You are planning to buy a mic but don’t know which recording mic is right for you. The mic on the market today is very developed, diverse in models and many types, making users confused in choosing.
They are different in design, but they are also different in terms of usage characteristics and different applications. Depending on the needs of users to be able to choose the most suitable type.
Before making a decision, consult this article. Here we will list the most commonly used mics with accompanying features to base your decision on. We will suggest to you how to choose a microphone easily and conveniently
How will you use your microphone?
The most important step to getting great audio is knowing what type of audio you want. Even the best microphones can’t give you crisp, clear audio in poor conditions.
While there are exceptions, we bet you don’t care much about recording vocals or instruments. The best way to choose the right mic for you is to determine which one is most important.
Check, check: Understanding the Specs
Understanding the terminology and specifications of microphones will allow you to choose the right mic for your needs. These are the main specs and terms that you’ll see in mic descriptions.
A polar pattern (pickup pattern) refers to the mic’s field or sensitivity. It is the direction from which the mic accepts or rejects sounds. An Omnidirectional mic responds to all sounds.
Bi-directional mics, also known as the Figure 8 microphone, pick up voices from both east and west but exclude sounds from north or south. Unidirectional microphones can hear voices only from one direction.
Uni-directional mics are the most popular type. They come in three polar patterns: hypercardioid, super-cardioid, and cardioid. These three pickup patterns are resistant to off-axis or rear-axis sounds from behind the microphones and sounds from the sides.
The cardioid polar pattern shape is roughly a heart shape (hence the name). It is sensitive to sounds coming from both the sides and straight on but rejects sounds that are 180 degrees from the direction it is pointed.
The super-cardioid microphone accepts slightly more sound from 180 degrees but rejects less from each side. The hypercardioid mic allows for more sound from 180 degrees but rejects more sound from 90 and 270 degrees.
When working in noisy environments, like when miking vocalists in a band, the polar pattern is crucial. The cardioid, hypercardioid, and super-cardioid microphones tend to filter out all other sounds, except the vocals of the singer. This polar pattern prevents feedback from being produced or muddies the signal.
Please find out more about the polar pattern and listen to some amazing demos on our feature on AKG C414.
Multi-pattern mics exist. Their polar patterns can be altered (e.g., You can change their pickup patterns (e.g., from omnidirectional or cardioid pickup pattern) with a switch or interchangeable capsules. This gives the mic more versatility in different settings.
The frequency response of a microphone refers to the frequency range that it can pick up. The frequency response is measured in hertz and refers to the lowest and highest frequencies.
A microphone with a frequency response range between 80 Hz and 15 kHz is a good choice for vocal microphones. For miking toms and snares, you’d prefer a frequency response range of around 50 Hz to 50 Hz. A low-end microphone for bass drum or acoustic guitar would be 40 Hz to 30 Hz.
Important to remember that frequency response does not tell you how wide a mic can reproduce. Frequency response is not how it performs at different frequencies that make a mic unique.
It is also known as the response curve. It graphs as a curve because it begins at zero at the low end and falls to zero at the high end.
There will be dips and peaks in the overall curve that give mics a particular character and are more suitable for certain applications. A mic designed for vocals might have a spike at its upper midrange, which results in a smoother and more understandable reproduction of the voices.
Sensitivity & SPL-Handling Capability
Sensitivity is the ability of the microphone to detect a quiet sound. It can be expressed in different ways. It doesn’t matter what system you use. You will likely know that the microphone is more sensitive if the number is lower.
SPL is short for sound pressure level and is measured in decibels (dB). SPL is the mic’s maximum volume. It is also the opposite of sensitivity.
If the mic is required to deal with loud instruments like drums, acoustic guitar this is crucial. A normal sound pressure level is about 100 dB, while a high SPL can reach 130 dB.
Although not a specification, the proximity effect is often mentioned in descriptions.
The proximity effect causes the bass frequencies of the microphone to be more prominent as the sound source gets closer to it.
This is a desirable feature for singers who use the microphone to create effects. A recording engineer might choose a microphone with strong proximity effects for close-miking instruments to bring out their bass tones.
Condenser mics produce a greater proximity effect than dynamic microphones.
