Better Podcasting Guest Contributor Emily Prokop’s ATR2100 vs Apple Earbud vs Zoom H5 X/Y Microphone Comparison


Do you need a lot of expensive equipment to get started as a hobby podcaster? Nope! Plenty of podcasters have started out with an inexpensive (notice I didn’t use the word “cheap”) microphone recording into their computer using Audacity (Mac, PC, Linux). When I started podcasting, I wanted as much of my equipment and technology to be plug-and-play and that’s pretty much what I did and I’ve upgraded from there.

My current setup for The Story Behind (single host): An Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone (I’ll just refer to it as an ATR2100) into a Tascam US-1200 recording into Reaper.

My setup for Classy Little Podcast (my first podcast, two cohosts): Two ATR2100s into a Behringer Q802USB into Audacity or Reaper.

But the draw of a portable digital recorder was calling. Maybe it was because my basement gets hot during the summer, which is where I record. Maybe it was because I wanted a more mobile recording studio. Either way, I’d been itching to get one for a while. I was especially intrigued with the XYH-5 X/Y microphone capsule included.

In the audio, I start out using my current setup, which is an ATR2100 into the Tascam into Reaper, and I turned the FX chain I have set up so you’re getting the raw audio. I record in my basement with as little noise as possible, but it’s not soundproof by any means. I usually have to run noise reduction and a noise gate in post.

I tested the Zoom H5 out in the same environment and also Apple Earpods into my iPhone 6S. These are the original headphones that came with the phone that has a pretty good microphone on them. Note: I’m not sure about the microphone in the new Apple Earpods; the ones I have still use a headphone jack.

Following that test, I tried four other locations: my living room with the air-conditioner going next to me, a closet full of clothes in a quiet bedroom, outside on my porch; and inside my car. The only effect used on these samples in post was volume adjusting so everything was the same volume overall (-19 LUFS).

Click Here For The Audio Test

Time Stamps:

00:00: Basement Studio: ATR2100 into the Tascam US-1200 into Reaper
00:42: Basement Studio: Zoom H5 X/Y microphone
00:51: Basement Studio: Apple Earpods into my iPhone 6S (with some tips for using these for recording)
1:23: Living Room with Air Conditioner: ATR2100 into the Zoom H5
1:56: Living Room with Air Conditioner: Zoom H5 X/Y microphone
2:18: Living Room with Air Conditioner: Apple Earpods into my iPhone 6S (with some baby noises in the background)
2:48: Bedroom Closet: ATR2100 into the Zoom H5 (comparing inside the closet to the middle of the room)
3:33: Bedroom Closet: Zoom H5 X/Y microphone
4:03: Bedroom Closet: Apple Earpods into my iPhone 6S
4:22: Outside on a Windy Day: ATR2100 into the Zoom H5
4:45: Outside on a Windy Day: Zoom H5 X/Y microphone
4:58: Outside on a Windy Day: Apple Earpods into my iPhone 6S
5:30: Car: Apple Earpods into my iPhone 6S
6:03: Car: ATR2100 into the Zoom H5
6:48: Car: Zoom H5 X/Y microphone
7:14: Final Thoughts

Click Here For The Audio Test

The X/Y microphone would be great for recording sounds for foley in podcasts like for audio dramas.

One of the cons of using the microphone on the Apple Earpods is not being able to monitor the sound going into it. With the Zoom H5, you can plug headphones or Earpods directly into the recorder to hear what’s being recorded in real time.

You could record a multiple-person podcast with everyone using Apple Earpods, but as you heard, there is a lot of background noise I didn’t know about until I heard it in post. Effects like noise reduction could be added in editing, but just be careful not to overdo it because of how it might affect your voice.

A better long-term solution for multiple people recording in the same environment would be two dynamic microphones into a mixer.

Using the Zoom H5 to record phone or Skype conversations with an ATR2100, Audio-Technica AT2005USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone, Samson Q2U Handheld Dynamic USB Microphone or Knox Gear Cardioid USB/XLR Microphone. I explain it terribly so I’ll just link to Ray Ortega’s video instead.

12:41: One final test: Using the X/Y microphone and the ATR2100 at the same time.

TL;DL (Too Long; Didn’t Listen): The X/Y microphone is fantastic for picking up ambience (including the sound of plaid shirts) and it creates a very full-sounding voice, but not something a hobby podcaster would want to use as his or her main microphone. The ATR-2100 plugged into the H5 is great for recording on the go, especially for interviews. Apple Earpods would work in a pinch, but probably not the best long-term setup for recording a podcast.

One last thing I found out while doing these tests: my crutch word is “Alright” and I use it to start different segments. That, and “you know.” Ugh.

Emily Prokop is a guest contributor for Better Podcasting ( Check out Emily's podcast "The Story Behind" available at

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