How to make video calls almost as good as face-to-face

I spend a lot of my day on video calls. Wave is a distributed company, so they’re the main way we communicate. But compared to talking in person, they feel unnatural:

I started wondering how much nicer video calls would feel if I fixed these problems. So I spent way too much time fiddling with gear and software. This post summarizes what I’ve learned.

Collectively, these recommendations have had a pretty big impact: when talking one-on-one to friends with equally good setups, I’ve been able to go 4+ hours without feeling fatigued.

Epistemic status: best guess; not a professional; almost certainly contains wrong bits. Tell me which ones by comment or email!

omg ben don’t make me read your 4500 word doorstopper, just tell me what to do

Here’s how I would stack-rank my advice for my past self. (Of course, your personal ranking might be different depending on your situation.)

  1. ($depends) Don’t work in a space where your noise can bother other people, or vice versa.

  2. ($10-30) If you ever have network issues, run a cable between your computer and router. You’ll probably need an adapter. (Contrary to popular belief that a bad connection is your ISP’s fault, it’s more likely to be flaky wifi.)

  3. (~$100) Buy open-back headphones, which let you hear your own voice normally and are extremely comfortable.

  4. (~$30) Switch from your built-in computer mic to a headset mic (and pop filter), which will sound much better and pick up less noise. Note this requires a headset with detachable cable, like the one I linked above.

    You can now leave yourself unmuted! If the other person also has headphones, you can also talk at the same time. Both of these will make your conversations flow better.

  5. ($0) Prefer Zoom to most alternatives; it has higher sound quality, better echo cancellation, and fewer silly behaviors. If you have headphones and a good mic, enable “original sound” to turn off some unnecessary audio filtering.

  6. (~$200) Get a second monitor for notes so that you can keep Zoom full-screen on your main monitor. It’s easier to stay present if you can always glance at people’s faces. (I use an iPad with Sidecar for this; for a dedicated device, the right search term is “portable monitor”. Also, if your meetings frequently involve presentations or screensharing, consider getting a third monitor too.)

  7. ($0?) Arrange your lighting to cast lots of diffuse light on your face, and move away any lights that shine directly into your camera. Lighting makes a bigger difference to image quality than what hardware you use!

  8. (~$20-80 if you have a nice camera) Use your camera as a webcam. There’s software for Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, and Sony cameras. (You will want to be able to plug your camera into a power source, which means you’ll probably need a “dummy battery;” that’s what the cost is.)

  9. (~$40 if you have a smartphone with a good camera) Use that as a webcam via Camo.

  10. (~$350) If you don’t own a nice camera but want one, you can get a used entry-level mirrorless camera + lens + dummy battery + boom arm. See buying tips below.

More detailed recommendations and justifications follow.


Connection problems are the thing that makes video calls suck the most. They do this in three different ways:

  1. If your connection ever gets really bad, your audio will break up, which is exhausting to listen to and ruins the flow.

  2. Even if it doesn’t get that bad, a poor connection will increase latency, or the time between when you speak and when the other person hears you. High latency is what causes the dreaded “you first, no you first” dance.

  3. Finally (and least importantly), a bad connection limits the amount of data you can exchange, forcing you to use lower-quality video. This doesn’t really matter if you’re using a webcam, but by the end of this post, you might have a good enough camera that it matters.

I wrote a whole post of its own on how to troubleshoot your home network for video calls, but realistically, most connection problems are because wifi sucks and you can avoid them by not using wifi. So, first try running an Ethernet cable between your computer and your router. If you still notice high latency or your connection dropping, or if you really can’t run a cable for some reason, check the guide for more troubleshooting advice.


Video improvements are flashy and noticeable, but audio is the reason you’re having the call, thus ultimately more important. So audio comes first.

Get away from other people

This is a basic prerequisite for everything below. Coworking spaces and cafés are nice if you plan to be silent all day, but will make natural-feeling meetings impossible due to your crippling self-consciousness about noise levels. If you’re going to be on a call for more than 5 minutes, get your own space.

(If you are committed to taking your meetings in a crowded and noisy space, ignore the rest of the audio section. You’re mostly just doomed to crappy calls in this case, though you might be able to limit the damage by getting a nice headset mic and installing

If you’re talking to someone else who’s in a noisy environment, you can apparently also use to filter their audio yourself, though I haven’t tried this.

