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What to Look for in Microphone?

When it comes to audio recording, the microphone you use can make all the difference in the quality of your final product. Whether you’re a musician, podcaster, or streamer, finding the right microphone can be a daunting task. There are countless options on the market, each with their own unique features and specifications. In this article, we will explore what to look for in a microphone to help you make an informed decision when purchasing your next microphone.

Type of Microphone
The first thing to consider when choosing a microphone is the type of microphone. There are several types of microphones to choose from, each with their own unique characteristics. The most common types of microphones include:

Dynamic microphones: These microphones are best for live performances and are known for their durability and ability to handle high sound pressure levels. They are also relatively inexpensive.
Condenser microphones: These microphones are best for recording in a studio or home setting. They are more sensitive than dynamic microphones and are able to capture a wider range of frequencies.
Ribbon microphones: These microphones are known for their warm, natural sound and are best for recording vocals and instruments.
USB microphones: These microphones are best for podcasting, streaming, and other digital recording applications. They connect directly to a computer via USB and do not require any additional equipment.
Directionality
Another important factor to consider when choosing a microphone is the directionality of the microphone. Directionality refers to the microphone’s ability to capture sound from different directions. There are several different types of directionality, including:

Omnidirectional: Omnidirectional microphones pick up sound from all directions.
Unidirectional: Unidirectional microphones pick up sound primarily from one direction.
Cardioid: Cardioid microphones pick up sound primarily from the front of the microphone, but also pick up some sound from the sides.
Connectivity
When choosing a microphone, it’s also important to consider the connectivity options available. Some microphones require an XLR cable to connect to an audio interface or mixing console, while others connect directly to a computer via USB. If you plan on using your microphone in a live setting, it’s important to choose a microphone with XLR connectivity so that you can connect it to a mixing console or audio interface. If you plan on using your microphone for podcasting, streaming, or other digital recording applications, a USB microphone may be a better option.

Frequency Response
Frequency response is another important factor to consider when choosing a microphone. The frequency response of a microphone refers to the range of frequencies that the microphone can capture. Some microphones have a flat frequency response, meaning that they capture all frequencies equally, while others have a tailored frequency response that is designed to capture specific frequencies. For example, a microphone designed for recording vocals may have a frequency response that is tailored to capture the human voice.

Sensitivity
Microphone sensitivity is a measure of how well a microphone can capture and convert sound into an electrical signal. The sensitivity of a microphone is measured in decibels (dB). A high sensitivity microphone will capture sound at a lower volume than a low sensitivity microphone. If you plan on recording in a quiet environment, a high sensitivity microphone may be a better option.

Additional Features
In addition to the factors mentioned above, there are also several other features to consider when choosing a microphone. These include:

Noise suppression: Some microphones include built-in noise suppression to reduce background noise and improve the overall audio quality.

Polar patterns: The polar pattern of a microphone refers to the shape and direction of the microphone’s sensitive area. The most common polar patterns include cardioid, omnidirectional, and bidirectional.

Shock mount: A shock mount is a device that attaches to the microphone and helps to reduce vibrations and handling noise.

Pop filter: A pop filter is a device that attaches to the microphone and helps to reduce plosive sounds, such as “p” and “b” sounds.

Durability: Consider the durability of a microphone when choosing one, especially if you plan to use it in a live setting. Look for a microphone that is built to withstand the rigors of live performance.

Brand reputation: Research the brand reputation of the microphone manufacturer before making a purchase. Brands with a good reputation are likely to produce high-quality microphones.

Conclusion
Choosing the right microphone is crucial for achieving the best possible audio quality. When making your decision, consider the type of microphone, directionality, connectivity, frequency response, sensitivity, additional features and brand reputation. By considering all of these factors, you’ll be able to find a microphone that is well suited to your needs and will help you achieve the best possible audio quality. With the right microphone, you’ll be able to take your audio recordings to the next level.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a dynamic microphone and a condenser microphone?
Dynamic microphones are best for live performances and are known for their durability and ability to handle high sound pressure levels. They are also relatively inexpensive. Condenser microphones are best for recording in a studio or home setting. They are more sensitive than dynamic microphones and are able to capture a wider range of frequencies.

What is the difference between a cardioid microphone and an omnidirectional microphone?
Cardioid microphones pick up sound primarily from the front of the microphone, but also pick up some sound from the sides. Omnidirectional microphones pick up sound from all directions.

What is the difference between a USB microphone and an XLR microphone?
A USB microphone connects directly to a computer via USB and does not require any additional equipment. An XLR microphone requires an XLR cable to connect to an audio interface or mixing console.

What is the difference between a flat frequency response and a tailored frequency response?
A flat frequency response means that a microphone captures all frequencies equally, while a tailored frequency response is designed to capture specific frequencies.

What are some additional features to look for in a microphone?
Some additional features to consider when choosing a microphone include noise suppression, polar patterns, shock mount, pop filter, durability and brand reputation.