What the Specs Don’t Tell You
A microphone’s characteristics are more than the specs you see in its description. It can significantly impact its performance by the product’s design, the type of metals used, and the precision of its manufacture.
It’s not surprising that the price is an important specification. Listening is the best way for you to know the difference between a good and a bad mic.
What are the differences between microphones?
Once we know what you are trying to record, it’s easy to get to the good stuff. If you don’t know the terminology, it cannot be clear to get down to the details. There are two types of mics. You won’t find any other unless you spend thousands.
A dynamic microphone is the first type of microphone. A dynamic mic is a type you would see on stage as a singer’s mic or comedian’s microphone. These mics do great in noisy environments.
The mics have an inner coil that is sensitive to sound vibrations. The coil is sensitive to sound vibrations and can be recorded as an electrical signal.
These dynamic mics can record a street performer, a guitarist or drummer kick, or any other type of electrical guitar or signal.
These dynamic mics can be used in all kinds of environments, as the coils and magnets inside dynamic mics are more durable than other microphones.
Although they aren’t exactly tough, they can withstand a lot without being destroyed. The Shure SM58 is a versatile and durable microphone that can be used on-location or at work. It costs only $100.
The Telefunken M80 dynamic microphone is a great choice if you like the idea and need something more powerful. Chris Thomas uses it as his preferred microphone.
Condenser mics are another popular type of microphone. Condenser mics work slightly differently, using capacitor plates in place of coils and magnets.
While it’s tempting to delve into technical details, the most important thing to remember is that condenser microphones are more sensitive than dynamic mics to small vibrations.
Condenser mics can be used with bass drums, while dynamic mics can be fine. Condenser mics are best if you want to hear the subtleties of a vocal sound, such as when recording a podcast or singing in a booth.
Condenser microphones tend to be more static than dynamic mics. This is because capacitor plates of condenser mics are less durable than magnets.
Shotgun mics, the large-diaphragm mics that you see on sets of movies, are an exception to this rule. They are sensitive to soft sounds, so it is worth taking the chance to carry it around to capture every word the actress says.
Rode NT1- A large-diaphragm condenser mic is my favorite mic for home use for vocals, bass drum, and string instruments. This diaphragm condenser mic does a great job with most things.
Condenser microphones need a bit more power than dynamic microphones. To power them, you will need an interface that can supply phantom power, such as an audio interface. Phantom power is a fancy name for something that’s not as cool as ghosts.
It simply means that the microphone you plug into can transmit +48V through the cable to the mic. This is usually found in audio interfaces and portable recorders such as the Zoom H5.
Ribbon mics are a less common type of microphone. Ribbon microphones are often named for their ribbon mics-like appearance. A conductive ribbon is a piece of wire that rests between two electromagnetic poles.
It detects your sound source. These mics fall under the dynamic microphone category. If you think of early crooners in the recording studio, they probably have a ribbon microphone in front.
Ribbon mics are stronger than older models, often made with stronger nanomaterials. However, you should not stick one in front of a guitar amp unless the manufacturer recommends it.
These mics usually have a bidirectional pattern (more details below). Bidirectional polar patterns are great for recording multiple sources simultaneously on one side of the mic. This can be used to record two people speaking at once if the volume is not too high.
Ribbon microphones are also great for vocal, acoustic guitar, and drum use. Ribbon microphones were used in many early broadcast microphones. They are great for podcasters if placed correctly.
Sound is objective. However, the taste is subjective. A ribbon microphone can be used if you are not satisfied with the condenser’s ability to register all sounds but still want a different sound.
If the microphone is too quiet, you can use a Cloudlifter to accompany it. These mics were once prohibitively expensive. However, companies such as Golden Age Electronics have the R1 MKIII, and Studio Electronics offer more affordable options.
Should you get an XLR or USB microphone?
USB microphones are convenient and simple to use. They are often cheaper than XLR microphones. The majority of USB microphones use a cardioid- a directional pickup pattern to pick up sound from the front. This makes them great for podcasts and voiceovers.
An XLR microphone is a better choice if you want to record vocals or instrumental music or to produce a podcast with a higher quality sound, but it’s not recommended.
Although XLR microphones are more expensive and require an interface to be used, they can produce much better audio than USB mics.