Get full-duplex audio with no echo

One key ingredient to making voice conversations feel “natural” is that both participants need be able to talk and hear the other person talking at the same time (“full-duplex audio”). Full-duplex audio is important because it allows you to talk simultaneously (“overlap”) with the other person.

You might think that overlap should be rare, because interrupting someone else is rude. While that’s true of large-scale overlaps, we often use small-scale overlaps to negotiate conversational turn-taking (e.g. starting talking when the speaker is trailing off but hasn’t finished), or to signify that we’re paying attention (“uh-huh,” “yeah”).

The hard problem of full-duplex audio is that if someone else is talking, their voice is going to come out of your computer’s speakers and go back into your microphone. If your computer leaves the microphone on, in that case, it’ll end up playing back an “echo” of their own voice to them, which is extremely annoying. So video call tries to filter out feedback from your speakers into your microphone, which is called echo cancellation.

Unfortunately, removing only the speaker echo from your microphone stream is really hard to do. So instead, the software often ends up completely muting your mic if someone else is talking. If you’ve ever tried to micro-overlap with someone and noticed that their audio cut out briefly, that’s what’s going on.

If your listeners can’t overlap with you, it’s harder to tell whether they’re following along, and it’s harder to negotiate whose turn it is to speak. This makes the conversation feel less natural, especially in larger groups.

To get full-duplex audio, you need to (a) have an audio setup that doesn’t produce echoes, then (b) convince your video call app not to try to suppress echoes.

(a), “an audio setup that doesn’t produce echoes,” means that your microphone should not pick up any sound from your speakers. In practice this means that your “speakers” must be headphones.

(b), “convince your video call app not to try to suppress echoes,” seemed surprisingly tricky when I tried to research it, because each video call app has its own heuristics for when to engage echo-cancellation.

So I did my own tests of echo cancellation Zoom, Skype, and Hangouts in Chrome and Firefox. I started a chat between two computers, both with headphones attached—a setup that should have required no echo cancellation. I then played music into the microphone of one computer. On the other, I spoke into the microphone and listened for whether the music got quieter.

Zoom, Skype and Hangouts in Firefox all seemed to slightly decrease the audio volume when I spoke, indicating light echo cancellation. For Hangouts in Chrome, the audio cut out completely every time I said anything. In Zoom, I was able to eliminate all echo cancellation by selecting the “use original audio” option, which you can also permanently enable for particular audio devices—I’d recommend doing this.

Throw your wireless headset in the trash

The gear I recommend in this guide is all wired, not Bluetooth. While Bluetooth seems like it should be great, in practice it has horrible problems with audio latency, quality and reliability. Also, I don’t think wireless open-back headphones (see below) exist.

If you finished the previous paragraph and still think you can get away with using wireless audio gear, read the post at the link :)

Hear yourself clearly with open-back headphones

Most headphones are closed-back, which means they form an acoustic seal over your ear that attenuates outside sound. This is good for “noise isolation” when you’re listening to music. But it’s bad in calls because it also isolates you from your own voice, making you sound muffled and unnatural to yourself. (The same thing also happens with any earbuds that form a seal, i.e. pretty much everything except EarPods or non-Pro AirPods.)

Personally, without the feedback from hearing myself, I also tend to start speaking louder or shouting on calls. This tires out my voice, and can get stressful for whoever I’m shouting at talking to.

To avoid this, you can buy open-back headphones, which have mesh instead of a closed covering over your ears. I bought the Philips SHP9500, which I like a lot; I haven’t tested any other pairs. (I chose a low-end pair because for video calls, sound quality will mostly be limited by people’s microphones; if you want to use the same ones to listen to music, you might want a higher-end pair.)

As an extra bonus, open-back headphones are way more comfortable because they get less hot. I didn’t realize beforehand how much difference this would make, but it’s amazing to be able to wear headphones all day without my ears overheating!

Note that open-back headphones “leak” sound, so anyone near you will hear the other side of the conversation as well. This isn’t a problem if you have your own space, but they’re not suitable for shared spaces. You might think the sound could leak into your own microphone and cause an echo, but I tested and it’s too quiet for that unless you set the volume uncomfortably high.

Don’t mute

This isn’t about equipment per se, but it has implications for your equipment choices. Quoting Matt Mullenweg, founder of one of the earliest and largest fully-distributed companies:

One heterodox recommendation I have for audio and video calls when you’re working in a distributed fashion is not to mute, if you can help it. When you’re speaking to a muted room, it’s eerie and unnatural — you feel alone even if you can see other people’s faces. You lose all of those spontaneous reactions that keep a conversation flowing. If you ask someone a question, or they want to jump in, they have to wait to unmute. I also don’t love the “unmute to raise your hand” behavior, as it lends itself to meetings where people are just waiting their turn to speak instead of truly listening.

