Are You Finding The Best Mic For Your Home Recording Studio? Tips For Selecting A Microphone 2022: Tip 2

This is the second instalment of a five-part article by our buddy Mike White on how to choose the best microphone for your needs. Keep an eye out for suggestions #3-5 in the coming weeks! And don’t forget to check out Mike’s amazing blog, as well. Heaps of useful engineering and manufacturing advice from real-world experts!

Style Matters

Mike White: I’d want to thank you for your time. In my first piece, “The Top 5 Tips for Choosing a Microphone,” I provided a quick overview of the many kinds of microphones available for purchase. It’s critical to understand what each kind of microphone is intended to do. Each microphone has its own set of advantages and disadvantages that must be considered in conjunction with the sound source that will be recorded. Because of the mismatch, the sounds produced will be either excessively loud and harsh, too dull and murky, or just plain boring. Tip #2 will discuss how your musical style might influence the decisions you make when it comes to choosing the correct microphone.

The Voodoo That You Do

What kind of music do you like to perform and record? The kind of music you perform might have a significant impact on your decision about the finest microphone for your recording requirements. Why? It is not all microphones that are made equal. When you consider the tens of thousands of microphones that are now available on the market, the prospect of attempting to locate the correct one might seem quite daunting. On the bright side, it also means that you have a plethora of excellent options to choose from to meet your requirements.

So, where do you even start? Consider the manner in which you like to perform. Do you think you’d perform better if you had a portable microphone? What is the volume of the music you are playing? Play guitar solos with your teeth, or are you a folk artist that performs with your teeth? It doesn’t matter what kind of creative impulses you have; there is a microphone that will meet your needs. Most microphones will operate well at middle levels of performance, so let’s take a look at the extremes.

The Headbanger

If you are known for being loud, you will need to seek for certain qualities in a microphone that will be able to withstand the volume you produce. If you decide to take this route, you will mostly be looking at dynamic and condenser microphones to record with. Each of them will be examined in further detail.

  • Dynamic Mics: Most, dynamic mics are specifically designed to handle the rigors of what will make most people’s ears bleed. For relatively little money, you can get loads of quality and not have to worry too much about babying your mics. For almost any instrument in a standard rock setup, dynamic mics will serve your needs well. Kick, snare, toms, guitar, and bass amps, even vocals, all can work great.
  • Condenser Mics: In the headbanger category, you should be primarily looking for one feature when purchasing a condenser mic. A pad. The “pad” on a condenser mic usually comes in the form of an attenuation switch typically anywhere from -6 to -20 DB. The idea of the pad is to prevent the internal electronics of the microphone from distorting due to the high sound pressure levels. A condenser mic without a pad is more likely to distort at high sound pressure levels.

Consider using tiny diaphragm microphones for cymbals and percussion. When it comes time to play an unplugged version of your favourite death metal tunes, they will come in handy as well as when you use your electric guitars. Unless your voice sounds very harsh, large-diaphragm condenser microphones should be considered for voices. If you have a naturally bright or harsh voice, you should consider using a high-quality dynamic microphone. Dynamic microphones will enhance the warmth and substance of your voice while also reducing its harshness.

The Lighter Side

If your musical preferences tilt a little more toward the lighter side, where detail takes precedence over outright wrath, try investing in microphones that are more concerned with quality than with physical power. In this universe, all four microphone varieties may be effective for you; the following is a quick summary of each type:

  • Dynamic Mics: It never hurts to have a couple of dynamic mics around for those songs that have a little extra dynamic range. They also serve well to warm up a sound that comes across as harsh or brittle when using a condenser mic.
  • Condenser Mics: This will be the mainstay of your mic selection because there is a lot of value here for your dollar. The ability of condenser mics to capture detail will give you a lot of flexibility. Consider large diaphragm mics for big instruments and vocals. Small diaphragm mics for acoustic guitars, cymbals, and percussion.
  • Tube Mics: If you can afford it, and you are good at caring for your equipment, consider a tube mic for recording vocals and other acoustic instruments. This is a great option for jazz and classical artists where the warmth and depth of a sound are integral to the production style.
  • Ribbon Mics: I don’t often recommend ribbon mics unless you already have a good stable of mics. A ribbon mic offers a unique sound when the need arises but also requires special care. If you need a different flavor in your mic collection, a ribbon mic might be right for you.

Regardless of whether you have restricted or broadened your list of suitable microphones, you should be one step closer to discovering what you are looking for. In the following Selecting a Mic Tip, I will discuss how to choose the best microphone for your voice. Because this is the most often asked question I get in regards to microphone choices, it requires particular consideration. If you missed my first article, Tip #1: Understand the Fundamentals, please read it here. To learn some fundamentals regarding microphones, please visit the link given.

Check out the microphone tips collection here!
Tip 1
Tip 2
Tip 3
Tip 4
Tip 5

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