How to Choose a Microphone: Dynamics, Condensers, Ribbons and More

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When you're shopping for new microphones, you'll encounter a range of different types of microphones spanning a vast range of prices. The sheer volume of specifications and features associated with the hundreds of available models can be confusing, leaving you with little basis for comparison aside from a microphone's price.

Sure, it's generally true that a mic's price reflects the quality of the sound it’s capable of reproducing. However, a little research will show you there are plenty of reasonably priced mics that are capable performers in many respects. In fact, many of these models copy the basic structures of microphones costing many times more. Understanding how different types of microphones function and what they’re intended for will help equip you to improve your live performances and enhance your recordings.

To help you find the right mic to match your budget and needs, this guide will cover the most important characteristics of the many different microphone types and models.

shure super 55 dynamic vocal mic

Despite its vintage look, the Shure Super 55 Dynamic Vocal Mic reproduces vocals and speech with great accuracy.

Table of Contents

How Will You Use Your New Mic?
Check, Check: Understanding Microphone Specs
What Microphone Specs Don't Tell You
Types of Microphones and Their Applications
Application-Specific Dynamic Mics
Wireless Microphones
Condenser Microphones
USB Microphones
Microphone Packages
Microphone Accessories
Signing Off: Some Final Comments

How Will You Use Your New Mic?

The most important thing to ask yourself when choosing a microphone is how you plan to use it. Will you be using it onstage for vocals or to mic an instrument? Is it intended for home-studio recording? Or are you looking for something that can perform well in either situation?

You want to match the mic to both the environment you'll use it in and the gear you'll use it with. For instance, it might not make a lot of sense to spend thousands on a Neumann studio mic if you plan to use it for recording basic demos in your bedroom studio. The acoustics will likely be less than perfect and you'll want to couple it with a high-end mic preamp, bringing your total cost up quite a bit. Consequently, a less sensitive and more affordable microphone might be a better choice.

If you want to find a single mic that will serve you both in the studio and on the stage, a number of models will be up to the task. The Shure SM57, for example, is a popular, go-to mic that gets extensive use in both settings.

shure sm 57 microphone

The Shure SM57 has a solid design, performing equally well onstage or in the studio, capturing vocals and instruments.

Check, Check: Understanding the Specs

Getting some fundamental knowledge on microphone specifications and terminology under your belt will help you select a mic that best suits your needs. Here are the primary specs and terms you will often see in mic descriptions:

Polar Patterns

The polar pattern is the shape of a mic's field of sensitivity, or the directions from which it accepts or ignores incoming sounds. An omnidirectional mic responds to sounds coming from all directions. A bi-directional mic, also known as a Figure 8 microphone, picks up sounds from east and west while excluding sounds from north and south. A unidirectional mic primarily hears sounds from one direction and excludes sounds from other directions.

Unidirectional mics are the most common type, and they come in three polar patterns: cardioid, supercardioid and hypercardioid. All three of these patterns reject rear-axis and off-axis sounds coming from behind the mic or from the sides.

The cardioid pattern is roughly a heart shape (hence its name), which makes the mic most sensitive to sounds from straight on and from the sides, but rejects sounds from 180 degrees opposite the direction the mic is aimed.

The supercardioid mic accepts a little more sound from a 180-degree field, but rejects more from each side. The hypercardioid allows yet more sound from 180 degrees but rejects more of the sound coming from 90 or 270 degrees.

Polar patterns are important when you are working in a noisy setting, such as when miking a vocalist in a band. Cardioid, supercardioid, and hypercardioid mics will tend to exclude all the sounds except the voice of the singer, thus preventing the signal from becoming muddied or producing feedback.

Learn more about polar patterns and hear some fantastic demos in our feature on the AKG C414.

Multi-Pattern Microphones

Some microphones are multi-pattern. In other words, their polar patterns can be changed (e.g. from omnidirectional to cardioid) by means of a switch or by interchangeable capsules. This capability gives the mic added versatility in various settings.

