Microphones are the heart and soul of music! Let us Guide you through the Different Types of Microphones. Microphones are used to capture a lead singer’s beautiful vocals, the strings in an acoustic guitar, or the thumping bass from drum kits. When setting up your home recording studio, just like many budding artists and dreamers, you may wonder whether you need a dozen microphones to get started with or not!
The answer is no and yes!
No, because you can get going with a dynamic or condenser microphone and start recording quickly, without spending time.
Yes, because there is no one perfect microphone that captures it all.
This guide to different microphone types will finally put your doubts to rest and help you make a wise decision. Be it setting up a completely new recording studio at home or upgrade it with one or two purchases, we got you covered.
Different Types of Microphones
1. Dynamic microphones
2. Condenser microphones
3. Ribbon microphones
Dynamic microphones are the most popular choice among beginners and newbies who are setting up a great recording studio at home. These microphones can be used anywhere as they are extremely durable, work great under varying climatic conditions, and withstand high-frequency recording such as loud guitar amps.
These dynamic models don’t need a dedicated power supply, and the most popular variants are extremely cheap, affordable making it easy even to buy more than one if required. They are often used in live recordings and won’t distort easily. A moving coil magnetic diaphragm is used in it, and the SPL sound pressure levels are much higher in dynamic mics.
- Most dynamic mics are very sturdy, capable of withstanding shocks if you accidentally drop them
- They don’t need a dedicated power supply to operate
- Capable of handling high sound pressure level (SPL) from heavy guitars or loud vocals during a live performance
- These products may not capture the nuances in vocals and minor voice modulations initiated by the singer
- They are not designed for precision recording
- Are not the best choice when it comes to recording low, mid-frequency, and soft vocals
· Recording high-frequency vocals, live performance, and demanding guitar amps
· Users who handle their microphones roughly and require a budget-friendly choice to start their collection
The microphones listed here are some of the best and popular dynamic microphones that you can buy. They are usually cheap, easy to use, and don’t require any maintenance, as they are made to withstand most conditions.
Best Dynamic Microphones for Professionals
Condenser microphones are very sensitive when compared to dynamic microphones and hence require proper storage, maintenance. For vocalists who throw their mic around and move a lot, they may not be suitable because these products are capable of picking up breathing sounds every minute, besides everything else in the environment.
The popular photographs where you see microphones with a pop filter against them are always condenser models. Pop filters are mandatory to avoid excess air pressure from being picked up. These models are not meant for loud vocals or guitar amps but are ideal for home recording studios. They need a power supply to operate at its full efficiency.
- Perfect choice for recording amazing vocals in a home recording studio or covered space
- Capable of capturing precise changes in instruments or vocals
- Sensitive to breathing and popping, which suits specific genres in composition
- Condenser microphones require a dedicated power supply to be operated
- They may easily get damaged if used for high-frequency recording like guitar amps
- A pop filter is mandatory when recording vocals to stop excessive air pressure from affecting the quality
- Precision recording, where every minute detail has to be captured without missing a beat
Sensitive, low to mid-frequency low volume recording sessions
Ribbon Microphones are not as popular as a condenser or dynamic microphones as professionals in very specific situations primarily use them. They are considered a niche product, as the ribbon models are very expensive and extremely sensitive.
The microphones create a vintage sound that may not match many modern-day recording scenarios, but they do have their fair share of best aspects. For recording music full of acoustic instruments that must also pick up each nuance, these microphones stand out of competition and continue to exist.
Different Patterns in Microphones and how they pick Sound
There are three major categories in microphones, and the patterns in which they pick Sound drastically vary from one another. Sometime due to this microphones we get a headache and body pain and if you need any physiotherapist then you should visit physiotherapy etobicoke clinic in canada. The choice purely depends on how the studio is set up, the instrument placements, and the wavelength you want it to sound for the perfect aural experience.
Cardioid is the most popular pattern in which Sound is picked up in waves with gaps in between, similar to how a Japanese fan would look like. The gaps allow space to reduce sensitivity and not pick up each sound product on the outside.
Super-Cardioid is similar to cardioid, but they pick up Sound completely without any gaps in between. The Sound is tighter without any distortions, but even the slightest mistake will get recorded when using these microphones.
Omni is easy to understand! A 360-degree microphone that grabs sounds from all directions and once again a tough choice unless you have a professional studio setup with great soundproofing and instrument arrangement.
Figure 8 is useful if you don’t want sounds from the side to be picked up. It is an alternative to Omni, where sounds from front and back are given the highest importance, as it is seen in the shape of Number 8.
The shotgun is a narrow and extended polar pattern that is even smaller than hyper cardioids. They are very limited in terms of coverage and are highly directional. The major usage for such shotgun mics is in a place where there is too much external noise, such as broadcasting in sporting events. They are also used as overhead mics but cannot be used in recording as the sound quality is below average.
Different Types of Diaphragms in Microphones and Usage Guide
The condenser and dynamic are the two major, and most popular microphone types professionals use regularly. However, both these types have varying diaphragm sizes, which play a huge role in determining how they capture audio input and the best usage scenario.
When picking up a new microphone, you should consider its recording pattern, which is usually cardioid, while some models are Omni or figure 8. Each pattern has specific real-life applications. Similarly, there are three major diaphragm sizes.
1. Small Diaphragm microphones
2. Medium Diaphragm microphones
3. Large Diaphragm microphones
Small Diaphragm – Compact and Sensitive
A small diaphragm microphone is also called a pencil mics. They are very thin, easy to hold, and are very responsive to capturing sounds. They are primarily used to record hi-hats, cymbals, acoustic guitars, and other sharp sounds which require precise capturing.
