Written by Dylan

Advice on microphones

A microphone converts sound, an acoustic signal, into an electric signal. For example for amplification during a concert, or to make a recording. There's a different kind of microphone for each use. Which microphone do you need for speeches, karaoke, and live singing? Which microphone is best for recording singing or instruments for professional music production? On this page, we'll explain to you when to use which microphone. This way, it'll be easy to find the best microphone for you.

1. What kind of microphone should you use to amplify speech and live singing?

Microphone for speech and singing

For speech, karaoke, and singing, a dynamic microphone is most suitable, since this type of microphone can handle high sound pressure. It also has a durable construction, since it will need to be able to withstand a bump here and there on stage and at the bar. A downside of dynamic microphones is that they're not as good at registering nuances in the sound at high frequencies. This means that, for example, a very high-pitched singing voice won't sound as good. Is it important that the microphone should be suitable for this? In that case, have a look at a condenser microphone.

2. What kind of microphone should you use to record singing and instruments?

Microphone directional characteristics

If you want to record singing and instruments like acoustic guitar, violins, and wind instruments for music productions, a condenser microphone will usually be the best choice, since condenser microphones are highly sensitive. They also provide high-quality clear, high-resolution audio. There's a reason, of course, that condenser microphones are often used as studio microphones. A downside of condenser microphones is that they need an adapter. Because of their high sound pressure, drums and electric guitars are best recorded with a dynamic microphone.

3. In what direction does a microphone record?

Directional characteristics

Microphones are definitely not always equally sensitive in every direction; rather, they have directional characteristics. Common characteristics include: omnidirectional, cardioid, and bidirectional.

  • Omnidirectional A microphone with an omnidirectional character is unfocused and equally sensitive on all sides. This is useful if, among other things, you want to include ambient noise in your recordings.

  • Cardioid Cardioid microphones have a kidney-shaped directional characteristic and are much more sensitive at the front than at the rear. This is useful when you specifically don't want to record ambient noise.

  • Bidirectional A microphone with a bidirectional character is equally sensitive at the front and at the rear, but a lot less at the sides. Use this type of microphone, for example, when doing interviews, and record both sides of the conversation, without unwanted noises from the side.

4. What connector do you need?

Microphone connectors

The standard microphone connector is XLR, although there's also microphones with jack or USB connectors. Sound equipment, such as mixers or audio interfaces, often works with both XLR and jack. Want to record directly to your computer, without any other equipment in between? In that case, a USB microphone is the best solution. These microphones are available in dynamic and condenser types, and are often used for podcast voice-over and radio.

5. What else do you need?

Microphones usually come without a cable or stand. These accessories are indispensable. Because condenser microphones are very sensitive, they also record any breath and any plosive sounds like p and b. In order to prevent this, we recommend a pop filter. This is a round shield that you attach to the stand. Condenser microphones with XLR connectors need voltage in the form of phantom power. You'll find this power on professional sound cards, also called audio interfaces, among other things. An audio interface carries the microphone's electric signal forward to the computer, allowing you to record the sound. An audio interface is not necessary when you have a USB microphone.

Dylan
Article by:
Dylan
DJ Gear Expert.

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