• Tom Kelly

7. Things to Keep in Mind When Buying Podcast Equipment, Microphones, Interfaces, etc.


One of the most exciting and most crucial times in a podcaster's career is either buying gear for the first time, or finally upgrading after months or years of steady growth and eventual justification for spending all that hard earned cash. However, there's a lot of unanswered questions when it comes to "what gear should I buy". The WORST answer to this question is any answer at all. Sounds strange? You're still in the right place.


In order to record a symphony, you need LOTS of gear to capture all the intricacies of every voice, every sound, every wandering and resounding tone in the ensemble, but did you know that your gear is a symphony entirely in and of itself?! I even worked in the name of my interface into that metaphor! Let me know when you find it.



Subscribe at

Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Overcast | Spotify | Pocketcasts



BUT, it's true, your gear, everything you use to record your podcast is a signal CHAIN. And what do we know about chains? They're only as strong as its weakest link


Every component in your chain needs to serve its purpose, and it needs to mesh with all the other components. Your microphone must be a good fit for your voice, your preamp must be a good fit for your microphone, your interface needs to accommodate all the voices in your room (voices in your head do not need to be accounted for), and all of these must be careful considered and selected to work together as 1 very special unit, the unit that broadcasts your voice and your message to the world.


There are many things people don't consider when they ask a podcasting Facebook group the question "what microphone is the best". Where we need to start is rephrasing this to "Hello me and nobody else, what microphone is best for MY VOICE?" There is just so much I can't possibly get into in this article, which was supposed to be a 100-200 word summary of the podcast but I just can't help myself, but it comes down to this. Every microphone captures sound a little differently. Even 2 of the same microphone model from the same manufacturer can and will sound slightly different to a finely tuned ear, but this is important in spoken word media because your voice is alone on in island with nothing to lean on. You want to make sure the frequency response of your microphone (at what frequencies are there boosts and cuts) matches the areas where your voice needs those "adjustments". For example, the Electro-Voice RE20 is a great microphone, but it sounds like death on my voice because there's a built in boost in the higher mid-range that my voice naturally has a lot of, and it's very grating to the human ear. Dogs, I'm not so sure, mine has yet to critically listen alongside me. However, the Shure SM7b, ALSO a great microphone works incredibly well with my voice because there's a slight attenuation in the frequencies where my harsh nasal voice sound really use it. THAT is an example of something we need to consider when buying a microphone. Both I just suggested are objectively great pieces of equipment, but one just isn't right for me.


frequency response charts of the SM7b and the RE20.



We could talk about microphone forever. Trust me, I would love to. We haven't even touched on polar patterns, contextual applications, environmental concerns (like your room, not the planet. Although we shouldn't discount the harmful impacts of the manufacturing process and shipping... woof), sensitivity, and features like internal shock mounting, active noise reduction, switchable patterns, etc. The big one is frequency response, and I'm saving the dynamic v. condenser for another day. (We all know ribbon > everything anyways...)



The next big thing is the interface. Spoiler alert, most interfaces under $200 suck. And by suck I mean they're totally fine, but just that, totally fine. The thing we REALLY need to focus on when it comes to an interface is how much gain does it offer, and what is the noise floor on those budget preamps. Why is this important?


Noise is bad. Plain and simple. Every electronic device makes self-noise, and some WAY more than others (Lookin at you, Zoom H4N). Noise is important because when we're talking about dynamic microphones with very low sensitivities, we need to crank that gain up REALLy high. With more gain often comes more noise, like a hiss or a crackling.


Here's the example I used in the podcast. I use a Shure SM7b, and for my voice, in my room, at the distance in which I speak into the mic (0" away, lemme taste that pop filter), in my exact and unique situation, the mic requires 61dB of gain from my interface. MOST BUDGET INTERFACES DON'T EVEN OFFER THAT MUCH GAIN!!! There are a couple of outliers off the top of my head, the MOTU M2 barely squeaking by with 60dB and the SSL2 with 62dB of gain, $170 and $230 respectively. These are crazy outliers, but the issue lies where most budget interfaces don't have enough gain to properly drive a Shure SM7b, so you're maxing out your gain, and guess what, not only are you maxing out your noise from the dirty preamps, but you ALSO have to boost the signal more in post to hit your -16LUFS output standard. I hope you have IzoTope RX, because you're going to need it. And after you spent the $400 on that, you might as well have bought a better interface to begin with.