This is because of the internal mechanisms of each microphone’s output. A USB microphone has one channel for the electrical currents exiting it and the currents entering it.
This can cause distortions. XLR microphones, on the other side, have two channels for the incoming or outgoing currents. This is why they are called balanced. They also cancel out any unwanted noise.
Although it is more complex than that, it is easy to see it as a road. If you drive up a narrow road and another car is coming in the opposite direction, you will likely scrape each other.
On a highway, traffic coming from the opposite direction is separated from your lane with a median. This prevents collisions.
How can you improve your recording quality?
It is essential to understand the basics of mics if you are serious about your craft. However, knowing everything is not going to make you an audio engineer overnight.
Before you can understand how each factor will impact your final product, you need to make mistakes and make them again. There are many tips and tricks online that will help you avoid making the same mistakes as me.
Treat the room
Acoustic foam can make a huge difference to the quality of your audio when you record inside.
The most important tip that no one mentions is to treat the room with respect. It’s far more important than the mic you use on your audio journey.
Telefunken M80 microphones can be great in bad situations, but they can make a difference when the environment is controlled.
If you put that microphone in a well-treated room, you’ll get amazing audio. While you can spend thousands to properly treat your room if you have limited funds, make sure to foam any corners first.
This is where the majority of sound bounces off, which can cause problems in your recording. After you have done this, you can cover the room’s flat surfaces with foam. This can be costly, as I said.
A blanket fort is one of the best ways to save money. It’s amazing how much a blanket can increase your sound quality.
Flipping up my mattress can absorb more of the ricocheting sound. This is my personal favorite. The software can be used to repair what you don’t have with your hardware.
Lavs should not be bumped
Have you ever wondered why lavalier mics are always placed right below the chin in your chest area? It’s not because they are closer to the speaker’s mouth (okay, that’s one reason).
Lavalier mics are not protected against bumps and have a very little padding. Dynamic mics can be bumped around with no problems. The Lavalier microphones are small and innocuous. This means that there is not much room for padding.
Do You Need an Audio Interface?
Unless you choose a USB microphone, you will most likely need an audio interface. Most microphones have an XLR connector. An interface is required to record anything digitally into a computer. Some interfaces can provide condenser microphone power.
Scarlett 2i2 interface is a classic interface that you can use if you don’t want to spend a lot on a microphone. It works well with all microphones, provided you haven’t spent a lot of money.
An interface is not necessary if you are recording in a specific location. Carrying one around in your backpack can prove cumbersome. You might consider a portable recorder with XLR inputs if you plan to record on location.
Aim shotguns mics at the chest
A shotgun microphone is an excellent choice if you plan to record yourself or actors on camera. Shotgun microphones are a kind of condenser microphone and can be sensitive to loud sounds.
You’ll often see a person holding a shotgun microphone over the head and pointing down at the actors in behind-the-scenes video shots.
It is done for two reasons. It is done to make sure that the microphone doesn’t get in on the shot. Second, it’s important to point the microphone in the speaker’s direction so that it picks up the voice before it reaches the ground.
You can also aim the microphone higher than the person’s chest and pick up anything behind them if you point it upwards. You might not want that extra noise in your final recording if you are outside. You’ll need to remove any extra room tone if you’re indoors.
If you are a dynamic mic user, consider a Cloudlifter.
Condenser microphones need extra power in the form of phantom power, but high-end dynamic microphones can be done without any problems.
The Telefunken M80 and Shure SM7B are examples of high-end dynamic microphones. You might also consider the CL-1 Cloudlifter. It boosts the audio signal before it reaches your recording interface.
Knowing the key aspects of a microphone will make it easier to choose the right one. A USB microphone might be a good option. They are extremely versatile and don’t require any additional equipment.
Typical microphone applications
You’ll want to use cardioid dynamic microphones on the drums and a cardioid small diam condenser for the hi-hat.
A matched pair of the large diaphragm or small-diaphragm condensers will be used for the overheads. Condenser microphones are also available for use on the toms and snare, as well as the kick.
Once you’ve learned the rules, it’s okay to go against them. You’re an artist who paints with sound.
It would help if you experimented with the placement of drum microphones. Ask the drummer to play, then listen, move a mic a little, and listen again.
