How To Choose A Microphone? Top Full Guide 2024

How To Choose A Microphone Everything You Need To Know
  • Anthony

There are many different types and models of microphones available on the market, so how to choose a microphone for your needs? Here are a few things to consider when shopping for a microphone.

Choose a microphone that best suits your needs to get the clearest possible recording of your voice. A condenser microphone is ideal if you’re recording in a quiet room. A dynamic microphone is a better choice if you’re recording outdoors or in a noisy environment. Consider the size and shape of the microphone, as well as the type of connector it uses.

What Microphone is Best?

The Age-Old Question – What Microphone is Best

Which microphone is the best? What microphone should I buy?

These are common questions from voice-over users.

It is important to remember that not one coach, company, or voice-over artist can answer every question about What microphone should I get?

You should also avoid any recommendations or content that attempts to recommend the best microphone. Because your voice is unique, the “right” vocal microphone will be different for you. You may find that what works for one person is not right for you. This is why you should get advice about the tools you can use to help you decide.

What Are The Different Kinds Of Microphones?

What Are The Different Kinds Of 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, getting down to the details can be confusing. There are two types of microphones. You won’t find any other unless you spend thousands.

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A dynamic microphone is the first type of microphone. A dynamic microphone is a type you would see on stage as a singer’s mic or comedian’s microphone. These microphones do great in noisy environments.

The microphones 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 can be used to record a street performer, drummer, or guitar player.

These mics can be used in all these situations because their coils and magnets are more durable than other microphones.

Although they aren’t exactly rugged, they can withstand a lot without destruction. 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.


Condensers are another popular type of microphone. Condensers work slightly differently, using capacitor plates instead of coils and magnets.

While it’s tempting to get into technical details, the most important thing to remember is that condenser microphones are more sensitive than dynamic mics to small vibrations.

Condensers can be used with dynamic mics and bass drums. These 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 the capacitor plates of dynamic mics are much more fragile than dynamic ones.

Shotgun microphones, the large mics you see on movie sets, 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 NT1A condenser mic is my favorite mic for home use for vocals and string instruments. It does a great job with most things.

To function, condenser microphones need an external voltage source. An audio interface will be able to provide phantom powers to your mic. Phantom power is also a fancy name for something that’s not as cool as ghosts.

It simply means that the microphone must be able to transmit +48V through the cable. This is usually found in audio interfaces and portable recorders such as the Zoom H5.

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Ribbon microphones

Ribbon mics are a less common type of microphone. Ribbon microphones are often named for their ribbon-like appearance. A conductive ribbon is a thin piece of wire that rests between two electromagnetic poles that detect your sound source.

Technically, these mics fall under the dynamic mic category. If you think of the early crooners performing in the 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. (Learn more below).

Bidirectional polar patterns are great for recording two sources simultaneously on one side of the microphone. Ribbon microphones are also great for vocal 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 is a good option if you are unsatisfied with the condenser’s ability to register all sounds but still want a different sound. These mics were once prohibitively expensive.

However, companies such as Golden Age Electronics offer more affordable options like the R1MKIII and Studio Electronics’ X1.

How to Choose the Right Microphone

How to Choose the Right Microphone

1. Determine Usability

The best microphone is one you can use with minimal technical issues. When all things are equal, you should choose the easiest setup possible that will allow you to record as fast as possible. This is why the expression “plug and Play” was coined.

2. Understand Microphone Frequency Response

Some microphones, such as the stereotypical radio microphone RE20, have large-diaphragm microphones that pick up lower frequencies like a deep male voice or a bass drum.

The small diaphragm, or small capsule microphone, is designed to pick up higher frequencies like the female voice, the brightness of an acoustic guitarist, or shimmering cymbals. These may be the microphones above an orchestra or on top of a drum set.

I was recently at a voice-over workshop where hertz were

described in terms of the human voice. Hertz is named after Heinrich Hertz, a German physicist. It measures the number of cycles per second. This refers to the frequency at which the vocal folds vibrate per second regarding the human voice.

  • A healthy male voice is usually between 110 and 120 hertz.
  • A healthy female voice is usually between 200 and 210 hertz.
  • Children’s voices typically fall between 300 and 400 hertz.
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Brighter sounds are produced when the frequency of the vibrations is higher than the second. For example, Concert Pitch, also known as A440, is a common example. The principal violinist uses this pitch to help other musicians tune their instruments.

3. Test the Vocal Mic’s Directionality

You should decide which type of directional pattern (also known as a microphone’s polar pattern) best suits your needs. A more focused microphone will work best for voiceovers. A hypercardioid or cardioid polar pattern is what you should be looking out for.

This polar pattern is designed to pick up sounds near the microphone’s front. It will reduce ambient noise and room tone.

4. Choose a Pop Filter

A pop filter is a standard accessory for voice-over artists. Pop filters act as screens that reduce the impact of air from your mouth onto microphone capsules. This helps minimize sibilance, plosives, and other noises.

This article will explain the benefits of pop filters and provide information about their use.

5. Don’t Forget a Shock Mount

A shock mount is a mechanical attachment that holds your microphone in position and suspends them with elastics. One of the USB microphones I use in the office is podcasting. A shock mount isolates the microphone from vibrations. The shock mount can absorb vibrations under the foot that are low, for example.

