My friend Kerry from Oklahoma University wrote this to me a few days ago:
What audio interface do you use at home? I'm looking at your recommendations for the best starter rig, and using them as a guideline for what to order for a little studio here in the Collections. It will be on the library budget, not out of my pocket.
Is there a better mic than the Shure that you would recommend? What is your favorite mic?
Is there a better amp for public events playback?
We'll also have a digital video camera, and want a wireless mic or two for that. Thanks!
First of all, let me say that I'm no video professional, and since part of this involves video specific questions, my professional videographer friends may hotly disagree with me. That said, from a sound tech's point of view, this is what I'd want:
The best audio interfaces on the market are without a doubt Apogee's- they're super expensive, but what they lack in consumer price point they make up for in audio quality and reliability. For recording a single microphone into a computer, I would recommend Apogee's Duet interface.
If you need extra input formats like optical and instrument ins and are working on a bit of a budget, I'd recommend MOTU's interface. They're equally stable and have a lot more bang for the buck.
For podcasting purposes, I'd recommend a couple of Shure broadcast microphones (buy several for when you'd want to have multiple speakers on a podcast). These are great for canceling background noise, and are the studio standard around the world. You'll need mic stands for these, as well.
If you're looking for miking for videos, I'd recommend a Rode shotgun mic with an overhead boom stand. These will give you a great clean sound, without showing up in the video shoot. Be sure to get a windscreen to avoid all the wind and popping noises.
When it comes to portable public address amplification, there's absolutely no equal to Bose's L1 system. This thing can fill a 200-300 person room with crystal clear audio, is super easy to set up and tear down, weighs under 30 pounds, and almost never creates feedback even when microphones are close to the speakers. Again, it's somewhat expensive, but there's simply no equal in my opinion.
If the budget doesn't permit this, another good option is Mackie's DLM8 speaker system. Although you'll have a lot more issues with feedback, it too is a very loud, very portable option for personal amplification. If you go this route, you'll definitely need a speaker stand to put it on.
Note: for all public address options you'll probably need a microphone package that includes a stand, XLR cable, and microphone. This one is my favorite for the money, although a wireless option like this one might be another good route to go if budget permits.
I'm assuming that your first option would be a lapel microphone. This might be a good option. To be honest, I think you'd be much happier with the overhead mics for video shoots, but it's your decision.
Thanks for writing, Kerry!