I strongly agree with this and prefer for the people I’m talking with to stay unmuted unless they have a crappy mic that picks up a lot of noise. Which won’t be your problem as long as you…

Get a better microphone

Most non-standalone computer microphones, including ones on fancy headsets, sound ear-bleedingly bad. (The 2020 MacBook Pro microphone is okay.) You can sound way more pleasant to your colleagues by getting a nicer one. For instance, compare me reading Edward Lear on the following mics:

2014 iMacSounds like a tin can, because it is
Jabra Evolve 70Wirecutter rec; sounds like a bad head cold
2020 MacBook Pro 13"“Studio quality” my foot; try “moderate head cold”
V-Moda BoomProStupid name, $30, actually sounds ok

The best “can’t mess up” microphone option is the last one in the table, the V-Moda BoomPro (with a foam windscreen), which attaches to your headphones in place of a standard 3.5mm audio cable. This means the BoomPro requires headphones with a detachable cable. If you’re wedded to a different pair, the Antlion ModMic is a more expensive option that works with any headphones, at the cost of a second cable. There’s also a wireless version, although you shouldn’t use wireless audio equipment for video calls due to latency and quality concerns. It sounds much clearer and less muffled than any headset’s built-in mic. It’ll also pick up less background noise (e.g. typing) than any mic, by virtue of being closer to your mouth, which makes it easier to follow “don’t mute” above. However, it won’t sound quite as natural as a non-headset mic.

If you want something that sounds even more realistic, your best bet is something like an AT2005 positioned less than six inches from your face using a boom arm that’s clamped to your desk. If you don’t want your mic to be visible, it may require some zooming/cropping of your camera setup to get it that close. Compare it to the BoomPro (you’ll need headphones to hear the difference well):


I tested a few different microphones, and listened to recordings of many more. I haven’t trained myself to detect small quality differences, but my tentative conclusions are:

  1. Distance to your mouth dominates nearly everything. For the mics I tested, 6 inches vs 12 inches made as big of a difference as switching mics.

    (That’s because from the microphone’s perspective, doubling the distance makes your voice 4x quieter, or equivalently, makes room noise 4x louder. It also makes louder e.g. the echoes of your voice—leading the microphone to produce a “boomy” sound.)

    Here’s two fairly different-sounding microphones at 6 inches vs 12:

Model6 inches12 inches
Blue Yeti
  1. Low-end condenser microphones sound somewhat “fuller” or more natural than dynamics, which can sound a little “muffled.” For example, the Blue Yeti above is a condenser while the AT2005USB is a dynamic.

    (Dynamic mics are sometimes said to “reject noise” better than condensers, but I couldn’t find anyone making this claim who explained why. It is easier to put a dynamic microphone right next to your mouth, which is sort of like rejecting noise, but not relevant if you want to place your mic outside the frame of a video. Dynamic mics also have less high-frequency and “transient” response, which can make some types of room noise less obtrusive.)

  2. Mics under $50, and headset mics, sound noticeably bad even when close to your mouth. Outside of that, it seemed like sound quality depended as much or more on things other than microphone quality, like how much your space echoes. (There’s a surprisingly large genre of YouTubers demoing expensive mics with bad-sounding setups.) So it seemed like higher-end microphones would probably be wasted in most video call setups.

Based on this, I suggest the AT2005 as a widely-recommended mic in the lowest “doesn’t sound noticeably bad” price tier, that can be stuck on a boom arm with minimal ceremony.

Other microphone comparisons for further reading:

Listen to yourself

In video calls, unlike real life, what you hear is not the same as what’s heard by the person you’re talking to. And mics are fiddly enough that your particular setup and mic technique matters a lot. So it’s really useful to listen to how your audio sounds. You can do this with a web app like The most common mic problems are plosive pops and harsh sibilants—pick sentences that will cover those. The Harvard Sentences are a good starting point.

If those consonants sound bad, you might need a better windscreen, or to change how your mic is positioned. For instance, if you have a headset mic, you should position it just beside the corner of your mouth—not directly in front—so that you’re not breathing/spitting into it.


