In this article I will give you enough information which I will call a guide on microphones, so you can choose the right microphone for your purposes. I will touch base on the different types of microphones and their special purposes.
If you plan on recording music, vocals, or just podcasting, you will want to choose a microphone that is not too cheap and can capture a microphone capable of good quality audio signal. Not all mics are created equal. A poor quality mic will lead to frustrating sessions, so you want to choose wisely. I will try to explain the key differences among the different microphones so you can pick the right microphone for your purposes. I highlighted words in blue which will take you to Amazon or zzounds if you are interested in purchasing a microphone.As an Amazon Associate I earn from QUALIFYING PURCHASES.read more.get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.As the owner of this website I’ve tracked down special deals for some of the products and services mentioned herein. When you use the links on this page to make a purchase i may get a small commission and you may get a great bargain. It’s a win-win all around FULL DISCLOUSURE
Picking the Right Microphone
The first question you should ask yourself is how will I be using this microphone? each and every mic has different strengths and weaknesses. Some mics are great for recording, but not so good on a live stage. Recording microphones fall into one of a small number of categories, the most common being a dynamic, and condenser category.
1 – Dynamic Microphones – These type mics are great for using on live stages, you see this type in the hands of singers, drums, or near guitar amplifier cabinets. They will pick up a cardioid pickup pattern, which takes audio from a single axis meaning the front or side of the microphone. You can focus on the singers voice while also rejecting signals from other angles.
2 – Condenser Microphones – There are two distinct types, a large diaphragm mic, which brings a colour and flavor sound, and is used for vocals, speech, and acoustic instruments, which really picks up a great sound. The other type is a small diaphragm condenser, which is good for tonal accuracy, and produce a more steady result across the frequency spectrum, these are used as overhead mics or on cymbals, which gives it an overall mix and is more detailed in sound.
Three Types of Outputs and Different Considerations
1 Mini -( 3.5 mm) – This type output produces lower- quality audio and requires a power source. They are less popular than the other two below.
2 – XLR – This type output is the common professional choice, and can be purchased for a 3.5 mm or USB connection.
3 – USB – This type output is becoming much more popular because they are easier to use. There are no worries about a power source, and can be recorded straight to an audio program on the computer. If you plan on recording directly to the computer you should make sure the computer is compatible with the microphone and have the proper drivers.
Condenser microphones need a power source which causes an electrical current to run through the wires inside the microphone. This causes a small amount of noise that can be picked up by the mic. This is called self-noise which is weighed in A-weighted decibels (dB-A), and most microphones fall between 9 and 19dB-A. A lower noise figure is better, but is usually higher priced.
When choosing a microphone you should be aware of how “flat” a microphone’s frequency response curve is. A flat frequency response is equally sensitive to high- and low-frequency sounds. It is best to use this type on instruments to capture a natural sound. If you are going to record vocals, you should pick a microphone that’s more sensitive to different frequencies.
SPL is the highest decibel level that a microphone can record without lowering the sound quality. There are a lot of condenser mics that record up to 120dB or higher. If you plan on just using a microphone for speeches, max SPL shouldn’t be too much of a choice for you. You would need a mic that can handle high-decibel sounds if you are recording an instrument like percussion for example.
If you are using a microphone for vocals, you should have what they call a POP FILTER. Directional mics, usually the choice for vocals, are known for “pops”, a noise that results from sounds like “B” and “P”, which can hit the diaphragm with a lot of force. A pop filter is a ring with a thin layer of mesh, which would prevent this. Some microphones come with one of these, but if they don’t they are inexpensive and worth investing in one. You should keep a pop filter 3″ or 4″ from the mic for better effectiveness.
Directional and Omnidirectional Microphones
Each one of these type mics serve its own purpose. A directional microphone or (cardioid), have sensitivity patterns that pick up sound from one or two directions. This microphone would be more suited for vocal recording because they block out sound from other directions. An omnidirectional microphone picks up sounds from all directions. You would be better with this type microphone if you plan on recording several instruments at once.
Different Type of Stands
1 – Desktop – These are great for recording podcasts, you can adjust thiS STAND while sitting at a desk to the right height.
2 – Tripod Stand – If you plan on recording vocals while standing or even used in general settings.
3 – Tripod Boom – This is a standard for recording instruments, because you can adjust the height of the microphone to your liking.
4 – Shock Mount Stand – If you are recording vocals, this is a good choice because it reduces unwanted vibrations.
5 – Overhead Stand – This is most commonly used in recording studios because of the range of positions you can apply. It is the most expensive stand among all of them.
Prices on condenser microphones can range anywhere from $9 to $2,900 or more
– Inexpensive Microphones – This can go from $9 to $50 and it would be an easy condenser microphone to use. It can have a decent number of features like a pop filter or head jack for example.
– Mid-Range Microphones – This can range anywhere from $50 to $300 and will be a high quality microphone with probably a little more features.
– Professional Microphones – This can range from $250 to $3,000 or more. This microphone would be used for the professional and recording studio.
Storage of a Microphone
Keep the microphone away from young children and animals. If you leave it out, make sure you have a dust cover to prevent particles from collecting inside the microphone. If you plan on not using it for a long period, you should store it in a hard case if you have one.
