5 Best Headsets and Microphones for Recording in your Home Office

Looking for the best device to record interviews, podcasts, phone calls, or Camtasia videos for your home office? Take a look at these 5 outstanding and affordable options.

Headsets
Plantronics .Audio 995 Wireless Stereo Headset

Plantronics 995 Wireless HeadsetI love, love, love my 995 Wireless Headset. In fact, I’m on vacation right now and it’s on my night table in the hotel room with me. I never travel without it and I use it nearly every day. It has a USB receiver which gives it a better sound quality and connection than a Bluetooth device. When I was transcribing a great deal, I would use it for 8-10 hours a day and it was still comfortable to wear. I even gave one away for our business anniversary in February. I also bought one for my Project Manager.

The audio quality is phenomenal. Many times the quality using my Skype subscription is much better than using my cell phone or even a land line phone. The microphone is sound cancelling and I have had instances where my daughter was talking to me and the person on the other end of the phone couldn’t hear her.

The only thing about the Plantronics .Audio 995 Wireless Headset is it’s a little bulky because of the additional padding for comfort. I wish Plantronics made one of these headsets that folded for easier travel.

I could talk about this headset all day but for $55-70, my best advice is order one now.

So if I love the Plantronics headset so much why do I need another device? First the headset can’t record two or more people well. Second on occasion you may want to record a live speech or interview. Read on for microphone and handheld recorder suggestions.

Microphones


White Blue Snowball MicrophoneThe Blue Snowball mic is also around $50-90 depending on where you get it and if it’s on sale. For the price, the audio quality is great. It’s best used for recording 2 person interviews, perhaps that you have in your home office or recording speeches. You can set the Snowball on the podium and it will pick up your speech from 2-3 feet away. You could also set it 5-8 feet from the speaker system and get a good quality recording.

If you want to record an in-person panel with several people, check out the Yeti below.
I own the white Snowball. There are several color options as well.

Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone

Blue Yeti MicrophoneThe Blue Yeti microphone is relatively new but has striking quality. If you want Professional DVD quality, this is the microphone you want. It has a deep sound without some of the hollow sound that you might get with low quality microphones.

This microphone costs around $120. It is next on my list to get for my own office. I’ve had the opportunity to see this at a conference and Lynn Terry featured this microphone on her blog recently with sound quality comparisons.

The only drawback to this microphone is it is slightly large. This helps when recording a round table but it may be intrusive or hard to store. However, if you want all of your audio to sound like it was recorded in a professional studio, this is probably the microphone you want.

Audio-Technica AT2020 USB Condenser USB Microphone
Audio Technica AT2020If you are familiar with music recording or were in Band, you may have heard of Audio Technica before. Their higher end products are very popular in recording studios. Their AT2020 is an affordable option for a home user.

If you want Professional Quality audio for videos or any reason, this microphone is much smaller than the Yeti. Not only is it easier to store, it has a huge number of stands that fit it. You could choose any variation from a microphone stand you would use on stage, to a short stand to sit on the desk to even one with a flexible arm that clamps to the side of the desk.

The only “bad” thing I have heard about this Audio Technica is that the microphone is unidirectional. The Blue Yeti records from all sides. Basically the Audio Technica is awesome if you are all sitting on the same side of the table. In a round table position, you may lose the people “behind” the microphone. It is much better used for single person recordings. The price on the Audio Technica AT2020 is around $115. Be sure to purchase the USB version if you want to use it with your computer.

Handheld Recorders

Olympus Digital Recorder VN6200 PCI love this digital recorder. I have the VN 5200PC and the VN 6200PC. The 6200 is the same price as the 5200 I bought last year except it has twice the memory at 1GB. The 6200 will hold over 445 hours of audio. The batteries will literally die before you can fill the memory.

This recorder connects to your computer with a micro USB cable that is included (although any micro USB you have will work.) There is an “upgrade” that has a built in USB, like a Flip Camcorder , however the sound quality is not as good. I purchased one and actually returned it and got the 6200 because of the difference in sound quality.

You may wonder why I have 2 of these recorders. I leave one in my purse and I never ever leave the house without it. I use it to dictate articles while I am driving and I have used it a number of times to record an impromptu interview when I randomly came across someone I needed to talk to. The sound quality is good enough that I recorded a backup of several seminars, including Bob the Teacher’s SIMPLE Seminar in February. There was a malfunction with the professional recording equipment and he cut in a few minutes of my recordings that would have been lost.

If you know of other recording devices that would be a helpful addition to a home office please let me know so I can test them out and add them to the list.

Thanks
Erica

Disclaimer: Please assume all links on this website are affiliate links. I have tested all of these devices and personally own most of them.

