Purchasing a Microphone for Your Music Studio
The best microphone to purchase for your studio depends on what you’re planning on using it for. If you are planning to use a microphone for pure voice calling and communication, live streaming, or even for a podcast, you don’t need to spend very much money on a mic that will do the trick.
Of course, on this blog we’re all about recording software and hardware, so we will focus purely on what kind of microphones there are available on the market, both consumer and professional grade, and what their uses are.
Types of Microphones
First, let’s go over what kind of professional microphones there are. There are two types of microphones used in the professional industry, and those are condenser microphones and dynamic microphones. Let’s go over what those two terms mean, and how they can apply to what is best for you.
These kinds of microphones rely on a particular type of thermodynamics, known as the ‘principle of variable-capacitance.’ To make it easier to understand, we’ll define that as ‘the ability to store kinetic energy and electricity through an electric field between two of the conducting bodies.’ The base or diaphragm of a condenser mic acts as one of the two needed conducting bodies. When a sound or vibration passes through it, the distance between the two ‘conductive bodies’ begins to change. These minuscule differences in the sound and the vibration multiply and have a significant effect on the output voltage of the microphone, and therefore noise that it picks up.
These microphones operate very similarly to passive speakers, except in reverse. In the sense that they use an electrical signal that moves through the diaphragm of the microphone input to pick up the sound, a passive speaker utilizes the sound that is produced by the input to make progress through the diaphragm to create the electrical signal, instead of creating the active signal.
But what does any of this information mean, and how does this apply to my choice of a microphone for my studio? Good question. Let’s break that dense brick of info down into more bite-sized chunks.
Condenser microphones are very common in studios because of their ability to produce a far greater frequency response, compared to the newer dynamic mic. It also has a boosted transient response time, which reproduces the speed or tempo of a voice or instrument. They do have one important drawback though; for a condenser microphone to have a louder output, it has to be more sensitive to louder sounds. This is why condenser microphones pick up keyboard clicks and mouse strokes when used by streamers and people who host podcast shows.
Condenser microphones also require a dedicated power amp, which makes them more suited for deskwork and uses in recording studios, rather than on the stage at your local bar.
When you compare a typical dynamic microphone to a condenser mic, you will undoubtedly find that they are far more rugged than their more sensitive counterparts. Not just regarding the technology located within the shell of the microphone, but physically, too. They are more resistant to moisture (in the form of humidity or direct liquid) and drops, vibrations, and shakes. This makes them a far more attractive choice for on-stage performances.
Unlike condensers, dynamic mics don’t require external sound or power amps, which is another reason why they are generally more favored for performances and live work. However, not all is well and good for these variants of microphones; they have a lower sound quality and have a less sharp output when compared to condenser mics, making them less suitable for studio and recording work.
So, what do I need for my home studio?
The answer is relatively simple. For natural instruments in acoustic rooms or open scenarios, use a large diaphragm condenser microphone. If you want to record one instrument, such as a cello, bass, or drums, you will want a mix of small diaphragm condenser microphones and dynamic microphones for the best sound quality and clarity.
If you want to record vocals at home, in an enclosed or open setting, a large diaphragm condenser microphone is your best bet. If you want to tape concert halls, large orchestras or your local show while still maintaining a professional air, you should go with a small diaphragm dynamic microphone.
That’s it! I hope that this article cleared up any confusion you had. Remember to keep in mind what you’re planning on recording, and do your research accordingly. Before you make any purchases, I recommend checking out a microphone buying guide at The Hub.