Mic + your existing computer

Good if quiet with no echo in your computer room

Total: $65

Parts to buy: Audio-Technica ATR2100 + Windscreen

This is a USB Cardioid Dynamic microphone. USB means you can just plug it directly into your computer. From there, the software we’ll recommend can record whatever you say into in the mic.

In spite of the low price (and yes, $65 is a very low price for a decent microphone), this is actually a really good microphone. In comparisons with much more expensive mics, the ATR2100 consistently tested as producing superior sound. It includes a headset jack so you can listen to your voice as you record, which can be helpful as you become more accustomed to how your own voice sounds while recording.

It even includes the USB cable and a little microphone stand. However, you may want to upgrade to a better stand or arm mount. See Optional Upgrades.

The listed windscreen is just a bit of foam that helps reduce plosives, the breath pops that accompany saying words with the letters P or B in them. You want to get close to the microphone so that your voice is as loud as possible relative to the ambient noise, but not so close that you produce plosives. The windscreen helps you get closer without plosives. If you find it’s not enough, you may want to upgrade to a “pop filter” such as the one listed under Optional Upgrades.

The main weakness with this approach is that by plugging directly into your computer, you miss out on the opportunity to run the mic through a mixer and amp, which can really improve the sound quality. You may be able to achieve some of these gains via the computer software (called “post-processing”), but that generally takes more work, and you really want to keep that post-processing to a minimum, because those adjustments distort the sound. Get the audio as good as possible while you record it.

Physical setup of ATR2100 USB connection is the easiest of all the hardware options

  1. Put the windscreen over the ball of the ATR2100.

  2. Plug the USB cord into the USB port on the bottom/back of the microphone and into an available USB port on your computer. That’s it!

  3. If you want to use the included mic-stand, set the microphone in the stand. Note that however the mic is held, you want to be sure you avoid noises from shifting your hand as you hold it or touching the table or desk on which it’s sitting. It will pick up any such noises and those will ruin your recording.

  4. If using a headset to monitor audio, plug into the port on the bottom/back of the mic.

  5. .

    Recording

  6. When speaking, point the top of the mic toward your mouth. Don’t talk to the sides of the mic.

Next proceed to the Downloading and Installing the Recording Software step.