We need enough gain, and enough CLEAN gain to drive the microphone we deemed worthy of reproducing our voice. Now, we could add a Cloudlifter into the mix, but again, another $150 spent PER CHANNEL, you're better off spending the money on a better interface and getting better ADA conversion in the process.


To sum all those wild ranting thoughts, seek more gain, less noise. (In all things you do, tbh.)


There is so so so much more to this than I can lay out in this post, or even the episode of the podcast, but the main thing I want you to take away from this is...


  • While there are microphones that are bad and ones that are good, MOST of it is preference and matching the microphone to your voice. Asking your buddy or a facebook group which microphone you should buy is as effective as asking your lawn mower if it liked that drum fill in that Green Day song from the record you think came out in the early 90s but you can't remember the album or the song name. It's an extremely personal choice and while others can weigh in on your tests, you should try your best to find a local music store that will let you demo some microphones.

  • Once you have the microphone that's perfect for your voice, make sure to find an interface that pairs well with it. You need enough clean gain to properly drive the mic, so let me just strong-arm you into considering the SSL2 or MOTU M2, they'll do great.

  • All of your components must work well together. I'm sure I can pull some metaphor about a soccer team or something about how each player can be great but not work well together as a team and lose all their games, but I'm just not that into sports. Signal CHAIN. Everything's gotta make sense TOGETHER, not in isolation. Feel free to experiment with your chain. Find/make friends who will let you demo gear, rent equipment for $2.50/day and run some experiments, hear your voice through all the gear you can get your hands on, critically listen to what you think sounds the best, and at the end of the day, trust your gut because your room and microphone technique are actually way more important than anything, except that pesky preamp noise. That'll getcha.





Links:

Learn more on my YouTube Channel

My Input Gain Video on YouTube

All About Interfaces, Gain Ranges, EIN, and THD+N


Gear mentioned:

SSL2

Motu M2

Scarlett 2i2

Behringer UMC22

Zoom H4N

Audio-Technica AT2005

Audio-Technica ATR2100

Samson Q2U

Shure SM7b

Electro-Voice RE20

Electro-Voice RE320

Røde Procaster

Neumann U87

Neumann TLM103

Cloudlifter



Closing Song:

Wait a Midnight by Joakim Karud

http://www.joakimkarud.com




My Signal Chain


Hardware:

Audio Interface: Apogee Ensemble

Microphone: Shure SM7b

Headphones: Audio-Technia ATH-M50x

Earbuds: Klipsch R6i II

Studio Monitors: Yamaha HS7

Mic Stand: Rode PS1A Boom Arm


Software:

IzoTope RX6 De-Mouth Click

IzoTope RX6 Voice De-Noise

FabFilter ProQ3

Waves LinMB

Waves Vocal Rider

Waves L2 Limiter

Waves WLM Meter

Waves Durrough Meter


-Save 10% off the plugins above with this affiliate link from Waves!-


*most of these links are affiliate links*



For more info, or to ask any questions, check out my website and reach out to hello@cleancutaudio.com



Subscribe at

Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Overcast | Spotify | Pocketcasts





Full Transcript:



Hey, what's going on everybody? Tom Kelly here from Clean Cut Audio. This week I'm really excited to talk a little bit more about gear and what to think about when you are either trying to buy your first podcasting setup or if you're looking to upgrade at some time in the near future. There's a lot of stuff that people don't know they should be looking for. So we're going to tackle some of that today. Alright, let's do it.


The number one reason why I end up leaving podcasting Facebook groups is in any of the bigger ones, like 10,000 members, what you'll end up with is honestly like 20 posts a day of someone saying, "what microphone should I buy? What microphone is the best? What mixer should I get?" And what's even worse than getting that question over and over is people just kind of blindly giving answers. And it's usually people just recommending the only thing that they know.


