Are You Finding The Best Mic For Your Home Recording Studio? Tips For Selecting A Microphone 2022: Tip 4

Mike White has written another excellent essay in his five-part series on how to choose the proper microphone, and this one is no exception. Check out Mike’s amazing blog for more information. Heaps of useful engineering and manufacturing advice from real-world experts!


What are you planning on doing with your microphone? It depends on whether you’re using it for recording or live performance. What kind of instruments do you intend to utilise it with? What is the major instrument on the list, and what is its name? The answers to all of these questions must be obtained before you put down the plastic sheeting. Otherwise, you can end up with a microphone that is less than you had planned for.

If your microphone will only be used for a certain instrument, narrow your search to microphones that are especially intended for that instrument. Consider the actual use of the microphone and how it will fit into your recording studio or live performance environment before purchasing it. If you need a microphone to perform more than one function, begin by creating a list of all the instruments for which the microphone will be used. Prioritize the list by putting the most significant or most often recorded instruments at the top of the list, in that order.

Example #1:

I need a general home recording mic.

  1. Vocals
  2. Acoustic Guitar
  3. Electric Guitar amp
  4. Shakers and Tambourine

Given the vast variety of dynamics in this arrangement, you will want to seek for a microphone that offers a little bit of sonic flexibility. In this scenario, a large-diaphragm condenser mic with switchable polar patterns and a pad would be my recommendation for the recording. A small-diaphragm condenser would be more effective for instruments, but it would have the greatest detrimental effect on voice sound. Even when utilised at a 2-foot distance from the acoustic guitar, a large-diaphragm microphone will provide excellent results. The pad will enable you to utilise the mic up close to a guitar amp or percussion instrument.. When using switchable polar patterns, you will be able to record a group of vocals or instruments without having to have everyone congregate in front of the microphone.

Example #2:

I need a good mic for recording drums, bass and guitar amps.

  1. Kick Drum
  2. Bass
  3. Guitar Amp

In this situation, unless the arrangement was for jazz or a lighter, more complex sound, I would recommend using a dynamic microphone. A strong dynamic microphone with excellent low-end response will be a top priority in this situation. Particularly if the style dictates that power be prioritised over finesse. Some dynamic microphones are equipped with a built-in low-frequency filter, which allows you to thin out sounds that may come across as muddy when they are captured on tape. An excellent large-diaphragm condenser microphone with a pad may be preferable in a jazz setup to catch the finer nuances of an ensemble’s performances. Switchable polar patterns will also provide you with some versatility while using a variety of instruments.

Example #3:

I need a mic that will work well for vocals both recording and live.

  1. Live performance
  2. Studio recording

Obviously, this is a difficult question to answer since so much relies on whether or not the live performance calls for a portable microphone or one that is constantly on a stand. If the microphone is mounted on a stand, there are several excellent solutions that will perform well in both circumstances. If you use a hand-held microphone in the studio, you may hear extraneous noises when handling the mic that are not noticeable in a live performance environment. If this is the intended outcome, look for a microphone that is internally shock-mounted to reduce the impact of this effect.

When it comes to dynamic microphones, a decent non-handheld dynamic mic that is developed for radio transmission will have the rejection qualities essential to prevent feedback during live performances as well as the presence necessary to function in a studio recording environment. It is possible to use condenser microphones in the studio if dynamic microphones do not match your natural voice tone. There are several condenser microphones that are particularly developed for live performance and will function well in the studio. In this case, look for condenser microphones that are built to perform well in both environments. When it comes to recording, stay away from cordless microphones.

Mic packages

If you’re having trouble selecting the proper microphone for all of your recording requirements, you may want to consider purchasing a package deal. However, an increasing number of home studio beginning kits are now available, most of which are designed expressly for instruments that need more than one microphone to record, such as a drum set. As soon as you’ve determined your pricing range, start looking for a solid studio package that will meet your fundamental requirements. Quality should always take precedence over quantity. A smaller set of microphones for the same money will almost always provide better results than a bigger group of microphones.


Selecting the most appropriate microphone for a group of instruments takes a little more time and effort. Because most manufacturers will not give a comprehensive list of instruments, you will need to do a more thorough analysis of the information they do supply. To begin, choose microphones that are built to meet your major recording requirements and check which of them also mention additional instruments that are the most similar to yours. You may substitute a lower-priced microphone that meets or exceeds the specs and features of the higher-priced microphone. This is an excellent segue into the next advice, “There’s a Good Microphone at Any Price.”

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