The Cheapest good USB mic in the world ($26)

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cheap usbSo I was surfing Amazon (yes, I do that), and came across this: USB Microphone Cable – XLR female to USB. The price was right (15 bucks with shipping), so I grabbed it.

When I got it, I plugged it into my cheapest dynamic mic, a NADY SP-4C “Starpower” mic ($10). I added a one-dollar foam windscreen (get those HERE), and made the attached recording.

Sound is pretty damn amazing for 26 bucks. Tiny bit of background noise, but good enough for a decent podcast, for sure. And they also sent a gift with the cable, a universal SD card reader. Not a bad thing to have.

The USB cable isn’t passive, it actually has a little converter amplifier in the fat part near the USB end, that’s what does the magic.

Worms!

–Michael W. Dean

20-Min Audio School

(Re-print from the FeenPhone site.)

Michael W. Dean’s 20-Minute Audio School

Guide to doing great remote spoken media with FeenPhone

(If you haven’t installed FeenPhone yet, Download it HERE, and please read the Quick-Start guide. For more advanced info, please see the Full Manual.)
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MICROPHONE CHOICE
A decent mic doesn’t cost much. We have done extensive on-air tests with many microphones and recommend the $50 Audio-Technica AT2005USB (Get it here on Amazon).
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The Audio-Technica AT2005USB mic. It really is that cool. (FeenPhone is not associated with Audio-Technica, and there is no partnership implied between FeenPhone and Audio-Technica. FeenPhone's team just really loves this mic)

Our rendering of the Audio-Technica AT2005USB mic. It really is that cool. (FeenPhone is not associated with Audio-Technica, and there is no partnership implied between FeenPhone and Audio-Technica. The FeenPhone team just really loves this mic)

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This mic is loud and clear, has a great pickup pattern for spoken audio, rejects some ambient background noise, rejects most sound behind the mic, and even has a tiny bit of built-in compression to reduce peaks and give a smoother sound. It’s also plug-and-play so it doesn’t require an external USB interface.
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The first time you hook the AT2005USB into your computer via USB, you’ll have to let it automatically download and install drivers. This can take up to three or four minutes, but will only happen the first time. Make sure the drivers install or you’ll get echo/latency/bad sound/no sound. When it’s fully installed, you can click in your system tray (you may have to click “show hidden icons”), click on the Install icon, and you should see something like this:
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installing-driver

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We designed FeenPhone specifically with the AT2005USB (and similar high-quality low-price cardioid dynamic USB mics) in mind. That mic on a stand (get THIS one) near your mouth, a two-dollar foam windscreen on your mic (get those HERE), some blankets hung up to deaden audio reflections (or more-permanent sound conditioning), a pair of closed-ear headphones, and FeenPhone enable you to do ultra-high-quality live radio shows, Internet radio shows, podcasts and voiceover across the miles…Even if your co-host, producer or customer is in a different country.

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Live radio audio examples: FeenPhone vs. Skype vs. Land line vs. Cell Phone

FeenPhone-OldPhone1
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I set it up ahead of time with Free Talk Live tonight to do the first-ever FeenPhone call into a radio show. I’ve been having my co-hosts on the Freedom Feens connect to me via FeenPhone since Christmas, but FeenPhone has not yet been used on a different radio show, until tonight.
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.The file is a little over six minutes of audio culled out of that show. It is, in order:
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–Me on FeenPhone. Sounds great.
–Dean on Skype. Sounds OK.
–Chris on a land line. Sounds bad.
–Mark on a cell phone. Sound horrible.
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The audio quality is about average for the Skype call, the land line call and the cell phone. Each is a good example and quite indicative of how they usually sound on radio.
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Keep in mind this is an MP3 made from an MP3 (GCN archive), so all the callers (Including me on FeenPhone) are slightly degraded from what went out on radio. But they are equally degraded, and this is an excellent example of a side-by-side A/B/C/D comparison of FeenPhone to other common methods of connecting with live radio.
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–Michael W. Dean

FeenPhone source code on GitHub, + a new, better version of FeenPhone

Great FeenPhone wallpaper to commemorate the launch on GitHub! (Click for large version.)

Great FeenPhone wallpaper to commemorate the launch on GitHub! (Click for large version.)

.FeenPhone Source Code Now on GitHub

Finally, we’re ready to share it. It’s HERE. It’s open source, licensed BSD 3-clause.
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Non-Windows Developer Protocol Guide HERE. If you want to make a non-Windows version of FeenPhone, or a product derived from our code, we’d love to help you, at least with testing it over the Internet. Please post a comment below and we’ll be in touch.
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New FeenPhone Version

Also, there’s a new version of FeenPhone, beta v0.1.5492.36528, on the Download page, HERE. (If you had another version installed, uninstall it first, using the Windows uninstaller. FYI, this version has its own uninstaller added in the program group.)
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This version has been tested as stable on many Freedom Feens live radio shows, with two and three co-hosts, for a week now, and been tested off air even more. It rocks.
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Changelog:
–Fixed wonky Audio Out volume slider
–Fixed issue of starting mic volume at very low setting
–Added uninstall link in program group
–Fixed bug in link in About tab, no longer cause crashing when clicked.
–Put version number at top of program interface next to program name.
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We’ve also added a Quick-Start guide, here. It’s much shorter than the full FeenPhone manual. The Quick-Start guide should be enough to get anyone up and running if they’re already computer savvy and audio-smart. Of course, we still recommend everyone read the relatively short 20-Minute Audio School to get the most out of FeenPhone.
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Next thing we’ll be working on is automatic port forwarding.