Microphone Test – Controlled Studio Environment

Ever wonder if the choice of microphone you use makes a difference in audio quality?  What about the audio recorder you use – is there a difference for those of us on a tight budget?

I decided to find out myself with a little test I put together with the mics I have on hand that I’ve used since I started doing multimedia journalism.

The results are quite astonishing to my ears.

Here’s the details of my non-scientific test:

I recorded myself reading text I in a controlled setting using the various mics that I own/use in my multimedia journalism work. Each track was recorded as a 48khz 16bit .WAV file and then uploaded and encoded by SoundCloud accordingly.

Each master WAV file was brought into Adobe Audition 3 where I applied -6db normalization to make each recording equal in volume as well as to show the differences in line hum if present from each recorder.

Each mic was attached to both the Tascam DR-05 and Zoom H1 digital audio recorders – either by their native 3.5mm TRS plug or via an XLR to 3.5mm TRS adapter.

The microphones I currently own and tested are as follows:

  • Built in mics on each recorder
  • AKG-C1000S powered XLR microphone
  • Azden SMX-10 Powered Stereo Microphone
  • Audio Technica ATR-35 Wired Lavaliere microphone

Each mic was used with a foam windscreen.

The last two microphones are low budget mics I initially started out with and have used in various projects for the past 4 years.  The AKG-C1000S was recently acquired and you’ll hear why I went with it.  I also own a Sennheiser G2 Wireless LAV kit that wasn’t used in this test.

Recordings 1-4 are from the Tascam DR-05, and recordings 5-8 are from the Zoom H1.  The first recording from each unit is from the built in mics for each audio recorder.

IMO, the end results clearly show the AKG-C1000S has a clear advantage over the lower cost options I’ve used in the past.  In addition, the Tascam built in mics sound much better to the Zoom H1’s built in mics.

A gripe I have with the Zoom H1 is that you cannot record in dual mono channels. The AKG-C1000S and Audio Technica Wired Lav mics recorded to the left channel only due to this glaring omission on Samson’s/ZOOM’s part.  My workaround was I had to copy and paste that left channel to the right channel in order to get the dual mono channels that the Tascam offers in addition to stereo recording.

Conclusion, the Tascam offers more features for less money at the expense of being slightly larger in size and weight.

As multimedia journalists, we have to understand that audio is a critical component of what we produce out in the field.  Great audio is of major importance in both audio slide shows and video.  Never underestimate its importance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *