Entry Level Upgrades: Improving Your Audio

Updated: 17 hours ago

The foundation of great media almost always starts with good audio. With so many people currently working from home, this has become more evident than ever. Video conferencing is now an everyday way of life for many of us. In this blog and video series, Entry Level Upgrades, I will demonstrate how you can stand out in the crowd with professional-sounding audio and top-notch video quality. As this series progresses, I will talk about many things including, audio, video, and set design. However, today we will focus on a foundation built with great audio.

RØDE NT-USB Mini

$99.00 USD BUY NOW!

There are many options for entry-level microphones. So how do we select the right one? There are many factors to consider when choosing a microphone. In the corporate world, the two most important factors mentioned to me are usually build quality and ease of use. Cost is also usually a contributing factor in any purchase decision. I have chosen the Rode NT-USB Mini with these factors in mind. This small but mighty microphone is relatively new on the market but has already proven to be a disrupter in its class. Additionally, if you plan to Podcast in the future, the free RØDE Connect software will get you up and running in no time and was designed specifically for this microphone. I will talk more about this later..

Mackie Sound Damping Products (PF-100)

$14.99 USD BUY NOW!

Although Rode states that the NT-USB Mini has a built-in pop filter, I found it less than adequate. I recommend adding this inexpensive pop filter to get the most out of your NT-USB Mini.


These two items will get you up and running. However, Rode recommends that you place this microphone within 6-inches of your mouth. Unless you plan to hunch over or lay your head on the desk, this won't be easy with the included stand. Here are two options to remedy this issue.

RØDE PSA-1 Swivel Mount Studio Mic Boom Arm

$149.99 USD BUY NOW!

Boom arms are not all created equally, so don't skimp here. Yes, there are far cheaper options, but this one will last you a lifetime and support just about any microphone.

RØDE DS1 Table Top Microphone Stand

$39.99 USD BUY NOW!

The DS1 is a much more affordable option. However, if you haven't noticed yet, the NT-1 USB Mini does not include a shock mount, nor is one available at this time. All you table slappers out there will need to use this product with care. Your microphone will pick up any table slapping and even keyboard noise when typing. Placing felt or some other type of fabric under the stand will help with this.


RØDE CONNECT Free Audio Mixer Software

FREE!!! DOWNLOAD NOW!

The first thing you will need to do is head over to Rode's website, and download RODE Connect. You can follow this link. Once downloaded, the app installs just as any other would. Once you have the app downloaded and installed, go ahead and open it. Please note, if you do not have a Rode NT-USB Mini yet, you can download and install the software but won't be able to do much until you have the microphone connected. If that is the case, you might want to bookmark this page and revisit it once your microphone arrives.


Setting up the RØDE Connect Software

After you have installed Rode Connect and opened it, the setup assistant screen will be displayed.

  • Section 1 is where you can place up to four Rode NT-USB Mini microphones.

  • Section 2 is where you can see what Rode NT-USB Mini microphones are connected to your computer. Drag them up to section 1 to activate them.

After adding the microphones, click on the next button to continue.

PRO TIP: When you click on one of the NT-USB Mini's in section two, the lights on the physical microphone will blink to ensure connectivity and assist with identification.

Much like the previous page, this one allows you to add two different sources. The virtual channel will let you bring in other speakers from apps such as Zoom and Skype. The virtual channel enables you to record any sounds from your computer. I will dig into this deeper in a future article, but feel free to add them now.


RØDE Connect Basics

  1. Main Audio Mixer Tab - The current screen.

  2. Saved Recordings Tab - A list of saved recordings.

  3. Record Button - Star/Stop recording.

  4. Recording Timer - Current time since recording began.

  5. Marker Button - Mark a point of interest for later review.

  6. Master Output Meter Level - A visual guide to the master volume output.

  7. Advanced Controls - More settings and options.

  8. Channel Settings Button - Click this for individual channel settings.

  9. Channel Level Fader - Increase or decrease the individual channel volume.

  10. Channel Level Meter - A visual guide to the individual channel volume output.

  11. Mute Button - Mutes the individual channel.