whoah, big topic here.
You can ask 100 recording engineers what equipment to use to get the best sound and you'll get about 95 different answers.
First off, ditch the headset. It's a terrible way to record a quality voice signal. The mic is way too close to the mouth, or it's off-axis, and the mic is also of low quality in many cases.
If you're still with me, then you should know that it's going to take some money. First I'll describe my personal setup and then I'll try to give you some other directions to go in.
My personal mic setup:
A mic stand (I use a boom stand, ~$20).
A Shockmount for the mic (mine's a universal one that fits my mic, ~$20)
A pop-filter (make one out of panty hose
for free, mine is just a pair of tights stretched over a bent up metal clothes hanger)
An AKG C1000s mic (~$150 on ebay)
A mic cable with XLR plugs (~$10)
An ART Tube pre-amp (~$40)
Another short mic cable with XLR plugs (~$10)
An M-Audio Delta 1010LT soundcard (~$200 on ebay)
A decent set of over-the-ear headphones (~$40) (do not use speakers to monitor your recordings, you will be sorry)
All in all, ~$500 for a quality vocal setup. The good news is, you can probably get by with quite a bit less. Personally, I record using several different instruments I've got at home, sometimes with 5 tracks being recorded at once. That's why I have a really fancy soundcard with 8 inputs. You probably won't need this much.
Any card with a nice quality Line In will work well, depending on the quality you're aiming for, you might be able to get by with something as cheap as the Behringer UCA202
($30), or something nicer like the Edirol UA-1EX
But the things you'll really need to shop around for are the Mic and the pre-amp. They will do the more to color the sound than any other pieces of equipment. I recommend actually going to a music store and testing equipment; online music stores are great when I know exactly what I need, but please support real-life music stores, they'll be able to help you out a lot more and you'll know exactly what your equipment will sound like before buying.
There are many different kinds of mics, but really only 2 kinds you should consider, Dynamic mics and Condenser mics. There are way too many models to even begin a comprehensive list here.
Dynamics include the Shure SM58
and the Samson Q7
. I have little experience with Dynamics, but they're known for being very rugged and reliable. They also don't require any of the special equipment that Condensers require (more on that later). But they're not as accurate and can't accurately re-create the entire audio spectrum, so they tend to be used for specific applications. Both of the mics I mentioned are listed as good for vocals.
Condensers come in two flavors, Large Diaphragm and Small Diaphragm. Large Diaphragm mics are more expensive, but better at capturing nuances in the audio. They tend to be used for picking up vocals directly and picking up "room tone" when micing instruments. Small Diaphragm mics (the AKG C1000s
is one) are a little more forgiving if the room is not so great sounding, and cheaper. On the other hand, they aren't quite as accurate (though still better than a dynamic mic). I only have experience using my AKG C1000s, I really like it for vocals, handheld percussion (shaker, maraca), and acoustic guitar. I haven't used any Large Diaphragm mics but I would like to purchase one in the future. One of the guys I work with swears by the RODE NT1A
, it's a Large Diaphragm mic. That's probably the Large Diaphragm mic I'll buy when I get around to it.One important thing
to know about Condenser Mics is that they require phantom power
. Your pre-amp needs to supply this or the mic won't work. Most pre-amps supply this, but be sure before you buy.
Sam Ash is a pretty good place to look at the various models of Dynamic Mics
and Condenser Mics
. Look at those links to get an idea of what to look for, but go to a store to try them out.
As for pre-amps, the only one I've ever used is the ART Tube
. It's certainly not the best, but it's cheap and it's got a nice warm tone when coupled with my AKG C1000s mic.
Good luck. If you have any more questions, just ask. If you have questions about specific equipment, please link us, it'll save time.