When you’re shopping at online music stores for a microphone for your quaint home recording studio, you drown in the thousands of microphones with different types, brands and prices to choose from. To refrain you from making a random decision and clicking that “add to cart” button, you should at least first ask yourself, what kind of microphone should I use for recording?”
Best Kind of Microphone To Use for Recording
Before anything else, you should know that 95% of all microphones belong to just two types – condenser microphones and dynamic microphones. So, how would you know what to choose? It depends on what you will use it for. Let’s compare the two so you would know if you need a condenser or a dynamic microphone.
Frequency response and response curves – The frequency response of a microphone, which varies from low to high and is measured in Hertz, is the range of frequencies that the microphone will pick up. While this gives you an idea of the range that a microphone can reproduce, the response curve indicates the performance of the microphone at different frequencies.
Dynamic microphones work best on instruments with low-medium frequency response such as electric guitars and drums because they have heavier diaphragms.
On the other hand, condenser microphones work best on high-frequency instruments like pianos, cymbals, and acoustic guitars because they have small diaphragms for capturing sounds. This means, the higher the rate, the less energy they have to move mass.
Dynamic mics are known as “passive” while condenser mics are “active” when it comes to generating power. Due to their large mass, dynamic mics can generate enough power through movement. That’s why most dynamic mics don’t need a source of energy. Meanwhile, condenser mics need “phantom power” to amplify the weak voltage they generate. The good side to this is, with phantom power, you’ll be able to record softer sounds because condenser mics can attain higher gains.
Condenser mics are more durable than dynamic mics. Due to a condenser mic’s smaller diaphragm, it is also prone to damage, especially when processing higher sound pressure levels. The dynamic mic can process loud instruments like drums because of its heavy and sturdy diaphragms.
Also, dynamic mics are designed for heavy duty “rock n’ rolling”. You won’t need to worry much if you drop them on the ground because they will still work well. But if you drop a condenser mic, its chances of survival aren’t that high.
4. Moisture Resistance
Another feature which enhances the overall lifespan of the dynamic microphones is the fact that they come with a moisture-resistant construction. It doesn’t mean that you can actually use this gear under the intense rain. However, a dynamic microphone does stand tall against other environmental elements, including humidity.
Aside from its durability, dynamic mics are generally great on stage because they are more resistant to changes in humidity. Under fluctuating weather and humid conditions, condenser mics’ performance may suffer.
Condenser microphones are devoid of any such construction which makes them viable for indoor use.
Dynamic mics give higher gain before feedback than condenser mics. Feedback is a common problem in live concerts were microphones nearby can record many sounds. Condenser mics, being sensitive to sound, often surrender to feedback while dynamic mics are more resistant to it.
6. Cost – Price and Sound Quality
Due to their durability, sturdiness, and feedback resistant capabilities, Dynamic mics are way more expensive than condenser mics.
The reason behind it is while the former device is more than capable of picking up low-frequency sounds, the latter works well with high-frequency audios.
When discussing the price of a mic, you can never look over sound quality. Most of the time, it is a good general rule of thumb that the more expensive the mic, the higher the sound quality.
Recording mics also have multiple different purposes. You may need your microphone for voice-overs on YouTube or to do live broadcasts.
For that reason, you should consider what you will be doing with your mic before choosing a price/sound quality mic.
So if you’re a budget-conscious shopper, it might be better to purchase a dynamic mic. However, if you can afford to pay more in return for a quality microphone, you should go for the condenser microphone. That is because even though a dynamic mic is more durable than the condenser microphone, the condenser mic is still generally more preferred for ultra-sensitive audio recording sessions.
The Best Mic for Studio Recording
Since we’ve been discussing how dynamic mics perform better on a live stage, most would probably guess that condenser mics must be better in studio recordings for capturing particular sounds. The truth? No mic in existence is good for every sound. That’s why it is important to provide certain mics fit for your specific instruments and tasks.
What is a microphone diaphragm?
The diaphragm is a thin piece of material which vibrates when sound waves hit it.
Think about the diaphragm like your eardrum. It catches sound pressure coming in, reverberates it, and sends it into the next phase. In your ear, that’s your brain. In a microphone, that could be a speaker or recording device.
Diaphragm position depends on the type of microphone you’re using.
What does the diaphragm do?
In a hand-held microphone, the diaphragm is in the head of the microphone. The head is where the sound enters the mic (you know the bit you blast those sweet tunes into).
The vibrating diaphragm then causes other parts of the microphone to vibrate. It’s these vibrations which get converted into an electrical current. The end product is an audio sound.
