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Can I plug a microphone directly into my laptop for on-the-go podcasting?

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I want to do a simple podcast - just me talking - and I want to know what the least amount of gear is that I need to do that.

I'd also like it to be small enough that I can take it on location with me.

Am I asking too much? Are their microphones that plug right into your computer?

Will in San Francisco


There absolutely are microphones that plug right into your computer. I see two main options for you that are small, easily transportable and will fit the bill.

It just depends on whether you really and truly want to plug right in to your laptop computer. I'd like to suggest that there are times that even having your laptop with you can be cumbersome.

The first solution I'm thinking of is a USB headset microphone/headphone combination. You've seen sports announcers use them for years, because no matter what part of the playing field they are looking at, the microphone is always right nest to their mouths. Beyerdynamic, the company that makes the headsets I use on the air when I broadcast from a remote location, just came out with their MMX1:

It's a headset that plugs in to your USB port. That's right.

Instead of two plugs at the end of the headset's cable, one for the microphone audio input and the other for the headphone audio output, there's just a standard USB plug that carries audio in both directions.

If you're on a Macintosh, the MMX1 will show up as Unknown USB Audie Device on your Sound preference pane's Input tab. Same on Windows - in either case, make sure to choose that as your input source.

From there, whatever software you're using to record and edit your voice with will record what you say into the MMX1's fairly decent microphone.

But that's a good solution only if you're somewhere where your computer is easily and safely near you, like on a desk or table in an office or a hotel room.

What if you really want to be on the go?

Read on... (more ahead)

If you'd like to record on the go from almost anywhere, I'd recommend a Soundseeing package like the one I put together over at my podcasting design and consultation site, PodcastDesign.com:

This ultraportable and high quality sounding package consists of:

• an iRiver iFP 799T 1 GB Flash MP3 Player/Recorder and
• an Audio Technica ATR-35s Lavalier (lapel) Microphone

Powered entirely with batteries, this combination lets you be absolutely untethered to the computer - just clip the mic to your lapel, slip the Lifesavers candy roll-sized iRiver into your pocket, and you're set. You can hike, walk around town, drive, bicycle, stalk a meeting room and not worry about where your laptop is - for up to 17 hours straight recording.

When you're done, just connect the iRiver to your laptop (it gets connected via a standard USB cable, and shows up on your desktop as a drive) and drag the MP3 or WAV audio file you've recorded from the iRiver onto your hard drive for editing and production.

Couldn't be simpler.

You can buy the package at the best price possible from Amazon via this link:

Thanks for listening, and for asking!

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