You can even stay in the control area and let your assistant move the mics while listening if you have one. The process will become easier once you have some experience.
You’ll be able to identify the mics you like and where they should go.
However, this is just the beginning. Professional recording engineers can change mic positions and placements at will.
This one doesn’t need to be complicated. A dynamic microphone (such as the Shure SM57) can be used if you have only one studio mic.
It should be placed close to the speaker cabinet. You can place a large diaphragm condenser a few feet away if it has one. If you don’t have enough tracks to record, you can mix the studio microphones at the console or separate them.
You don’t need to worry about drum leakage if you are overdubbing the guitarist (or placing the guitar cab in another room while recording); if the taxi is in a good-sounding space, you can try backing up your condenser microphone to absorb more sound.
You can switch the mic to omnidirectional if it has multiple polar patterns. It is possible to use various mics, but you need to be aware of your phase relationships.
It is best to use a small-diaphragm cardioid microphone. Start by aiming it down and looking at the 12th fret from 6-8 inches.
Acoustic guitars can use large-diaphragm condensers, but so can ribbon mics.
You can have fun trying out different mic placements and settings to discover what works for you.
A large-diaphragm condenser microphone is necessary for overdubbing vocals. It would help if you matched the microphone to the singer for a lead singer.
Some vocalists may have their preferences. This is best done by setting up at least three to four mics and having the singer perform the same song section into each one.
Each of these passes can be recorded to separate tracks. The singer can then playback the recordings to determine which studio microphone best suits their voice and the song.
Stereo recording is the norm. Two large-diaphragm condenser microphones are used, one for low notes and one for highs.
It would help if you experimented with piano mic placement. It is very variable.
You can also purchase piano microphone kits to take the guesswork out when it comes to mic placement.
Violins, violas, cellos, double bass. Any high-quality condenser mic will work. If you have a ribbon microphone, you may prefer it.
Brass and Reeds
Ribbon microphones can be very flattering when used on brass instruments. Ribbon microphones are excellent for brass instruments, especially double reeds.
They capture the tone of the device and pick up more minor mechanical sounds from the keys. Condensers for large or small diaphragms work well.
What if I work remotely and require a microphone?
The new reality we have all been living in over the past year has created a new market for audio products: people looking to sound better than Zoom.
You may have noticed that the microphone built into your laptop or your AirPods microphone sounds a bit rough if you are new to working remotely.
Although some of the information in this article may seem excessive, it’s pretty useful. Video and voice chat apps compress audio as it travels across the web.
This makes the benefits of an audio system more appealing, at least until a certain point.
The USB microphones mentioned above are the best choice if you want something easy to use and noticeably better.
Even if that seems daunting, a good gaming headset can make a huge difference.
How can I choose my first microphone?
Set a budget. When it comes time to buy your first microphone, budget is an essential factor. You can find out more about our microphone budget here.
Identify the most important things you will be recording. Decide what to record. Decide what you want to record.
Your singing style should be matched with your microphone. You can find out more about…
Consider your recording environment.
Why are singers putting their mouths on the mic?
To increase the volume and amplify low notes, direct mouth-to-mic contact can be used (this is known as the proximity effect).
To do this, you must sing into the microphone as close as possible so that your voice doesn’t get drowned out. This reduces distortion.
How much should I spend on buying a mic?
100 – 250 dollars. A professional microphone of decent quality will cost you more than $100. This price range offers many great USB, lavalier, and dynamic microphones.
Is it worth the cost to purchase a microphone?
The mics like this are a small investment in your future as an artist and producer. Not only will you get sub-par sound quality, but it is a guarantee.
You also have to be careful about how the mic performs when you work with different sources.
Does a microphone make a big difference?
Does a microphone change your voice? Like all audio equipment, microphones can alter your voice.
While some microphones can capture sound more accurately than others, all microphones vary the sound somehow.
Aside from that, your perception of your voice may differ from what your actual voice sounds like.
There are many models and types of microphones available on the market. This allows you to choose from a wide range of microphones that will meet your needs.
This can be not easy because there are so many options. It is important to do your research and to be sensitive when evaluating the sound.
This article should provide an overview of the different mics available and their uses. We are happy to help you make your decision. Hooke Audio hopes you find the best product for you.