(Tech items on this page last updated: 16 January 2022.)
A colleague recently asked me about my audiovisual setup for video calls/meetings. I wrote up a lot of the background a few months ago, about why I have the system I have and what alternatives I looked at, but I thought it would be nice to have a page that just lists the pieces of my current setup.
Disclaimer: Lots of people just use their laptop’s built-in microphone and camera, and the results are perfectly good for most purposes. But I nonetheless like having higher-quality-than-my-laptop video and audio.
Except as otherwise noted, these specific brands and models were highly recommended by various reviews and articles.
A couple of my constraints: I’m using a MacBook, and I wanted USB-C connectors wherever possible. If those aren’t your constraints, you may have better options.
This isn’t a full professional studio setup; in particular, it’s in an ordinary room of my house, without soundproofing and such. If I had a real studio and if I were doing professional recording, I would probably want a better microphone, a shock mount, and a better pop filter. Maybe also a better webcam and a ring light and a green screen.
- Logitech C920s camera
- Sits on top of my external monitor, just above my eye height. The vertical angle is adjustable.
- It had some color-balance issues when I had a solid white wall behind me, but with other backgrounds it works very well, and produces a better image than the built-in MacBook camera.
- I also like that it has a physical flip-down cover.
- Output is USB-A rather than USB-C, but that can still go through my Thunderbolt Hub; see below.
- (Edited in 2023 to add:) One serious flaw: When my MacBook Air is under heavy load, the camera gets out of sync with reality, and people start seeing my mouth move a few seconds after they hear my voice. I deal with that by quitting as many applications as possible when I make a video call (and then the camera works fine), but it’s kind of a pain to have to do that.
- Shure SRH840 over-ear headphones
- Apparently there’s a new 840A model; I don’t know what the difference is between the 840 and the 840A.
- Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB microphone
- My voice sounds a lot better with this external mic than it does with the MacBook built-in mic. In particular, I think that the ATR2100x picks up the bass in my voice much better.
- I keep my headphones plugged into the headphone jack on the back of the mic so I can hear myself talk.
- Dragonpad USA 6" pop filter
- I think this is a pretty generic pop filter—it looks just like every other pop filter out there, with a gooseneck arm and a clamp. I don’t think I read any reviews of pop filters; I think I just picked this one at random. Unfortunately, the gooseneck arm on this one often collapses if I’m not careful with it. I don’t especially recommend this brand, but I don’t have any experience with other brands, and this one works as well as I need it to. Using it noticeably improves my audio.
- (Edited in 2023 to add:) I keep the mic slightly to one side, and the pop filter between my mouth and the mic, angled so that the pop filter is nearly sideways to the camera. That avoids the issue where a pop filter covers up most of the speaker’s face, which is non-ideal for video calls. It means that I’m often not speaking directly into the mic, but it seems to work pretty well.
- RØDE PSA1 studio boom arm
- Holds the mic, and lets me easily adjust the mic location. The clamp attaching the boom arm to the back of my desk is a little fiddly, and I had a little trouble installing the arm; but it looks very nice, and works quite well.
- OWC Thunderbolt Hub
- Several of the items above use USB-C, so this is a hub that lets me connect the mic, the camera, and my monitor to my MacBook’s USB-C port.
- Lenovo ThinkVision monitor
- Supplied by work. Fine monitor, has USB-C output.
- MacBook Air
- Both my personal and my work computer are MacBooks with only two USB-C ports, which is why I need the Thunderbolt Hub.