Microphone Buying Guide: What You Need to Know
If you are looking for a new microphone, it is important that you take the time to review some of your options. There are a number of factor that you need to take into consideration before choosing a certain microphone to purchase. Whether you just want to do some karaoke with friends at home on the weekend or record a studio-quality album, you will benefit from this article. By taking the time to find the right microphone, you will be able to get all of your needs met.
What Will You Use Your Microphone for?
The very first thing that you have to think about before looking at your microphone options is what you plan on using it for. The intended purpose of your new microphone will ultimately help you to narrow down your options. There are a lot of these devices out there, and they don’t all serve the same purpose. There is a big difference between microphones that are used for singing vocals versus amplifying an instrument. When you take the time to think about this, you should be able to get what you need without any issues.
The polar pattern of a microphone is essentially how sensitive it is. This involves which sounds the microphone amplifies and which ones it ignores. For example, bi-directional microphones listen to every sound coming from the east or west, but ignore all north and south sound. There are three different types of polar patterns, including cardioids, hypercardioid, and supercardioid. It is important that you understand the different between these patterns before choosing a certain microphone.
- Cardioid: This pattern could be the thought of as heart-shaped, and microphones that have it are the most sensitive to sounds that come from right in front of them as well as from each side.
- Supercardioid: Microphones that use this polar pattern ignore most sounds coming from the sides and have a roughly 180-degree field of sensitivity.
- Hypercardioid: These microphones are the best for vocalists, because they do not amplify any sounds except the user’s.
The frequency response of the microphone you buy is something else to consider before making a final decision. Frequency response refers to the range of frequencies that a microphone is capable of picking up. If you are looking for a microphone for singing vocals, you should look for one that has a vocal range of about 80 Hz to 15 kHz. If you want a mike for amplifying lower instrumental sounds, you’ll want to get one with a lower frequency range.
BM 800 Microphone
Basic Types of Microphones
A majority of microphones can be broken down into four different categories or classifications. The more you learn about these types of microphones, the more likely you will be to choose one that will serve your needs perfectly.
You will find that dynamic microphones are not as sensitive to higher frequencies or sound pressure as some of the other kinds on the market. These microphones are usually cheaper, so they could be perfect for those who are on a tight budget. A lot of people use dynamic microphones for amplifying drum kits as well as electrical guitars. If you need a microphone for instruments, this kind is certainly worth considering.
A condenser microphone tends to be very responsive to the more subtle details of sound waves than any other kind. These mikes actually have quite a simple mechanical design, but many of them work very well overall. There are tube and solid state condenser microphones available, as well as a wide range of sizes and shapes to choose from.
Ribbon microphones were used a lot in radio years ago, and they have since made a pretty big comeback. One of the best things about these microphones is that they are made to withstand regular use in a studio, so most of them are able to keep functioning perfectly for a while.
There are also USB microphones that you can use with your computer. These microphones are plug-and-play with a very simple design. Depending on the microphone you get, you might need software to use it. These microphones have done wonders for mobile recording in this digital age, and there are a lot of them to choose from.
You will find that wireless microphones can be particularly useful when you are in a situation where you don’t want to be tethered by a traditional cord. There are actually quite a few fairly inexpensive wireless mike systems that you will have to choose from. If you are interested in this type of microphone, you will need to match up the frequencies just right. Those who don’t want to go to the trouble of doing this can simply by a full system with pre-configured frequencies.
Sub-Categories of Microphones
There are several sub-categories of microphones that you should know about before you go looking for the right one to meet your needs.
- Large Diaphragm Condenser: These microphones are excellent for recording vocals as well as certain instruments, so they are highly versatile. There are quite a few of these microphones, so you will need to explore your options.
- Small Diaphragm Condenser: Used primarily for amplifying acoustic guitars and cymbals in drum kits for the purpose of recording them in a studio. You will find that these microphones are extremely slim, and they are excellent for those who are putting together a home studio. If you want to record a music album, this type of microphone is certainly worth looking into.
- Dynamic Utility Microphones: A dynamic utility microphone is also incredibly versatile, and they work well for recording electric guitars, rock vocals and drums. Lots of people use these mikes in studios because of how useful they can be.