Use a dedicated monitor

I recently started putting my active call in full-screen mode on my primary (27") monitor, and using a second monitor for notes or other activity. This turned out to make a surprisingly big difference to how immersive the call felt. (Maybe I should have been clued in by the fact that this feature is called “immersive mode”?) It’s amazing for keeping me focused and present. Possible reasons why:

For the second monitor for notes, I use an iPad with Sidecar, but you can also buy dedicated “portable monitors” for under $200 that would serve this purpose well.

Improve your lighting

The best way to get a sharper image on any camera is to put more light into the sensor. Laptop webcams have terrible image quality, but a laptop webcam with good lighting will look better than a fancy camera with bad lighting:

Left: 2014 iMac webcam destroyed by MAXIMUM BACKLIGHT. Middle: Fancy Sony A6000 struggles too. Right: iMac webcam gloriously lit by a lumenator bounced off the wall in front of me. Click for fullsize.

The two basic rules of lighting are:

  1. Cast lots of diffuse light on your face to make sure it’s brighter than the background. (Also, the more light that’s hitting the scene, the less grainy your image will appear.)

    The easiest way to do this is to put your desk in front of a window; the second-easiest is to bounce artificial lights off of a light-colored surface behind the camera. If neither of those is enough, you can also use a “ring light” or “softbox” (no particular recommendations as I’ve never tried one).

  2. Eliminate light sources in the camera’s field of view. Compared to the human eye, cameras have lower dynamic range—they can’t capture large differences in brightness. That’s why, for instance, your phone can’t take good pictures of trees against the sky on a bright day. Similarly, if there’s a bright window behind you, or a light fixture in your camera’s field of view, that part will look “blown out” and everything else will look dark by comparison.

Use your real background

Probably controversial. I’m speaking strictly from the point of view of immersiveness here—not e.g. expressing your individuality, making your coworkers laugh, or hiding the pile of laundry behind you. Those are all valid reasons to want to use backgrounds! Just be aware that you’re sacrificing immersiveness when you do.

Why? Zoom’s background detection software is not very accurate, and it’ll periodically delete parts of your hair/body, make the background show through your eyeballs, etc. Plus, it’s really bad at detecting boundaries so some of the real background will show through your hair.

If you have a decent camera (as below), and a space of your own (see get away from other people above), you’ll look less distracting and more real if you don’t use a fake background.

Don’t bother with webcams

It’s probably obvious that laptop webcams suck. Even if they’re not inexplicably positioned so that they look up your nose, they will be grainy, blurry and have a tiny dynamic range.

Maybe less obviously, external webcams aren’t that much better. This surprised me, since a high-end webcam like the Logitech Brio costs 2/3 as much as a used interchangeable-lens camera and has one job. To be clear, the Brio looks a lot better than most other webcams—just still a lot worse than a real camera. For instance, I bought a Logitech C920, Wirecutter’s pick for “best webcam,” but it wasn’t obviously better than my six-year-old iMac webcam, mostly due to really questionable exposure / color balance settings.§ The C920 does allow you to tune these settings, but it took me about 2 hours to figure out how, and I ended up having to buy a crappy third-party app. Manually tuning the settings would also require you to change them whenever your lighting changes throughout the day, which is pretty annoying.

Left: 2014 iMac camera; right: Logitech C920. I am pretty white, but I'm not THAT white.

Use your smartphone…

(I haven’t used a smartphone as a webcam extensively because I jumped straight to using a full camera, so these are weakly held. I’ll update as I learn more.)

I expected webcams to be better than smartphones, because they wouldn’t have much reason to exist otherwise. But it turns out I was wrong: webcams do not, in fact, have much reason to exist. Smartphones beat them on sensor size and quality of materials. For example, the iPhone 11 camera costs $73.50 in materials, and has a 1/2.55" sensor, while the Logitech C920 retails for $80 and has a 1/3" sensor. Of course, if you have a lower-end smartphone, the C920 might have nicer materials than your smartphone. But it seems like there’s a very small region of tradeoff-space where “buy a webcam” is a good idea relative to “buy a nicer smartphone” or “buy an entry-level camera." So, if you want an external webcam, use a smartphone.

Left: Logitech C920; right: iPhone XR via Reincubate Camo (crop).

I briefly tried two apps for using your smartphone as a webcam, Camo and EpocCam. EpocCam is cheaper ($8 vs $40) but seemed somewhat buggier than Camo (both had occasional issues). Both of them have free trials that watermark your video, so suitable for testing but not actual calls.

