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Earclip microphones for podcasting?

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Brian Car
Earclip microphones for podcasting?
on Feb 6, 2017 at 8:52:27 pm

I'm a video producer for a university communications office, and we are looking to start a weekly podcast. These will be recorded in various conference rooms and offices all over campus, and generally feature a host and 1-2 guests.

Problem: For years now, I have wondered why good XLR headset microphones WITHOUT the earphones seem so hard to find... or am I blind?

I don't need my host/guests to hear anything. I just need to record their voices. So, I'm thinking something like an earclip microphone people use on stage. But would these be sufficient quality for podcasting? https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Pro92cWTH?adpos=1o3&creative=156936...

It would be very nice to 1) Not have to worry about mic stands since I'll be lugging gear all over the place, and 2) Not have to constantly remind guests to talk into the microphone. Seems like simply clipping the microphone to their head would solve these problems.

Any suggestions? Thanks.


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Bruce Watson
Re: Earclip microphones for podcasting?
on Feb 6, 2017 at 9:56:11 pm
Last Edited By Bruce Watson on Feb 6, 2017 at 9:59:28 pm

Problem: For years now, I have wondered why good XLR headset microphones WITHOUT the earphones seem so hard to find... or am I blind?

Could be, but probably just a search term problem. What you've been looking for are typically called "earset" mics. Countryman has made a living for many years making earset mics (their E6 line comes to mind). They are used all over, from live theater to corporate presentations. There are many manufacturers of earset mics, from Shure to Sennheiser.

However, the "classic" answer to your problem is lavalier mics, AKA clip mics or lapel mics. This is what your standard evening news broadcast typically uses. Everything from Sanken and DPA down to Tram (what my locals channels use). I use Oscar SoundTech 802s for this duty and highly recommend them. I don't advise using wireless unless you just can't find any other way. Always use an omni lav. mic, that way you don't have any problems with your "talent" moving and taking their mouth out-of-pattern, and you don't have any problems with proximity effect.


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Brian Car
Re: Earclip microphones for podcasting?
on Feb 6, 2017 at 10:20:43 pm

Thanks so much for the reply, Bruce! "Earset," hmmm. I'll search around!

I do have lavs, but I since I will likely be dealing with less-than-ideal noise environments (traffic, etc), I'd like to get the mic as close to their mouth as possible. I've actually considered using moleskin to stick lavs to their cheeks, but that would be awkward and uncomfortable. I also find that most lavs don't do well in echoy rooms. I really want to try to get as close to radio-talk-show level quality as I can.

Thanks again!


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Richard Crowley
Re: Earclip microphones for podcasting?
on Feb 6, 2017 at 10:30:02 pm
Last Edited By Richard Crowley on Feb 6, 2017 at 10:35:02 pm

Yes, the Audio-Technica PRO 92cW would be more than suitable for a podcast.

Note that virtually all of those head-worn microphones are terminated with mini-XLR TAF4 connector for use with wireless transmitters and will require an adapter to use with a conventional XLR mic input. And you can assume that it needs at least 24V phantom power as well. Two examples are:
http://www.pro-sound.com/p/oscar-soundtech-lavalier-microphone-ost-power-su...
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/469581-REG/Shure_RK100PK_RK100PK_RFI...

There was an extended discussion of these kinds of microphones in a recent thread here:
https://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/30/875816

You could even consider a "expendable" model like this if the users are too ham-fisted to treat them properly:
https://smile.amazon.com/Pyle-Pro-PMEMS10-Omni-Directional-Microphone-Syste...

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Recording audio without metering and monitoring is exactly like framing and focusing without looking at the viewfinder.


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Brian Car
Re: Earclip microphones for podcasting?
on Feb 8, 2017 at 5:39:33 pm

Thanks for taking the time to reply and include links, Richard!

I appreciate the PRO 92cW recommendation, but it's a condenser, and I think a dynamic mic will suit my needs better since background noise will be a concern most of the time. I'll be recording in various conference rooms and offices (probably echoy) all over campus.

So, I'm currently at Shure WH20XLR: https://www.amazon.com/Shure-WH20XLR-Dynamic-Headset-Microphone/dp/B0001DBZ... . Thoughts?


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Richard Crowley
Re: Earclip microphones for podcasting?
on Feb 8, 2017 at 9:52:36 pm

Dynamic/condenser is primarily a factor of sensitivity. Dynamic mics are generally less sensitive vs. condenser.

If you are putting the mic that close to the subjects' mouths, then the sensitivity factor condenser vs. dynamic becomes much less a factor. OTOH, dynamic mics are typically less expensive by the time you factor in the power/connector/interface that condenser mics require to connect to XLR. Plus that Shure WH20XLR is more rugged and more likely to hold up to use by amateurs.