We're going to try to deal with some of those issues because again, the whole point of this show is not for me to tell you what I think you should do, what equipment you should get, what gear you should buy, I want to set you off with the knowledge that you need so that you can make these decisions for yourself based on all the information you have available to you at the time.


As the music fades out here, you're probably going to be able to tell that I'm a little bit sick right now, and I will be over the next few weeks because I am cramming a bunch of episodes together. I'm going to be out of town for just about four weeks and I need to have all my recordings done beforehand so I'm recording like eight episodes in the next couple of weeks here. But, anyways, what's really important is gear is a very personal thing. I know I've mentioned it in just about every episode before this, that there's a lot of other stuff that is incredibly important to your sound other than the equipment that you have, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't play an important role.


I think of an individual's voice and a microphone as a very special pairing. I mean, think of this wine with this fish, or whatever. I mean, if you get the wrong wine with the meal, it's just the wrong flavor profile, it's got to pair together. Even if each unique item is on its own great, together and may not be a wonderful thing.


Er, what am I even doing? I've never even drank before. Why am I doing wine metaphors? I don't know anything about it. I love Oreo cookies and I love garlic in my pasta. Both beautiful things, but I would never eat Oreo cookies with garlic. You know what I mean? The pairing has got to be right. For example, the Neumann U87 is regarded as one of the studio must haves in audio production. It's supposed to be the most beautiful microphone ever, but there's something in my voice somewhere around 6 or 7k, kilohertz, in the frequency spectrum that I just have a lot of, and the Neumann U87 emphasizes a lot of that frequency range. So on my voice, it's a little grating, and again, I don't have a bad voice, it's a great microphone. The two together don't work beautifully, so it's just not a great combination.


And this is, I don't think a way of thinking that really exists much in the podcasting space. People just say, Oh, the ATR 2100 is great, or I like the Q2U, or the SM7b is the best. No, the RE20 is the best. And I mean, some of those microphones I really don't like. You can probably figure out which ones I'm not a fan of, but... Again, I mean, coming back to these pro audio microphones. I remember one time when I was in school, I was a sophomore in college and we were in studio B. We were micing in acoustic guitar.


We had two choices. The Neumann TLM103 and we had a CAD microphone, which is like, I think he was like $60 or $70. And we did a blind test of which microphone you think captures this acoustic guitar best from this distance, from this angle, in the way that it was played. All of these things matter. And across the board, most people liked the CAD better than the Neumann TLM103. On paper, I think the Neumann is supposed to be a better microphone, but at that exact time, in that place, in that exact situation, people seemed to think that the cheaper, less professional, less industry standard microphone actually did a better job at getting what needed to be done at that time.


So when it comes to microphones, it's not just about what your friend thinks is the best, or what she has, or what he is familiar with, it's about what is the best thing for your voice. It really has to pair with your voice. There is another important pairing in audio production. Typically it is the microphone and the preamp itself. Since we're not really talking about external preamps, we're not spending two grand on a standalone preamp, we're just going to be talking about the interface as a whole.


I need to get it out of the way that I don't really like mixers. I am often confused by why mixers are such a staple in podcasting. Unless you're doing a live show with sound effects. I understand the benefits of a mix minus, but to me, in my audio experience, I have just seen interfaces as recording mixers as live. So I don't really have too much experience with mixers except that they typically have a much higher noise floor than most interfaces in their same price range. I have been burned many times by even very expensive mixers by just having very noisy preamps.


So I typically don't talk about them. I'm sorry for all the mixer people out there, but it's also important to know that there's a lot of talk of mixers on forums and a lot of people think you need one. You don't. I'd say 98% of shows can get away with an interface, and it will typically give you better sounding audio. I'm not willing to die on that hill, but that has been my experience.


When it comes to interfaces, there's two specs that I look at, maybe three, and I think they are the most important ones for determining which interface is going to work well with your microphone. One of them most people are aware of. It's how many preamps it has, how many XLR inputs. If you have, god forbid, four people in one room, you obviously don't want to buy an interface that only has two XLR inputs. You need at least one XLR input for the amount of people you have recording in one location at one time. That's number one, and that is largely going to determine the price as well. More preamps, more electronics, higher price.