- Bass Microphones: These microphones are used to amplify and record lower frequency sounds, such as from a snare drums and kick drums. If you have a bass cabinet, this is an ideal microphone to get.
- Multi-Pattern Microphones: A majority of large diaphragm microphones are multi-pattern, which means that they allow the user to choose from three polar patterns (cardioid, omnidirectional and figure-8.)
- Shotgun Microphones: These mikes are used a lot in TV shows and movies in outdoor settings because they are so effective at isolating sounds. If you are planning to record outdoors or in a noisy place, you should definitely think about picking up one of these microphones.
- Side-Address Condenser Microphones: This type of microphone is a sub-category of large condenser mikes, and they usually have a windscreen covering the diaphragm. These are vertical mikes that are commonly used in radio and for normal vocals.
- Tube condenser microphones: These microphones have been around for a long time, and they are used a lot in broadcasting studios, though they are also great for recording electric guitars and other instruments.
Common Uses of Microphones
People buy microphones for the basic purpose of amplifying sound, and it’s usually either vocals or a musical instrument of some kind. It is important to learn about which microphone you should get for each purpose so you will be able to make the right decision.
If your goal is to amplify the sound of your drum kit, you should look for a dynamic microphone with a cardioid polar pattern. A condenser microphone is perfectly acceptable for snare drums and tom toms, but they aren’t incredibly versatile. Once you get your microphone, you will most likely need to do a bit of trial and error when it comes to where you place it in relation to the drums.
A dynamic microphone is best for amplifying electric guitars, and you will want to place it approximately a few feet from the speaker where the actual sound is coming from. If you purchase a mike with numerous polar patterns, you will probably want to use omnidirectional.
Properly amplifying an acoustic guitar can be a bit tricky, but a small-diaphragm microphone with a cardioid polar pattern should do the trick. You want to make sure that the microphone is aimed down at the guitar about six inches away for the best results.
The best microphones for vocals are usually condensers with large diaphragms. You want a microphone that is going to only pick up your voice (the sound right in front of it). You might need to try out a few of these mikes before you find the right one, but it’s well worth the effort.
If you are planning on getting a microphone for a violin, cello or some other string instrument, you should look for a nice condenser model. Ribbon mikes are also ideal for amplifying these instruments, but they can be fairly expensive.
When you need to record acoustic piano, you should have two large diaphragm microphones. You will almost certainly need to play around with different mike positions before you can find the right one to pick up the sound just right.
Resistance to Moisture
One factor that a lot of people overlook when searching for the right microphone is resistance to moisture. The last thing you want is a mike that is going to get damaged by changes in humidity, especially if you are going to spend a lot of money on it. Make sure that you take the time to find a microphone that will be able to withstand humidity fluctuations so you don’t have any problems later on.
It is a good idea to decide how much you can afford to spend on a microphone before you start looking at your options. This will help you to narrow down your options so you can find the right microphone faster. Microphones can range from $20 to well over $1,000, depending on the kind you are interested in getting. You will need to keep in mind that you typically get what you pay for with microphones, so you don’t want to go too cheap.
One of the best ways to get a great deal on a microphone is to go online and compare your options. By doing this research you should be able to find the microphone you want at a price you will be able to afford. Some places charge more for this type of sound equipment than others, which is all the more reason for you to do this research before making a final decision. Remember that the microphone you buy is an investment, especially if you are in a band.
Studio Recording Microphones
While a lot of people believe that condenser microphones are better for studio recording, the fact is that dynamic mikes are ideal. The fact is that recording studios use lots of different types of microphones, and each one serves a different purpose. It all comes down to what you plan on using the microphone for.
The brand of microphone you buy is something else to take into consideration, because it is very important. There are a number of popular and trusted mike brands, including Rode, Shure, and Neumann. It is always a good idea to look for a well-known brand so that you don’t regret the decision you make later on. While you might be able to save some money by purchasing an off-brand microphone, it is simply not worth the risk.
There are tons of different microphones to choose from, and it is imperative that you do the necessary research before deciding which one you should get. You will want to keep in mind that what you plan on using the microphone for will be the most important factor to consider before making up your mind on anything in particular. Whether you need a new microphone for your band or journalist purposes, you will need to do your homework. A quality microphone will provide you with years of consistent results, and you definitely get what you pay for.