Frequency Response

A microphone’s frequency response refers to the range of frequencies, from low to high, that a microphone will pick up. This range is referred to by its lowest and highest frequencies, measured in hertz. A microphone with a frequency response range of around 80 Hz to 15 kHz would make a good choice for a vocal mic. However for miking snares and toms, you would look for a range that starts lower, at around 50 Hz, and for a bass drum mic, you will want a low end of 40 Hz or even lower, down to 30 Hz.

Response Curves

It is important to note that frequency response only tells you the overall range a mic can reproduce. How it performs at different frequencies is another matter, and this performance is what gives a mic its character.

The shape of a microphone’s frequency responsiveness is called its response curve. Because it starts out at zero on the low end and drops off to zero at the high end, it takes the form of a curve when graphed. Within this overall curve, there will be peaks and dips in certain places that give the mic a certain character and make it more suited to certain applications. For example, a mic intended for vocals may have a spike in its upper midrange that results in smoother or more intelligible reproduction of voices.

shure sm58 frequency chart

The frequency response curve of a Shure SM58 microphone

Sensitivity and SPL-Handling Capability

Sensitivity refers to how quiet a sound the mic can detect, and it is expressed using different systems. Regardless of the system, it is perhaps enough to know that the lower the number, the more sensitive the microphone is.

SPL stands for “sound pressure level” and is expressed in decibels (dBs). It describes the maximum volume that a mic can handle, so, in a way, it is the opposite of sensitivity. This is important if the mic must deal with loud instruments such as drums. An average level is around 100 dB; a high SPL is 130 dB.

Proximity Effect

Proximity effect is not given as a specification, but is an important mic characteristic that is sometimes mentioned in descriptions.

Proximity effect causes bass frequencies to become more pronounced as the sound source moves closer to the mic. This is desirable for singers who "work the mic" to create effects. A recording engineer might select a mic with a strong proximity effect for close miking an instrument to bring out its bass tones.

Condenser mics generally produce more proximity effect than dynamic mics.

What the Specs Don't Tell You

The characteristics of a microphone involve more than just the specifications you read in its description. The product’s structure, the kind of metals used and the precision of its manufacturing can all greatly affect its performance.

That’s why it's fair to say that price itself is a significant specification. Keep in mind that listening is the best way to really know the differences between a great mic and a lesser one.

Types of Microphones and Their Applications

Most microphones fall into one of two categories: dynamic mics and condenser mics – and these types are characterized by a number of important differences.

Typically, dynamic mics are more rugged than condensers, making them more suitable for on-stage use. Condensers, on the other hand, are more sensitive and more delicate, so they are most often used for studio recording. These are generalities however; there are dynamic mics that are often used in recording settings, and condenser models designed to handle the rigors of stage work.

Another distinction is the mic’s power requirement. Dynamic mics operate without a power source, while most condensers need a battery or phantom power supply (from a mixing board, preamp, or dedicated external power supply) to function.

Let’s take a closer look at the different microphone types to zero in on the best option for your purposes.

Dynamic Microphones

Dynamic microphones use an inductive coil connected to a diaphragm and placed within the field of a permanent magnet. As the diaphragm moves, it moves the coil, thus varying the voltage the coil produces. These subtle shifts in output voltage shape the mic’s output.

These mics are usually quite rugged, and have high SPL-handling capability. Most have internal shock mounting to allow hand use, and their polar patterns reject off-axis sounds. These are all reasons that dynamic mics tend to perform well in live sound situations, though some also are used regularly for recording. The Shure SM58 has been both a studio and stage staple for many years.

As a group, dynamic mics also are relatively affordable, and many of the big-name mic manufacturers have economy-series mics that give you great performance for a low price.

shure sm58 dynamic microphone

The super-affordable (and super-durable) Shure SM58 dynamic mic is a go-to vocal mic for both the stage and the studio.

Ribbon Microphones

Ribbon microphones operate on the same principle as other dynamic mics, but instead of a diaphragm, they employ a thin ribbon that vibrates to vary voltage. Ribbon mics are used in the studio for recording voices and a broad range of instruments. They soften the sound and impart warmth to recorded material. Some of the more well-known makers of ribbon microphones include Royer Labs, Beyerdynamic and AEA Microphones.