The two things that I never see anyone talk about in forums except maybe a couple of my friends who we talk about this stuff together. Two things that are insanely important, especially since in podcasting, it's generally accepted that we're working with dynamic microphones. I don't wholeheartedly agree with that either. I think typically, condenser microphone sound better. I understand that they are less forgiving in your environment, but according to all my previous episodes, fix the environment first. We should have a great sounding environment before we start spending money on gear.

That's number one. But since we are primarily using dynamic microphones, as I am with the Shure SM7b, we need to think about the gain available on an interface or a mixer. And what does this mean? There's a lot of confusion around dynamic microphones and Cloudlifters and all this other stuff, and it's because people don't really understand what's going on with these interfaces.


Let me put it this way. Dynamic microphones are not sensitive microphones. I'm going to do an episode probably next week or in two weeks, the difference between dynamics and condensers from the electronics and the physics of it, as well as the sound and the profile and everything. But, typically dynamic microphones are not super sensitive, so it needs a lot of gain, which is... I have a video on my YouTube channel. I'll put a link in the show notes for this episode, cleancutaudio.com/podcast/7. It's important that you know what gain is, but you can think of it as volume going into your preamp or your interface in very simple terms. You need a lot of it in order to get a good signal for a dynamic microphone.


The Shure SM7b for example, on a normal day, for myself, I need my interface set to 61 decibels of gain in order to have my signal averaging at -18 decibels. But a good input signal is required in order to get the proper tone, and the sound, and the color of your voice, and so that you also don't bring up a ton of preamp noise with our often cheaper interfaces.


well, and needs to have a high enough gain range to drive this thing. And any good quality, any reputable interface manufacturer will release this in their full specs. There might be a lot of numbers and abbreviations you don't recognize, but in gain, you should see something that says 55, 61, 70 decibels, and know that for a dynamic microphone, you're going to need a lot of gain.


This is where the conversation around a Cloudlifter comes in. Someone was just asking about my signal chain and you know, they said, well, you have a Shure SM7b. Don't you need a cloud lifter with that? And it let me know that that person only kind of had a half understanding of what that device does. Do you need a Cloudlifter? If you have a, I know the Røde, what is it, the podcaster? The XLR one. Not the Broadcaster. Procaster, Røde Procaster, they have so many different Rødecaster, Pro-Røde Procaster-Broadcast-Procasters-Røde-Broadcast. It's too, it's so confusing. But I know for their cheaper XLR version, that also requires more than what a Scarlett 2i2 offers. In that case, what a cloud lifter does, and why you would need one is if you had a Shure SM7bB and a Scarlett 2i2, it only offers 55 decibels of gain, maybe 56 actually. And it's not incredibly clean gain when you're really cranking it at the top. So what a Cloudlifter does is it provides an additional 25 decibels of gain before it even hits your preamp.


It is called a mic activator. It's like a pre preamp, which is what they used to call it in the early days. And that means you only have to turn your Scarlett 2i2 up to like 36 decibels of gain, the Cloudlifter's got you on the rest on the way in. So you can keep your gain down low, but what you've just done is you have spent $140 on a Scarlet 2i2, $150 on a Cloudlifterlifter. You just spent $290 when if you got the MOTU M2 interface, which offers 60 decibels of gain, you could have had a clean signal, very clean gain to drive your dynamic microphone and actually saved a little bit of money.


So that's something that I see a lot of people doing is, well, if you buy this microphone, you need a Cloudlifter. No you don't, in every circumstance. You need to understand what gain and gain range is on your interface to decide what other components you need in your signal chain. Because if you buy, again, that 2i2 or the Scarlett Solo, you have to now buy a Cloudlifter, and now you have to buy an extra XLR cable to put from the Cloudlifter to your interface, and that's an even bigger expense, it's another point of failure, and if you are going cheap on your XLR cables and you're allowing yourself to have improper shielding, you're introducing a lot of opportunity for interference to be introduced to your signal.


