Online teaching can take a few different forms; live, on-demand and a hybrid of the two. Regardless of which you choose, the hardware you use to support your business model will be the same.

It’s likely that you already have some solid hardware – laptop, tablet, smart phone – with a camera and a microphone to use for online teaching. However, if you want to produce higher quality classes that record well, and that you can repurpose as on-demand content at a later date, it’s worth considering investing in extra equipment. And audio is arguably one of the most important elements of your online eperience – the way your sound pours into your audeinces ears can make a crucial, if subtle, difference to their enjoyment of your offering.

Let’s take a look at the different styles of microphones on the market that work well for online teaching, with their pros and cons, to give you some things to consider in your decision making. 

Earbuds

Let’s start with the most commonly used type of microphone – earbuds. These range in price from high-end (Apple, Samsung, Sony) which might cost a few hundred dollars, all the way down to basic models, available for a much lower price. Here are some things to consider about using earbuds for sound in your online classes:

ProsCons
– Sound quality is generally good.
– Noise-cancelling cuts out background noise.
– Allows free movement.
– Mic is always close to mouth, regardless of posture. 
– Some basic models don’t have a mic connection for video – be sure to research this.
– Can be uncomfortable after an extended period.
– Need regular charging.
– They might not fit well and stay in the ear. 
– High-end models are expensive.
– Cheaper models can sound tinny.

Lavalier Microphone

A lavalier microphone is commonly used in broadcasting and clips on to the body, usually near the lapel. Lavalier microphones are reliable and provide good sound, with a transmitter box worn out of sight that sends the sound signal to a receiver box plugged into the camera. However, this can be a tricky mic for lots of movement – it can rub against clothes or skin distorting the sound, and the transmitter pack plus wiring need to be tucked out of sight and firmly attached to prevent movement. Here are some considerations for this type of mic:

ProsCons
– Excellent sound quality.
– Wired in sound quality is reliable.
– Mic can be easily repositioned.
– Inexpensive models are available.
– Allows for a range of distance from the transmitter.
– Easy to conceal when teaching.
– Can be tricky to secure the transmitter pack out of sight.
– Wires can get in the way of movement.
– Sound distortion if this mic rubs against clothes.
– Requirement of the exact connectors to devices makes setup tricky. 
– Potential for wavelength to be interrupted by household electrical items.

Wireless Headset 

The wireless headset mic is often used by movement instructors, and we have heard great things from our users about the Rode Wireless Go for a high quality, versatile mic that allows you to be heard clearly. It fits snugly around the head, the mic is easily positioned, sound is excellent, and the lack of wires allows for free movement. Just like earbuds, the mic will stay in place and close to the mouth regardless of your posture, and some models come with a moisture shield so if you are teaching a class that becomes warm you don’t have to worry about the safety or function of the mic. Here are our thoughts:

ProsCons
– Adjustable fit.
– Reposition-able microphone.
– Allows for free movement of the body.
– Moisture-proof models allow for hot and sweaty classes without risk.
– Allows for a range of distance from the transmitter.
– Looks sleek and modern.
– Operates on a waveband that can be interrupted by a number of household items (microwave, radio, etc).
– Pairing to the device can take time.
– Not all devices are compatible with Bluetooth.
– Faster battery consumption on wireless devices.

USB Microphone

Another option that can work well for online teaching is a USB mic. Brands like Blue Yeti serve this market well – the mic is positioned close to where you are teaching from, and can capture the sound well. 

A USB mic is great for other types of voice recording, such as voice overs for your videos or podcasts, so might be worth the investment if you need a microphone for other purposes too. 

ProsCons
– Sound quality is excellent. 
– Stylish and sleek design.
– Excellent all-round mic, if you have another purpose for recording.
– Can be placed as close to your position as needed.
– Good price range for the quality provided.
– Sound is better the closer you are to the microphone.
– No background noise cancellation.
– Pick up echos in the room if you are further away from it.
– Is not wireless and so has limited reach.

Smartphone/Computer Microphone

In the competitive world of online teaching and with limited budgets, we can’t rule out working with what you already have. A microphone on your laptop, PC or smartphone can give you good sound to teach, and you can adjust the volume of your voice and control as much as you can in terms of disturbances around you (silencing pets, keep window closed, padding out the room or use a carpeted space to avoid echoing).

One workaround to improve sound without upgrading your hardware is to use two devices to teach over Zoom – so perhaps your laptop or tablet is the ‘Host’ device with camera, and then you can log in with a second device – maybe a smart phone – and set that device as ‘Co-Host’. Mute the microphone on the ‘Host’ device and use the sound on the ‘Co-Host’ device, and in this way you can have your second device close to your mat for improved sound. Test this method out before using it in a class – the Host device needs to be spotlighted, and there is a risk of feedback from having two devices close together so it is not without risk, but might provide a good fix. This might work with other platforms too – if you check that out, let us know!

Finally, Apps are constantly evolving and there are some on the market that can turn your device into a microphone for recording, and this is well worth exploring. Apps tend to be lower priced, you can access accurate reviews on them and generally they are simple and intuitive to use on your existing device. 

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