The easiest way to mount a smartphone seems to be via a gooseneck holder like this. It seemed like it should be possible to find a much smaller device that attached the phone to my monitor, but the best I could find was this clip thing, which obscures part of the screen on laptops, doesn’t adjust in small enough increments to get the right field of view, and doesn’t work on external monitors with curved backs like my iMac. Let me know if you have a better suggestion.

…or a real camera

Even the lowest-end “real” cameras will trounce most smartphones on image quality. You’ll get a much sharper image, with a pleasingly blurred background to subtly draw attention toward your face and away from your piles of dirty laundry.

Left: iPhone XR via Camo; right: Sony A6000. This one makes more sense at full resolution; the Sony has a bit worse dynamic range, but the image is much sharper.

This is probably the most noticeable improvement in the list: I started using a camera when I gave a virtual conference talk at !!con and got compliments from ~20 different coworkers and conference speakers. (Being this noticeable is not necessarily an advantage, but I figured my coworkers already mostly knew that I was extremely vain, and so there was no point in trying to hide it.)

Unfortunately, these cameras are also… pretty user-unfriendly and can take a bit of work to set up. Some non-obvious tips if you decide to replicate my setup (Sony A6000 + Elgato CamLink 4k):

A note on camera buying

I’m not sure which camera model is best now that so many different manufacturers have webcam drivers. Before the webcam drivers came out, the Sony A6000 was the default recommendation for a camera for streaming, and it’s also generally well-recommended as an entry-level mirrorless camera; but it doesn’t look like it works with Sony’s webcam drivers at all (it’s not in the list of supported models, although the A6100 and later are). Basically, do your own research.

It’s best to buy from a reputable used camera dealer (e.g. Keh, B&H, Lens Authority) since random resellers on Amazon / etc. might not be good about checking that the camera works well.

For the record, here’s what I bought though I don’t particularly endorse it:


The main thing I learned from this adventure is that, much like wireless, video calls still basically don’t work. Every piece of equipment has tricky subtleties that make it super hard to select the right gear and use it correctly. Software does incredibly stupid things that you’ll never notice unless you know what to look for. You never hear your own audio, so if it sucks, you’ll never know. Many of the problems you do notice will be near-impossible to debug because there are no good diagnostics.

If there was a $2000 device that eliminated the need for this post to exist, it would be an automatic purchase for my employer and probably every other distributed company. But there isn’t, so here we are.

Thanks to Dan Luu, Sasha Illarionov, David Coletta, Alexey Guzey, Lincoln Quirk, Eve Bigaj and Jessica Gambirasi for commenting on a draft of this post.

Some links in this post are affiliate links; proceeds go to GiveWell.


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To mount a phone for use as a webcam, I like the GorillaPod and clones. I can bend the legs to get the phone into basically any position I want. It’s particularly useful when mounting the phone to the top of a monitor.


I would love a recommendation for something to mount an iPad. I have a recent edition iPad and I’d far rather sacrifice it as a Camera then my phone.


I eventually found that using a microphone stand with an m&k ipad mount worked well.

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Sly Golovanov

“second-easiest is to bounce artificial lights off of a light-colored surface behind you”

Did you mean “in front of you”?


Good catch, fixed!

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I like the spirit of your article and was into it until you suggested Zoom. Don’t plug zoom. Zoom is not a company people who care about privacy should associate themselves with. I don’t think anyone should be trading privacy for convenience as you suggest, and it’s rarely the conference application that causes the issues you’re talking about.


Excellent comment.

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Hey Ben,

Great writeup, thanks for sharing!

In your conclusion, you mentioned “You never hear your own audio, so if it sucks, you’ll never know.” Something I’ve found helpful is to occasionally review my own audio quality in whatever Zoom/etc. recordings are available.

I also have a habit of testing my setup before I have any critical calls. I usually do this by opening multiple sessions in the client I know I’ll be using (just like you did with your echo cancellation test) so that I can create a loopback and talk to myself. This has helped me spot and fix a bunch of A/V issues over the years, even as my equipment remains stable but the software environment updates around me.

I feel like maybe we all put a bit too much faith in our equipment and the platform taking care of the issues for us, but we all kind of know that the situation is bad without a lot of focused effort :-p. Thanks for putting in the focused effort.

All the best, Jude

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Great article! This should be mandatory reading for every person working from home.

This paragraph feels a bit non-sequitur –

I use an iPad for this, but you can also buy dedicated “portable monitors” for under $200 that would serve this purpose well.

Did a previous paragraph get lopped off in editing?