This is actually kind of a fun time to talk about something I'm very excited about. SSL, which is a company from Oxford, England, Solid State Logic. They are one of the highest regarded audio hardware manufacturers in the world. You'll often hear in audio like, "Oh, that British sound", and that is Solid State Logic. They've been around for forever. They have defined audio along with ,there's maybe two or three other companies on their level.


The board I learned on in school was an SSL AWS900plus. It is hundreds of thousands of dollars, and typically the gear that they've made has been at least tens of thousands of dollars. They recently put out a small two channel interface called the SSL2 and the SSL2 plus, if you want MIDI capabilities, which most podcasters don't. And it is a beautiful desktop interface for $230 that offers an unparalleled 80 decibels of gain that will drive just about any microphone in the world. Now again, $230 might sound like quite a bit for an interface, but if we go back to that previous point about if you buy a 2i2, yes, it's only $140, but you also then need to buy the Cloudlifter for $150 and now two XLR cables add $40 to that.


It's actually cheaper if you buy this SSL interface, get the one of the lowest noise floors, which are covering that next, on the market. Basically unlimited gain, and you can have a great, great signal with a great sexy piece of gear, the SSL2 not endorsed by them, but I'm not gonna lie, I did send some emails. I'm trying to get a partnership with them, but I am very, very excited about that interface because it eliminates the need for a Cloudlifter, it's a very great price point. I cannot believe how affordable that thing is, and it's going to be less equipment that you need to put on your desk. It's very small. You can travel with it. Really excited about this piece of equipment. I'm going to put a link in the show notes for this interface. It is wonderful.


The next thing which I kind of just touched on is the noise floor. This is a huge deal, People. You will often see it in the full gear specs as EIN or a THD plus N.


EIN stands for equivalent input noise in THD plus N means total harmonic distortion plus noise. The equate to a very similar thing. Now what this means is just how much noise this piece of equipment generates. It's just electricity passing through copper wires through transistors and all this other stuff. It just creates a bit of noise. The SSL2 that I mentioned previously has an EIN of -130.5 dB. Basically the limit of physics is -132dB. And this means that if you were to plug in this interface and just record itself noise, we know that zero is clipping in terms of decibels, and everything below that is going to be signal.


So I'm recording my input right now at about -18 decibels, and the noise generated from this is -130.5dB. I've never seen a noise floor that low. Typically you're going to see -129, -128.5, and a lot of manufacturers will kind of change what that actually means. It's not always a very clear indicator of how much noise there's going to be when you turn your gain all the way up to drive a dynamic microphone. But, I can tell you that the Scarlet 2i2 and my Apogee Ensemble has the same noise floor, the same EIN, but when you turn the gain up all the way, they're incredibly different.


The only interface you should really be afraid of when it comes to a noise floor, is anything made by Zoom. I'm sorry to bash this company, but their noise floors, the equivalent input noise is closer to -121 which is about twice as loud as every other interface on the market.


Now I put out about a thousand shows a year with my production company, and I can tell you which signals have been recorded with the Zoom interface, because the noise is so loud. And these interfaces are recommended a lot in forums and in groups, because I understand if people, they are portable. It's a recorder and an interface, I get it. And I wouldn't fault anyone for buying one of these devices, but they are noisy as all hell. And when you have to triple the loudness of your signal in order to hit that broadcast standard loudness, you're going to get a lot of hiss. It's going to be something that you now have to get rid of later. Now you have to buy IoTope RX for their voice de-noise module and that's another $400 spent.


So when I'm looking at interfaces, I'm looking at total number of preamps, which would be XLR inputs. I'm looking at total gain available, and I'm looking at the EIN. These are things you need to understand, especially again, if you're working with dynamic microphones because they've require more gain.


If I were recording on a condenser microphone, I believe the last time I checked, my gain setting was like 28dB of gain. Whereas for this Shure SM7b, it is 61 ,so when the gain is that low on a cheap interface, 28 decibels, you not really going to have much issues. When you start really pushing it to the top end, a ton of noise is going to come up with it.


