Marco's mic review and the quality trade-off

Marco’s review of his favorite microphones is comprehensive. You can’t go wrong by following his advice. I recorded my first podcast 10 years ago, and Daniel and I are about to hit 200 episodes of Core Intuition, yet I still learned a few new things from reading Marco’s review.

As with most things, though, it’s a personal choice too. Take this part:

If you’re just getting started with podcasting, a USB mic is good enough. If you’re established and looking to upgrade your production quality, or if you just love gear like me, you’ll likely find the jump to XLR worthwhile.

I did the opposite of this. For years I used an XLR mic along with a chain of two additional audio devices: the M-Audio FireWire Solo for getting the audio into the Mac, and the PreSonus TubePRE preamp for boosting the signal. This produced a nice sound and gave me knobs to fiddle with, but the extra complexity was just not worth it. I now use a simple USB mic and prefer it. (It’s the Rode Podcaster, which gets a mediocre endorsement in Marco’s review.)

This kind of “downgrading” is a common pattern with me and computers. I used to run a Mac Pro with 2 external Cinema Displays. Now I exclusively use a 13-inch retina MacBook Pro without a monitor.

In both cases — Macs and microphones — I find the trade-off worth it. If I want to work from a coffee shop, it’s the same resolution display, so I don’t need to change how I use Xcode. If I travel and need to record a podcast, it’s the same as if I was home, so I don’t need to risk messing up my audio settings. You give up some performance and flexibility, but in exchange you get the simplicity of having the same setup no matter where you are. And best of all: no more cables all over my desk.

Manton Reece @manton
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