I have been working since 30 years and always used to have face to face office meetings in big conference rooms. But after Covid19 the situation have changed ! Now a days every meeting happens virtually online through different platforms such as Zoom, Skype, WebEx and many more depending upon the supplier. I mean video conferencing is a norm now to avoid travel offshore or even inside office premises !
So as almost 100% of time is spent online, problems started surfacing out like issues in internet bandwidth, video and audio quality which affected some of the meetings severely.
For good meetings one should have a perfect mix between value, ease of setup, and audio clarity.
In this article I am focusing on one of the major issues in video conferencing which is Audio Quality during Zoom meetings (or for discussion sake any online conference call which involves audio discussions / presentations )
Problems are faced since most of us are not tech savvy people and tend to use the built in microphone of laptops or mobile or desktops with basic headphone mics.
I mean within few meetings only I realized that the audio quality needs to be improved specially during overseas calls, where any small environment noise disturbance is not acceptable, which becomes more prominent when multiple people are speaking over a call. Yes, the laptops built-in mic simply can’t help you out delivering high quality audio.
While some companies have tried establishing good setups, my company did not provide us any support in terms of hardware upgrade 🙁 And so I started searching for a smart but cheap way to improve upon Audio quality during conference calls.
I tried using my headphones microphone – but it was not sustainable solution !
the ways which didn’t work so successfully include the external headphone mics – pain for me was always holding the mic in front of my mouth to get clarity – and I can’t do it throughout the day! Also there was another issue of picking up of background noises when at home or even in office ,, and I did not have any control over these external noises
One of the way which worked for me is use of an aftermarket external microphone !
When my research began, I found high-end broadcast-style microphones to lightning port audio accessories! but most of them were costing me a fortune!!
And I came across a Plug and Play type microphone called as TM20 by Toner which costed me only $29 Check latest price on Amazon
I tried it and it simply worked for me 🙂
simple to use with its plug and play model …
It cleaned up my voice filtering external background noises to a great extent …
Now my overseas calls are going perfect professional way with high quality crystal clear audio.
So that made me writing this product review for you all …. let’s know more about this particular product that I am taking about TM20 microphone by Toner costing only $29 to me.
TM20 Microphone is a Plug & Play microphone
Yes, that is the main thing I liked about this microphone.
The TONOR USB conference microphone do not ask for installation of any drivers (which means I need not call my IT support person to install drivers and make my life complicated – this is since I do not have Admin access to my office laptops)
I just plugged it into USB port of my laptop in office and desktop at home, and viola .. its done 🙂
Another interesting thing is that I have Windows OS on my desktop at home and Mac on office laptop, so since this microphone is compatible with both Windows OS and Mac I didn’t face any issues at all … good for me!
On-line meeting software’s Compatibility
My usual experience is that even the hardware like microphone works for one software may not work for the other, so in short it may have compatibility issues.
But when I used TONOR USB Microphone it worked fine with most of the software’s that I use with my clients which includes working on Zoom, Cisco WebEx, Gotomeeting, Skype, and sometimes Google hangouts
So no headache at all 🙂
360 degree omnidirectional sound picking
When I am having conference and inadvertently need to call my subordinate, we both speak keeping some safe distance due to coronavirus situation. Also we both are wearing masks while we speak. This situation was a problem for me while using laptops built in mic.
However since the TONOR USB MIcrofphone is designed to pick up subtle sounds in 360 degree (omnidirectional pickup) – this typical case of mine is a perfect example of using the omnidirectional sound capability. Now even my subordinate is speaking from some distance the vocals are clear with no background pickups.
Previously while using the built-in microphone of laptop, it was must that we sit close and laptop shall face both of us which was voice quality problem as well as coronavirus risk. Now its not the case.
The mic picks up voice nicely and from safer distances. (voice picking range is pretty comfortable 5 meters or 16.4 feet)
The noise reduction also works perfectly filtering background noises as well as avoiding any echo problems.
One Button Mute Feature of TM20
One more practical thing needed in all the meetings is MUTE.
Yes, I need to do this while I discuss the issues internally before I reply to my client.
Since the TONOR USB Mic has a big visible, centrally located mute button, my life have become easier with a simple press of a MUTE button.
The soft touch button facilitates a quick mute during meetings….. no fiddling around mouse to mute my laptop!
Also the mute button have visual indication with RED when ON-MUTE and BLUE during MIC-ON state.
Okay … just for convenience I have added a specification table for this TM20 Toner mic
TM20 Toner mic specifications
Best Microphone for Zoom & Skype Meetings
|Input Sample Rate:||48 kHz|
|Bit Rate:||16 Bit|
|Frequency Response:||20 Hz~20 kHz|
|Sensitivity:-||38 dB ±3 dB（0dB=1V/Pa,1kHz）|
|Output Impedance:||2.2 kΩ|
|Package includes||Condenser Mic*1|
|Compatible apps||Zoom / Skype/ GoToMeeting / WebEx/Hangouts / Fuze|
Conclusion – Best Microphone for Zoom & Skype Meetings
For me Toner TM20 USB Conference Microphone have worked nicely.
I am happy spending $30 only to get the fantastic Omnidirectional voice pickup with noise reduction, making my conference calls a breeze.
Its compatibility with Windows as well as Mac makes me using the same mic at home and office, so I saved some money on this too 🙂
Buying links for this product are given below for your convenience
Conference microphones Buying Guide by HowzBuy.com
How to Choose a Good Mic for Video calling?
Built-in microphones of laptops or even mobile phones are considered not that good for voice calls.
So choosing a good microphone makes a sense to yield clear voice calls and client satisfaction.
So here are some key factors for choosing a microphone for Zoom meetings –
Since companies are reluctant to add more money for things like voice clarity during calls, you need to focus on value for money. Means good mic at lowest price.
Something below $50 makes sense!
In general you have to select mic with USB connectivity so that it goes into plug and play mode on laptops as well as desktops easily
If you happen to select actual audio mic then you need a mixing desk or at least an audio interface. This will add expenses as well as setting difficulty too.
So best way is to select standard USB mics for Zoom calls which can be adopted on any existing hardware without any additional software or hardware.
Sound Quality and Clarity
Every USB mic may not deliver the same voice clarity!
So you need to buy a test sample and make sure that it can deliver voice Quality and Clarity better than current situation using the same hardware and location environment.
Some mics can perform better in certain environment and some may not, so sample testing will surely help before you bulk buy it for your collogues.
Why Using Inbuilt Mic for Zoom Calls is not a good idea?
Although you can use the built-in microphone from your laptop, general observation is that they are not specially designed for con calls.
Built in mics are generally a basic need arrangement and no manufacturer spends money in providing high quality mics (since every customer do not need it – may be in future if online meetings become a new norm, manufacturers will start giving high end mic solutions, but now now)
How to change Zoom Mic Input?
Follow below simple steps for changing the microphone you use for Zoom –
- Click next to the microphone icon, ear where you generally mute your call.
- Under “Select a Microphone” switch to the mic you have connected / installed.
- As a good practice >> go to Settings >> Audio >> “test microphone” to check it is working and picking up audio.
Why Webcams don’t have Microphones?
Few webcam options in market do have built in mics, but again mostly its similar to the laptop – just to meet the basic requirement and not expected to deliver high end audio quality.
The mics are generally small and packaged such that it will not deliver high quality con calls.
Can I Use an XLR Mic?
An XLR mic demands much more than a simple USB cable to get connected to your computer.
So you may need to install special audio interface which is cumbersome and not so portable solution.. plus costly too ..
so if a simple USB mic is suffice for your purpose why to complicate life?