All About Diaphragm Size
The first thing you need to think about is how your mic is going to pick up sounds. A diaphragm is essentially a thin piece of material that will vibrate when it picks up a sound, and this vibration is then converted into energy.
There isn’t a particular way to measure a diaphragm aside from putting it into one of three categories that relate to its mass. Its size will vary depending on how it handles dynamic range, sensitivity, internal noise, and sound pressure levels.
1. Large Diaphragm Condenser Mics
You’ve probably seen this classic looking mic in all music videos where the singer is recording in a studio. Aside from its cool, timeless look, this kind of mic is the standard for recording vocals. This should definitely be the first mic you get for your home studio.
Large diaphragm microphones are commonly used in recording studios because they can efficiently reproduce sonic details. They can move comfortably, in comparison to small-diaphragm mics, which are generally stiffer.
They can also detect even the slightest changes in sound pressure levels that help to produce a far more natural sound.
In fact, due to their impeccable nature for reproducing high-quality sounds, they’re a staple in most recording studios. You’ll also find that the majority of modern USB microphones have a large diaphragm that gives you the ability to record relatively anything from podcasts to live performances.
When you’re using a large diaphragm microphone you have to keep an eye on your volume levels, as the higher the volume, the more distorted the sound will become.
2. Medium Diaphragm Microphones
Medium diaphragm mics are also referred to as hybrid mics because they combine features of both small and large diaphragm designs. They offer a full and warm sound, which is similar to large models, but they still provide high-frequency handling like smaller diaphragms.
One of the most significant advantages of medium diaphragm mics is they can be used in both recording studios and live recording sessions.
It’s important to note that medium diaphragm mics aren’t necessary if you already have a large and small diaphragm mic at your disposal.
3. Small Diaphragm Condenser Mics
Also known as a “pencil mic,” it’s specifically made to record high-frequency instruments like acoustic guitars and cymbals. This mic captures high-end shimmer, making it perfect for acoustic singer/songwriters. They’re also perfect for at-home musicians that need to record their voice and their instrument, as it will accentuate all of the detail of your songs.
The two most common issues with their design are they offer low sensitivity and have an increased level of internal noise.
3. Utility Mics
This is the normal dynamic mic that is versatile in recording almost every instrument in the band such as electric guitars and drums. It is also ideal for recording rock vocals.
4. Bass Microphones
To record the good sounding low end of your bass instruments, you would want to get a “kick drum mic” or a bass mic. Its frequency response features a presence boost of around 4,000, a low-end boost and a scoop in the mids.
For people that are fans of the grooving bass lines of deeply rooted jazz and engaging funk, you’re going to want to be searching for a bass microphone. These units are designed to capture incredible low-end sounds that simply aren’t accentuated by regular microphones. You may have also heard of them being referred to as a kick drum mic.
A bass microphone is unique in its own right as it offers a presence boost of 4k, low-end boost, and small scoop in the mids. You can also install them in bass cabinets to help capture the sound of low-frequency instruments.
Although you may not need several of them just kicking around, it’s always best to have at least one to help lay a great bass track for your songs.
5. Multi-Pattern Mics
Multi-pattern mics are designed with a unique dual-capsule that allows you to record between the three polar patterns. This highly versatile tool is perfect for stereo recording.
They’re typically built identical to large diaphragm condensers, but they allow you to choose between 3 different polar patterns including omnidirectional, figure-8, and cardioid.
Multi-pattern mics are essential for stereo recording, but they certainly aren’t something that you’ll need as a beginner-recording artist.
6. Ribbon Mics
This mic is extraordinary because it is neither a condenser or a dynamic mic because it doesn’t have a diaphragm. Instead, it captures sound with a ribbon made of thin aluminum. Ribbon mics are similar with dynamic mics, but it is sensitive to a high frequency like condenser mics. It produces a unique sound, which is why it is quite expensive for a home studio owner.
As the only microphones that aren’t either condenser mics or dynamic mics, ribbon microphones are in their own particular category. They take advantage of a thin aluminum ribbon used to capture sound, in comparison to a diaphragm.
They’re also far more durable than other types, offer a figure-8 polar pattern, and catch the same type of high-frequency audio as condenser mics.
The one thing to take note of is that ribbon microphones are incredibly complicated and are mostly used in professional settings. If you’re not in a position to spend time learning about a ribbon mic, it’s best not to choose these for a home studio.
7. USB Mics
A USB microphone is the most popular and accessible mic to date. And of course, it is straightforward to use.
You certainly won’t see them in professional studios, and they’re a relatively new design, considering you need a computer to use them.
