise cancellation, and monitoring. The Wirecutter article's main pick doesn't do sidetone, but the runner up $60 Razer Kraken Pro V2 can -- and this thread explains how to do sidetone with separate software from Razer. I have no experience with gaming headsets so caveat emptor.

For you or others reading this thread who are more concerned about audio quality/spoken word than online conversation, a separate mic will give you better sound than a low-end headset.

I don't love the Yeti for home studios - it's too sensitive and picks up a dog farting in the next room. A popular home starter mic is the $65 ATR2100, which you can use with it's built-in headphone jack and a USB connection. When you're ready for better sound, use the XLR connection with a $39 Behringer or $99 Focusright interface. You'll be crisper and less muddy. Those interfaces have low-latency headphone jacks and can be used with any XLR microphone you get from a garage sale or a musician friend.

From there you're into prosumer gear, which quickly goes up in price.
posted by troyer at 8:46 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


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