About Erica

Erica Cosminsky is an HR Business Strategist for small businesses. She can slog through the pile of applicants and help deliver the best assistant to your "office door", she transforms mile long to-do lists into manageable bites, and like your best friend after a raging party, she sticks around to offer assistance or clean up any messes, etc. Find her free delegation workbook at TheInvisibleOffice.com

She is a former corporate HR Manager, and ran her own virtual business team for 4 years. She has a BS in Organizational Leadership focused in HR and is a grad student in Industrial and Organizational Psychology focused in Workplace Efficiency. Honestly, if you have questions about working with people, Erica can probably help you. Ask her on Twitter. @Cosminsky

Comments

  1. Melanie Kissell
    Twitter: melaniekissell
    says:

    You’ve scored a home run with this one, Erica!

    I finally ordered a USB microphone after struggling (forever!) to record with a mic that came with my web cam. Talk about crummy results — everything sounded scratchy and cheesy and horrible! I just learned very recently that bypassing your computer’s sound card is a good idea. Who knew?! I’m definitely not a techie.

    Really great information,
    Melanie
    31DBBB participant

    • Erica
      Twitter: Cosminsky
      says:

      Melanie,
      I totally agree. I have two laptops with built in microphones and the sound quality is so crappy. It might be ok for a quick call to a family member but I would definitely not want to record one of my client calls that way.

      You are correct on by passing the sound card. You can get feedback and even a squelch from it. I’m sure the USB microphone will make your life much easier.

      Thanks for your comments. :)

      • Melanie Kissell
        Twitter: melaniekissell
        says:

        Erica, thanks for your response.

        I was not only getting “feedback and squelch” from that cheesy mic — I was getting squeaks, crackles, and screeches! :)

        Looking forward to reading more from you,
        Melanie

  2. Thanks, Erica. This was one of the best notes you put out. I am currently in the market for a new recorder. I had bought a very expensive one that I had some trouble with and returned that. Then I’ve been using a plantronics headset which works well. My trouble is finding one that can use a pop filter to decrease the amount of pops and “s” sounds. I may try the condenser mic you list up here and hope it goes with the software I have.

    deirdre

    • Erica
      Twitter: Cosminsky
      says:

      Deirdre,
      I do notice an occasional pop with my Plantronics headset. That’s exactly why I like the microphones for better quality when I’m not on a phone call.

      I like the Audio Technica. It was suggested to me originally by Lon Naylor at LearnCamtasia.com. It’s quite easy to store and travel with and you can’t beat the quality for the price. I’d almost be certain it would work with your software as it’s a pretty commonly used brand.

      I’d love to hear your results when you get a new one!
      Erica

  3. Lisbethtanz@freelancewriters
    Twitter: lisbethtanz
    says:

    Erica,

    This is fabulous information – awesome list post! I’ve been searching for information like this – there is so much available, it’s hard to know what’s good and what’s not. Thank you for narrowing the playing field and giving recommendations that make sense.

    Lis
    31daysblogchallenge.com

    • Erica
      Twitter: Cosminsky
      says:

      Lisbeth,
      Thanks for the great feedback. So glad something useful could come from all my trial and error (and all this recording equipment around here!)

  4. Cathy Miller
    Twitter: millercathy
    says:

    I have been shopping around for this so your timing (or mine) :-) is perfect!

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. This is a great post, Erica. I myself am new at the whole “recording myself” thing and I thought the idea of driving around with a voice recorder was fab. Also, I appreciate your reviews of the products and recommendations – I’m going to get that little snowball thing I think. Thanks again!
    Jess

  6. You need to be at least a thumb’s width from the microphone. Microphones for Computers

  7. Erica – I could have used this a few weeks ago when I bought my headset! The issue was finding one I liked and could feel/touch before buying. Like you, I don’t care for the bulkiness, but I don’t wear it for hours at a time, so I don’t need all that extra padding. At Best Buy I picked up a Logitech for about $60. It’s adjustable for over the head or around the back of the head, folds up, and came with a hard carrying case. Believe it or not, the carrying case cinched my decision. I’ve used it for webinars, telesummits, etc for the past few weeks with amazing results. The only problem is it’s so sensitive to sound (blocks out external noises, but close noises people can hear) that I had to adjust the mic so people couldn’t hear me breathing. Hehe. Anyway, it does have a cord, but it’s plenty long enough that I can move about my office and multi-task at will. Now if only I could only find a landline phone that’s not super fancy with 4 handsets and built-in answering machines that accepts a headset… Got any suggestions?

  8. Bill Nieves says:

    What headset/software combination will permit recording of internet phone calls? I have the Platronics 995 Wireless Stereo Headset which I agree is simply terrific. But I can only capture my own voice when recording phone calls. The audio software (Cool Edit Pro) does not capture the receiver audio; only the transmitter (my own voice). Your help is both appreciated and needed. And thanks for the great product reviews.

Trackbacks

  1. […] you caught our post 5 Best Headsets and Microphones for Recording in Your Home Office, hopefully you have your equipment are ready to start recording. As you get ready to record your […]