They’re perfect for podcasts and bedroom recording sessions, and due to their compatibility, they’re more popular now than they have ever been. USB microphones will plug directly into your computer or laptop; you may even be able to find models that are compatible with tablets.
They’re incredibly easy to use and highly recommended for beginners.
How does a USB microphone work?
These types of microphones are the plug and play microphones.
No fancy sound engineering degree needed to use these. you don’t even need anything else to help make them work either.
As long as you have your laptop close by you can turn any room into a recording studio. In fact, let’s leave the laptop behind and use a smartphone. Now you can record on the go.
Advantages to USB microphones
The biggest advantage of a USB microphone is that it is portable.
Even the earphones you get when you buy a new smartphone will have a built-in microphone.
This means you have a microphone in your pocket.
Disadvantages to USB microphones
To restore equilibrium in the audio world, the USB microphone also has a big disadvantage.
That being the sound quality.
Let’s face it, you can’t expect to produce any award-winning albums using your headphone mic!
8. Boundary Mics
These hard to get mics are essential tools in professional recording studios nowadays. Unlike all mics mentioned above, it doesn’t need a stand. Instead, it is mounted on a flat surface in the room. The best thing is, boundary mics are immune to comb filtering.
You might be surprised to learn that boundary mics are relatively unheard of as you certainly won’t see them in home studios and most professional studio owners don’t know what they are.
They may typically be used in theatre performances or conference rooms (alongside a good headset for video conferencing) to pick up high-quality audio.
There are many different designs for a variety of audio purposes and choosing the right one is up to the type of audio you’re trying to capture.
9. Shotgun Mics
Shotgun microphones have the unique ability to isolate sound. While not usually used in a recording studio, they are often used in capturing sounds outdoors such as in news reporting or movie making. This means you can record clearly even in a noisy environment.
So where will you use your mic? Did this information help you in choosing the right mic? If you found this article useful, kindly share it with your friends.
Recommended Recording Microphone: The Perfect Fit for Your Home Studio
What is a good quality microphone for recording? This question is often asked by vocalists, podcasters or other such customers who are still relatively new to the music industry. Once you’ve gained enough experience under your belt, you’ll come to know that certain types of microphones work better with specific music or home recording studio package. However, without any such experience, it might be tough for you to purchase a high-quality microphone.
Nowadays, there is a wide range of microphones which are available in the market. Thanks to such a variety of options, you have to differentiate a condenser microphone from a dynamic microphone.
You also have to make this purchase on the basis of polar patterns which is a term used to define the sensitivity of this device. As a result, a customer who is still unsure about the right good quality recording microphone tends to become extremely puzzled.
However, if you want to save both time and money while making this purchase, you’ve just landed at the perfect place. In the below-mentioned guide, we’ve discussed at great length about what to look for in a microphone and how you can differentiate an ordinary microphone from a premium one.
Once you’ve gone through this guide, you’ll be in a comfortable position to purchase a high-quality microphone without any hassle.
What is a Good Quality Mic for Recording?
When it comes to the microphones, they can be broadly categorized into two different types: Condenser and Dynamic. Even though there are some other types as well, the aforementioned types will be more than enough for you in almost every single scenario.
Having said that, both these microphones are designed to work with distinct recording equipment. While you can use the condenser mic with acoustic guitars, it’s the dynamic microphones which work better with electric guitars. So, before purchasing any one of these two types, it might be better to have a look at their advantages and disadvantages.
Recording Microphones for Beginners
If you type “the best recording microphone for beginners” into the search bar, you will find a myriad of choices. So how do you choose?
The answer is to first know & understand what a microphone really is. So in this guide, you will learn more about microphones, their different kinds and what they are used for.
Understanding microphones better will help you choose not only the best but the right microphone for your purposes. The difference between a high-quality recording or a mediocre one often comes down to what sort of mic you use.
Recording Mics for Beginners: Why do you need one?
Recording your performance with just your phone’s camera or a DSLR microphone is not enough if you want a professional sound. The microphone is an essential instrument for recording that captures the sound as well as the personality of your voice or musical instrument. It conveys clearer and better sound to the listener.
However, not all mics can capture the sound that you want to hear. The recording is affected by these three factors: type of mic, placement, and recording location. You will learn more about these factors later. First, let’s try to understand more about what makes a good recording microphone for beginners.
What is a microphone?
A microphone works like a speaker but in reverse. It is a transducer that converts the acoustic sound into electrical energy or an audio signal. The audio is then channelled through the wires of the amplifier and through the speaker, which converts the audio signal into electrical energy and then back to acoustic energy, which is the sound that you hear.
