When it comes to the must-have equipment independent artists have, one of the most important and difficult decisions is buying microphones. There are so many different types of microphones and so many different options that often times people end up buying the wrong microphone for the wrong occasion. In this blog post, I’d like to shed some light on this decision to help you guide you towards the right direction. Full disclosure: it is important that you test out the microphone you like before you buy it, to make sure you like the results.
Here are the type of microphones and some potential situations that you can use them:
1) Condenser Microphones: Amongst all the microphone types, condenser microphones offer the widest frequency response from extreme low, bassy sounds to high pitched sounds. They also offer higher sensitivity and lower noise than dynamic microphones, which is why they are more preferred for recording. Especially, if you are recording high quality vocals or instruments, condensers are your go-to option for professional quality sound. You probably won’t need a condenser microphone if you just need a microphone for your YouTube videos, as condensers tend to be the most expensive microphones among their peers.
2) Dynamic Microphones: Dynamic microphones are typically built rugged and they have internal shock mounting, which allows them to be held in hand. For this reason, they are great for live performances; and some dynamic microphones such as the Shure SM58 are also regularly used for recording rock vocals, electric guitars or drums since they respond nicely to loud situations. They are super affordable as well!
3) USB Microphones: I think for making YouTube videos, Podcasts or Audiobooks, USB Microphones are simple, to the point, and affordable options. You certainly don’t get the extreme high level quality you would get from condenser and dynamic microphones, USB microphones are easier to use and more affordable. They are also getting better and better everyday. I was at an event a few months ago at Berklee College of Music, where a famous producer argued that it is possible to make hits with USB microphones these days – if you know how to use it right!
4) Shotgun Microphones: Shotgun microphones are most regularly used in movies and on TV, because they have a unique ability to isolate sound. For this reason, you can often find them being used in news reporting or wildlife documentation. In noisy environments, they make it possible that we can hear the person talking to the microphone. So if this falls in to the area of your content, choose this option for the best results.
5) Ribbon Microphones: Ribbons typically have a vintage, form and soft sound. They are bidirectional, which means that the microphone responds to sound arriving from the front or back of the mic, and does not pick up sound arriving on its sides. For this reason, they are regularly used for stereo recording, especially in specific cases where you want to eliminate unwanted noise between two sources, like in broadcast.
There are many types of microphones available to our disposal, but these are the most common ones that are being used today. Whether you are recording in your bedroom, or on your iPhone, these are the most common microphones you will encounter. I hope that this post provides you a nice introduction in your microphone search and good luck in your hunt!
What are some of your favorite types of microphones? What do you generally use them for? Feel free to comment below!
Alper Tuzcu is a Berklee College of Music and Denison University alumni, and a Boston based guitarist, songwriter and producer. His new EP ‘Lines’ was released on November 2017 and his debut eclectic album ‘Between 12 Waters’ featuring 8 different vocalists is available on Spotify. In addition to being a musician, he regularly teaches workshops and masterclasses internationally. You can follow him on Instagram or Twitter, and for more information you can visit his website www.alpertuzcu.com