A good example of a microphone with a small diaphragm is MXL MXLCR21PAIR Instrument Microphone. You can also explore other similar models in different brands.
Medium Diaphragm – Strikes a Fine Balance
A medium diaphragm microphone is perfect for most applications, including your home recording studio. The moderately sized diaphragms make sure they aren’t too sensitive or too large to miss minor details. Instead, these microphones produce fuller, warm Sound. These models can handle high-frequency instruments and loud vocals but only to a certain extent.
Large Diaphragm – Great All-Purpose Solution
A large diaphragm microphone is an all-purpose solution in any studio setup. When you doubt and want to know the only model that you could buy, choose one with a large base. It can capture everything, including loud vocals, drum kits, piano, electric guitar, and room space. They also require mounts to isolate them from external vibration and are powered using a source to function properly.
Microphones Models and Types for Specific Users
The guide to different types of microphones can go on and on because apart from the basic types, patterns there are always unique additions useful for specific purposes. Social listening tools for beginners can skip most of them because they don’t have to spend a fortune to grab them all at once.
Recording vocals and instruments may vary based on your setup and choice of instruments, but there are other purposes, such as mobile recording, podcasts, gaming, etc. It has led to the growth of unique models which focus on catering to a niche audience.
USB microphones are easy to use and are made by some of the best brands in town, such as Rode, Blue. They are primarily geared towards game streamers, podcast artists who travel a lot. You can plug your mic into your MacBook or laptop to start talking without a professional studio setup.
The latest models are designed to work with tablets, and they are usually on the cheaper side unless you have the budget to buy premium models.
- Game streamers who like to connect and start speaking as they game away easily
- Users who need portability and no-frills setup
- Podcast people and travelers want to connect to record sessions on the go, using a laptop or tablet
The name should be easy to understand as these microphones usually have a large diaphragm to capture sounds from every direction conveniently. Unlike most models which use cardioid or omnidirectional patterns, these multi-pattern models allow you to switch between multiple patterns easily.
The example model featured here actually has nine different patterns, whereas most basic models have three – cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure 8. Based on your requirement and ability to efficiently use your investment, you can opt for as many patterns as you like.
A simple switch allows you to change from one pattern to another easily. In theory, it will help you drastically improve your recording and capture instruments, vocals in their authenticity. For beginners, switching patterns while focusing on every aspect of recording in a home studio could be very tedious. Still, in due time, this will become a necessity when you don’t want to use multiple mics to save space as to keep your expenditure under control.
- Seasoned professionals and sound engineers who have ample experience in the studio recording
- If you don’t like to swap multiple mics and like to have a single steady setup for all kinds of sessions
- Sound recordists who are aware of all types of patterns and like to keep cost low while providing amazing quality from a home studio
Bass microphones are compact and capable of capturing even the lowest bass frequency produced by certain instruments. Any professional studio will have this mic in their collection because it helps in making your songs and compositions sound authentic.
They are often referred to as a bass mic or a kick drum mic. They are mostly used to get a low-end boost, presence boost around 4k, and improved scoop in the moods.
Here are two widely popular models from reputed brands.
Example/ Recommended Model
Ribbon microphones used to be very common and an attractive piece of equipment that you would have repeatedly spotted in radio recording sessions. They were the most popular mics in the golden era of radio channels and slowly lost their importance with more conventional models occupying their space. However, times have changed, and everything retro-like vinyl has gained traction these days.
The ribbon mics are no different, as their recording style is completely different, which has made them popular once again. Instead of the conventional technology of diaphragms, which is what you will find on almost every microphone these days, this model uses a thin metal ribbon. The unique approach allows them to capture the highest possible frequencies without distortion or damage. They are surprisingly great at capturing voices and vocals as well with a warm vintage tone. Professionals use them typically in open live sessions where external noise is less and multiple instruments are played at the same time.
Example/ Recommended Model
How to Choose Your Microphones?
Frequency Response – Based on frequency response, pick condenser mics that work great with low frequency sounds like piano, cymbals, and acoustic guitar. Dynamic mics are great for recording drums and electric guitar.
Diaphragm – The size of the diaphragm determines how they are able to capture Sound, and larger ones are less sensitive and may not capture sensitive sounds, while smaller ones are best suited for capturing vocals, low-frequency instruments.
Durability – Dynamic mics are usually more durable and less prone to malfunction due to climatic conditions. Condenser mics are ideal for recording in a controlled studio environment, i. Similarly, dynamics can also withstand high frequency as well as accidental drops, making them the more durable choice.
Budget – Dynamic mics can be purchased somewhere close to $500 and up, whereas premium condenser mics can go all the way up to $5,000. There are also many good models that you could buy in the $400 to $1000 range. Ideally, it is up to the type of recording you plan to do using these models.
Going for a branded microphone has some advantages, including assured sound quality, easy warranty replacement, and value for your money. Some of the most popular microphone brands are,
- Audio Technica
Final Thoughts On Different Types of Microphones
The ultimate guide to different types of microphones should make your life easier when you are setting up a home recording studio and want the best yet budget-friendly models to start with. The more premium models from big brands are always readily available, and you can add them to your collection of microphones when you conduct professional recording sessions on an expansive scale.
With so many types of microphones and patterns available, a person new to the world of sound recording may feel intimidated, but it’s not as complicated as it looks like. Start with an all-purpose, cheaper model to understand how it records. Eventually, you can proceed to more expensive models and experiment with different patterns as required.