Three Main Types of Microphones
1. Dynamic Mics or Moving-Coil Mics
This type of microphones is recommended for its ability to capture and withstand loud sounds at high volume levels. They are rugged, reliable, and durable. Aside from this, they also tend to be inexpensive.
Their long life and cheap tag price have made the Shure SM57 and SM56 industry standards. Many production companies, as well as recording studios, own these mics that have been used for many years. They will last a long time and reproduce the same quality of sound as you when you first used them.
How does a dynamic microphone work?
An electrical current is produced in a wire coil when a magnet gets placed near it.
In a dynamic microphone, a diaphragm attached to the coil vibrates when sound waves hit it. These vibrations cause the coil to move past the magnetic field it creates.
This creates an electrical current which moves away from the microphone along wires.
Finally, these dynamic mics work without batteries or an external power supply unlike the other two types of mic.
A dynamic mic is ideal for recording close-mic as it only captures the sound source in front of it, rejecting any sounds from faraway sources. They are popular for onstage performances, specifically pop and rock. Aside from this, they are also used for voiceovers, recording loud instruments like guitar amps, bass amps, snare and kick drums, and more.
2. Condenser Microphones
Many recording studios use condenser mics because they reproduce a more natural, accurate, and clear sound. They can respond well, reproducing sound faster. Aside from this, they can also record at a distance and still capture the detail and personality of one or many musical instruments. Since they are sensitive to sounds, they can even record soft sounds with less noise.
Another characteristic of this mic that makes it different to the dynamic mic is its power source, which can be a battery. For this reason, they cost more and can be very expensive. However, this type of mic can take many forms (large diaphragm and small diaphragm) and sizes. You can find lapel condenser mics on the market too.
How does a condenser microphone work?
Condensers need separate power supplies and are generally stationary microphones.
Diaphragms in these types of microphones are in the form of two thin plates on either side of a capacitor. A capacitor is something which stores electrical energy.
These plates vibrate when sound waves hit. The vibrations of these plates then create the electrical signal.
You can get a large diagram condenser microphones and small diaphragm condenser microphones.
The former are the ones you’ll see in a professional recording studio. The latter is a more streamlined version and is often used in podcasting, radio, or interview situations.
For recording orchestral instruments or orchestra as a whole, the best mic to use would be the condenser as it will capture all the instruments in detail. It is also great for vocals, either singing or speaking. If you are playing an acoustic guitar or snare drum, you should record your performance with a small-diaphragm microphone.
3. Ribbon Microphones
Ribbon mics have a thin aluminum foil that responds to the sound waves caused by the surrounding magnet. A typical studio recording might not have this kind of mic because they can be very expensive and fragile. However, the sound it can reproduce is uniquely silky, vintage, smooth and detailed. They can capture small changes in the harmonics while the singer or musician is performing.
How does a ribbon microphone work?
A thin strip of corrugated aluminum, the ribbon, is position between two magnets.
Ribbon microphones react to the velocity of air particles rather than the pressure. As the ribbon vibrates, it creates a frequency response in the form of an electrical signal.
Studios that can afford this mic use it for loud sources such as guitar amps, trumpets and brass instruments. If you are a type of vocalist that likes to scream, this is the mic that you should invest in. Meanwhile, if you want to capture the room ambience, this will be the best option. Another effective use of this mic is for drum overheads.
When it comes to choosing between a condenser microphone and a dynamic microphone, it eventually comes down to the musical instruments you’re going to use in the recording studio. Although some people believe that a condenser mic is better when it comes to studio recording, this isn’t true by any means.
Starting with the dynamic microphones, they are recommended for recording pop music and general voice overs. You can use this type of microphone with a wide range of drums, including toms and kick drums and you can also use it for on-stage performance. Furthermore, if you’re going to use extremely loud equipment in your recording sessions, it might be better to purchase a dynamic microphone.
The condenser microphones, as already mentioned, are generally preferred with sensitive music instruments. All those devices which tend to produce low-pressure sound levels create flawless results when combined with this type of microphone.
How are Microphones Chosen to Record Different Types of Music?
Understanding what microphone is used in recording studios is one thing, but it’s also important to think about what microphones are used for specific purposes in a studio environment.
When you’re recording vocals, you’re going to need a device that pays attention to the nuances of the singer. In this case, large diaphragm microphones can be your best bet. If you’re reaching for a more vintage sound, opt for a ribbon or dynamic microphone.
