My new microphone

For years I’ve used the internal microphone in my laptop computer for all my audio needs. It’s been easy simply to turn on FaceTime or Skype or whatever and not worry about it. And for most purposes that’s been good enough.

But I recently decided that if I’m going to be talking over the ‘net all the time, I shouldn’t be depending on a compromise microphone. Accordingly, I just picked up an external mic: A Spark Digital from Blue Microphones. It’s an odd-looking contraption (see picture below) and using it isn’t nearly as neat and clean as simply turning on the computer, but I figured the upgrade would be worth it if my clients could hear me better.

Initial results are good, if not perfect. My voice is clearer, which is very much the point. But it isn’t terribly loud so amplifying it to a normal range means adding noticeable background hiss. I’m still playing around with this. Oops: See edit below.

Listen for yourself — here’s what I’d been using before the upgrade:

[audioplayer file=”″ titles=”MacBook Pro internal microphone”]

… and here I’m using the new external rig:

[audioplayer file=”″ titles=”Blue Microphones Spark Digital”]

Blue Microphones Spark DigitalAs you can hear (I hope), it’s an improvement. The sound is a bit harsh when amplified, but clients want to be taught, not entertained. I’ll keep working to optimize the sound (suggestions welcome, either in the comments below or through my contact page), but even now the result is clear sound, which will enhance the remote conferencing experience.

Note that this picture doesn’t include the pop filter, which makes the look even odder. I’m not sure I’ll be letting this show in my videos — I figure I look geeky enough as it is.


Edit: It turns out I wasn’t properly adjusting the gain.1 With it properly adjusted every is now fine; new, lower-noise clip on the way, and even better clarity for tutoring and my upcoming video instruction series.



  1. When in doubt, read the manual. I should know better.