Equipment essentials for video and audio recording

webcam and headsetObviously you will have to have a means to capture at least your voice. While most recent laptops will already have an adequate microphone and camera, most desktop computers do not, so you will need to get hold of an add-on device. While you could buy just a USB microphone for the audio, a reasonable quality webcam which incorporates a microphone need cost little more, and will obviously be a more versatile tool (and of course the video element can be switched off if desired). There are a great many on the market, but even Microsoft's own lower-cost offerings are perfectly suitable in most cases.

Our experience of Logitech kit has generally been very good. While it's probably wise to stay away from the very cheapest one, any of the others should be fine. The most expensive of the mid-range ones – the BRIO – is a relatively recent addition to the range and has been well-reviewed in several forums. The audio should be good enough with these to mean there’s no need for a separate mic. On the other hand, if you are content to use an existing camera, or the one built into a laptop, and you really do just want a mic, then the one that the Panopto team recommend is the MXL AC-404, but it is hard to find at the moment. As an alternative at about the same price-point, the Snowball is pretty well thought of – indeed we had one in the Faculty and it was fine, and we also had a Yeti, which is a little bit of a step up, and perhaps a bit more professional looking. Also at that slightly higher price, there are some more familiar high-quality names, with such offerings as the beyerdynamic FOX Professional USB Microphone and the RØDE Microphones NT-USB Mini.

In some circumstances you may also want or need to use a headset with a built-in microphone. It may be that you already own a suitable earphone/mic combination, as most recent mobile phones come with one, and that might well fit your laptop/PC. If not, Poly (formerly Plantronics) are a brand with a  reputation for quality in this area, and recent reviews suggest that the model(s) linked here are a good balance of price and performance. You will need to decide whether you prefer a single earpiece, or the greater isolation offered by two. The links go to a search results page rather than a single item, as you will also need to decide what connection type you need, either USB, or USB-C. (Both variants also include a 3.5mm jack plug.)



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