Recording a large group of singers, such as a choir, requires small diaphragm, omnidirectional, or shotgun microphones to help capture the voices of the entire group in an even distribution.
Drums and Bass
Drums and bass are both naturally punchy and loud, which means you’ll be looking at dynamic microphones for the deeper components such as toms, bass, and snares. Small diaphragm mics are excellent for the ride, cymbals, and hi-hats. Typically, drum kits require a few different microphones to capture its diverse sounds.
Electric Guitars and Acoustic Guitars
When it comes to recording electric guitars you’re going to need something that handles a high level of sound pressure such as a condenser mic or a ribbon mic. Though since they are incredibly sensitive, it’s advised that you place them far away from the amp speaker, as you won’t want to damage the inner components.
Acoustic guitars, on the other hand, require a softer sound and as such, you should opt for a large diaphragm condenser microphone. Again, depending on the frequencies and the noise level, you can also take a look at a ribbon microphone.
Depending on your personal preference, the sound you’re going for, and the instruments being used, there are plenty of studio microphones you can choose from. To set up a recording studio, microphones are some of the most important tools to have at your disposal.
How to Set Up a Microphone for Recording: Tips and Tricks
With the help of modern technology, setting up a recording studio in your home has become easier than ever before. Whether you’re trying to lay down vocals for a track or if you’re interested in recording a video for YouTube, learning how to set up a microphone for recording is essential
Typically, when you purchase a mic, it might come with a list of instructions on how to set it up using your computer or recording software. Other times, it doesn’t.
If you’ve never had the opportunity to use a professional microphone at home, below are some tips and tricks for learning how to install one and how to use one properly.
Step 1: General Installation
The first thing you’re going to need to do is to hook your microphone up to your computer. Since you’ll be using an external microphone, there should be an included cable that will fit into a port on your computer.
Typically it will be a USB cable that you will put into a USB port, likely connected at the back of your tower. Otherwise, you will have to connect the microphone to the small pink jack at the back (it resembles the size of a headphone jack).
Step 2: Changing Your Audio Settings
Again, depending on what you’re using the microphone for, you’re going to need to work with your audio settings. If you’re not going to be using a particular software program to work with your recordings, then you will need to use either Windows’ or Mac OSX’s onboard audio recording settings windows.
Ideally, what you want to do is ensure that your computer is reading your microphone. Otherwise, it won’t work. You will also be able to fool around with some of the settings such as the output volume level of the microphone, so it’s at the perfect volume to where you don’t have to yell for any sound to be picked up.
Now, you will want to mess with your audio settings to make sure everything is flowing smoothly. Let’s start with the recording settings. Right-clicking on your volume icon in the bottom right taskbar, you will see an option that says “Recording devices”.
Clicking on this should bring up a dialogue that displays to you the different recording devices you currently have plugged into your computer. Right-clicking on the microphone you have plugged in will allow for you to adjust the settings of your microphone.
There are 5 panels you can see through on this screen.
The general tab has only a couple options. You can change the icon for your microphone and check the properties of your device driver. You should not have to mess with these two options.
At the bottom though, you will see an option called “Device usage”. You will want to make sure this is set to “Use this device (enable) that way your microphone is set to work.
The listen tab does exactly what the title states. It allows for you to listen to yourself through the mic to make sure it is working.
Keep in mind that if you are using a studio mic without any headphones connected, you may experience a bothering sound or echoing. It is only really useful to use to check and see if your microphone is working properly.
On this tab, you also have the option of choosing a playback for the microphone. This determines where the sound is played when the microphone is plugged in. You can set this to your headphones If you have any plugged in.
On this screen, you have the option to adjust the microphone volume level. The higher the number, the louder your microphone will be.
If you still need more amplification, you can adjust the microphone boost slider which can distort your voice if it’s set to high.
This tab contains different configurations you can use with your mic. They are useful, but not necessary. The noise suppression will attempt to block out background noise while the acoustic echo cancellation will work to prevent any echoing that is caused when recording your guitar.
This tab should not be touched unless you know what you are doing. It is simply controlling the sample rate and frequency of your mic.
Step 3: Install Recording Software
The third step to learning how to set up a microphone for recording is to install the software. If you’re going to be mixing a track, you’re undoubtedly going to be using recording software; in this case, it’s best if you install it now.
There’s no point to adjusting the microphone settings through the Windows and Mac OSX microphone settings if you’re going to be using a third-party program.
Once the software is installed, open the microphone settings and adjust them as you see fit. Ensure that you take advantage of the playback settings where you will be able to hear what the mic sounds like as you make adjustments.
