Check out these additional options to make your recording even better.
Microphone Arm ($31) – If you have a place where you can mount the arm to a wall, window sill, or to your desk, with the included thumbscrew mount, this can make using a microphone a lot easier. You can swing it out of the way when you’re not using it and position it right in front of your mouth when you are. This arm includes a shock mount to reduce the vibration from the desk or room to keep the background noise to a minimum.
Microphone Stand ($20) – This is the same stand we included as part of the recording gear for the Zoom H4N with an external mic. However, if you’re using the ATR2100 but need easier portability, want something better than the included desk stand, or don’t have a place to mount an arm, then this is a good solution.
Acoustic Isolation Box (free - $200+) – If you have a reasonably quiet computer room, but the walls, furniture, and windows create a noticeable echo effect (if your computer room isn’t a sound studio, they do), you may want to consider a portable recording booth or other form of acoustic isolation. These won’t work as well as the Zoom H4N in a closet full of clothes, but they’ll help and may enable you to achieve a decent recording quality at your desk. You can also make one yourself with some foam packing material and a milk crate or other box, or spend a few dollars to buy the pieces you’ll need like shown in this good example video or this one. If you are trying to use with a mic on an arm, you may have no choice but to go with something like a folding stand and setting some acoustic foam above and below, but that will not dampen the echoes nearly as well as the box solutions.
Behringer Xenyx Q802USB ($80) – This includes dual mic inputs for stereo or additional sound, multiple voices, etc. It also has a more advanced equalizer compared with the Behringer Xenyx 302USB we recommended as the default mixer. In case you’re working with some of the high-end condenser mics, the Q802USB also includes full 48v phantom power, which ensures all of those mics can work with this unit. The 302USB only partially supports this requirement, meaning not all condenser mics will work with that one. The Q802USB also features a different headphone jack. Where the 302USB only provides a 3.5mm headphone jack, the Q802USB only provides a ¼” jack.
Blue Yeti Microphone ($110 - $130, depending on color) – This is not really an upgrade, so much as an alternative approach. The Blue Yeti is a USB condenser mic, but it includes three mics and internal processing to provide noise cancelling and achieve the directional benefits of a cardioid dynamic, without fully sacrificing the richness of a condenser mic. With the turn of a dial, this mic also can be set to record forward and backward for a cross-table interview, left-right for stereo, or just pull in all sound from every direction with the sensitivity of a condenser mic. It comes in multiple colors, including white, silver, and black, all of them aesthetically beautiful. The sound quality is excellent. This microphone is very big, very heavy, and will not work with many of the traditional stands or arms, but it does include its own nice integrated desk stand. Because it’s USB, you can’t run it through a mixer, but if you just want a good, highly versatile USB mic at a reasonable price, this can be a good way to go.
Sony MDR7506 Headphones ($80) – If you already have good headphones, go ahead and use those. If you’re going to invest in a pair to support your recording, get a good neutral set like these. Headphones that are very good for music or gaming often enhance the bass and remove some noise, which is great for listening, but not so good for hearing the very audio imperfections you are trying to catch. For that, you want them to be as neutral as possible. The Sony MDR7506 pair also includes an adapter to work with both 3.5mm and ¼” connectors, meaning they’ll work with all of the mics and mixers described here.
Zoom H4N AC Adapter ($20) – If you don’t like changing batteries and you don’t mind the extra cord, then this is what you need. Keeps the Zoom H4N running on AC power.
Pop Filter ($9) – If the windscreen isn’t enough, try a full pop filter. This is designed to block bursts of air between your mouth and the head of the mic that cause plosives. Plosives occur when you speak words with a P or B in them too close to the microphone. This pop filter mounts to the arm or stand and includes a flexible neck so you can bend it in front of the mic. It’s bulkier and a little tougher to use than a simple windscreen, but is more effective at stopping plosives in your audio.