Worktank’s Director of Content Solutions Evan Sadler recommends the best audio gear for your home office, so you consistently sound great across online meetings, video broadcasts and virtual events.
Your Mic Needs an Upgrade
Let’s start with some hard facts. Most people rely on their onboard laptop microphone for virtual events and meetings – and it’s just not good enough. You risk losing your audience if they’re unable to hear you through tinny audio, an echo, background noise or low volume. And there’s nothing worse than delivering an A+ performance only to find that lackluster tech torpedoed your message.
The good news is that we’ve helped many remote executives correct poor audio setups prior to a virtual broadcast, and it’s an easy issue to resolve.
The Solution is in Your Pocket (Or Drawer)
The simplest alternative to your laptop microphone is a pair of workaday Bluetooth or wired headphones. Every meeting platform will easily recognize an alternate mic or speaker, and when you connect/pair headphones to your laptop, the result is improved mic performance.
If you have a couple of headphone options, test each to find the best quality sound. Which set is most comfortable to wear through the day – in ear or over the ear headphones? What sounds best to you? Beyond testing headphones for a meeting or two, record yourself via your meeting platform to hear how you sound. For a true comparison, record another sample with just your onboard mic and listen for the difference.
There are too many solid Bluetooth headphone options to recommend. However, if you’ve found the right set for your daily podcast and music listening, they will work great for participating and presenting in meetings.
For me, headphones and virtual meetings don’t mix. I’m unable to sit through even an hour-long meeting with anything on or in my ear, so I solved the issue by installing an external microphone in my home studio. My mic is a RODE PodMic and I pair it with an Accu-Lite Podcast Pro Boom Package that clamps to my desk and swivels so I’m able to move it out of the way when I’m not in meetings. It’s also less expensive than the RODE PSA1+ Pro Studio Boom Arm and it comes with integrated XLR cabling hidden behind a solid casing.
If you’re going with an external mic setup, pay attention to the output connection type. The RODE PodMic is an XLR and you may need an XLR to USB-C interface cable. You can also opt for a microphone with a USB output connection, which is typically more expensive. The RODE Podcaster USB Broadcast Microphone is a good choice.
I also like the Elgato Wave Mic:3 with Wave Mic Arm. Although categorized as a mic for gamers, it works equally well for home office setups. The mic uses a USB-C connection and includes buttons for volume and muting, so you can avoid fumbling to unmute yourself while in a meeting or virtual event. And the boom arm elegantly extends horizontally by 29 inches and swivels vertically 360 degrees for great flexibility.
Best All Around
If you want to avoid fussing with a separate mic and speakers, the best and simplest option is the outstanding Jabra Speak 510, which is both a solid speaker and mic in one. Available in wireless or USB, it’s easy to set up and includes mute and volume controls on the face of the speaker. Just keep in mind that the Jabra only works well if you have the ability to isolate external noise, and the freedom to turn up the volume, i.e., it’s not the best choice for shared office space or an open office layout.
The Best Virtual Broadcasts Start with Worktank
In this remote work world, looking and sounding your best on camera is not something that comes naturally for most people. Even with the best lighting and audio gear, many high-profile executives and presenters prefer to work with professionals who specialize in video production and virtual broadcasts.