Beyerdynamic M 160 Dynamic Double Ribbon Microphone

The Beyerdynamic M 160 Dynamic Double Ribbon Microphone is a double ribbon microphone that offers ultra-fast transient response, with applications including violin, viola, cello, piano, saxaphone and hi-hat and toms.

Want to learn more about ribbon microphones? Check out our factory tours and interviews with the teams of Royer Labs and AEA.

Application-Specific Dynamic Mics

In recent years, microphone manufacturers have begun producing dynamic microphone models designed for specific instruments. Here are a few examples:

Drum and Percussion Microphones

Because each drum and cymbal within a drum kit creates its own unique sounds, mics are tailored for kick drums, snares, toms, and cymbals. Each mic has a response curve and profile best suited to the drum for which it’s used. Because of their ability to handle high frequencies and sounds with a rapid attack, small-diameter condenser mics are often used to capture the sound of cymbals. Drum mics are often sold in special packs of four, five, or more microphones that will save you money and guarantee that you have the whole range of your drum kit’s sounds covered.

audix fp7 drum mic pack

The very affordable 7-mic Audix FP7 Drum Mic Pack includes everything you need to mic up a full-sized drum kit.

Microphones for Reed, Brass, Woodwind, and Stringed Instruments

Typically small and lightweight, these microphones have a frequency response tailored to the specific instrument, and they employ a special mounting system that attaches to the instrument's bell or body. Since these mounts and their attached mics move with the instrument, they maintain a set distance for greater volume consistency while giving the artist freedom of movement. Clip-on microphones have been developed for violin, viola, cello, and double bass that eliminate the need to retrofit priceless instruments with pickups.

applied microphone technology AMT LSW

The Applied Microphone Technology AMT LSW wireless mic for sax is compatible with many wireless systems and gives reed players freedom to roam the stage.

Bullet (Harmonica) Microphones

Bullet microphones, also known as harmonica microphones, are specially made for harmonica players. With a short, round casing, they can easily be cupped in the player’s hands along with the harmonica, and their crystal diaphragm elements produce the distorted sound beloved by blues harp players.

Shure 520DX Green Bullet Mic

The Shure 520DX Green Bullet Mic is shaped for easy cupping that produces that classic, distorted Chicago harp sound.

Learn more about amplifying and miking harps with our Harmonica Buying Guide.

Wireless Microphones

Though they are electronically similar to wired microphones, wireless microphones include a transmitter to allow a greater range of movement. A battery-powered transmitter in the microphone’s body transmits the mic’s signal to a receiver unit that is connected to a mixer or PA system. The signal is transmitted using radio frequencies. The most common wireless systems use digital, UHF, or VHF frequencies. Affordable wireless mic systems that deliver good sound and bang for the buck typically use the UHF band. The best systems use digital technology that optimizes audio quality while also eliminating noise and signal dropouts that can be an issue with low-quality systems. Interference generated by devices such as radios, wireless phones, garage-door openers, and even fluorescent light fixtures are detected and eliminated by such digital circuitry.

Another way better-quality wireless mic systems deal with reception problems is through diversity technology. Receivers that have what is referred to as true diversity contain two separate radio modules, each connected to its own antenna. When interference is detected, a circuit compares the signal received by each module/antenna and uses whichever one is cleanest.

It’s important to note that receiver microphone frequencies must match. This is not an issue when you purchase a full system since the frequencies have been matched by the manufacturer. But if you are buying microphones and receivers separately, be sure they operate on the same bandwidths.

Wireless vocal mics come in a number of formats including hand-held models, clip-on lavalier mics, and headworn mics that have a headband. Some manufacturers also produce plug-in transmitters with which you can convert a standard wired mic to wireless operation.

shure pgxd24 sm58 digital wireless mic

The Shure PGXD24/SM58 Digital Wireless System combines a benchmark SM58 mic with a wireless transmitter and receiver employing 24-bit/48kHz digital technology for peerless sound.

Untethered from mic stands or amp cables, wireless instrument mic systems give the musician the freedom to move around the stage. There are wireless systems for brass, woodwind, and string players too that are essentially smaller wireless microphones that clip onto the instrument.

