The personal website of Chris Coyier

Don’t Mute, Get a Better Headset

Matt Mullenweg:

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.

If people prefer to mute, fine, but largely I agree, I’d prefer if they didn’t for the sake of a real-feeling conversation. Matt has lots of audio tests here for you to check out on different hardware (and software).

I would personally buy anyone I work with regularly remotely a good audio setup, so that we can hear each other well. It’s a real detriment to meetings when anyone doesn’t sound good. The value of clear communication worth far more than a hundred or two bucks (that’s a privileged thing to say, I realize).

At the moment, I’ve got a variety of setups. I can just use the mic on either my laptop or the ones in my LG UltraFine displays. That’s OK for quick low-importance meetings as long as I’m alone in the office. An easy upgrade from that is for me to put on my headphones (I use some over-ear Beats things). I just don’t always because I don’t love wearing headphones for long. I’m a little unsure what the best microphone is between the Beats, Laptop, and display, but I kinda assume none of them are particularly good.

If I want to make sure I sound good, I yank down my Rode Podcaster which I have mounted on a boom arm on the desk. I’ll do that for any fairly important meeting, like an hour-long all-hands or a partner meeting or anything. I just don’t do it all the time because it’s a little in-my-face to be there all the time.

If I need to sound really good, I’ll hop over to my recording booth (hey, I’ve been podcasting for a long time) where I use the Shure SM7B (this whole setup). Kinda eyeing up that Sennheiser MKH416 that Matt mentions though.