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Home Studio Gear 2021 – Selected

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Just missing out on the Top 5 Greatest Hits, quite a few of you checked in to the Working From Home Studio Guide – Budget Edition to up your game in the audio/video department.

One of the most common comments/questions I receive about the Selected Podcast is, “What gear are you using?”, which is then inevitably followed by, “how much?”

And although we’re stepping out of the bargain basement here, I promise not to throw the $400 Shure SM7B microphone at you, nor the $420 Sennheiser HD 660 S‘s at you. But don’t let me stop you.

TL:DR


Webcams

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the Roffie full HD webcam UC20 that I offered up in the Budget Edition. Having said that, it did have a few hiccups, and wasn’t quite smooth sailing. A classic case of “you get what you pay for”. And so …

Winner: Logitech C920

No, this isn’t the very top of the line, but you’re never going to stream in 4K anyway. But yes, this is a helluva lot better than your laptop cam.

Full HD (1080p) at 30 frames per second and a 78° field of view combined with a full glass lens deliver outstanding video clarity.

Price: £129 / $87 / €107

Runner Up: Razer Kiyo

We’d all love to have stellar lighting in our work area, but the truth of the matter is, that doesn’t always happen. And I’ll fully admit, there have been times when I can’t be arsed to set up the whole works.

To this end, the folks over at Razer have cleverly built an LED ring light (remember the TikTok light?) into their Kiyo webcam.

The 1080p mode delivers 30 frames per second resolution, while kicking things down to 720p will up the frame rate to 60. Translation: The higher the frame rate, the smoother the video will appear.

Price: £125 / $87 / €110

Lighting

I’m sticking with the ring light option in this category. Great light, plenty of options, can’t go wrong.

Winner: Neewer Camera Photo Video Lighting Kit

The larger the light source, the softer the shadows. And considering that the entire point of a ring light is to virtually eliminate any shadows, this kit is killer!

Price: £86 / $90 / €80

Runner Up: Neewer Camera Photo Video Lighting Kit

‘Nuff said.

Microphones

I’ll spare you the differences between the big three types (Dynamic, Condenser, and Ribbon) of microphones, and merely say this: Condenser.

And keeping get-me-up-and-running-as-fast-as-possible in mind, USB.

By nature, condenser microphones are highly sensitive, and as a rule: Let no microphone go uncovered. Make sure you grab a mic cover and/or pop filter, and if you really want to go all out, grab yourself a boom arm and spider shock mount.

The former(s) will keep your P’s and T’s in check, and the later(s) will cut down on any accidental movement of the mic.

Winner: Blue Yeti

With 3 condenser capsules, 4 pickup patterns, a headphone output with volume control and mic gain control, it’s pretty hard to beat the Yeti.

This is the microphone I use for every one of the Selected Podcast recordings,
and it’s performance has been rock solid and silky smooth.

Specs:

Sample Rate: 48kHz
Bit Rate: 16-bit
Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz

Price: £119 / $129 / €140

Of Note:

The mic USB interface is Mini B (mic) to Type A (computer). If you’re working with a computer outfitted with usb-c ports, you’ll need an A to C adaptor.

Runner up:  Audio-Technica ATR2500x-USB

I haven’t personally used this mic, but when flipping through a number of options, the ATR2500x stood out from the crowd.

It features higher sampling and bit rates than you’ll ever need, headphone monitoring capabilities, but what seals the deal; the ATR2500x-USB ditches the mini B and Type A connection in favor of USB-C on both ends.

Specs:

Sample Rate: up to 192kHz
Bit Rate: 24-bit
Frequency Response: 30Hz – 15kHz

Price: £99 / $149 / €125

Headphones

I find that headphones are often the most overlooked piece of equipment in a home studio. Sure, your earbuds are going to do the job, but we’re here to UP the game. Not just GOOD ENOUGH the game.

That, and I’ve just never found them that comfortable.

Winner: Audio Technica ATH-M30X

The over-the-ear closed back design ensures maximum comfort and minimal sound bleed.

I’ve had these in my DJ kit for almost a decade now, and can firmly attest to the build quality. There’s some signs of wear, but nothing a new set of ear cups wouldn’t fix.

The 40mm drivers ensure highly accurate sound reproduction, all the way down from 15Hz right on up to 22KHz. When it comes to best bang for your buck, these cans can’t be beat.

Price: £53 / $69 / €61

Runner up: Sennheiser HD 280 PRO MK2

Borrowing these for a week from a friend of mine, I was sincerely impressed. I’m not quite yet ready to call it headphone envy, but we’re definitely in the ballpark.

Amazingly accurate sound reproduction, tight, full bass, and a decidedly punchy midrange . Frequency response covers a mind blowing 8Hz – 25KHz.

If you want to splurge on some silk for your eardrums, the HD280 Pro’s are the winner.

Price: £109 / $99 / €107

Summary

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