As you explore the Musician's Friend mic selection, descriptions will usually include information about the various model’s best applications. Keep in mind that the majority of on-stage mics are used for vocals. Accordingly, you will have many choices when it comes to choosing dynamic mics for this purpose.

Learn more about wireless mics with our Wireless Systems Buying Guide.

Condenser Microphones

In condenser mics, a thin conductive diaphragm is located close to a metal plate called a backplate, creating a capacitor. This capacitor is supplied with a small electric charge, either from phantom power or from a battery. When the pressure of sound waves causes the diaphragm to vibrate, it changes the distance between it and the backplate, thus causing variations in the output voltage. This varied output creates the microphone's electronic signal.

Condenser microphones use an external power supply, internal batteries, or phantom power supplied by the mixer input. These days, most mixers have phantom power on mic inputs, but if you are using an older mixer, you’ll want to make sure it has phantom power before buying a condenser that requires it.

There are many different types of condenser mics, and most of them are used for recording. A few are used for live sound applications such as overhead miking of choirs, pianos, acoustic stringed instruments, and certain percussion instruments such as cymbals.

Here are the main types of condenser microphones:

Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphones

Sizable recording microphones with diaphragms from three quarters to an inch in diameter, large-diaphragm mics are usually very sensitive. They almost always require external power and suspension mounting that isolates the mic from external vibrations.

The large size of these mics and their need for suspension makes them unsuitable for such applications as miking drum kits, where space is tight, but they are excellent for recording voices and a wide variety of instruments. That is why they often serve as a recording studio's all-purpose microphones.

As you may have guessed, the best mics in this category can be very expensive; however, a number of affordable models have become available in recent years. These cost-conscious models mimic the design of the more expensive mics, and they work quite well for nonprofessional recording.

AKG C314 Professional Multi-Pattern Condenser Microphone

The AKG C314 Professional Multi-Pattern Condenser Microphone has advanced features that help artists fine-tune their signature sound including four selectable polar patterns, the lowest self-noise in its class, and an overload detection LED.

Related: AKG takes us through their storied microphone history.

Side-Address Condenser Microphones

Another type of large-condenser mic, side-address microphones usually have a wide, flat windscreen over a large diaphragm. These are positioned horizontally and aimed toward the side at a 90-degree angle. Thus, if the mic is vertical, a singer seems to be addressing it from the side, hence its name.

Dual-Diaphragm Condensers

Usually, dual-diaphragm mics are configured the same as side-address mics. However, they have two diaphragms aimed in opposite directions.

Naturally, dual-diaphragm mics are effective for recording duets or larger groups, and they can be great for picking up room ambiance. A dual-diaphragm condenser mic makes it easier to balance two simultaneous sound sources as opposed to using two single-diaphragm mics.

Tube Condenser Microphones

The vintage models you associate with old-time recording and broadcast studios are tube condenser microphones. Because they impart a warmth and a rounded sound to recorded material—much like a tube guitar amp colors the instrument's sound in pleasing ways—they still are made and used in professional studios to this day.

These mics require a dedicated power supply, powered mixer, or a mic preamp that provides the correct voltage.

mxl 9000 condenser mic with shockmount

A 12AT7 tube circuit in the MXL 9000 condenser mic results in warm-yet-transparent sound. A great value, it includes a power supply and shockmount.

Small-Diaphragm Condenser Microphones

With a diaphragm a half-inch or less in diameter, small-diaphragm microphones are used in many recording applications and occasionally in live settings.

These mics do especially well at reproducing higher-frequency sounds and sound sources that change quickly in volume or have a sudden attack. One common application is overhead miking of cymbals. Like other condensers, they depend on phantom power or a battery to operate.

USB Microphones

The enormous popularity of computer-based recording has revolutionized the way music is recorded. When it comes to routing your music through the soundcard of a computer, there are many possibilities available today, ranging from sophisticated digital audio workstations (DAWs) and digital mixing boards to simpler interfaces offering connections for a single mic and /or instrument. Simplest of all are USB-powered mics that offer plug ‘n’ play convenience. These budget-friendly microphones are a great choice for someone who needs quick, convenient solutions. So, whether you're just dipping your toes in the recording waters, or you're a budding podcaster who needs a straight-forward solution, USB microphones are a fantastic choice.   

