How to Ditch the Microphone in Podcasting (Sort of)

A lot of podcasters will sit down in front of a big microphone and plant their face in the windscreen. When you are doing a video stream with the podcast, people might just see you from the nose-up. Some people feel intimidated with this; others don’t know where to position themselves when they podcast or just want to get rid of that big, bulky microphone. So how do you do it?

Is the Mic a Form of Stature?

There are some microphones that scream to be in front of your face. Whether its the classic mic like this Golden Age project R1 or more of a status mic such as the Heil PR-40. Colorful and noticeable microphones that add to your show or even give you more confidence. Those are mics that should be in front of your face. Even the new Blue Nessie Microphone has a cool look and shouldn’t be hidden in the background.

Jeff Powers talking into microphone for podcast: GoinSXSW

Jeff Powers talking into microphone for podcast: GoinSXSW

Where Do You Podcast

Getting the mic out of your face really depends on where you podcast. If you record in a room with little or no external noise, it’s going to be easy to get the mic away. The further away from your mouth, the more it can pick up other noises. Cranking up the gain is not the best answer – that can cause clipping, feedback (if you have computer speakers on) and all-around horrible noise.

Any microphone should be no further than 12 inches away from your mouth. Getting the mic as close as possible is the key to getting your full vocal and keeping the bumps and hisses from getting into your show.

Headset microphones

Audio-Technica BP892 Headset microphone

Audio-Technica BP892 Headset microphone

Have you considered a headset microphone? While it doesn’t get the mic away from your face it does make the mic smaller and less obtrusive. There are some headset mics small enough and skin colored so most people don’t even see it – like the above Audio-Technica BP892 Headset mic.

Some headset microphones just set over the ear while others come with headphones. During CES, the TPN team I work with uses Audio Technica BPHS1  for interviews. It’s great because you can hear the guests but not so great because these headsets engulf.

One problem with a headset mic: many have different results when using them. Some people don’t like headset mics because they hang on the ear. Sometimes the microphone strays from the persons mouth and you don’t get the best volume.

In the right situation they are great to keep a host hands free and laid back.

Lavaliere Microphones

MXL FR-355K Lavaliere microphone

MXL FR-355K Lavaliere microphone

A lavaliere microphone (aka “Lav mic”) attaches to your collar for another hands-free approach. You can get lav mics with wireless packs or wired to a phantom power mixer or battery operated. Wireless lavaliere mics are not cheap but can be well worth it if you need to move around. A good mobile unit that will run you about $170 is the Audio-Technica PRO 88W-830This mic has a few limitations (like only 2 frequencies to select) but can be perfect for those who only use it in radio free zones (not too many wireless systems running).

The Sony UWP-V1 will run you about $550 but will allow you to conduct interviews at trade shows without crossing with other wireless units.

A popular home lav mic is this Audio-Technica ATR3350 at only $17. Another favorite is the MXL FR-355K Lav mics at $99 for 2 microphones (a omnidirectional mic and a cardioid microphone). This one connects to a mixer with phantom power, but you do get 2 microphones for a low price.

Overhead Microphones (aka Shotgun microphone)

Audix ADX40

Audix ADX40


Sometimes people want the microphone out of the shot. A hanging overhead microphone is most often used to capture a group of people, choir or a boardroom that records sessions. A mic like the Audix ADX40 would hang just above the head and out of the video shot.

When you see a video crew, sometimes they will have a boom operator. Their job is to hold a microphone on a boom stick just over people’s heads. If the operator loses grip, the boom can easily drop into a shot. For home podcasts, you could easily turn a standard microphone stand into a boom arm.

Keep in mind you still want to get the microphone as close as possible to the mouth for the best sound.

Overhead AND Lavaliere Microphone

This seems to be the best option when you don’t want the mic around but have a studio-type set to deal with. Putting a lav mic on will get the primary sound and the overhead will capture additional sounds missed. If you dual mic yourself, the overhead microphone can be further back – yet not too far or else its useless.

Some Geekazine shows use a lavaliere / overhead microphone combination

Some Geekazine shows use a lavaliere / overhead microphone combination

Summary – How to Ditch the Microphone in Podcasting

Getting rid of the microphone is simple to do. You can move it away from your face or get a new type of microphone altogether. If you are doing a video show, ditching the microphone can help you express yourself. You don’t have to worry about hitting a mic if there isn’t one in front of your face.

Its not for all of us. Some like to have that microphone in front of us. I have shows where there is a mic in front of my face and others where I don’t. Its all about how comfortable you are with the alternatives.

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