Although we don’t need a top of the line microphone to record for podcasting, using a poor quality microphone will tune out your listeners pretty quickly. One also needs to look for ease of set-up so you don’t need to turn on a mic pre-amp and have to have a fire-wire connection available, especially with Apple moving away from firewire on some of their laptops. This is where the Blue Snowball USB microphone can be the ideal choice.
I do have two top of the line studio Sennheiser microphones but their sound quality exceeds by far that of the final production once it is converted to mp3 or mp4. Technically you need to err on the side of the source material being better than the final production will allow but there is no point in using a $1,000 microphone plugged into a $600 pre-amp when a $129 (CDN) USB mic can just plug directly into your computer and still exceed the sound quality of your final production.
Using the Snowball could not be any easier thanks to its USB connection. Once you’re connected, there are only 3 settings to worry about on the back of the mic, Cardiod, Cardiod with -10dB if sound source too loud, and omni-directional if you need to pick up from behind the mic rather than just in front of it. Listen to it in action on the latest 3 episodes of Talking About Glaucoma (me on the Snowball with Drs Hom, Damji, Schuman, Burgoyne over skype.) You will here that the sound is fairly rich and more than adequate for these podcasts. Certainly a great value and could not be easier to set-up and use.