Musicians need a lot of equipment when they’re recording or playing a gig. While instruments will be the most obvious, you also need to think about microphones. After all, each gig or recording requires you to pick up the best sound possible. That sound will have to be of a high enough quality to broadcast to an audience. Typically, you’ll want a microphone that provides crystal clear sound without a lot of background noise. But, how do you choose a microphone? What can you look for and do to make sure that it’s the right one for you?
How To Choose The Best Microphone
Knowing how to choose the best microphone can depend heavily on what kind of sound you’re looking for, among other factors. There are a few specific things, however, that you’ll have to consider. Part of this will naturally be price, although this shouldn’t be the first thing you look at. Instead, you should look at a few key factors that will help you figure out if it’s worth the price. After all, a cheap microphone isn’t exactly a good one. There are a few things that you’ll have to look at when comparing different options.
Ease Of Use
Usability should be vital for anybody buying a microphone. That’ll be especially true for singers, as they’ll typically have to perform their vocals live. In that kind of setting, you shouldn’t have to spend a while fixing it or setting it up. This can also apply to the overall setup, so you wouldn’t have to spend too much time getting ready to play. Using a microphone with a lot of equipment can often lead to technical issues. Keeping your mic setup easy to use will minimize the chances of it being the problem.
Naturally, that also means that compatibility should be a factor in your choice. While the majority of products are designed to be used with any speakers, that might not always be the case. Thankfully, a little bit of research should be enough to figure this out. If you have a friend or a family member who uses it with software that you’ll be using, see if they had any initial issues. If they did, they could help you overcome them.
What Is Frequency Response?
Frequency response relates to the way a microphone responds to different frequencies. It is a feature of all microphones that some frequencies are exaggerated and others are reduced. There are quite a few different types of microphones available. The NT1 Cardioid Condenser Microphone, for example, is what’s known as a large-diaphragm cardioid condenser microphone. That makes it a great recommendation for anybody with lower or deeper voices.
That’s because they’ve been designed specifically for that frequency. On the other hand, you’ll need a small diaphragm microphone for a higher voice or for an acoustic guitar. This is what’s known as a microphone’s frequency response. When you’re choosing a microphone, you should know roughly what hertz your voice is and tailor your decision to that. Doing so should help you pick the best mic for you.
A microphone’s directional pattern, also known as a polar pattern, is where the mic draws in sound from. Depending on your needs, this should be a large priority. For a musician, a focused, narrower directional pattern might be the best choice.
The same can also be said for musicians and singers. These are what’s known as a cardioid or a hypercardioid microphone. They’re designed to pick up noises made in front of the mic, as long as they’re in a close enough range. They will also reduce any ambient noise from being picked up. There are several options to choose from if you go this route. The Shure SM7B Vocal Microphone, for example, is a large-diaphragm dynamic microphone. That should make it one of the best mics for vocalists and voice-over artists.
What Are You Recording?
One of the first things to consider when choosing a microphone is what will you be recording? If you are recording electric guitar, for example, the Shure SM57 is a perfect choice. Although technically a low budget mic, it certainly isn’t low in quality. It is also a favourite among beginners and professionals alike. Its contoured frequency response reproduces instrumental sounds impeccably. While also having the ability to amplify sound which draws attention to every intricate detail of the music you’re making.
If you’re looking to take your recordings to the next level, then we recommend the AKG C314 (Whether it be the cardioid, super-cardioid, Omni, or figure-8 polar pattern.) The AKG C314 can get the most natural sound from any instrument.
Generally speaking, condenser microphones are better for acoustic guitars due to their higher sensitivity. Large-diaphragm condenser mics make the sound appear bigger. Which is great for capturing high frequencies such as acoustic guitars and vocals. Although the more affordable of the Neumann line up, the TLM 102 makes no compromises with its sound quality. It’s both small and lightweight, making positioning on a boom arm around an acoustic guitar easy.
Paying homage to the vintage Neumann U67, the Warm Audio WA-67 excels in delivering rich and warm sounds. This makes it our top pick for vocals. The processing you need to do to a cheaper microphone is what you do to achieve the natural sound this provides. Plus, the added benefit of being able to dial in cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-8 polar patterns makes this all-around versatile mic.
Different Types Of Microphones
As you can probably tell, there are quite a few different types of microphones. Each of these has its advantages and disadvantages. You’ll have to keep these in mind when making your decision.
These are mics with an embedded wireless module. They can be great if wires are an issue, although it is possible for audio to drop out relatively regularly. One of the best wireless microphones for guitar players is the Sennheiser XSW-D. It’s perfect for gigs, offers low latency and allows the first time and budget-conscious users to use quality products without breaking the bank. A great wireless microphone for vocals on the other hand is the Shure BLX24R. It has been regarded for its top-notch audio execution and presents great sound output quality. It is recommended for stage performance use due to its high range capacities.
As you might expect, these are microphones that can be plugged in with a USB. They can be great for computers or recording equipment, as they’re easy to set up. If you’re thinking about getting a USB microphone, then the Sennheiser MK4 Digital Cardioid Condenser is worth considering. It offers a nice vocal performance and is designed for project studios and stage use.
These are well recommended for studio work, as they can provide a nice, rich sound. They can be much more expensive than other models, however. The Royer R-122 MKII Active Ribbon Microphone is one of the better recommended choices. Thanks to a high-quality sound and a large degree of flexibility. It has high SPL capabilities which are also great for electric guitar and percussion instruments.
Condenser or Capacitor Microphones
These are what you’ll typically see when performing vocals and instrumentals and they can be quite affordable. This is what has made them popular among touring musicians. Thanks to a wide frequency range, alongside a lot of durabilities, the Audio-Technica-AT2020 might be one of the better-recommended condenser microphones.
These may be the most popular microphones on offer, as they can take in a lot of sound without distorting it. They’re also some of the most durable, so they can withstand most of the wear and tear seen when touring. When it comes to the best dynamic microphones for singers, you can’t go wrong with the Sennheiser E845-S. All thanks to its excellent performance quality and keeps the sound quality while moving, providing greater on-stage freedom.
There can be a lot to consider when you’re figuring out how to choose the best microphone. How to choose the best microphone based on the above may depend on your needs. With the wealth of options, it can be easy to be overwhelmed. At Rubber Monkey, however, we aim to make the choice as simple as possible for you.
We have a range of affordable microphones on offer that are high-quality and will suit your needs. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch, and we’ll be happy to help you with your equipment.