Choosing a Microphone for YouTube Videos

While much of YouTube’s charm comes from its authenticity and often raw vibe, make no mistake: Amateur hour is over.
Many of the most successful YouTubers are upgrading to professional recording gear and there is a growing emphasis on quality. The popular Canadian star Lilly Singh even once felt compelled to apologize to her fans for the horrible echo her microphone was picking up.
Some vlogs and YouTube shows have become almost indistinguishable from traditional TV productions. And that is attracting a lot of top-shelf advertising money, as millennials help create an entirely new ecosystem of video stars and programming.

The Sound of Success

If you’ve found your way to this blog post, you’re probably one of those YouTubers considering a more professional approach to your videos. Fortunately, the cost of pro technology has decreased to match the budgets of everyday creative people, meaning you don’t have move into your parents’ basement in order to afford a professional rig. (Though I suppose destitute basement dwelling might make for compelling online viewing.)

YouTube is primarily about the visual experience. But unless you’re doing a show about the sublime art of being a French mime, quality sound is crucial to your success. And having a good microphone could make the difference between social media stardom and the YouTube minor leagues.

But before you go overspending on shiny, new equipment, there are important considerations to make. What kind of show are you doing? Are you inside or outside? Are you moving around, or are you sitting down facing your computer camera? Are you doing a monologue or talking with a guest? All of these questions are going to inform your microphone purchase.

Finding the Right Mic

If you’re on the go, a good portable option is the MV88, a stereo condenser microphone that plugs right into your iPhone, iPad or iPod. This mic works seamlessly with iOS video recording apps, so you’ll have professional-quality audio no matter where you happen to be. The Lighting® connector means no clumsy cables and perfect compatibility with Apple devices, but the MV88 doesn’t have a USB connector, so keep that in mind.

If you’re sitting down in front of your camera, you might want to consider the MV5. This digital condenser microphone offers the flexibility of both iOS and USB connectivity. Totally plug-and-play, it comes with three onboard presets for digital signal processing to help you quickly find the right sound for your recording efforts. The MV5 also has an iconic style, so you won’t be embarrassed to show it on camera.

If you’re doing interviews, Shure has you covered there, too. Perhaps you plan to create a next-generation talk show like Between Two Ferns? Just clip the MVL lavalier mic to your lapel, and you’re ready to become the next Zach Galifianakis. Designed to plug into both iOS and Android mobile devices, the MVL is an omnidirectional condenser microphone, making it easy to capture both interviews and monologues.

Shure has paired all of these mic options with some incredibly powerful and easy-to-use recording and editing software for iOS. The ShurePlus™ MOTIV™ app works with any MOTIV™ device and provides five DSP preset modes to quickly adjust gain, stereo width, equalization and compression. Of course, you can make your own tweaks and edit your audio recordings right on your iPhone, iPad or iPod.

With the right equipment, there’s nothing keeping you from getting more views than a funny cat video compilation!

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Marc Young

Marc Young

With a background in journalism, Marc is an editor for Shure covering anything and everything that has to do with sound. He tries to compensate for his mediocre guitar-playing skills with his writing. He is based in Berlin, one of the best cities in Europe for music.

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  • Clay Figley says:

    This is basically an ad. You could’ve just rolled out a featureset & spec list with a bunch of fancy photos. It would’ve been preferred to using someone elses’ names at the beginning of your ‘article’ to push your product. Poor form; nice mics.

    • Marc Young Marc Young says:

      Hi Clay – If you click on those links in the article you’ll get all those fancy mic photos and spec lists. Thanks for your feedback!

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