With the wrong equipment, conferencing over Skype can be a frustrating adventure in miscommunication. But with a good microphone, Skype becomes a viable alternative to a traditional land-line phone. Here are some good options to consider--whether you need a Skype-ready microphone, a combination mic-and-camera, a combination mic-and-headset, or an all-in-one tool that includes all three elements.
If you're familiar with Audix's high end microphones for music recording, it may come as a surprise to you that Audix makes a Skype-ready USB microphone as well. The Audix USB12 is a pre-polarized condenser mic with a solid desktop base, an adjustable gooseneck, a built-in headphone jack for monitoring and a talk button. As implied by the name, the USB12 connects to your PC's USB jack and comes with a healthy 6-foot USB cable. The USB12 has a frequency response of 50 Hz to 15 kHz and two quality modes: one for 44.1 kHz recording and one for 48 kHz. The USB's cardioid polar pattern does a great job capturing the speaker's voice while blocking background noise. Like all Audix microphones, the USB12 is made in the USA.
Blue Microphones Eyeball 2.0
The Eyeball 2.0 is a plug-and-play USB condenser microphone and 2.0 megapixel webcam with impressive audio quality. The Eyeball's full-size condenser capsule pivots in and ball-and-socket joint and records 16-bit audio at a resolution of 44.1 kHz, and has a frequency response of 35 Hz to 20 kHz. Skype users who want a high-end microphone but don't need a Webcam should consider Blue's Snowball, a lower cost unit with the same microphone and no camera.
Logitech Premium USB Headset 350
Logitech's Premium USB Headset 350 is an affordable combination microphone-headset popular among gamers and Skype users alike. The 350 connects to your computer via USB and bypasses the need for a separate pair of headphones. The microphone is a basic noise-canceling microphone that certainly works well enough for Skype, although it is victim to the problems with plosives and sibilance commonly associated with low-cost, headset-mounted mics.
Philips SPC325NC PC Webcam and Headset Mic
The Philips SPC325NC is a low-cost solution for the budget-conscious Skype user who doesn't have much to spend and wants an all-in-one package including a microphone, headphones and a Webcam. Though all three components have minimal features, the extremely low price makes this model an attractive option for new Skype users who plan to use the service for casual chatting or as a phone line replacement for personal calls.
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