Is good audio quality for your screencasts worth $100?
I've never had a student complain that they couldn't understand what I was saying in one of my screencasts, but the other day I was experiencing some techno-lust and wondered if D'Arcy's fancy microphone would make a measurable improvement to the quality of the audio in a screencast. Right now I use a Labtec headset microphone to record the audio in my screencasts. So generic, there's no model number to refer to. It was probably about $40-$50, and I've always thought it sounded just fine. I just borrowed D'Arcy's Samson C01U USB Studio Condenser Microphone and ran a couple of quick tests. This thing sits in a mic stand and was about a foot away from my face, compared to the labtec mic, which was almost touching my lips.
I was worried that being so far away, the Samson wouldn't be as loud as the Labtec, but that wasn't the case at all. I did realize how important a quiet environment is when one is using a mic on a stand though - I had to re-record when a truck's backup alarm sounded down in the parking lot and the Samson picked it up just as my ear heard it - that doesn't happen with the headset mic...
I figured the Samson microphone would sound better, but wondered if, when compressed into a flash file using Camtasia Studio, it would still sound better. Let's listen, shall we?
I recorded myself reading the same passage of text, first using the headset mic, then using the Samson mic. Each reading is about 20 seconds long, and the Samson follows immediately after the headset - you'll know when it's switched. For the first recording I chose to compress the audio using mp3 compression, 22.050 kHz, Mono, 32Kbits/second. I don't know if this is the default for Camtasia Studio, but it's what I have always used - I think it's the highest quality mono compression in the list.