Oh, thanks for catching! “This” was supposed to refer to “a second monitor for notes or other activity.” Edited to clarify.

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I found out recently that use can use the GoPro Hero 8 and 9 as a webcam ( and have considered buying one for this use case. Would you also recommend them as a webcam? They are obviously quite cheap and not as “intrusive” as a full fledged camera looking at you from your desk.


Hard to say without comparison shots, but I’d be surprised if they were enough better than smartphone cameras to be worth it.

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Any advice on how to mount a camera (like the Sony, Fuji, etc. you mentioned) such that it is above the center of the laptop/monitor? I imagine if it was off to the side it would make for poor eye contact, and if below it would be a very unflattering angle.


I use a boom arm that clamps to my desk, with a tripod mount attached. It wobbles a bit when the desk is in standing position (a three-legged tripod might be better for this) but it’s good enough.

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Jean-Philippe Encausse

About Microphone, I use Yeti for Podcast but for all daily meeting I use Jabra Speak 510 Speaker. Very good quality, very simple and portable, it’s also a speaker that remove the incoming sound and bluetooth for phone call.


Speaker phones seem convenient, but seriously compromise immersiveness for a few reasons:

  • Most importantly, they don’t provide full duplex. You write that it “remove[s] the incoming sound” but it actually accomplishes this mostly by muffling/muting the microphone—you can test this by recording what your voice sounds like while the speaker is playing music or something.

  • It will pick up much more room noise, and the sound quality will be much worse, than a microphone near your mouth.

  • Bluetooth tends to introduce a large amount of latency (for comparison, around 5x more latency than the network latency between Boston and Moscow on a good connection).

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Jon Stotter

Great article! I would have liked to see a bit about the clothes to wear or to avoid…

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Any thoughts on any of the “open back gaming headsets” out there, or do I just need to look at a dedicated open back headphones and a separate mic attachment? Looking to upgrade from my basic USB headset!


I haven’t tried any of them, but wired ones would probably work reasonably well. I think the biggest risk (as with any headset) is a crappy built-in mic, which reviewers don’t usually hold to a high standard, so I’d suggest comparing recordings between a few before you buy.

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A.J. Kandy

Great article! I would like to suggest a couple of options to improve the experience further:

Regarding dynamic mics, it’s not so much that they reject noise so much as they are extremely directional, which is why most radio stations use them - they reject sound from the sides and rear much better vs large-diaphragm condensers. What you lose in crispness and airiness, you gain in avoiding mic bleed & increased controllability.


Thanks, these are really useful!

  • Have you used a teleprompter? What are the downsides, if any? I notice it’s often recommended to use text on a dark background (vs a light background for normal screens)—does this pose a problem with people’s videos, which are brighter than that?

  • Do you have a particular lavalier you recommend?



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Great advice. One thing I’ve done that works very well (after a ton of struggling) is to settle on Avantree bluetooth headphones and their bluetooth adapter. (DG80 adapter and Aria Pro 90P headphones). They do AptX and unlike all the others I’ve tried, when the mic is in use, the audio quality you receive from the other party doesn’t drop to some horrible bit rate. Using that combo is the only one I’ve tried that actually works (I must have returned a dozen set of headphones and adapters before landing on this combo). I’m not quite sure what magic they’re doing, but it sounds great during calls. I like the ANC turned on personally.

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I felt I had to comment on the note re: dynamic mics in this article. I’m not sure why it would have been hard to find accurate information about why dynamic mics are better suited to environments with some background noise and/or reflections (echo) compared to most condenser microphones (large diaphragm condensers especially).

Dynamic microphones do not actively “reject” anything, they are simply “less good” at picking up sounds at equal distances from the capsule vs a condenser. They are less sensitive than condenser microphones because they are passive in nature compared to condenser microphones which require voltage to operate (either phantom power or USB power depending on the type of microphone).

Dynamic and condenser microphones can have the same polar patterns (pickup pattern), so that is not inherently why dynamics are better for a typical untreated environment. For example, the industry standard EV RE20 broadcast dynamic microphone has a cardioid polar pattern, the same as many large diaphragm condenser microphones.

Technical details aside, I have several of each type of microphone and use a Shure SM7B as my regular video call and podcast mic. In simple practical comparisons, my dynamic mics provide better results with less background noise transmission in every case, unless the source of noise is very close to the microphone. If you’ve got a window A/C blasting at you from a foot away, there’s no mic that won’t pick up that nonsense.

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