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What to look for when buying a microphone for computer

With the enormous range of multimedia software available to computer users these days, choosing the right microphone to suit your needs can be a difficult task. In this article we'll show you how to select the best computer microphones for your needs, what to look for and how to avoid poor quality products.

Decide what you will use your microphone for

The basics
Microphones range between a couple of pounds and a couple of thousand pounds.
First, you need to decide on what you will use your microphone for and how much you are willing to spend.
Decide which of the following categories most of your multimedia activity falls into. Podcasters
Podcasting is effectively the modern form of amateur radio.
If you are producing podcasts you need a good quality voice microphone, such as the Shure SM58.
There are alternative podcast specific microphones available, but these are widely agreed to be gimmicky.
Try and buy a classic voice microphone and consider upgrading it with a pop shield. Musicians
Before you buy a microphone for music, research which is best for your particular instrument.
If you are happier with a more general purpose unit, look for the Zoom H4n which allows portable multi-track recordings. Gamers
Computer headsets with microphones are the best option for gamers.
They allow you to trash talk, whilst leaving your hands free to operate the complex in game controls! Voice Over IP Users
Most modern computer webcams have inbuilt microphones.
These are perfectly sufficient for video chat over software like Skype.

Buying and accesorising

Online retailers
Microphones for computers are best purchased from one of the large online retailers such as Amazon.co.uk or Dabs.com.
These companies are able to take advantage of their bulk buying strategies to give you the best deals. If you are buying a specialist microphone for podcasting or music, it is worth visiting a specialist independent retailer.
They will be able to give not only advice on the best product for your needs but also set up tips.
Final word
It is worth noting that if you are using a professional quality microphone, you will not be able to plug this directly into your computer.
The signal level output from the microphone is not great enough to register on the computer and you will have to use a preamp or special audio interface. Independent retailers will be able to advise you on the best match for your particular microphone.

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