7 Different Types Of Microphones For Recording
Selecting the right types of microphones is important when it comes to getting the best sound quality when recording from home.
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.
Table of Contents
The 3 Types Of Microphones Commonly Used In Studios
There are 3 types of microphones commonly used in recording studios:
- Dynamic Mics
- Condenser Mics
- Ribbons Mics
Each produces a unique sound when parred to the right sound source. Which is 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 they are inexpensive, very versatile and can be used on almost any musical sound source.
Due to the mic insensitiveness, you will often find the dynamic mic to be very useful on loud sources, like drums, electric guitars, and bass amps.
Given the affordability and versatility of the mic, you should definitely add this microphone type to your collection.
The condenser mic is probably going to be the first type 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 of the more high-end condenser mics have a switch mechanism, which allows you to switch between different polar patterns.
Making the condenser mic is 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 were very popular back in the days, mainly due to its warmth and natural sound.
But as the technology and the way that we record has evolved, the ribbon mics fell out of favor for many recording studios.
However, they are still a great and very versatile microphone type that with the new generation of preamps can be used to record almost any sound source imaginable.
The ribbon mics are very sensitive microphones, which has a bidirectional polar pattern, and come in two different types:
- Passive (the passive ribbon mics have a very low output, which means that you would have to connect it to an external preamp with a lot of gains)
- Active (the active ribbon mics comes with built-in electronics, which eliminates the noise problems and boost the gain so an external would not be needed)
This microphone type is a great addition to add to your mic collection, however, you should not purchase them if you are just starting out with recording at home.
I recommend that you stick with the ones that I mentioned above until you are comfortable enough with recording from home.
The Other Types Of Studio Mics
Now that we have covered the 3 types of microphones commonly used in recording studios, It is time to cover the other microphones types, which are as important as the ones we talked about above:
- Bass Mics
- Multi-Pattern Mics
- USB Mics
- Boundary Mics
They all have their own unique features and design, which makes them a perfect choice for recording specific sound sources.
Bass/Kick Drum Mics
There are many dynamic mics in the market that are great at recording bass and kick drums.
However, if you would like to get the most out of recording your bass or kick drums.
You should check out the bass/kick drum mics, which are specifically designed to record those sound sources.
The bass/kick drum mics have a very unique design, which allows it to capture the low-frequencies, which for many mics is a challenge.
Furthermore, the bass/kick drum mics are also great at handling the high SPL generated by bass and kick drums, which can cause some mics to distort or in worst-case scenario permanent damage.
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)
Making 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 from home.
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 microphone types, do not require an audio interface 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 who is serious about recording.
However, if you are hesitant about recording from home 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 and they are very beginner-friendly.
Boundary mics are an essential microphone type to have in your microphone collection.
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 the:
- Pianos and Drums
- Conference Rooms
- Dramatic presentations
And so on, I recommend that you check out this microphone type as it might come in handy in the future.
But, you should definitely not stress about this microphone type if you are new to recording from home.
Which Types Of Microphones should I Buy?
Now that we have covered the different types of microphones available in today’s market, let’s take a look at which microphone type you should get for your specific purpose.
If you wish to record your vocals, you could choose between the common 3 microphone types used in the recording studios.
However, 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 aggressive sound sources.
- Condenser mics are ideal for brighter sound sources.
- Ribbon mics are ideal for neutral sound sources.
Which, means that if your intention is to record hip hop, pop or r&b songs, you should maybe consider a large-diaphragm condenser mic.
The same with goes with if you want to record metal and rock you should consider a dynamic mic to bring out the aggressiveness in your voice.
But, the biggest takeaway from this article is that you should always try to experiment with the different types of microphones available in today’s market to find your own unique style and sound.
One thing that I recommend for you who are committed to recording from home and have the budget for it, is that you instead of purchasing one microphone, you purchase two different types of microphones with the same budget.
No products found.
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.
If you are an aggressive pianist you should maybe consider a dynamic mic.
And if you are a calm pianist you should maybe consider a condenser mic.
A third option could be to try out boundary mic if you have experience with recording from home.
If you can’t figure which one to choose, always keep in mind that most pianists lean towards the large-diaphragm condenser mic.
No products found.
Drums are one of the most complex instruments to record.
Because the drums need to be recorded individually.
Which, is why a lot of beginners who want to record drums acoustically opt to buy an electronic drum kit to make the recording process much easier.
However, if you are committed to recording acoustic drums and capture the raw and natural drum sounds, here is one thing that you should know…
Which, is that It can be very expensive and requires a lot of time to be setup.
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.
However, there are multiple drum mic kits available which include several dynamic and bass/kick drum microphones, which will with no doubt give you the best drum recording experience.
No products found.
If you wish to have the best bass guitar recording, you would need a microphone that is great at capturing the low frequencies and withstanding the high SPL generated by the bass.
The best type of microphone for this job would be a low-end dynamic microphone like the bass/kick drum mic, which is common for recording bass instruments.
No products found.
Both the ribbon and the condenser mics are great at recording strings.
However, it all depends on the sound that you are looking for.
The condenser mic would be ideal if you are looking for a smooth sound recording, while the ribbon mic would be ideal if you are looking for a more detailed and balanced sound recording.
One thing to keep in mind if you choose the condenser mic is that the size of the mic depends on what you are recording.
For smaller strings like the violin, you should consider a small-diaphragm mic and for bigger strings like the cello, you should consider a large-diaphragm mic.
No products found.
Acoustic guitars tend to produce a bright sound, which makes the condenser microphone an ideal microphone type.
When it comes to the size of the condenser mic, the small-diaphragm will be best suited as it is designed to be an instrument mic.
However, even though that condenser mic is best suited for recording acoustic guitars it is always recommended to experiment with the other microphone types to see which one matches your taste because you might not like the outcome of the sound recording from a condenser mic.
No products found.
The electric guitar falls under the guitar amp category like the bass guitar, which means that it is going to produce a loud and intense sound making the obvious microphone type the low-end dynamic mic.
There are many great low-end dynamic mics to choose from, but the Shure SM57 is on top of the list for recording low-frequency instruments.
No products found.
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 so you can begin recording from home.
I would love to hear from you …
Which microphone type you have chosen for your home studio?
And how well it is at recording?
Also, let me know if I have missed any important microphone types for recording at home.
Which you can do by leaving a comment down below.
Also If you found the post to be helpful feel free to share it 😉