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Old September 15th, 2011, 03:37 PM   #1
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USB Headset for Narration

I'm looking for a USB headset to record narration for online instructional materials. I know that I'm sacrificing sound quality with a headset, but it will be fine for my purposes. I'd like to find the best quality mic that I can within the 100-150 dollar range.

Any suggestions?
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Old September 15th, 2011, 03:47 PM   #2
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Re: USB Headset for Narration

The average human voice is pretty simple in terms of it's range.

Unless the mic has a significant roll-off or filter built in, any of them will do about the same job.

Most "USB" mics are pretty weak since they're more designed for telephony or VOIP (both severely bandwidth limited by design) rather than full frequency recording use.

The other approach is to get a quality "singers" mic like the Crown CM 311 or the AKG C-520 and use an XLR to USB adaptor like the Centronics MicPort pro or it's clones, to do the signal adaptation.

Just realize that all ANY mic will do is record the ACTUAL voice of the person wearing it.

If your voice is un-trained, weak, your enunciation is poor or your breath control is marginal, a mic one inch from your mouth will record that reality VERY CLEARLY.

Once again, it's not the tool that generates the results - it's the person using it.

Good luck.
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Old September 15th, 2011, 04:02 PM   #3
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Re: USB Headset for Narration

+1. Matt, in the last few years we've seen this question before, the concensus was, go along to a shop and see if you can buy a kit on a sale or return basis.

To help improve your spoken narration skills, get a newspaper and circle a few suitable news items, marking with a slash the places to punctuate and take breaths. Also underline the words to emphasise and practise reading out loud for 15 mins a day in a quiet location.

When you feel you're getting to 'know' the items, start with new ones. It sure works, actors and radio announcer schools use this technique,
so .. 'goodbye for now and don't forget to tune in tomorrow' :)

Cheers.
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Last edited by Allan Black; September 15th, 2011 at 04:34 PM.
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Old September 15th, 2011, 09:28 PM   #4
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Re: USB Headset for Narration

Thanks for the comments. I should have mentioned I've done a fair bit of narration/voice-overs. I'm primarily an editor and I own a few professional mics, but I'm doing some work for a university and need to set up instructors to record their own narrations at their own PCs (without my expensive equipment, thank you).

They'll be needing to use a mouse at the same time so I thought a headset would be good since it's out of their way, but I may end up looking into a dedicated USB microphone if I can't find something that sounds better than your average gaming or VOIP headset.
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Old September 16th, 2011, 07:23 AM   #5
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Re: USB Headset for Narration

Why does it need to be USB?
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Old September 16th, 2011, 07:28 AM   #6
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Re: USB Headset for Narration

How about something like the Countryman E2 or E6 earsets? There are a lot of hearworn mics available from any number of vendors.
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Old September 16th, 2011, 05:05 PM   #7
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Re: USB Headset for Narration

The Countryman looks nice but it's a bit beyond our budget. I'm leaning towards getting USB condenser mics like the Samson G-Track. I wouldn't use these for film narration but they should be fine for our purposes.
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Old September 16th, 2011, 07:42 PM   #8
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Re: USB Headset for Narration

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Miller View Post
Why does it need to be USB?
Greg, it doesn't have to be but a suitable mic RDE Microphones - Podcaster can be connected directly into the USB port on the editing computer and the audio recorded direct into whichever NLE (non linear editing program) is being used. The audio is probably going there anyway, so to save time it makes some sense to record it that way. I use a Podcaster, it has a great sound a headphone jack on the mic and it's powered by the USB port.

Problems which can arise are, the fan noise the computer makes, the distraction that occurs seeing the waveform appearing on the timeline, unsuitable acoustics in the room resulting in an off mic and reverberant amateur recording of the voice .. and positioning the script.

So many folk prefer to record their narration to an audio recorder in a separate room or area using ...

Harlan Hogan - Voice overs Narrations Commercials Promos

to achieve a pro like sound, which certainly helps if the persons voice itself is less than a pro sound :)

Cheers.

PS I'm not paid by Harlan Hogan, I just use one because I lisp, have buck teeth and I'm crosseyed. No, not really but we'd like to hear from anyone who is.
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Old September 16th, 2011, 07:54 PM   #9
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Re: USB Headset for Narration

Quote:
Originally Posted by Allan Black View Post
Greg, so a suitable mic ... can be connected directly into the USB port on the editing computer and the audio recorded direct into whichever NLE (non linear editing program) is being used.
Oh.

I guess I didn't understand Matt's workflow. I did not get the impression that he was recording the audio direct into the NLE.

I thought Matt said the instructors were recording at their own PCs, which (to my imagination) did not mean that Matt was recording directly to his editing computer.

Of course if the instructors' PCs have terribly noisy mic inputs, then USB could be helpful. OTOH, if he can get away with using the analog input, he might have a wider choice of mics.
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Old September 16th, 2011, 10:49 PM   #10
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Re: USB Headset for Narration

@ Matt, at my newspaper website we used a fairly humble Samson C01 mike (on one of those articulated arms, highly recommended) at one of our edit stations so reporters could do voiceovers while watching the video they were voicing. Worked with compete satisfaction for our purposes (headphones were plugged into the Mac). The G Track has an advantage of having on-board monitoring output. I realize my colleagues look ascance at an inexpensive mike, but as was pointed out above, the voice is not hard to reproduce. You may find this a perfect solution for your needs. Other USB mikes are made by Audio Technica (the 2020USB is nice), Blue, MXL, and others.

IMHO it is not really necessary to spend a huge amount on a voice-over mike, as the differences in mikes above a certain level are often a matter of splitting hairs. Your viewer is unlikely to notice any difference; the Samson was quite satisfactory. Purists will take me to task, probably, but it worked for us.
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Old September 17th, 2011, 12:25 PM   #11
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Re: USB Headset for Narration

@Battle, I've used the Audio Technica 2020 and found it to be fine for this kind of work, and I've read about all the others you've mentioned. The samples I heard all sound pretty similar.

The instructors will be recording narration directly into Adobe Captivate, either over video or slide-based instruction that they have authored. I'm basically training them to do this kind of work for themselves so I'm trying to keep the technology and price to a minimum as some have never done this kind of work before. It has to be plug and play and work reliably on their systems, hence my initial interest in a headset. But a USB mic should do just as well.
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Old September 17th, 2011, 04:58 PM   #12
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Re: USB Headset for Narration

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Lawrence View Post
.... It has to be plug and play and work reliably on their systems, hence my initial interest in a headset. But a USB mic should do just as well.
You don't need a USB mic per se. You could use an interface such as the MXL XLR-to-USB adapter to feed any standard XLR mic into the USB port.
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Old September 18th, 2011, 07:11 AM   #13
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Re: USB Headset for Narration

Have tried many headsets for the same type of work, i.e. screen shot tutorials and other drop in voice over work. Many of the Gaming headsets will do a reasonable job, just mess about with your EQ filter to get a better tonal quality.

However, the best set that I have come across and since purchased is the Audio Technica BPHS1. The headset mike produces superb quality and can be positioned either on the left or right. The headphones are more than sufficient for voice over work, but not that ideal for editing music The BPHS1 uses an XLR for the mike and a 1/8 jack for the stereo headphones.

Highly recommended.
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