What is the cheapest USB mic I could find for a mac?
July 9, 2008 9:28 AM   Subscribe

What is the cheapest USB mic I could find for a mac?

I'm learning to use Garage Band to record musical ideas. I have found a USB guitar cable that allows me to plug the guitar directly into a USB port on the computer and start recording. I'm looking for a microphone, under $ 100, that can do the same thing and that is compatible with mac. I'd be recording myself singing, ideally it would be something that didn't pick up the background noise too much. Any recommendations?
Thanks in advance!
posted by Melankolia to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Snowball USB Microphone Bundle

$91.61. These are fairly decent.

One piece of advice, for around what you are wanting to spend you could buy an audio interface and use more than just mics. And a cheap-but-decent non-USB mic will give you better fidelity. I like Tascam interfaces.

The beauty of this option is that in a year, when you have outgrown the quality of the USB mic, you can step up in quality. You can also do more complicated recording, like a dual mic setup (what I use).

Most USB (I want to write all instead of most) won't give you the best vocal recording for much more than spoken word.

This question gets asked a lot over on macjams.com.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:40 AM on July 9, 2008

Oh, and to really answer the question, you can get some USB mics for around $20, but they will really suck for what you are wanting to do, so I would consider that a waste of money.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:41 AM on July 9, 2008

I use the M-Audio Fast Track USB with GarageBand and I'm very happy with it -- you can run your guitar and a mic through that. The Fast Track costs about $100 and you can just run your mic through it, if you already have a non-USB mic. I actually find that recording the guitar amp through the microphone gives me better sound than running the guitar cable directly to the USB port via the Fast Track.
posted by escabeche at 10:07 AM on July 9, 2008

Which computer do you have? Almost all Macs I know of have an actual line in that you can use with a cheapo wired mic (like those built for audio chat), and many have actual built in microphones. I have recorded directly into the line-in ports with pretty solid results, despite what you'll read online about needing a USB or firewire interface.
posted by mzurer at 11:02 AM on July 9, 2008

I use one of these. it actually sounds really good and works with my mac.
posted by evanrodge at 12:26 PM on July 9, 2008

Don't forget to learn about microphone placement. You'll get one sound if you sing straight down the barrel of the mic, another if you raise it five inches and point it down toward the tip of your nose, another if you have it coming up from below, etc. Once you get past the $20-30 price point, you'll notice more difference from your placement than between different microphones.

If you want to screen out background noise, the first thing to do is have as little as possible. Turn off the fans, unplug the refrigerator if it's nearby, etc. Then, get a directional microphone, get close to it, and point it toward your mouth.

Also consider a pop filter to keep those 'p' and 't' and 'b' sounds (during which you expel a little burst of air) from causing distortion. You can make your own out of a coat hanger and old nylons.
posted by echo target at 1:57 PM on July 9, 2008

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