Best Mic For Podcasting? Shure SM7B vs Rode NT
SM7B is legendary for a reason. It is everything you’d want it to be. It just looks very professional and it sounds professional. However, It doesn’t go with cables, stand or filter that you get with Rode. There’s not even a stand with SMB.
So if you don’t have a mic arm or some stand, you have to buy in excess of the mic SM7B itself, and they don’t send it with XLR cables. Meaning you can’t use it unless you buy additional things. There’s nothing you can do with it other than have it look nice unless you buy other things.
Note that if you’re going to go direct XLR, you will need a recording device. Meaning you can’t just take an XLR and go directly into your computer. Some allow you to go directly to your camera and record, but many podcasters do not include video content just yet.
SM7B is kind of is what it is. And the reason being is because it is running from the microphone to an XLR cable. One cable is called a cloud lifter—this is a gain monster. Meaning you have to raise it higher, and the cloud lifter helps balance things out a little bit, but it does mean that you will have an in-between.
So you have cable, cloud lifter, another cable out, and that cable has to go to a recording device. If you have a RODECaster Pro recording device, you can do all of the advanced settings can change based on the tone of your voice and how loud you talk.
So you can record, then you’ve got a backup file. If you’re recording something on zoom with a remote guest and it crashes, sometimes you might have it or not as far as your actual recording.
So at least with locally, if there are issues that you might experience recording with remote guests, you’ve got the local file. It records into a mini SD card.
You can easily sync that file to your computer quickly. But it’s an extra step, and it is an extra expense, it’ $500-$600 range for the RODECaster Pro in addition to the cost of the microphone, the cables, cloud lifter, and the mic arm.
So you’re literally probably looking over a thousand dollars. Sometimes, people get confused because they see an SM7B for $375 to $425 range.
If you’re just getting started with a podcast and you don’t have all the setup already in place, or you’re not expecting to have that kind of investment, you might feel a little misled, and you might wonder why you need all this stuff for. Yes, the audio is fantastic; you’re going to sound like radio quality. Know what you’re getting yourself into.
Rode NT comes with a pretty basic, just plastic stand, but it is effective, especially when traveling. It has a screen filter in front that comes with the microphone. Both the front and the back looked pretty similar, but there’s a little silver in front that indicates that it is the front of the microphone.
One thing that you’ll see on this microphone, that’s not on the SM7B is you do have your settings controls on the microphone. You can change the levels and the input if you’re going to wear headphones, which you’re going to need for interviews.
With SM7B, there are no buttons or inputs. When you use monitoring headphones, you’ll be hearing what you are saying, but you can also hear what the guests are saying, and you can hear it through my microphone, and if your monitoring headphones have a different input than what you normally see on a basic auxiliary cable.
You have to make another purchase with this microphone. With Rode NT you could plug in your Apple headphones because it’s just a basic auxiliary, where you can just wear anything.
I would recommend using noise-canceling headphones because you have to consider, if somebody says something loud, your microphone might pick back up the feedback of what they’re saying through your headphones. And it sounds like there’s an echo of their voice in the interview.
One thing I would recommend if you’re going to go with the Rode NT and you’re going to use a mic arm, a Rode PSA mic arm is fantastic.
One thing you want to add, and this comes specifically with the Rode NT is the actual shock mount that comes with it. You take the mic off the stand and mount it right onto the shock mount. So, you’ve got your pop filter in front of you. Recommend this because the Rode NT does not have one.
The SM7B comes with a pop filter on top of the microphone itself. It also has your DS that through your RODECaster, which your Rode NT does not have because you’re losing a lot of those bonus settings that you do get through a mixer.
The Rode NT does come with a screen in front of it, but it will pick up the p-pops because there is no pop filter on top of this microphone. So you’re going to want the screens, whether it’s with your stand or whether it’s with the actual shock mount itself.
Rode NT is very easy to setup. You have to plug it in the bottom and plug it into your computer and hit record. One thing you’re going to find with SM7B is you will spend hours trying to perfect the microphone for your specific voice because that’s what it requires.
It’s an advanced microphone. That means that there’s a lot of things that you can do versus something like Rode NT or a lot of the other plug and play mics that are USB that are made for just a wide range where they are what they are.
They still look sleek and is still a fantastic product. You’re going to spend almost $200 on this Rode NT. So it’s not cheap.
You are going to experience some issues with travel. So when you use the Rode NT, let’s say you’re going to record with a remote guest one on one face to face setting with the H4n or XHN actual recording device, that’s XLR. That’s kind of easier to do because it’s built for that. You’ve got a USB plugging in your computer.
Something like GarageBand might work well, there are some challenges with USB mics and trying to record more than one person at a time because computers can work, but it’s not a recording device.
Comparing XLR to USB is like comparing old like plugins for Nintendo where they call like analog and HDMI. So you do lose a little bit, albeit it is easy out of the box solution.
With the SM7B, if you want an XLR mic, Blue makes an icicle product. And it basically allows you to go XLR to a USB converter into your laptop. If you wanted to get a cheaper, like an Audio Technica XLR mic, even like 2100, you could get the XLR and have a backup for when you travel.
You could get the icicle to do that conversion to go direct to your laptop instead of having a recording device, like a RODECast or H4n. Look at the cost, this out of the box, you’re going to spend 200 bucks, and you’re ready to rock and roll.
If you’re just getting started with podcasting and have been doing it very long, you can start with an Audio Technica device and keep your investment as low as you possibly can go with a basic.
Maybe you want to really stretch and get a $60 Audio Technica mic or $70 audio Technica mic. Get that icicle, that XLR to USB converter. I think it’s 50 bucks. That’s a good guy, $120 investment. That’s going to sound tremendous.
It will be a lot more than any of your counterparts in early podcasts, and you’re going to sound fantastic. And again, you can travel with it.
Maybe later, you will upgrade into one of the Rode devices, whether that’s the Rode Podmic, the Rode Procaster, Rode Podcast, or the Rode NT.
Eventually, when podcasting is really working for you, it’s growing your business, and it’s time to make that final upgrade, then consider something like the XLR, knowing that all those additional components are going to be required. And it’s not something you can take out of the box and use on your own.
So the last thing is to test everything. Test all the microphones. So if you need to buy some stuff, buy five or six microphones and then return them based on what sounds best.
Again, those are three brands that I recommend cannot go wrong for podcasting. You decide, look at your price point with any of those, look at where you’re at. Also, think about your sunk costs.
Think about where you’re at with your business. What is tangible and feasible for you to be investing in at that point of your podcasting journey?