What equipment used for language learning?

Hello everyone, I was wondering if any of you can recommend a good microphone to record yourself with so you can compare yourself with a native speaker in a foreign language. I’m trying to learn mandarin right now and I have the audio of the scripts. Now I’m just trying to get my voice quality as close as theirs. I don’t want any of the hissing that’s in the way, and JUST focus on any difference between me and the speaker. Is it possible? Do any of you have any experience with using Audacity to learn another language? Tips? I’d like to hear them all!

I looked at the recording equipment thread and well… there’s a lot of choices! Also, when you use USB microphones, Can Audacity accept USB? I never had experience with USB headphones. Behringer C-1 Cardioid Studio Condenser Microphone does look good, but does it fit what I want?

Thank you all.

Yes Audacity can use USB microphones, but USB microphones have a couple of limitations (that will probably not be important for your application).

You can only use ONE USB microphone. Audacity can only access one recording device at a time.

You cannot monitor to your own voice through your headphones while you are recording. Though you can listen to other tracks in Audacity, and you can playback and listen to your voice after you have recorded it.

A large diaphragm studio microphone may be over-kill for what you need. Some of the cheaper USB desktop microphones are capable of very good, clear voice recordings - where they fall down relative to the more expensive “studio” microphones is that they lack the warmth and depth that you would probably want if recording songs, or making a radio show, but for clear speech they can be a viable inexpensive alternative.

A very important issue when recording speech is to ensure that you use the microphone reasonably close to your mouth, but avoid blowing on the microphone (either from your mouth or nose).

Thank you for the quick reply!

Yes, the USB microphone’s limitation of monitoring voice doesn’t seem to bother me really.

Also if I do get a cheap USB microphone, what are some ways to prevent blowing on the microphone? (BESIDES THE OBVIOUS) Is there a good “filter” I can buy?

Thank you again!

With large diaphragm condenser microphones it is common to use a “pop filter” (blast filter) - basically a piece of thin fabric on a frame that goes between the microphone an the person speaking/singing. There’s no reason that you could not use a similar device with a cheap desktop microphone.
It’s also easy to make a cheap DIY version from a wire coat hanger and nylon stockings (pantihose).

Known good USB microphone. This one’s directional and won’t pick up as much room noise as others.


If you talk just to one side of it rather than straight-on, you may not need the pop filter. The pops and blasts come straight from in front of your lips.


Koz, you won’t believe this, but wtf? The last post I saw was Steve’s and then I made a journey to Best buy and I come home to buy the same exact microphone you recommended! I was a little sad that Best Buy only had TWO types of USB microphone limiting my selection, but wow, looks like… I better keep this microphone!
I hope you’re not a stalker or something dude. Maybe a fortune teller?!

Anyways, another question, I’m probably going to resort to getting a pop filter, because the audio file I’m trying to mimic has some big spikes and speaking to the side makes my spikes really small if that makes sense. Sorry if It seems OCD but I do want to do my best unless I’m placing the mic wrong? (I just put the microphone 45 degrees away from direction of my mouth)

Thank you. This will be interesting.

Directional microphones have proximity effect. You get more bass-rumbly radio announcer as you get closer to the microphone. It also increases pops and clicks when you get close. So don’t get close. Pops tend to happen if you’re within about 8 inches or so from the mic. So back off.

It’s an industry secret that one of the things a pop and blast filer does is prevent the singer from getting lipstick on the microphone. That’s a recipe for bad sound.

(I can sense an April’s Fool joke where I post the acoustic properties of lipstick.)

If your only experience with a microphone is screaming in a rock band, you have developed several very bad habits.


Over and above the blast filter, look how far she is away from the microphone. 7 inches, 8 inches?

If you do it right, you should not have any sharp, tall peaks in your presentation. Those create problems.