Microphones – Finding the Right Mic
Which microphones meet your home studio recording equipment needs?
Of all of the equipment you want in your studio, none of it equals the importance of the using the right microphone to capture your sound. The list of microphones in the marketplace today is lengthy to say the least. So it is imperative to get acquainted with what is out there, what the various types of microphones do to be able to find the best studio recording microphone that fits the needs of your work.
Generally speaking, there are three different types of microphones:
- Dynamic Mics
- Condenser Mics
- Ribbon Mics
A vocalist in a live show typically will be using a dynamic microphone. They can be used for just about everything but they have best results when you place them close to the sound source. And as such can be used for many placements both live and in the studio. This is a sturdy mic that can endure the sometimes rough treatment in live performance.
The best dynamic microphones for vocals and other close proximity sound sources can be found in these common brands:
- Shure SM57
- Shure SM58
- Sennheiser MD421 II
Condenser microphones are designed to pick up a lot of the detail that a dynamic mic isn’t capable of. This ability to pick up the detail is why they are the most used microphone in the studio. They come in different sizes and thus used for different purposes. Small diaphragm condenser mics are utilized largely for acoustic instruments whereas the large diaphragm mics are a better application for room overheads, guitar cabinets, bass and vocals.
To find the best studio condenser microphone today, you’ll find the marketplace has a much larger brand spectrum than the dynamic microphone list that includes, but is not limited to:
- Shure SM27SC
- Neumann TLM-102
- Audio-Technica AT2020 USB
- MXL V67G
- MXL 770
- AKG Pro C214
- AKG C414
- Rode NT1-A
Then we get to Ribbon mics – the Ribbon microphone is a different kind of dynamic mic with an extremely thin strip of metal suspended in a magnetic field.
This ‘ribbon’ acts as both the diaphragm and the transducer element, and provides the same kind of sensitivity and transient response you’d expect from a condenser mic but with different characteristics. Recording with ribbon microphones is ideal for picking up guitar cabinets, large vocal groups, brass and woodwinds, large orchestral strings, drums and to capture the stereo effect of a room.
Some of the ribbon microphones on the market today include:
- Royer Labs 121
- Royer Labs 101
- Audio Technica AT4801
- Golden Age Project R1 MK2
- MXL R40
- ART AR5
Another mic that is not spoken of very often is a Boundary Microphone. These are a small diaphragm condenser mic that can be used to capture audio in many different ways. Like conferences, churches, meetings, desktops, specific instruments and in locations like a hockey rink boards, small ensemble rooms. Depending on your live application they may be a good solution. The models below may provide some interest for your recording projects:
- Audix ADX 60
- CAD U7
- Shure MX391/S
- MXL AC404
Now that you have a better idea of what these microphones are designed to do, you can make more informed decisions when deciding how to record the various audio tracks in your recording studio.