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When it comes to social media content, video and short-form video in particular is huge.

It’s a competitive landscape and each passing year it’s harder for creators to stand out. Everybody is looking for tactics that will give them an advantage. Thus, it’s surprising how many people overlook tweaking their filming habits to boost their sound quality.

Authentic content that’s in the moment is capturing both people’s attention and imagination right now. Sometimes you need to put production concerns aside and just hit record before the moment is gone. Nevertheless, if speech is a key component in your video it needs to be clear and easy to understand. Otherwise, the point of the video will whiz over your audience’s head or they’ll keep scrolling.

Why Exactly Are Internal Mics Mediocre or Even Poor?

When you consider how tiny the components of a smartphone are, it’s astonishing that phones perform as well as they do. The quest to make everything small brings compromises, and microphones are no exception.

The mic in your smartphone is a tiny electret condenser. Condenser mics have been around for a very long time. E.C. Wente invented it in 1916 for Bell Labs.

If you were to get a standalone condenser mic today the choices in brands and styles are vast. If you break it down in terms of the size of the diaphragm inside the mics, it gets much simpler.

There are small, medium, and large diaphragm condenser mics. Each has its pros and cons. However, in terms of sound, it’s notable that large diaphragm condenser mics give you a big, rich sound.

This is where internal mics in phones struggle the most: bass. They do capture the mid frequencies and highs of the human voice adequately with proper technique. Ultimately, speech without post-processing that was recorded with a phone sounds flat. And that can make it challenging for your audience to understand what’s being said.

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Audiences appreciate the realness and rawness of TikTok. At the same time, the bar keeps getting higher in terms of production quality. It’s common to come across impeccably-produced, well-edited videos like you’d see on YouTube.

Videos that have higher video and audio quality tend to perform better. That’s why TikTok’s top creators tend to look and sound great.

People are there for the creativity, to see rare talent, and for laughs. But when the production component is on point the message is delivered with clarity and it’s simply effortless to take in.

Sound Quality is Key

Improving your audio is one of the simplest changes you can make as a TikTok creator to stand out.

A study led by researchers from the University of Southern California and Australian National University found that speakers with high-quality audio were perceived as smarter and more likable than speakers with low-quality audio. Additionally, audiences perceived the content as more significant and enjoyed the experience more when the audio was good.

Smartphone cameras are generally excellent on any flagship or mid-range phone. The tiny built-in microphones in phones are another story. Unless you’re speaking into the phone’s mic from the sweet spot, the audio lacks definition.

It’s generally better to use an external mic to create content whenever possible. It’s understood that most TikTok creators want to make spontaneous short videos. Luckily, there’s a mic for every application that won’t get in the way of your creativity. Whether you reach for a wireless lavalier or a podcasting mic, you’re rewarded for delivering clear, easy-to-understand audio to your audience.

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Blue mics have cool factor. People decide on a Blue before they know which model they want.

Budding podcasters and musicians often have a tough time choosing between the Blue Yeti and its smaller cousin the Snowball.

It’s a difficult comparison because these mics couldn’t be more different in terms of design. The Yeti is a solid, butt-kicking USB microphone. And the Snowball looks like a prop in an old science fiction flick.

Which one is better for your purposes? Let the games begin.

Recording Settings

First off, both Yeti and Snowball are more flexible than their closet competition from companies like Audio-Technica. This is because they offer a number of recording modes while others merely have a cardioid pattern that accepts sound from up front.

With the Yeti you have four settings you can switch between: stereo, cardioid, omnidirectional and bidirectional.

This opens up a lot of possibilities for recording. You can do everything from recording a one-on-one interview with just one mic or capture all the sounds in the room in 360 degrees. For full descriptions of what each recording mode does, read my Blue Yeti review.

The Snowball has three settings: cardioid, cardioid with a -10db PAD (for recording loud drums or guitars), plus omnidirectional. I describe these in more detail in my Blue Snowball review.

So, in terms of flexibility, the Yeti wins but the Snowball is certainly no slouch.

If you plan on recording your voice head-on, all this is gravy. You might be leaning toward the Snowball if you don’t plan to use your mic for different production applications. Blue mics with fewer recording patterns tend to be less expensive, and this is no exception.

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Blue’s orb-shaped Snowball is just as much a piece of modern art as it is a microphone. Although the company is known for innovative designs, nothing breaks the mold as much as this one.

It’s about the size of a softball. The front of the device has a sexy, future-retro grill similar to what you’d find on a sports car. With the red LED light glowing you know it’s powered up and ready to pick up anything from voiceovers and singing to guitar cabinets and acoustic instruments.

Looks aside, there are a couple of key advantages to picking it up instead of other USB microphones in its class.

Why Go with Snowball?

Firstly, it’s really cheap these days. If you look in the right place (hint:, you should be able to scoop one up for less than $75. It comes in its classic textured white finish, gloss black, or brushed aluminum.

Secondly, the Snowball offers a variety of recording modes making it useful for a wide range of applications. At the back of the unit, there is a three-position switch that allows you to select cardioid, cardioid with -10db PAD, and omnidirectional.

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With every passing year, it gets easier to record professional-quality audio at home. This is partially due to software improvements and partially due to the advancements in recording hardware. One such development is the introduction of USB microphones.

You don’t need an audio interface to start recording anymore. A USB mic is essentially a digital microphone with a tiny one-channel audio interface built-in.

Why Go with a USB Mic?

While it isn’t very useful to recording engineers seeking to record multiple sound sources, a USB mic is indispensable for simple applications. It’s best when used to record artists doing vocals, overdubs, or online broadcasters creating podcasts or audio for their YouTube videos.

Another benefit of USB mics is the fact you can get a quality device for under $150. If you go the traditional route by purchasing an audio interface plus XLR microphone, you’ll need to spend at least $500 for a decent setup.

Granted the best USB microphones can’t match up to high-end offerings in the XLR category. However, if you’re looking for a budget microphone, USB options are well worth considering.

It’s a particularly good fit if you prefer the portability of using a laptop. With a USB mic, you don’t need to mess around with all that extra gear.