So you need to pair your voice to the microphone and your microphone to the interface. That is very, very important. And something that is not often discussed. It's just, Hey, these are the cheapest things you can get away with. Go for that. And the one thing we haven't talked about is money. Obviously you are bound to your budget.


Now I understand that everyone has different budgets. I don't have a super high budget. I put my Guitar Center Gear Card to work with their 2 year, 0% financing when I'm looking to buy new gear. Typically I'm buying much higher end stuff because I really want to buy something once and then never have to buy it again.


There's a lot of people that will say, you know, buy this microphone, you can upgrade later, and that's totally understandable. I've never been that type of person. I'd rather have the thing I'm going to have forever out of the gate ,once you know you're going to do that thing, right? But that's a hard one because I understand there's budgets. But you know, one anecdote, again from a Facebook group, there was a person that started with an $18 Walmart microphone, and then they upgraded to a $30 microphone, and then a $50, and then a $60, and then an $80 microphone. And over the course of six months spent $300 all on very bad microphones. Imagine if... sure, getting all the money at once, different story, but imagine if they had a $300 microphone, or even a $100 microphone, the Shure SM58. Imagine if they had that one microphone out of the gate, they would have had the only microphone they will ever need for the rest of their life and spent a third of the total money that they ended up spending. I am a very big fan of spending a little bit extra, if you can, to get something slightly better because I truly believe in the long run you will spend less money total by getting the right thing immediately.


A couple quick things here. I never go cheap on XLR cables. You will see in groups and in forums that, hey I have this weird noise in my signal, what is it? It's usually a cheap XLR cable with really bad shielding and it allows, when you get a text to get that *beep beep beep* sound in your signal. It's a cheap XLR cable with very thin gauge copper wires. You don't have to go very top end, but I wouldn't go the very cheap either. Something perfectly right in the middle is totally fine. And again, this becomes more important if you have two XLR cables and you are putting a Cloudlifter in between your mic and your interface. It's just adding another point of failure and you don't want to go super cheap with those. Very quickly, we'll get that out of the way.


And the last thing is USB microphones. I had never heard of a USB connector on a microphone until super recently. Maybe a year and a half ago, which was when I started producing podcasts for, ah, no, I've been doing that for about three years. So maybe three years ago someone said, "Should I get a USB mic or an XLR mic?". And this was actually a really fun debate the other day... Is a USB microphone a type of microphone? Whatever. Who cares? That's a different debate. But I am pretty firmly... This is hard. It's really, really hard because, I understand that with an Audio-Technica AT2005 which if you're going to get a microphone for $60 I'd recommend the 2005 over the 2100. Like, a thousand times over, just real quickly. But if all you have is $60 to spend and you really cannot push your budget up to $200 or $250, sure you can podcast with that.


But here's the thing that people, especially with microphones like the 2100 that is USB and XLR, people will say it's great because if you want to upgrade to a different interface, you can throw in an XLR, plug it into an interface, and you've upgraded your mic just by upgrading the other components. Now, that's not an untrue statement, but the thing that's important to know about a USB microphone is when you buy a $63 ATR 2100 you are not buying a $63 microphone. What you were buying is a $20 microphone with a $20 preamp, and a $20 ADA converter, and a whatever headphone amp. There are so many other components packed into this microphone, which again is what makes it convenient, I'm not going to try to take that away from it, but each of these components is so cheap. And by cheap, it translates to not a great sound. The thing is, when you "upgrade later", so you buy a 2i2, you plug in the 2100 to it via XLR. Okay, well now you have, you're using a $20 microphone because the other components are not in use, but you paid for those. Whereas something like a Shure SM58, it's a $90 microphone. It is $90 of only microphone. That thing could survive an atomic blast. It is just a great microphone and it is a microphone only.


I believe that when you have a tool that does four things, it does four things not very well. When you have four components and each of them only has one job, it can then do that job very well.


