Selecting the right types of microphones is important when it comes to getting the best sound quality when recording any sound sources at the studio.
Before you make your final buying decision, it would be ideal to have a bit of inside knowledge of the different types of microphones sold on the market.
The most challenging part of buying a new microphone as a beginner is that you have to figure out which type matches the different sound sources best, as not all microphone types are used for the same purpose.
But, there is no need for you to worry, we are here help make your buying decision.
The 3 Types Of Microphones Commonly Used In Studios
There are 3 types of microphones commonly used in recording studios is the:
- Dynamic Mics
- Condenser Mics
- Ribbons Mics
Which each produces a unique sound when parred to the right sound source. Which why it is necessary to learn how these 3 types of microphones works.
So let’s cover them by starting with the …
Among a lot of studio owners, the dynamic mic is known as the workhorse of all microphone types available.
The reason being is that the mics are inexpensive, very versatile and can be used on almost any musical sound sources.
Due to the mics insensitiveness, you will often find the dynamic mic to be very useful on loud sources, like the snare drums, and bass cabs.
Given the affordability and versatility of the mics, you should add this microphone type to your collection as your studio starts to age.
If you are on a tight budget and looking to keep your mic collection small and simple the best contender is the Shure SM57, which is one the popular dynamics mics available.
The condenser mic is probably going to be the first types of microphones that a new studio owner buys if they want to record their vocals.
The reason is that compared to the dynamic and ribbon microphone, the condenser microphone is much more sensitive, which makes it an ideal microphone type for brighter sound sources like the vocals.
There are two types of condenser mics:
- Large Diaphragm (Which is ideal for recording vocals)
- Small Diaphragm (Which is ideal for recording acoustic instruments)
Both of these condenser microphone types are overall super effective and known for improving the sound quality.
Furthermore, some condensers mics have a switch mechanism, which allows you to switch between the 3 different polar patterns.
Making the condenser mic a very versatile microphone type, which is why a lot of studio owners opt to buy this type of microphone first.
Even though, that they are quite expensive compared to their counterparts.
The ribbon mics date back in time before the dynamic or condenser mics came to existence.
But as the technology has evolved the ribbon mics has lost its presence in music production.
But the truth is that ribbon mic is still being used by a lot of pro studios to record sound sources like the guitar amps, drum overheads or bass.
The reason being is that it besides the condenser mic has a bidirectional polar pattern, which respond well to EQ’ing.
This microphone type is a great addition to have to add to your microphone collection once your studio has aged and reached the semi-pro/pro stage.
So if you are a beginner you should worry about this microphone type.
The Other Types Of Studio Mics
Now that we have covered the 3 types of microphones commonly used in studios, It is time to cover the 5 other microphones types:
- Bass Mics
- Multi-Pattern Mics
- USB Mics
- Boundary Mics
- Shotgun Mics
Which are less talked about, in fact, a lot of new studio owners have never heard about these microphone types before.
which is quite disappointing as they can come in handy.
There are many microphone types in the market that are great at recording bass sounds.
But if you want to achieve the best bass sound recording, you should consider a bass microphone.
Which compared to other microphone types allows you to record the low-end frequencies on sound sources like the kick drum or bass cabinets.
As a pro studio owner, it’s always smart to have diversified microphone collection, so you can easily test the different microphone types on various sound sources.
If you are interested, I recommend that you check out the AKG D112 MkII, which is a classic choice for recording bass cabinets or kick drum.
Multi-pattern mics is a microphone type often seen in the form of a large-diaphragm condenser.
They are very recognizable as many of them have a unique dual-capsule design and a switch mechanism, that allows you to switch between the following polar patterns:
- Unidirectional (cardioid)
Which makes this a very versatile microphone, that can be used to record almost anything in your studio.
This microphone may not be ideal for beginners, but it’s a microphone type that you should add to your mic collection as you get more advanced with recording music.
USB Mics is a microphone type that recently entered the market and they have become super popular over the years.
The reason being is that it compared to the other microphones types does not require mic preamps or audio interfaces to record with your computer.
You can simply just plug the cable straight into your computer and you are ready to record.
This microphone type is not ideal for any studio owner, but if you are hesitant in starting a bedroom studio you could buy a USB Mic to test the waters.
They only go for about $100, which is quite cheap compared to the other types of microphones.
I recommend the Blue Yeti USB Microphone.
Boundary mics are an essential microphone type to have in your microphone collection if you are a pro studio owner.