Audio Technica AT2020USB Condenser Microphone

Based on Audio Technica’s highly rated AT2020 standard condenser model, the AT2020USB+ offers convenient plug-and-play USB connectivity combined with studio-worthy sound capture.

There’s a healthy selection of USB-compatible microphones to choose from these days. They include both condenser and dynamic mic types configured for specific applications such as vocal and instrument miking. Many work seamlessly with iOS and Android apps that turn your smartphone or tablet into a highly portable recording studio.

Considering starting a podcast and don't know what gear you need? Learn more with our Podcast Audio Gear Buying Guide.

Shotgun Microphones

Having a very narrow and extended polar pattern, shotgun microphones are often used for broadcasts such as sporting events because they excel at picking up specific sound sources from a distance.

Boundary Microphones

These mics are usually are placed on a flat surface such as a floor, table, ceiling, or wall which help gather the sound. Boundary mics are quite versatile and are often used on podiums, at conferences, in boardrooms, and in the studio. They are useful for various sound-reinforcement applications that require coverage of a large area.

Roll-off and Bass Attenuation Switches

These controls are found on many condenser microphones and enhance their versatility. The roll-off switch alters the frequency range, usually on the low end, reducing response or cutting it off below a certain level. The roll-off switch is used in live sound situations to reduce low-end rumble. Rolling off the bass keeps the PA power amp from having to deal with frequencies below its capability. In recording, rolling off the bass can add clarity. Attenuation switches alter a mic's sensitivity or volume, padding it so that a high volume source doesn't overload the mic, causing distortion.

Microphone Packages

Equipping your home studio with a versatile selection of mics and mic mounts can be an expensive proposition. So can equipping your band with a collection of stage-worthy mics and mic stands. At Musician’s Friend we offer many different mic packages that include multiple mics, stands, mounts, cables and other mic accessories. These packages contain carefully matched components, and offer significant savings compared to buying those components separately.

Microphone Accessories

There are numerous mic accessories designed to optimize your microphone’s performance. Some of them, including mic stands, cables, and mounts, are pretty much essential. Other items such as pop filters, windscreens, shockmounts, and isolation screens may also be critical, depending on how and where you are using your mic. Whether you’re looking for mic replacement parts such as a new grille for that battered SM58, or a mount that’ll puts your mic precisely where you want it, you’ll find it at Musician’s Friend.

Signing Off: Some Final Comments

One of the most helpful things you can do in selecting a mic is good, old-fashioned research. Ask others about the mics they use, read reviews by pro-audio specialists as well customer-written reviews on our website.

Another strategy to consider is sticking with the established, big-name companies that make professional mics. Many of them have lower-priced models that deliver surprisingly good sound. You can spend as little as $40 to $50 and get a decent dynamic stage mic.

For recording mics, the more you spend directly correlates with the quality of your recordings, so it is best to avoid the very lowest-priced models. Starting at around $100, you can find condenser recording mics that serve very nicely in home recording studios.

Of course, it’s safe to assume that the more you spend, the better the mic you’ll get. But be realistic. Work with your budget, and ensure your choice is appropriate for what you want to achieve. A mic’s overall quality should match the audio quality of the rest of your signal chain.

For a DJ who needs to talk to his audience occasionally during a show, a low-priced mic can be perfectly adequate. If you need a vocal mic for your garage band, an affordable mic will do for that application, too.

We want you to be pleased with your microphone purchase, and we offer a generous return policy so you can order with confidence. After reading this guide, if you’re still not sure what mic is right for you, we invite you call to one of our friendly and knowledgeable Gear Heads at (877) 880-5907.

Tags: Recording Microphones Live Sound Microphone Pro Audio


# ken 2016-12-27 18:26
I was looking for your 12 channel wireless stackable systems by Senhauser. I was on Senhauser's web-site and then ended up here. I engineer large theaters for sports and was called upon to for large 3000 to 6000 seat facilities. So, I guess senhauser directed me to you and any questions I may have I can get my answers from you.

