How to choose the right Microphone!

February 22, 2019

Questions to ask yourself.....

1.) Application: What do you want to pick up?

The first question in choosing a suitable microphone is the application. Are you speaking, singing or playing an instrument?

2.) Dynamic or Condenser?

Dynamic microphones are generally preferred for live voices, amplified guitars or drums. Dynamic microphones are generally more rugged and take the knocks. They are less prone to feedback on a loud stage with monitors.

Condenser microphones provide a more natural, detailed sound and are therefore the better choice for acoustic instruments such as acoustic guitars, brass and overheads with drums.

Especially in studios a more natural sound reproduction is desired, which makes the condensers more suitable in recording applications. If a condenser microphone is your first choice, remember that your mixer must be able to supply phantom power to the microphone or you need to buy a condenser microphone that uses batteries to supply the condenser element power.

3.) In which environment do you want to use the microphone?

Will the microphone be used on stage, in a conference room or in a recording studio? The environment influences your choice between dynamic or condenser, and the directionality or pick up pattern of a microphone.

Omnidirectional microphones provide the most natural sound reproduction. However, they are the most sensitive to feedback. They are best suited for recording or presentations where small PAs are used.

On stages with loud PA and monitoring systems, you will not find omnidirectional microphones but cardioids or super-cardioids. Through picking up the sound from the front and isolating unwanted off-axis sound and ambient noise, these unidirectional microphones minimize feedback.

4.) Microphone Sound: Do you prefer a natural sound or an optimized sound for a specific application?

Depending on the use of the microphone and the environment it is used in, a flat or tailored frequency response may be the better choice. A microphone with a tailored frequency response (e.g. a live vocal microphone) is tailored to help a vocal cut through the mix.

If it is desired to reproduce a sound source without changing or coloring, a flat frequency response (e.g. Condenser/Studio microphone) is the better choice. In studios you will mostly find microphones with a flat frequency response.

5.) Budget

Like most things you get what you pay for. For live microphones some of the key features are; build quality, handling noise, internal pop filtering, feedback rejection, capsule quality.

* A large amount of this post is taken from Shure.

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