Some people (more frequently women) are less likely to want to use them because it messes up their hair, or concerned about cross-contamination from previous users, etc. Have you proved that an ordinary clip-on mic is not adequate in your typical acoustic environments?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Recording audio without metering and monitoring is exactly like framing and focusing without looking at the viewfinder.


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Brian Car
Re: Earclip microphones for podcasting?
on Feb 9, 2017 at 8:36:22 pm

Thanks for another great post, Richard! I appreciate your thoughts on condenser mics. Will definitely rethink that.

Have you proved that an ordinary clip-on mic is not adequate in your typical acoustic environments?

That has generally been my experience. For interviews, I often use two mics: A lav "Sennheiser ME 2 Omnidirectional Condenser Lav" and a "Audio-Technica AT897" boom mic. I almost always end up using the boom in the edit. It just sounds a lot cleaner and picks up less echo.

In your opinion, is there any reason for me not to go with a headworn mic? The closer you can get the mic to the mouth, the better. So I figure a headworn cardioid mic would be ideal for a audio-only podcast.

Thanks again.


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Brian Car
Re: Earclip microphones for podcasting?
on Feb 9, 2017 at 8:47:25 pm

As I Google around, I'm increasingly puzzled by how little there is out there. For anyone doing audio-only podcasting, headworn mics seem like a no brainer to me.


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Richard Crowley
Re: Earclip microphones for podcasting?
on Feb 10, 2017 at 5:47:27 am

I completely agree. A headworn mic is always #1 on my list.

I just received speedy delivery of these inexpensive examples from Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003D2VT2K
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003D2YRLA
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003GEBGJ6

I am going to make a DIY XLR adapter for them and then publish a test video on YouTube.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Recording audio without metering and monitoring is exactly like framing and focusing without looking at the viewfinder.


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Brian Car
Re: Earclip microphones for podcasting?
on Feb 15, 2017 at 5:24:53 pm

I noticed both headworn mics you linked are omnidirectional. Wouldn't cardioid or unidirectional always be preferable in this situation? Trying to isolate the voices as much as possible on individual channels.

Thanks SO much for your help!


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Ty Ford
Re: Earclip microphones for podcasting?
on Feb 15, 2017 at 5:57:48 pm

In my own experience, the distance from mic to mouth (or lack thereof) plays a very big role in separation.

Yes, you can get cardioid over the ear mics. Countryman makes a nice one. They are usually more expensive than the omnis.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/511124-REG/Countryman_E6IDP7B1_E6i_C...

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Bruce Watson
Re: Earclip microphones for podcasting?
on Feb 16, 2017 at 1:56:19 pm

Wouldn't cardioid or unidirectional always be preferable in this situation? Trying to isolate the voices as much as possible on individual channels.

There's more to it than just isolation. Off-axis coloration can be a PITA too. This comes into play more if your talent is moving, particularly if they are moving their head while providing you signal. Think about what happens with off-axis coloration while the head moves. As the head moves, the noise sources around the head change how they sound due to the variables of the off-axis coloration. This can be distracting even if the sound levels of said noise are low.

Better mics made for this kind of thing (think Broadway musicals) have less off-axis coloration. At the lower end of the scale it's usually a safer play to stick with omnis.

As Ty says, the vast majority of the increased isolation available with earset mics comes from their proximity to talent's mouth. That's way more important than the extra couple of dB you'll get by going with a cardioid over an omni.

Then there's proximity effect, which omnis don't have but which directional mics do have. The mic manufacturers typically roll off the bottom end in various amounts to compensate somewhat, but it's still dependent on distance to source, which means that every time you put the mic on a person it's going to be a little different, which just adds to your post processing, especially if you're trying to match clips across various shoots. It's done all the time, but it does add some time and complexity to the task at hand.

So, if you're bound and determined to use a directional mic, have at it. Just don't be surprised if it's not as easy as you had hoped.


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Ty Ford
Re: Earclip microphones for podcasting?
on Feb 9, 2017 at 4:29:15 am

Hello Brian and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

Bruce and Richard have given you some spot on advice (as they always do).

Over the ear mics like the Countryman B6 are great pieces of kit. I have two of them.

They may cause clanky noise problems with women's earrings, requiring that the earring be removed for the session. I've never had a hygiene problem, but it's probably a good idea to swab each one down visibly before putting them on.

As stated previously, all things being equal, dynamic mics don't pickup less background noise than condenser mics. A mic over the ear will be closer to the mouth and require less preamp gain than a law on the chest. And if you'll be running any sort of PA speaker nearby, the lavs will cause feedback problems way before an over the ear mic.

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Eric Toline
Re: Earclip microphones for podcasting?
on Feb 10, 2017 at 3:50:14 am

As an FYI: Over the ear or earsets will give you 6-8db more gain before feedback in a PA situation-vs-a standard clip on lav.

"I push the RECORD button and hope for the best"


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