Who are you currently recommended as stage side monitors. Does Senhouser have any integrated equipment that works well together?
# David Hughes 2016-09-01 14:54
Any ideas as to where I can buy at a reasonable cost a preferably lightweight and compact external ultrasound microphone, capable of picking up sounds within the sound range of 25khz to 130khz.
# Matt 2016-10-16 06:07
Audible sound range for humans is between 20Hz and 20kHz.

Even if you could record the frequencies in the range you are asking for, only dog would be able to hear it.
# Armetha Glymph 2016-08-14 18:36
I am in a church choir and would like to practice at home but am not sure what microphone and equipment I will need. I really just want something very simple.
# Armetha Glymph 2016-08-14 18:35
I am singing in a church choir and want to practice at home. I need wireless microphone and I am not sure what I need to purchase.
# Jim E 2016-07-23 00:33
Thanks for this great article! Sadly most of it is over my head and as Susan Gunn suggested, when searching for a computer we don't always need to know how to build one we just want to use it and that is the case for me in my search for the best microphone for my application.
I am looking for a microphone that will accurately record tuning forks in the range of 30hz to 50k hz to be used in alternative healing.
I am not a musician and know nothing about recording so if anyone takes the time to offer suggestions to me, I thank you for doing so, but please don't blind me with science, just suggest a suitable mic.
# Janet Lee 2016-04-28 22:07
What kind of mic will be suitable for a male vocal singer use for live performance ? From your article above looks like a dynamic wireless mic will be suitable ? Can please help to recommend which is the best model and what accessories to go with it ?
# Joseph 2016-04-05 20:04
I am staging a play very soon and I need a mic that when suspended from top and the sides will be able to pick the casts voices. What do you recommend?
# Eric Coyle 2016-04-12 16:26
Ime looking for a mike that would be best suited and clip onto a Bodrhan,if someone could help me,that would be great,cheers.
# Sandy 2016-04-02 22:59
Love the article.... Thank you!
I need a mic which will soften my daughters sound and balance it with the piano. She is a very powerful singer and dominates every recording. Can you help?
# Susan gunn 2016-01-07 06:36
Can I find a stereo mic good for vocal & instrument
Recording? Also which recorder would work best with it for power ? I'm a good singer but know stereo mic
Picked up my voice nuances best.....
# Susan gunn 2016-01-07 06:33
Where is a good Olde fashioned stereo mic? That's all I need for sitting @ my piano & recording my voice & piano accompany....? I met a Japanese dude who had a mini recorder with a stereo mic attachment as big as a finger & it's sensitivity was breathtaking....anyone help me with input?
# Abby 2015-11-27 08:47
I have a home recording studio and I'm looking for a mic that would be best suited for capturing good sound drum sound in a bad acoustic area, namely a carpeted basement. I know the area greatly affects the sound but at the moment I'm using the mic on my iPad in garageband and the sound always ends up sounding really crappy. Any suggestions?
# Cary 2016-10-13 20:22
Abby, being a drummer I must ask, are you recording the room or the drum kit ? Getting a good recording of a drumset would usually require at least three mics. I would recommend a shure beta 52 ($189) on the kick drum, a shure sm57 ($100) on the snare and an sm81 overhead ($349). The 81 is a bit pricey and you could probably get by with a cheaper condenser. I'm not familiar with garageband or recording with an Ipad so this is probably no help at all to you. I would recommend leaving the carpet and covering the walls with as much sound absorbing material as possible, especially in corners and where the walls meet floor and ceiling not for soundproofing, but to prevent sound waves (standing waves) from bouncing all over the room.
# Susan gunn 2016-01-25 23:24
Abbylook into buying an external mic made for I pad @ Apple Store. It's $150 so not cheap. I have found a stereo mic works best. Oh & consider removing that carpet...!
# Marie 2015-10-08 14:12
Hey, great informative article. I now know a few things about microphones. But I am still very confused upon what I should buy.. I'm in a garage band and I just so happened to be stuck with being the vocalist. Problem is, I have no idea what to get as far as microphones go. I know I want a dynamic mic, but do you have any suggestions upon what I should buy? My price range is about $50-$150, and I'm a lady with lower singing range. Is there anything out there that'll make me sound decent in that price range? Thanks!
# Jk 2015-12-12 04:17
# balaam 2016-03-28 04:05
SM58, unless the vocalist is really going to scream, then SM57
# Susan gunn 2016-01-26 00:00
SM58.... Huh,
Great news...& yes, a few friends weighed in saying the same thing.
Many many thanks! Now I gotta track it down...
# ShaunPierre 2016-01-07 07:28
Shure SM58 for vocals.
21 years on the stage, road, studio, garage, basement.
Seriously bulletproof & amazing sound reproduction.
Will need a metal screen or 2 after years of heavy use but cheap & easy to replace. For $100 bucks its the mic that will take you from the garage to the club to the home-studio recording. I have a mic case full of them but I still use my first SM58 from 1994 and SM57 from 1993.
# rajinikanth 2015-07-05 07:37
I want to purchase one Mic for vocal karaoke practice
Please suggest one good brand in Singapore maximum singapore dollar 50 .
# Andrew Bryant 2015-05-11 07:31
hi, I am wanting to get a couple of mikes to amplify and record our small choir of 10 people. We have some QTX active speakers to go through. We were thinking about condenser mikes which could go on stands. What would you recommend?
# Frank Rivera 2015-06-30 13:48
MXL-770. That mic delivers a full body of sound , keeping most of the dynamics in the audio. Its a warmer sound rather than thin and nasally. Also it;s cost effective
# Sandra 2015-02-10 06:21
I play a synthesizer and I'm not sure what mic to get. My voice isn't very loud when I sing but I'm a soprano singing voice. This is a hobbie so price is a bit of a big deal... Any suggestions?