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Best Microphones out there today
1 – Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser Microphones – Even though not perfect, it gets the job done. It is inexpensive and portable. It has cardioid and omni pick-up patterns. It does have occasional latency problems though. The onboard headphone amplifier allows you to listen to your recording directly from the microphone, plus you can use the output to connect powered speakers. The GO mic is perfect for recording voice or music, podcasting, streaming, or chatting and VoIP.
2 – Cad Audio U 37 Studio Condenser Recording Microphones – This is great for guitar and speaking voice. It has a large condenser microphone element for warm, rich recording. It has cardioid pick-up pattern which minimizes background noise and isolates the main source but background noise sometimes filters into recordings but still worth its money.
3 – 1K Multimedia 1 Rig Mic Studio Microphones – This offers 24-bit output, a hardware gain knob, headphone jack, USB output for android, and a lightning cable for iPhone/I pad. Its easy to set up, has a decent sound, great included software, but it is not geared towards pristine audio.
4 – Blue Yeti USB – This condenser mic is worth its money being so inexpensive for what features it has. It has four pick-up settings that enhances control and artistic freedom. It is a heavier microphone weighing 3.5lbs though. It has a headphone output and volume control, mic gain control, mute button, and a USB output. You would probably have to use several mics when recording, which you wouldn’t have to with the features of this model.
5 – Shure Beta 87A Supercardioid Condenser Microphones – This does a professional performance from a company with an exceptional reputation. It has an unbeatable sound quality rating. It doesn’t have any USB connectivity and its primarily for vocals but absolutely the best condenser mic for vocals and recordings for its money.
6 – Aston Microphone origin – A high performance cardioid condenser microphone utilizing a one-inch gold evaporated capsule. It is versatile enough to use with most instruments and works great on acoustic guitars and vocals. Its hand-selected capsule is teamed with high-end transformer-less circuitry using only the best components. It is designed to deliver direct-smooth and intimate sound for a natural and transparent recording.
7 – Audio-Technica AT 2020 USB+ Cardioid Condenser USB – This is appropriate for vocals and instruments. It has high- quality A/D converter with 16 bits, 441/48 kilohertz sampling rate for great audio. A headphone jack with volume control which allows you to monitor the microphone signal with no delay. Mix control allows you to blend your microphone signal and prerecorded audio. It is extremely sensitive. Not good for Skype or intimate vocal recordings if that is what you plan on using it for.
8 – AKG c636 Handheld Vocal Microphone Black – This is the c535 updated version for live performance requirements. It offers pure studio sound, and is very durable. Its proprietary double shock suspension system provides unparalleled rejection of handling noise. The c636 helps keep your performance flawless by having a multi-layer pop noise rejection system that eliminates plosive, and a road-tested cardioid polar pattern that eliminates feedback. The c636 eliminates feedback by combining a uniform cardioid polar pattern throughout the entire frequency spectrum with a specially designed suspension and grille for the capsule. This unique approach to housing the capsule avoids unwanted sound reflections on the back of the capsule from stage sound sources, the most common cause of feedback in other microphones. Being that “pops” are the enemy for singers, the Triple Pop Noise Protection is incorporated with a multi-layer protection system to provide singers with clear, plosive-free vocal performance. The protection system spares no expense and consists of the grille, a foam layer behind the grille, and a magnetically attached computer-modeled mesh layer on top of the capsule. The triple-layer protection system is virtually unique to AKG and is not found in any microphone near this price range. The 24-karet gold-plated capsule protects the mic against moisture and corrosion.
9 – Rode NT1 microphone – This condenser microphone is redesigned from the original NT1 20 years ago. There’s the new HFG capsule designed to feature a sound signature similar to vintage favorites but having extremely low noise. The transducer is suspended inside the microphone using Rycote’s Lyre System, which reduces external vibrations. It claims that the NT1 is the quietest one-inch cardioid condenser due to the high-grade electronics keeping the self-noise level down to 4.5 dBA. It has great sound quality, integrated shock mount, and pop shield.
10 – Slate Digital VMS – This is a hybrid system that utilizes an extremely transparent condenser microphone, a sonically neutral preamp, and a plug-in module that works in concert with Slate hardware to replicate some of the worlds finest and most sought-after microphones and preamps. What you get with the VMS is a high-quality, large capsule condenser mic, a dedicated “ultra linear” mic pre and a plug-in which contains the modeled mics. You have to use your own A/D converter to get it into your digital audio workstation.
11 – Audio Technica AT 5040 – This mic offers great musical high-fidelity performance, with profound realism and depth, presence and purity of sound. They designed it for a 1st choice vocal microphone. The AT5040 cardioid condenser features extremely smooth top end with controlled sibilants, large-diaphragm characteristics and fast transient response also make it ideal for recording acoustic instruments such as piano, guitar, and saxophone. The noise figure is exceptional and the quick release cradle beautifully designed. It has an advanced internal capsule decoupling mechanism and the fact that its 100% hand built and inspected. The capsule is special, a four-part rectangular design delivering over ten-square CMS of surface area(roughly twice that of a one-inch capsule). Put into perspective, a circular design with approximately the same would have a diameter of 3.6 cm.
I have tried to give as much information in this article as possible so that you have a better understanding of what microphones are out on the market today. Hopefully you have a better understanding of the different choices you have and what microphone would be the best choice for whatever you are looking to do. If you have any questions or comments please type them below and I will do my best to answer them.