6. Testing a Microphone with Your Voice is Key

You can try out a friend’s microphone or borrow some microphones from a music store to test them. You might rent a few microphones from the music store to try out before spending a few thousand dollars on a microphone that suits your needs.

7. When it Comes to Microphone Price – More Expensive isn’t Always Better

It doesn’t have to be the most expensive microphone on the market. The best microphone for your voice is one that’s affordable and does the job. Many of these criteria can be considered “nice-to-have” and not “needs to have.”

The microphone and the preamp are pieces of technology between you, your computer, and the microphone. Make sure to get the microphone that sounds the best but is within your budget.

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Favorite Microphones for Voice Actors

A while back, I asked voice talents to share their favorite microphones and why they love them. Many online reviews describe the experiences of people with different microphones.

Bob Breen, an Audio Pro, shares tips and tricks for choosing the right microphone for you and your space.

How Will You Use Your New Mic?

When choosing a microphone, the most important question is, “How will you use it?” Is it intended to be used on stage for vocals or as a microphone? Are you planning to use it in your home studio? Are you looking for something that will work in both situations?

The environment will be used in, and the gear it will be used with should be considered when buying a mic. If you are only planning to record basic demos in your bedroom, spending thousands on Neumann studio microphones may not be a good idea.

You’ll need to pair it with a high-quality mic preamp to make the most of its acoustics. A microphone that is less sensitive but more affordable might be a better option.

A variety of mic models are available to help you find the right mic for you. For example, the Shure SM57 is a popular mic that can be used in studio and stage settings.

Understanding the Specs

Understanding the terminology and specifications of microphones will allow you to choose the right mic for your needs. You’ll see these main specs and terms in mic descriptions.

Polar Patterns

A polar 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 microphones, also known as the Figure 8 microphone, pick up sounds from both east and west but exclude sounds from the north and south. Unidirectional microphones can hear sounds only from one direction.

Unidirectional microphones are the most popular type. They come in three polar patterns: hypercardioid, supercardioid, and cardioid. These three patterns are resistant to off-axis or rear-axis sounds from the sides and behind the microphone.

The cardioid shape is almost a heart shape (hence the name) and makes the mic more sensitive to sounds coming from the sides and straight on, but rejects sounds coming from 180 degrees away from where the mic is pointed.

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The supercardioid microphone accepts slightly more sound from 180 degrees but rejects less from each side. The hypercardioid mic allows more sound from 180 degrees but rejects more sound from 90 and 270 degrees.

Polar patterns are crucial when working in noisy environments, like when miking vocalists in a band. The cardioid, hypercardioid, and supercardioid microphones filter out all other sounds except the vocals of the singer. This prevents feedback from being produced or muddies the signal.

Please find out more about the polar patterns and listen to some amazing demos on our feature on AKG C414.

Multi-Pattern Microphones

Multi-pattern microphones exist. Their polar patterns can be altered (e.g., You can change their polar patterns (e.g., from omnidirectional or cardioid) with a switch or interchangeable capsules. This gives the mic more versatility in different settings.

Frequency Response

A microphone’s frequency response refers to the frequency range it can pick up. The frequency response is measured in hertz and refers to the lowest and highest frequencies.

A microphone with a frequency range between 80 Hz and 15 kHz is a good choice for vocal microphones.

You’d prefer a frequency range of around 50 Hz to 50 Hz for miking toms and snares. A low-end microphone for bass drums would be 40 Hz to 30 Hz.

Response Curves

Remember that frequency response does not tell you how wide a mic can reproduce. It 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. Dips and peaks in the overall curve will 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 and 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 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. This is crucial if the mic is required to deal with loud instruments like drums. A normal level is about 100 dB, while a high SPL can reach 130 dB.

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Proximity Effect

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 that choosing a microphone with strong proximity effects for close-miking instruments to bring out their bass tones.

Condenser microphones produce a greater proximity effect than dynamic mics.

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FAQs about choosing the best mic

What Factors Should I Consider When Choosing A Microphone?

When choosing a microphone, you should consider factors such as the type of microphone, its directional pattern, its frequency response, its sensitivity, and its durability.

Should I Choose A Dynamic or Condenser Microphone?

Dynamic microphones are better suited for loud environments or when you want to isolate a sound source, while condenser microphones are more sensitive and produce a more detailed and natural sound.

What is Phantom Power?

Phantom power is a method of providing power to condenser microphones through the microphone cable. It is required for most condenser microphones to function properly.

How Much Should I Spend On A Microphone?

The price of a microphone can range from less than $50 to several thousand dollars. It is recommended to invest in a quality microphone that suits your needs and budget.

What is A USB Microphone?

A USB microphone is a microphone that connects directly to a computer or other device through a USB port, allowing for easy recording without the need for a separate audio interface.

Can I Use A Microphone With My Smartphone or Tablet?

Yes, many microphones can be used with smartphones or tablets with the help of an adapter or interface. However, it is important to make sure that the microphone is compatible with your device before purchasing.


Choosing the right microphone is crucial for high-quality audio recordings. By considering factors like microphone type, directional pattern, and sensitivity, you can make an informed decision that best suits your recording needs.

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