# Jared 2015-07-28 15:26
Hey Sandra, are you looking for a recording microphone or a live microphone? If this is just a hobby and price is a big deal, you can always go for a low budget Digital Reference Microphone. It is a good quality mic at its price. I would really suggest a vocal mic at the $99 range. You can find a variety of mics that not only sound great and are industry standards, but they will last a lifetime. Some suggestions are the Shure SM58, the Sennheiser e835 and the AKG D5. If you are looking to do some recording, let me know and I'll make some more suggestions :)
# krishna 2015-01-20 14:00

I want to set up a home recording studio and would like to get recommendations for low priced vocal mics. This is my first home project and wouldn't want to spend much on mics(
# Jared 2015-07-28 15:31
Hey Krishna! If you are recording, I would suggest trying some entry level large diaphragm condenser microphones. They are great for vocals and can also be used on a variety of other instruments as well. If you have a tight budget for your home studio, I would definitely suggest spending a little more on a versatile large diaphragm mic then going as cheap as possible. You can accomplish a lot with just one decent mic. Some suggestions are the Blue Spark (also Bluebird or Baby Bottle if you can afford it) or try out the AKG Project Studio Mics. The Project Studios are a nice family of microphones that can be used on a variety of instruments including a vocal.
# john 2014-10-07 08:04
I play the trumpet (sometimes muted with Harmon) and sing in a 4 man combo (piano bass acoustic guitar). Looking for a reliable mic for small performances. This is a hobby band, so cost is a factor. Small stages so want to minimize "stuff". Suggestions for stands and accessories appreciated.

Article is very informative. Thank you
# Dylan 2015-05-08 13:49
Just get some SM57's they are the best all around mic and a very affordable price too. I own ten or twelve of them. Best of luck.
# Dick Dixon 2014-10-07 10:07
Hi John, I'd avoid condensers and ribbon mics. Dynamic microphones are more durable, don't require +48v power like condensers, and won't break or distort from the high volume a trumpet projects. Go try these options and pick what you like. I have been very successful with all of these for trumpet and voice. The dynamic mics are: Sennheiser MD 421 (349), EV RE20 (339), Audix D4, D2 or i5 (85-169), AKG D40 or D112 (99-139), Shure SM 58, 57, or Beta 56 (99-159). If you buy a dynamic, I highly recommend you also buy an impedance mod (30) from Peterson Goodwyn. It makes a HUGE difference. Search Google: "Peterson Goodwyn How to add an input impedance control"
If you want a Condenser, the standard mic for your application is a Neumann U87ai (2685) or have a professional modification (175-399) done to a CAD M179 or GXL3000 (119) or AKG 420 (199).

