If there is one thing that all streamers, professional recording engineers, vloggers, podcasters and voice-over artists would agree upon, it is the importance of microphone selection. Having superb audio quality can elevate any project or event to a whole new level. Also, in the post COVID work environment with WFH as a norm, the underpinning for successful collaboration and creative deliverables is stellar audio quality. So, if you realize that audio is super important, but are struggling to figure out which microphone is best for you, here’s the ultimate guide on how to select a studio microphone. Remember, a bad mic choice can stick out like a sore thumb, so be wise before you spend your hard-earned money on a shiny, new studio microphone.
Best Studio Microphone
Taking your audio to the next level is now possible with Shure SM7B Cardioid Vocal Dynamic Studio Microphone. This cardioid studio microphone delivers warm and smooth audio reproduction in close-proximity studio and vocal applications. Features include wide-range frequency response, bass roll-off and mid-range control, and internal air suspension shock isolation.
Shure SM7B really stands out from the crowd for its extraordinary sound capabilities. This versatile studio microphone is a no-brainer to select from a wealth of choices, if your budget is not a constraint, and crispy clear audio in all environments is a non-negotiable for you.
It’s a shielded microphone, that packs a punch with a warm and smooth sound. A great pick for close proximity applications.
The world’s best microphones deliver a warm sound, extended dynamic range, clarity and high SPL capability. For those who appreciate these nuances, but like to make a more practical choice in terms of dropping money on a good microphone, Rode NT1-A Cardioid Condenser Microphone is a highly recommended choice. It has become a favourite with podcasters, streamers and gamers; with capabilities typically only featured on some of the world’s most expensive microphones.
It is also recognized as one of the quietest studio microphones, with a self-noise level of only 5dBA. The NTI-A provides a complete vocal recording solution and is a good fit for home studio recording or a quality work from home setup. It has a studio-grade pop shield and shock mount, a premium 20' microphone cable, dust cover, and a downloadable instructional video for recording like a pro.
Best Budget Pick
If getting an extravagant collection of mics does not fit into your scheme of things, you’d be pleasantly surprised to know that Shure MV7 XLR/USB Podcast Microphone delivers quality audio without requiring you to spend a fortune.
Recording in a sound-treated studio may not be a viable option for everyone, so the MV7 is equipped with Voice Isolation Technology which eliminates any background or room noise. It comes with a customisable sound signature, breakthrough voice isolation technology and built-in headphone monitoring for top-notch audio.
Choosing a Microphone: What to look for?
Depending on your room and use, it is important to consider your microphones pickup patterns. A pickup pattern is a sound field in which the microphone picks up the sound. An omnidirectional microphone picks up sound equally from all directions. It is a good choice for microphones as it minimizes the wind noise, and hears equally well in all directions.
For someone who is recording in a home studio, and has little control over any problematic sound/noise around, a cardioid pickup pattern is a key factor. It cuts out unwanted sound reflections in the room and will pick up sound from directly in front of it.
For studio microphones the power source can be an important consideration. Phantom power is the DC electric power (typically +48 V) transmitted through microphone cables to operate a microphone. They have the ability to power microphones without using cumbersome external power supplies.
Most top-of-the-line microphones are equipped with a power supply or require phantom power. With this feature, a user tends to have better quality inputs than many audio interfaces. Simply put, the microphones that require power supply will accept it and those that do not will ignore it.
There is a range of frequencies, from low to high, that a microphone will pick up. While purchasing a mic, it is important to know the microphone’s frequency response.
A mic’s frequency response is actually the magnitude in which it responds to any given frequency range. For example, if you want to record your vocals, it would be a good idea to pick a microphone that has a range of around 80 Hz to 15 kHz.
After you get a microphone in place, what next? A couple of items may be.
You can boost the signal of the microphone by getting a hardware preamp. However, if you are just starting out, or are unsure of its usability, it’s good to know that most audio interfaces have built-in, clean-sounding solid-state preamps.
A sturdy, heavy-duty microphone stand can save your precious mic from damage or toppling over. Also, for those who have not invested in any room acoustic treatment, echo or flutter echoes while recording can be a major concern.
Spending some money on a vocal booth, or a reflexion filter means eliminating any unwanted room sound interfering with your recordings. It is a great answer to the recording needs of an artist or professional on a budget.
What Fits Your Application?
Application 1: Studio Recording
Two broad categories to consider are condenser microphones and dynamic mics. For high-frequency instruments like acoustic guitar, piano and cymbals, condenser mics are a good pick. For low-frequency instruments like drums, dynamic mics fit best. Another option to check out is ribbon mics, that use a thin aluminum ribbon for capturing the sound.
Most importantly, studio recording requires a premium-quality, durable, reliable recording microphone. Shure SM7B is useful to have and worth choosing for both broadcasting and recording. For close-miking instruments in a studio where warm and smooth full-frequencies are a key requirement, it is a suitable choice.
Application 2: Work from Home
Working from home means a lot of virtual, remote collaboration. Microphones on a laptop can get bad and echoey. A good microphone can take care of a good share of your work from home.
Professional studio-quality audio during meetings, conferences, pitches, and presentations really boosts your audio quality and clarity. Investing in a microphone for such a setup means adding a high-utility tool that will help you shine at work. The AKG P120 High-performance General Purpose Recording Microphone offers a robust build quality, stellar performance and excellent value.
Application 3: Podcasting
Whether you are recording your first podcast, or happen to be a regular podcaster, take advantage of solid podcasting mic.
A dynamic microphone remains podcasting essential, as it adds a fabulous, professional sheen to all your vocal recordings, whether it is a group session or a one-on-one. We would recommend JBL Professional Recording Bundle as a good choice for content creation, podcasting, vlogging, and instrument/voice recording.
Application 4: Live Performances
When it’s a live performance, the right (or wrong) choice of a mic, can make or break the performance. Uncompromised reliability remains the topmost requirement in a mic to help a performer deliver their best. Other factors to consider are size, presence boost and pop filter, to name a few. Our recommendation would be a Shure SM58 for a legendary live performance. It is one of the best and most popular live mics today!Finally, despite all the helpful information, picking up a good mic can be complicated, but we are here to help! Our dedicated, class-leading team of experts, is there for you to provide the right advice and best-in-class service.