There are three basic ways to set up your laptop for an online open mic:
- Use the microphone that came with your device.
- Connect a USB microphone to your laptop.
- Install an Audio Interface.
Each method has it's pros and cons.
The first method is the cheapest and most straightforward to setup. It is also very good for picking up the human voice in a variety of positions. I have successfully used this method for teaching, where the emphasis is less on sound quality and more on ease of use. If you are using your device's mic, make sure you sing and play directly in front of your laptop, tablet or smartphone. This will make sure that we can hear you. Singing away from the microphone will result in a loss of sound.
The second option is a good compromise between sound quality, usability and affordability. There are a number of affordable microphones on the market that plug directly into your laptop. For an online open mic, search USB Microphone for Laptop and choose a condenser microphone. Check that it does not require an external 48V phantom power source.
For the professional or semi-professional musician, I would recommend installing an audio interface. I use the TASCAM US – 1 x 2, a beautiful engineered box which converts an analogue input into a digital output. This enables me to sing through my SURE SM58 vocal microphone, and play guitar into my FISHMAN Rare Earth guitar pick-up, whilst simultaneously monitoring the signal.
Finally, a note of caution. As always, be careful to research any product before you buy it. Make sure to check what software drivers you will need, and whether the microphone or interface is compatible with your operating system. It's always worth reading the reviews, as potential problems are often flagged up by previous customers. If you are not tech savvy, then send me an email and I might be able to help.
Otherwise, have fun and see you at our next online open mic.
The Belsize Online Open Mic is running every Friday from 6.30 pm to 9.00 pm GMT on Zoom.