For your backup, should anything happen to your GOOD mic, buy a Pyle Pro PDMIC58 (22). Not great, but it'll save you.
# Rajendra 2014-09-22 03:33

I have to record engine noise which have frequencies up to 1KHz. Can anyone suggest suitable mic to record engine noise.

# Mark Aronoff 2014-05-10 08:44
Hi Dan, thanks for the reply. I am under the impression that the DM-80 is a condenser mic needing either phantom power or a battery. I realize I am wrong. I am going to check out the pre-amp you've recommended. I really appreciate your time and effort to help me out.


# Mark Aronoff 2014-05-09 08:29
Have a Nady DM-80 mike plugged into Ampeg bass head. Hardly any sound. Any suggestions how to supply 'phantom' power to DM-80 to get it to perform? I like the heavy thump of a good kick (Gretsch 20" with Evans batter)
thanks, Mark
# Mark Aronoff 2014-05-09 08:25
I bought a Nady 80 Kick Drum mic and plug it directly into my Ampeg Bass head. There is very little sound. Any recommendations as to how to 'phantom' power it? I am interested to add punch to the kick drum live thru the Ampeg head and cab, or alternatively, I also use a carver 1201 amp with 4 peavey monitors and a powered Polk Sub for background music during practice. Many thanks. Mark
# frequency dependant 2014-05-08 05:33
I agree with everybody (except the guy who asked unobjectively for recommendations) but the main focus here is application. If'n the right mic ain't used rightly than you end up with doodly squat.
# Susan gunn 2016-01-25 23:47
Frequency: many of us although good musicians are NOT tech or electronic wizards so most of Hubs spec writing though well written of physics of not helpful to those of us who are not technically inclined. I keep referring to my own experience of the difficulty of finding a stereo mic for example...many of us don't want to learn how to build a computer we just want to know which one will suit our capture the sounds well in about a 10 foot radius!?
# The HUB 2014-04-07 17:57
You'll find details about headworn mics and the wireless systems they operate with in our Wireless System Buying Guide. We hope you find the guide useful in picking out a system that works for you.
# Guido 2014-04-05 03:54
Nice article, but I'd like some reference about the head worn mic types, I haven't find one yet, that'd work well for singing Hard rock, I've seen that Sammy Hagar, and the singer of Winger, used them in live situations.
# Guido 2014-04-05 03:51
Nice article indeed, but It's missing the headworn mic types, I'm needing one, for singing classic rock and hard rock style, I've seen that Sammy Hagar and the singer of winger (don't remember his name now) used these head worn wireless mics, for live situations of course.
# Samuel Asher 2014-04-01 16:19
Excellent overview article. My only comment is with this statement, "A mic’s overall quality should match the audio quality of the rest of your signal chain."
What this does not say is that, being the first device that converts real sound to electrical signals, nothing down the chain can improve the fidelity over that initial microphone. To me, this implies that if any part of your rig is going to be high quality, start with the microphone.
# Susan gunn 2016-01-25 23:35
I agree. ...the microphone is first consideration, & must be what's called a "stereo mic" if you want a really good quality recording . It's THE most important part of the fact to MY discerning ear. If your mic isn't sensitive to all the sounds you want recorded its useless. So be sure at very least it is what I know as a stereo microphone. . .
# Ronald 2014-02-18 13:55
what would you recommend?
# Dick Dixon 2013-12-11 10:53
Pretty good basic overview, but a few corrections may be needed here.

1. Proximity effect is caused by the polar pattern. A mic with an Omni directional polar pattern will not experience proximity effect. All other types will.

2. The Cardioid, Hyper-Cardioid, and Super-Cardioid mics do not by nature reject rear sound. Point the back of one at a monitor and you will see that it does not by the deafness you in cure from the feedback squealing. However, some manufactures have altered the physical housing of a microphone to not reject sound but to cancel sound by way of phase-cancelation. This is most common ally done by adding ports on the sides of the mic. Unfortunately, the ports are often incorrectly spaced or sized to do much good.

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