Step 4: Adding Additional Components
If you’re listening to the playback recordings of the quality of your mic and you’re starting to notice things such as sibilance (high frequency boosts of air when saying “S” and “F” sounds), you may need to consider purchasing additional components.
For example, a quick at-home trick for dealing with sibilance is to attach a pencil with a rubber band at the base of the mic. That way, when you speak into the microphone the air from your voice will be split as it travels over the pencil, which significantly reduces the high-frequency feedback.
Another hugely popular component is a pop filter. Pop filters are designed to prevent the artist from accidentally getting too close to the mic and breathing heavily or accentuating parts of speech to a point where it pops or becomes distracting.
They’re easily obtainable and can be attached to relatively any type of microphone. In fact, the majority of recording studios have pop filters installed on their mics, and for a good reason.
How to Set Up a Microphone for Recording: Tips for Using Your New Mic
Now that you have it installed, certain things need to be taken into consideration when you’re working on setting your microphone up for recording. For example, knowing which room in your home would be the best regarding acoustics.
Tip 1: Create Great Room Acoustics
As mentioned, you can set your entire recording studio up perfectly, but the one thing that will make or break the sound of your track is the acoustics in your recording room. There are ways that you can improve the acoustics in the space, but it might become costly.
If so, you can find cheaper alternatives such as reflection filters. This is one of the most important parts of learning how to set up a microphone for recording.
Tip 2: Think About Foot Noise
If you’re in one of those houses where you can hear whenever someone is walking around on the floor, it’s certainly going to be picked up in any recording you do. This is going to become incredibly difficult for artists that have the tendency to tap their foot or fingers while recording.
With every tap, vibrations are going to travel up the stand of your mic right into the receiver.
If this is a concern, you may want to consider purchasing a shock mount. It is easily attached between your microphone and your stand and helps to absorb shocks and creates acoustic isolation between the floor and your microphone.
The best part is the majority of mics come with one in the box, but you may need to buy one separately. Be sure to find a model that is compatible with your particular type of microphone because it’s not a “one size fits all” component.
Tip 3: Working On Your Recording Experience
Even though we’d all like to assume that we’re immediately prepared to record a studio-quality track as soon as our recording tools are set up, that’s not the case. In fact, artists that have been recording music for years have unique techniques they use to get the best quality sound. Every single body and head movement they make is deliberate.
It’s recommended that you try different methods of recording with your new setup before you sit down to complete a professional track. You’ll want to get the hang of controlling your volume using distance, avoiding sibilance and popping, controlling your breathing, and more.
Installing your own microphone for your at-home studio is simple, but becoming a professional recording artist is a whole other ordeal. With the help of this guide, you should be well on your way to establishing an affordable studio with all the equipment you could possibly need.
How to Use Recording Microphones
So, you have a beautiful voice and want the world to hear it? That means you will need to learn how to use recording microphones. These types of microphones are a bit different than normal ones.
Recording microphones focus on amplifying your voice and making it sound as good as possible. For this, you will need software and maybe some additional equipment. Let’s get you started with using recording microphones.
Even with the most professional mic installation, you’re still going to need to take these important factors into account; otherwise, your recorded media is going to suffer.
The first step to using recording microphones is to make sure that you have all the equipment that you need. This varies depending on the person and type of accessories you want, but we suggest starting off with three essential pieces of equipment: the microphone, a sound pop filter, and headphones. We will discuss more on why you should have each one.
Of course, if you want to learn how to use recording microphones, you will first have to own one. There are several different types of microphones on the market and choosing one can be a little challenging.
Don’t worry though! Any decent microphone will do. The type of microphone you have will only affect the sound quality and not how to use and set it up. Microphones range in price, but typically the higher the price, the better-quality sound you will get from it.
We suggest if you are even a little serious about singing to get a medium-priced microphone. This way, you won’t be spending tons of money, and you will also have decent quality.
Sound Pop Filter
Next, you will want to make sure you have a sound pop filter. These are not required, but they are definitely recommended.
Pop filters are great for many reasons. Imagine singing into the microphone. If you are new to everything you will likely find yourself screaming. This is not a bad thing, but changes in tone will show up on the mic.
For example, any type of sudden blast of air on the mic can easily be picked up. Pop filters help reduce and eliminate this annoying occurrence.
Even if you do not scream into the mic, pop filters are great! They are called filters for a reason, so any wind or sound that is not your singing will get blocked depending on the quality of your filter.
Lastly, you have headphones. This is a crucial piece of equipment when using recording microphones. Unless you buy a microphone that comes attached to a headset, you will want to get a pair of headphones.
