Understanding Your Webcam’s Microphone

If you take part in Zoom calls or create video content of your own, chances are you require a specific type of microphone. And depending on your purpose and whether you tend to make one-on-one or group calls, your mic needs will differ.

For example, crisp audio is essential to making a great impression on Zoom. Having the TV on or the washing machine running in the background is an easy way to be misunderstood. These environmental distractions can be reduced by opting for unidirectional mics that employ noise-canceling technology. On the other hand, if you need to pick up multiple voices at once, an omnidirectional mic will be more advantageous.

In this blog, we are going to go over the two different standard types of webcam mics — directional and omnidirectional — and which situations each is suited for. We will also be discussing the importance of having a mic that includes noise-canceling technology.

What is a directional microphone?

A directional mic is designed to pick up sound from only one direction (unidirectional) or two directions (bidirectional). These are commonly used in public speaking situations and for recording a single voice or musical instrument. A directional mic in a webcam is meant to make your voice the sole focus. This is a result of the physical design of the microphone, so it is a form of passive noise reduction.

By upgrading to a webcam with a simple unidirectional mic like the NexiGo N660P, you can make it easier for your voice to cut through so each word is clearly understood. This can make a big difference in the quality of your online communications, whether you’re on Zoom for business or video chatting with family and friends.

What is an omnidirectional microphone?

If you’re not worried about ambient noise (such as if you have a sound-insulated conference room), some webcams have the ability to capture sound all over the room with built-in omnidirectional microphones.

For those who require a webcam for conference calls with two or more people, omnidirectional webcams are the way to go. For example, the NexiGo N970P uses dual omnidirectional microphones that track voices from 20 feet away. This allows everyone in your video call to be part of the conversation.

How do digital noise-canceling microphones work?

Simply put, microphones with digital noise-canceling remove unnecessary background noise. To achieve this, the microphone detects the primary frequencies of your voice and sends a reversal signal to neutralize other frequencies. Digital noise-canceling microphones can be directional or omnidirectional, but the feature is especially useful on omnidirectional mics since they tend to pick up more background noise.

Think of it like this: when you eat a heavy meal and the food doesn’t agree with you, you might take an antacid to relieve your upset stomach. But the antacid is not really adding anything significant; it’s simply neutralizing stomach acids that are causing the problem. This is essentially how noise-canceling mics work — they wipe out the external sounds by emitting equal but opposite “anti-noise” waves to remove the background noise in your video calls.

Find the best microphone for your setup

While some microphones are more versatile than others, each is designed with a certain usage in mind. For everyday audio or video calls with family and friends, we recommend using a basic unidirectional mic-equipped webcam. This will work as a practical yet effective tool if you just need your mic to focus on your voice and nothing else.

For conference calls that include multiple people, omnidirectional webcams work best because they can pick up everyone's voice in the room. They’re also useful if you tend to move around while you talk, especially if you make calls while cooking or recording workout videos. If you make podcasts with more than one person, a webcam with a wide angle lens and an omnidirectional mic is a convenient way to record video versions of each show.

However, for more advanced setups like live streams and vlogs, we recommend an external microphone. If you’re streaming videos for a live audience or recording your voice for YouTube, a Razer Seiren Mini or Shure MV5 can provide that broadcast-quality audio you’ve been looking for.

Most of us tend to overlook webcam microphones for our video calls. So if you own a webcam or are looking to grab one, it’s great to be aware of how it captures audio so you can use it to its fullest potential. For more tips about webcams, improving your stream lighting, and enhancing your gaming experience, be sure to check out our weekly blog.

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