And again, price. I know, I understand that you don't need to keep saying in your head, but Tom, the price, I'm worried about the price. I understand. And I will not fault you for trying to get a better price on stuff. But if we are just very distinctly talking about gear... Honestly, I tried to 2100, I plugged it into my Apogee Ensemble and it sounded like a different microphone from the USB microphone. I cannot tell you how much of a difference in ADA converter and a preamp makes. It was the same exact microphone, USB versus into a very, very nice interface. Two completely different sounds, could not even compare them.


So yes, there is a bit of an upgrade when you stop using your USB microphone as a USB microphone and use it with an interface. But now you still only have that, like ,portion of a microphone that... You get what I mean, right? So. If you can, if you absolutely can, whatever budget you have, I usually implore people to spend half of it on your room, and then if you can try to stretch your budget a little bit to get... I would recommend the MOTU M2 interface. My cohost uses it. It offers 60 decibels of gain, very low noise floor, I have been incredibly impressed with this interface. It is very good job. It is not much more than the Scarlet 2i2 and I think it is light years better. And then if you can buy Shure SM58 for $80 you can buy them on Craigslist for $40 and you don't have to worry about it being broken. That microphone cannot be broken. It is a hammer if you need it. You can use it to take a tire off your car. You can use it to record a beautiful podcast. I had two of them are rattling around in my messenger bag for six years. A bag that I had on my back every single day, everywhere I went. They were just loose in my bag rattling around with sand, dirt, whatever grime was in that bag. And it works beautifully, which... That ATR-2100 I tested out, one of the switches and one of the lights broke on the second day of sitting on my desk.


So you get what you pay for and that's all I'm really trying to say. If you have a 2100 you can still probably get a pretty good sound out of it. If you have a good environment and you have great mic technique and you have the willingness to experiment to get a great sound.


But the things we need to keep in mind is that our gear needs to pair together. If you have the ability to go to a Guitar Center, or even better yet, a local shop in your area that sells microphones, try a couple of them out. People will say all day until they're blue in the face. The RE20 is the best microphone for broadcast. It's not a bad one, but who knows? It might not be great for your voice. Maybe the SM7b is the right choice for your voice. Or maybe you think the RE320 actually has a tighter low end and a scoop in the mid range right where you need it, and you have something that actually sounds better on the way in, and it's significantly cheaper than it's RE20 partner. So it's not just about the most expensive, it's not just about what your friend uses, it's about what works for your voice and your environment.


And then the next thing, we need an interface that is compatible with that microphone. It's not bad to buy a Cloudlifter, but if you can avoid spending the $150 on that component and then the $20 on the other XLR cable, maybe we put the extra $170 into the interface. If we're looking to spend that money, we can get better ADA conversion, which is analog to digital, back to analog, better pre-amps, and then we don't need that gain boost from the Cloudlifter, we just have a better device. So that's something to keep in mind.


Get some better XLR cables than the cheapest thing out there, and when you're looking for an interface, really focus on the EIN, the noise floor, and the amount of gain available.


If you have any questions about this episode, please feel free to reach out hello@cleancutaudio.com. That is my direct line and I will be happy to respond to any questions that I get.


Buying gear is very exciting and there are so many options. It is so easy to be confused by it all and not know what the best decision is. But spoiler alert, there's not always a best decision. Sometimes it's just what you're comfortable with or what really suits you best. And only you know what's best for you. I am just happy to try to help you get to that conclusion.


Please subscribe to the show because that's something you're supposed to say in these things, right? But every week I'm going to be putting out episodes, whether I'm sick or not, whether I'm in town or not. I want to make sure that I'm helping you all as much as I can, and if there's any way I can help you more, again, please feel free to reach out and ask specific questions.


I'm just kind of putting out episodes on what I think people want to hear, but it would be really helpful if I knew exactly what you were looking for so I can make an episode exactly for you. I'd be happy to help in any way that I can, and thank you all for being here. I'll talk to you on next week and check out my YouTube channel if you're looking for more stuff.


I've got some really, really exciting videos planned for that in the future, and I'm happy to see you over there as well, youtube.cleancutudio.com and I will see you all next week. Goodbye everyone.