The main reason for this is so that you can hear the audio or beat that you are singing over. You do not want your music playing out loud while you are recording. This can cause many issues that you may not know how to deal with.
Headphones are relatively cheap. The quality of headphones you buy is not important, you just need them to prevent the audio from playing aloud.
What is the Role of a Microphone in Recording Sound?
The microphone is a wonderful thing. It lets you talk to a group of people without even raising your voice. Apart from talking to the people in the same location, you can even use this device to interact with people on the other side of the globe. But what is the role of a microphone in recording sound? Let’s have a look.
How Does A Microphone Record Sound?
In order to understand the microphone better, it is beneficial to have a basic know-how of a loudspeaker. Once you know the functionality of a loudspeaker, it will be easier to understand what role a microphone plays in recording sound.
The loudspeaker is another type of transducer which turns electricity into sound waves. It consists of a metallic coil which is wrapped around a permanent magnet. Once you turn on the speaker, it begins to send electricity towards the coil. As the electricity fluctuates in the coil, it starts to create a magnetic field.
How Does A Microphone Work?
The simplest definition of a microphone is a device which amplifies sound. Microphones convert energy into an audio signal.
The microphone is a complicated and interesting piece of equipment. It’s intricately made to produce big sounds from voice or instruments.
Now you can stop asking, “How does a microphone work?” and start thinking about which power ballad you are going to belt out!
In fact, you should level up and think about getting your own karaoke microphone. Then the party doesn’t have to end when the bar closes down.
How does a wireless microphone work?
These signals work similarly to TV and some radio signals.
A receiver tunes in to the same frequency as the transmitter. The signal gets picked up and converted back to a sound signal again.
Each wireless mic needs its own frequency. These also include different frequencies of local TV and radio stations. Otherwise, the signals interfere with one another.
You end up getting a hot mess of sound as nothing will get picked up.
Don’t think that by not having wires there will be less equipment, far from it. A wireless microphone needs its entourage of a transmitter and a receiver to work.
All Around Sound
You can’t talk about microphones and not speak about polar (or pick up) patterns.
Polar patterns help us to decide which mic is best for a particular situation. Filmmakers pay special attention to this.
Each microphone has its own polar pattern. A polar pattern describes the mic’s sensitivity to sound coming towards it. The sound’s direction affects the level of sensitivity. A sensitive microphone will be able to capture even the slightest sound. It is an indication of how quiet the microphone can detect a sound.
You can learn a lot about a mic if you understand its polar pattern. There are many different polar patterns, but the three main types of polar pattern are:
These mics pick up sound equally from all directions.
The pattern here is a sphere. It’s great for picking up sound from a group of people. It is prone to feedback noise, though.
These mics pick up sounds mainly from the front. Its pattern is heart-shaped. Great for two people singing together.
These mics pick up sound mostly from the front and a little from behind the mic. Its pattern is mushroom-like.
Understanding a mic’s polar pattern will help you decide where to place it to get the desired sound.
A microphone consists of all the components which are present in a loudspeaker. However, when the latter device uses them to convert electrical energy into sound waves, the former turns sound waves into electrical energy with the help of the aforementioned parts. Moreover, all the components work in the exact opposite way in a microphone as compared to that in the loudspeaker.
Afterwards, the electric current produced in the coil starts to flow out of the microphone. Depending on your preference, you can either direct it to an amplifier for raising its volume, or you can also send it to a music recording equipment. If you prefer the latter option, you can store the sound of your voice for as long as you want.
How to Reduce Noise in Microphone Recording
You make good melodies and write good songs, so you started recording it. You would’ve been happy with the result if it weren’t for that background noise. How did it get there? Where did it come from? You might probably be wondering now how to reduce noise in microphone recording?
Read this article and find tips on how you can produce one with minimal noise. Learn about the proper use of your equipment and other accessories to ensure a clean recording.
Reducing Unwanted Noise in Microphone Recording
Ensuring a quality recording can be quite difficult, particularly when you’re a rookie in the field of microphone recording. Beginners do it inside a quiet room hoping to capture only the sound that was intended to be recorded. Unfortunately, no matter how quiet that room is, background noise will always be there. It can be the noise within your vicinity or could be because of the equipment that you are using.
Factors Contributing to Noise in a Microphone Recording
Noise is everywhere. We can’t probably eliminate it, but we can reduce it, even in microphone recordings. But before we deal with the actual recording itself, let’s first deal with the factors that might contribute to it.