This type of microphone is very unique as it is the only microphone type that can be mounted on a flat surface and at the same time be immune against comb filtering.
Which is caused by the combination of direct and delayed reflected sounds.
Furthermore, this microphone is very useful as they can be used to record various sounds sources in- and outside of a studio, like:
- Music Instruments (for example the piano)
- Conference Rooms
And so on, I recommend that you check out this microphone type when you have transitioned into a semi-pro or pro studio owner or if you are a pianist.
Which Types Of Microphones should I Buy?
Now that we have discussed the different types of microphones available in today’s market, which one should you buy?
You can filter through the list down below to select the exact sound source that you want to record.
Check it out:
- Condenser Mic, Dynamic Mic, Ribbon Mic
If you wish to record your vocals, you could choose to use one of the common 3 microphone types used in studios.
But it all depends on you or the vocalist and the genre of the songs that you want to record.
Something to keep in mind, when making your decision is that:
- Dynamics mics are ideal for loud sound sources.
- Condenser mics are ideal for brighter sound sources.
- Ribbon mics are ideal for neutral sound sources.
Which means that if you are a singer or rapper, you should consider a condenser, I recommend that as a beginner start with the large-diaphragm condenser microphone.
But if you have the opportunity, you should test both the large and small diaphragm condenser mics to see if it matches your taste.
For all the mentalist you should obviously consider the dynamic mic.
But if you have a big budget I would suggest that you consider all the common 3 types of microphones used in studios to see which one sounds best for you.
- Boundary Mic, Condenser Mic, Dynamic Mic
Similar to the vocalist there is a wide variety of microphone types that you can choose between.
But at the end of the day, it all depends on the type of pianist you are.
But luckily there is a microphone type that works perfectly for recording pianos.
That not a lot of people have paid attention to, which is the boundary mic.
That can be mounted on the inside of the piano.
If you seem not to like the idea of a boundary mic as a piano mic, I recommend that you either do some research like checking out the forums or lean towards the dynamic or condenser mics.
- Every Microphone Type
Drums are one of the most complexed instruments to record.
Because the drums need to be recorded independently.
Which why a lot of beginners who want to record drums “physically” opt to buy an electronic drum kit to make the recording process much easier.
However, if you are committed to recording acoustic drums, here is one thing that you should know:
Which are you would have to buy a dozen microphones to make this happened.
Because each drum would need to have a mic both beneath, above and even inside the drum to be able to achieve the best drum recording.
If you have a big budget and still interested in recording acoustic drums, instead of me trying to explain how to record your drums I recommend that you watch this video by sweetwater.
Which does a great job at showing you how to mic up acoustic drums.
- Bass Mic
If you wish to have the best bass recording, you would need a microphone that can record low frequencies.
The good thing is that we have already covered this in today’s post.
There is one microphone type, whose purpose is to solely record low frequencies sound source.
Which is known as either the bass microphone or kick drum microphone.
However, you also could use a low-end dynamic microphone if you are on a tight budget, but ideally, you should stick with the bass/kick drum mics for the best results.
- Condenser Mic, Ribbon Mic
Ribbon mics have for a while been the most common types of microphones used to record strings.
But over the years people have transitioned to the condenser mics.
Which with its sensitiveness improves the sound quality of brighter sound sources making it the perfect choice for recording strings.
When it comes choosing a condenser mic, I would recommend that you choose the large-diaphragm condenser mic for big strings instruments like the cello.
And small-diaphragm condenser mic for smaller strings instruments like the violin.
A classic condenser mic for strings is the Rode NT-1, which is a large-diaphragm.
- Condenser Mic
Acoustic guitars tend to produce a bright sound, which makes the condenser microphone an ideal microphone type.
However, it is always recommended to try the dynamic and ribbon mics to see which one matches your taste.
Because even though the condenser mic is perfect for recording acoustic guitars does not mean that you are going to like the sound recording.
- Dynamic Mic
The electric guitar is compared to the other guitar amps the only guitar, which ideal microphone type is the dynamic mic.
The reason being is that the electric guitar produces a loud sound making the condenser mic a bad choice.
A classic dynamic mic used to record electric guitars is the Shure SM57 mic.
Now, Over To You …
So now that you have learned about the different types of microphones available in today’s market.
It’s time for you to choose a microphone type that matches your style of recording and sound source.
I would love to hear from you:
Which microphone type you have chosen for your sound source?
And how well it is at recording your sound source?
Also, let me know if I have missed any important microphone types for recording music.
Which you can do by leaving a comment down below.
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