Podcast Advice from Experience
I’ve been producing YouTube content for a long time. Even before the content you can find on my channel (that is my personal channel, Jonnycheeze) I was making gameplay videos. In every video I have made, I have tried to be mindful of one piece of advice that I heard a long time ago. That advice is…
Audiences are more easily put-off by poor audio quality than they are poor video quality.
In other words, it’s better to have a good-sounding video in 360p than it is to have a terrible-sounding video in 4K. In the context of your podcast, if you want people to stick around, you don’t want to drive them away with ear-shredding audio. Remember that captivating conversation and determined, driven discussion is the very essence of a podcast. Therefore it makes sense to invest most of your efforts into achieving crisp, clear voices and reducing unnecessary, crunchy background noise.
What’s the best way to do this? Find yourself a high-quality microphone.
Now I’m not saying to go out and drop hundreds of pounds on a professional studio mic, I’m saying if there’s one place you should put your money, it’s here. If you already have a microphone, great. If you use your laptop in-built microphone, then you might want to consider an upgrade.
Considering you want to start a podcast, I’d suggest straying away from a headset microphone. Sometimes speaking too close to your mic can make the listener feel enclosed or uncomfortable (unless they’re into ASMR I guess), so using a desktop mic to distance yourself can help create a relaxed, realistic environment for the listener. Also, it helps you concentrate on conversation and relax as a distanced microphone lets you forget you’re even recording. The process will feel a lot more natural.
I'd like to talk about the Blue Snowball iCE. This is, in my opinion, the single best budget microphone money can buy. Why do I feel qualified enough to say these things? Fair question. If you'd like to see the Snowball iCE in action, check out my YouTube channel here where it is used. Also, check out my music on Spotify and other major streaming platforms to hear the iCE being pushed to its limits.
The Famous Blue Snowball
The Blue Snowball iCE is a small desktop microphone starting at a very reasonable £54.99 (as per their website). An upfront cost might startle you but don’t worry, this mic is the real deal. The price may be a little steeper than the cheap, cheap options out there, however believe me when I say, you will most certainly get your money’s worth. Many of the people I collaborate with online use a Snowball iCE and the quality is crystal clear.
I have had my Snowball iCE for almost 5 years now and it is working as well as it ever has. I use this mic for talking to friends online, communicating in-game, and even recording music. The Blue Snowball iCE performs excellently in all scenarios. Its robust, simple design makes it extremely durable and also portable. The stand it comes with has a really small base footprint, meaning it can fit on almost any desk - no matter how cluttered it is. If a desktop mic isn’t for you, then the threaded socket on the bottom of the body will fit a wide variety of stands and microphone arms, allowing for a range of set-up possibilities. The front face of the mic features some attractive, metallic text, reading the name of the company who made it. The curved grill section might seem odd at first, but I think it looks rather snazzy.
Furthermore, this mic uses USB connection to your computer, meaning it works with nearly every device out there.
The neck of the microphone stand is a practical width. It allows you to attach pop-filters or an arm, should it not fit into the bottom attachment socket. At the bottom of the stand there are three legs, the tip of each being coated in rubber for added stability and desk protection. The legs are removable, turning the vertical portion of the stand into a comfortable hand-held extension, should you wish to use it in a mobile setting.
As far as cons go, I struggled to find many.
On the forehead of the microphone, there is a small, orangey-red light that comes on when the mic is connected to your computer. For some people, this can be annoying if you have the mic near your monitor, however personally it has never been an issue. You might be thinking, “Why is a light required? Surely you’d know if the mic was disconnected because your recording won’t pick up your voice / your friends will say you’ve gone mute.” And that’s a fair question to ask. I guess it’s a good indicator to show the mic is receiving power and working before you go and record something important.
I find that occasionally, the cable will fall out of the microphone as it is angled downwards (see picture below), prompting me to buy a new, third-party cable which slotted into the socket with a tighter grip.
It’s also worth baring in mind that the iCE does NOT have an adjustable stand, whereas the Snowball (no iCE) does.
And now the biggest problem with the Snowball iCE… random cut-outs. Sometimes my iCE will randomly stop recording audio, yet the indicator light will still be lit. The only way I have found to solve this is to unplug it and re-plug it into my computer. This doesn’t seem like a common issue as none of my friends experience this, although it really bothers me. My guess is that my computer stops recognising the USB mic input until you refresh it (unplug and re-plug). Some days it will cut out every 10 minutes, some days it will not happen at all. I’ve updated all my audio drivers but still nothing is working. Although it is not a common issue, be aware it’s happening!
If you’d like to find out more or read real customer reviews, check out Blue’s website and the iCE’s Amazon page, linked below.
The Blue Alternatives
If you’re determined to get your podcast off the ground and you’re willing to sink a bit more money into it, then the Blue Snowball (without iCE in the name) is the logical step-up. Same company, same incredible attention to detail. Starting at £74.99, the Snowball (no ice) is the slightly upgraded, better-equipped big brother to the iCE. Suiting the name, this is seriously cool.
The microphones share a lot in common, including an overall design style. However with the addition of a few new colour choices, the Snowball is a lot more prominent. Standing taller, yet no wider, the Snowball features omnidirectional sound capture, whereas the iCE is cardioid. Both microphones have the same sample rate (44.1 kHz, 16 bit) and frequency response (40-18 kHz), but that is to be expected for only a small price increase.
There really isn’t much to say about the Snowball that I haven’t already said about the iCE.
Now if you’re really passionate and want a microphone that will fulfil all your podcast/narration/video/music/streaming needs, then consider the Blue Yeti. Starting at £119.99, the Yeti is like the older and way cooler step-brother to the other microphones. The Yeti expands a lot on the features of the Snowball models, so I won’t go into it here. Plus the Yeti is hardly a budget mic!
Thank you for reading, I hope this has helped inform your decision. If you're looking to invest yourself more into tech, make sure you read a few of our articles on Tekify.co.uk and watch some of our YouTube content too.
For more information, find the link to Blue’s website and the products on Amazon below.
Blue Snowball iCE on Amazon:
Blue Snowball iCE (US):
Blue Yeti on Amazon:
Blue Yeti (US):
Blue's website (UK):
Blue's website (.com):