First, of course, is your environment. You have to ensure that all the doors and windows are closed to reduce the outside noise. Second, when the doors and windows are closed, you need to check the room for possible noise contributors such as fans, televisions, and cellphones, among others. Ensure that all of this equipment is switched off, especially those that could cause interference.
Did you know that the correct usage of the microphone can also help reduce noise in your recording? Also, it is important to check and ensure that all main electrical cables are not running on any audio cable as the electromagnetic force surrounding them may cause interference too.
Proper Use of Headsets and Headphone Microphones
When using headphones for your recording, make sure that they are tightly plugged into the computer through the microphone jack and not through the audio input jack. You may also try unplugging the power cable, which can also be a source of audio interference, and just use the battery power. If it cannot be prevented, do trial recordings using different power sockets as they do produce noise, too. You just have to choose the one with the least noise.
Accessories for Noise Reduction
Now, when you have ensured that you are in a quiet environment, you are using the right type of microphone, and your cables are not causing any audio interference, but there are still unwanted sounds captured in your recordings, you may want to resort to using some noise-reduction accessories.
A preamplifier helps in the smooth transition of sound between the microphone and other equipment. A power or ground lift adaptor for the power supply of your laptop can also be helpful in reducing static noise. A shock mount placed on your microphone stand can reduce noise from the vibration. And a windshield can also prevent unwanted wind interference.
Noise Removal Tools
If there is still noise in your recording after observing all the tips we shared, fret not for there are noise removal tools or applications you can use.
Audacity software is free software developed by a group of audio experts and computer programmers. It accepts different types of audio files and has cool options such as noise volume reduction and noise range control, and frequency smoothing. You can also check out the reduce and residue buttons.
Other noise removal software applications are Adobe Audition, Reaper, and iZotope RX4. All these can definitely help you reduce background noise in your microphone recordings; the only catch is they all come with a price you have to pay, of course. Well, in the name of your dreams and for the love of anything holy, you can just consider buying them as investments.
You might also want to check out their other cool features as these babies are created not just for the purpose of noise reduction. Who knows, they might pave ways for you to take your recordings to the next level.
Double Check. Record. Listen. Repeat.
Do you still have that lingering question on reducing noise while recording on a microphone?
The thing is, noise is everywhere. So, it is important that you double- or triple-check that all possible precautionary measures to reduce noise in your microphone recordings are observed and implemented. All the tips we presented in this article might not be able to totally eliminate noise, but they can surely be a great help in reducing it.
A quality and clear recording is very important; this will allow your listeners to have a good understanding of what you are trying to convey or showcase, be it a music recording, starting a podcast, an important message or speech, etc. Providing them with good listening experience will bounce back to you through good feedback or more subscriptions.
Your countless attempts at trial and error for you to know what works best for you and the resources you have around you, for you to get that clean recording, will pay-off in due time. You just have to have faith.
Frequently Asked Questions
What microphone should I use to record vocals?
You should use condenser microphones for vocals. This is because they are very accurate and record every detail. The delicate sounds of the vocals are easily picked with the help of a thin diaphragm in condenser mics, making them the right choice.
What kind of microphone do I need?
The kind of microphone you need depends on the purpose you want to use it. If you are in search of a microphone to use in loud environments like concerts or live recording, then go for Dynamic microphones. But if your purpose is to use them in studios for recording vocals and acoustic guitars, you can get condenser microphones.
What should I look for when buying a recording microphone?
When buying a recording microphone, the major criteria you have to consider are the type of the mic and polar pattern. The basic types of mic are condenser, dynamic, XLR, and USB. At the same time, polar patterns talk about the maximum sound that the mic picks up. These features vary based on your necessity, like location to use the microphones and the recording you are making out of them.
Can I record vocals with a dynamic mic?
No, dynamic mics do not work well for vocal recording. This is because the decreased sensitivity and ability to handle loud sounds make them suitable for live concerts or recordings. Increased sensitivity is the primary criteria to record vocals in detail, making dynamic microphones unfit to record vocals.
Are expensive mics worth it?
Not necessarily, unless they give the best output serving the best. But some expensive mics come with greater accuracy and larger diaphragm, and better design and provide the best outcome. So it entirely depends on the functionality and output of the mics.
Does a condenser mic make you sound better?
Yes, the condenser mics make you sound better as they record every detail with high accuracy. They have a higher sensitivity to delicate sounds giving out a clear output. They have a better frequency range which will capture everything and make the output sound better.
Best Studio Mics was started by a husband and wife team who love the sound and the technicals behind recording it. Both are professional theatre artists, one with a stage management background and one more on stage. One also has experience in film and television work and the different audio requirements of that arena.