If you’re reading this article, you likely want to step up your audio game for your D&D sessions. We’ve been there. The following article will help you find the optimal mic for your unique recording or streaming needs. These suggestions are designed to be the “best bang for your buck”, and don’t venture into the $100+ options.
In this article, I’m going to be focusing on how the layman, who has never ventured into the microphone world, can pick out the best option for their D&D sessions. I’m also not going to go into the technical aspects of each microphone and their transient responses (whatever that means), but I will cover the basics of different types of microphones.
Types of Mics
There are plenty of different types of mics on the market and it can definitely get overwhelming when you’re first looking at your options. The three most important things you need to consider are the type of microphone, your playing situation, and your budget.
- Condenser microphones are generally used in studio recordings because of their sensitivity to sounds. This means that they are going to pick up a lot more ambient noise (like typing, clicking, or chair squeaking), but if they are used in a good recording environment they will pick up high-quality audio from a large group of players.
- Condenser microphones are also fragile when compared to their dynamic counterparts, so if you will be travelling a lot with your equipment these mics may not be the best option.
The Yeti Snowball is a notable mic that falls under this category. It’s usually pitched as a cheap, “starter” mic and would certainly work well if you fall into the Semi-Online playing situation and need to capture multiple voices around the table. If you fall into one of the other playing situations, you will likely want to avoid this mic.
- Dynamic mics are less sensitive than condenser mics and pick up much less ambient noise. This means that you will have to have some way to keep the mic very close to your mouth (within one inch for the best sound), but that can be accomplished quite easily and inexpensively with a good mic stand and windscreen.
- Compared to condenser microphones, dynamic microphones are much more rugged. If you play in different locations and need to lug your equipment around, then dynamic mics will fair better than condenser mics.
- Dynamic microphones also don’t require their own power supply like most condenser microphones.
Dynamic microphones like the Shure SM57 and Shure SM58 are legendary for not only their good sound quality, but also for the amount of abuse they can withstand. Keep in mind these mics only have an XLR connection (if you want to learn more about XLR connections click here), so you will need a mixer to send this audio to your computer.
A notable entry-level dynamic mic would be the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB, which is a great option to grow with as it offers options to plug into your computer with USB or into a mixer with XLR.
- Detachable mics are great if you are looking for a cheap, no-nonsense, and hands-free solution.
- Detachable mics will have lower quality sound than the aforementioned mic types, but if you are looking for a quick and dirty solution to your audio issues then this would be a solid option.
- Keep in mind that detachable mics are only really suggested if your playing situation is either Online Only or Semi-Online and you are the only party talking in the room, as they tend to not have the best audio isolation.
Your Playing Situation
If you are playing your sessions 100% online and everybody will be sitting in different rooms, then I’d recommend going for either a dynamic mic or a detachable mic.
Detachable mics, as mentioned above, are going to be quick, cheap, and easy to set up, while dynamic mics will cost a bit more a and take a bit more fiddling, but will return much better audio quality in the end.
If you are looking for a cheap way to play with you friends online that trumps your laptop or iPhone headphone mics, go for the detachable. If you want your group to revel in the honey-smooth sounds of your voice, or you plan on recording your sessions for later use, go with the dynamic mic.
Some people say that the semi-online sessions are the hardest situations to account for, for two reasons:
- The lag between the in-person session and the players calling in could impact the online player’s ability to jump into the roleplaying aspect of your game (combat is usually fine, due to the turn based system of D&D).
- The fact that you have to capture the audio of a group of people, while playing back the audio of your online players
If you are going to run a Semi-Online session, I’d suggest using a condenser microphone to capture your in-person audio and have your online players follow the suggestions in the Online section.
Your in-person players will want to set their microphone up behind the speakers that is relaying the online players audio if possible as this will reduce the chance of a feedback loop.
Recording for Later Use
If you’re going to be recording your sessions for later use and you don’t have a professional recording studio, you will want to only look at the dynamic mic option. Dynamic mics are a lot more forgiving in bad recording environments and will help cut out any ambient noise from the recording.
For optimal audio quality, you will want each of your players to be on a separate dynamic mic so that each person’s audio is singled out and can be input into recording software separately. This will allow you to edit out any unnecessary dialogue or unprofessional ambient sounds (e.g. farting and burping) for your final product.
If you have a bunch of people talking in the same room, both detachable and condenser microphones will pick up too much ambient noise. Detachable mics will not have the proper hardware to allow you to hook up to an XLR mixer in any case.
Hope you liked the article! If you have any questions or feel I’ve missed anything go ahead and post a comment below. If you like our content subscribe to Arcane Eye!