Microphones

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Working with a good microphone

When­ev­er you work with Videos or audio files you wan­na make sure to have a good sound. The qual­i­ty of your sound is often the rea­son why view­ers and lis­ten­ers stick to your work or not. For me, start­ing to work with a good micro­phone changed sooooo much.

So on this page I want to rec­om­mend you some great micro­phones you can use, indoor and out­door, to record sounds. To get a good Micro­phone you should cal­cu­late with around 170 bugs for a stand- or hang­ing indoor micro­phone. The out­door micro­phones are often a bit cheap­er, but the qual­i­ty is real­ly not the same.

I also will rec­om­mend you a few cheap­er micro­phones for around 70–90 bugs but if you are seri­ous about sound record­ing, take the invest­ment and get a good microphone.

Per­son­al­ly I use a Blue Yeti USB Mic for Record­ing (which you can find in amaz­ing col­ors!) while work­ing on my com­put­er. This one is a bit more expen­sive, but total­ly worth it. It is a stand micro­phone, so I just put it some­where on my desk and it can per­fect­ly record. So the few more bugs are defin­i­tive a very good and com­fort­able invest­ment. This micro­phone is great for Pod­casts and Videos. This is my Microphone:

»Get it here on Amazon

I remem­ber, that you even can get a full pro­fes­sion­al kit which con­tains the Micro­phone, Cut­ting-Soft­ware, Head­phones and the pop fil­ters for fil­ter­ing the nois­es. Make sure to also check out the pro­fes­sion­al kit, if you know, you need more than just the mic.

 »Get it on Amazon 

And of course blue yeti offers also a hang­ing ver­sion of this micro­phone. I do not have that one, but I can imag­ine for pod­cast­ing this can be real­ly nice.

 

»Get it on Amazon

For record­ing inter­views and out­door I use a Movo M1 USB Lava­lier Lapel Clip-On Micro­phone. This one is not very expen­sive and nice to use. It has a USB adapter and a nice clip-on to stick it to your shirt.

 

» Get it here on Amazon

I also found some oth­er great micro­phones I can rec­om­mend to you guys. Check it out.

 

My best picks for recording microphones

 

Jump direct­ly to my spe­cif­ic rec­om­men­da­tions for recordings »

 

Comparison Table

NameImagePriceSpe­cial­tyView Online
Blue Yeti USB Mic$$Stand­ing MicrophoneAma­zon
Rockville RCM02 Pro Stu­dio Record­ing Con­denser Microphone$$Great for vocal recordingAma­zon
Fifine Met­al Con­denser Record­ing Microphone$$Stand­ing MicrophoneAma­zon
Sam­son G‑Track Pro USB Microphone$$All-in-one micro­phone, pan­el mixerAma­zon
Rode NT-USB Ver­sa­tile Microphone$$Ring mount, 6m USB CableAma­zon
AVer­Me­dia Tech­nolo­gies Am310$PC and Mac Com­pat­i­ble, build in condensorAma­zon
HyperX Quad­Cast USB Microphone$Gam­ing Micro­phone, good for not loud speak­ing peopleAma­zon
Blue Yeti X Professional$$Great focus on clarityAma­zon
Blue Snow­ball USB Microphone$No soft­ware requieredAma­zon
Tonor Cadioid Con­denser Microphone$gold-plat­ed large diaphragm condenserAma­zon
VeG­ue USB Microphone$$very flex­i­bleAma­zon
MAONO USB Micro­phone A04$$2 kits of micro­phone holdersAma­zon
Zingy­ou Micro­phone Con­denser Bundle$Begin­ner SetAma­zon
Audio-Tech­ni­ca AT2035 Car­dioid Con­denser Microphone$$$Pro­fes­sion­alAma­zon
Audio-Tech­ni­ca AT4040 Car­dioid Con­denser Microphone$$$Pro­fes­sion­alAma­zon

 

Why using a good microphone

A good micro­phone gives the sound a nice clar­i­ty. Also, it fil­ters nois­es like wind or back­ground speak­ing. A clear voice adds instant the feel­ing of good qual­i­ty to for exam­ple a video or a pod­cast. Don’t even have to start about vocal and instru­men­tal sounds.

That said, a good micro­phone is also more fun to work with. It is eas­i­er to cut for exam­ple, if the sounds are nice and clear. Also it is nice to know while record­ing, the mic do it’s part, so you can ful­ly con­cen­trate o the record.

In the fol­low­ing, I want to give you a quick overview on what is impor­tant in a micro­phone, the most com­mon tech­ni­cal terms and how to decide which micro is the best for your new platform-hack.

Your choice: Which microphones are available

Sure­ly you have already looked at some micro­phones. All sorts of new terms appear. Here I will go step by step into all the details.

Let’s start with the right micro­phone type!

Microphones from A to Z

All micro­phones have the same pur­pose. Receiv­ing and pro­cess­ing sound waves. Log­i­cal­ly. But how this hap­pens is dif­fer­ent for each micro­phone. Due to the tech­ni­cal dif­fer­ences, each type of micro­phone has its own sound. Of course, there are also many advan­tages and dis­ad­van­tages. For­tu­nate­ly, there is the opti­mal micro­phone for every application.

In record­ing, dynam­ic and con­denser micro­phones make up the major­i­ty. In addi­tion, both are quite uni­ver­sal­ly applic­a­ble. Depend­ing on the micro­phone you can use it for many sound sources. Some spe­cial micro­phones, how­ev­er, are only suit­able for one purpose.

Con­denser micro­phones are very sen­si­tive and deliv­er detailed sound. While dynam­ic micro­phones are a bit cum­ber­some and sound more dull. Nev­er­the­less, both types are excel­lent for speech and vocal record­ings. Dynam­ic micro­phones can even be used on stage. They are often worn as hand­held microphones.

 

The different Types of Microphones

In the stand: The con­denser microphone
Each type of micro­phone has its own type and use. For exam­ple, you will usu­al­ly find large diaphragm con­denser micro­phones in a micro­phone stand. Be it in a stand or as a micro­phone arm. There is a good rea­son for this. Con­denser micro­phones are very sen­si­tive. What has advan­tages in sound, has dis­ad­van­tages in han­dling. To be more pre­cise, it is not made to be held in the hand. This is because, for exam­ple, impact sound and grip noise are trans­ferred to the sound track. This is some­thing to be avoid­ed! That is why we use a micro­phone stand for large diaphragm con­denser microphones.

 

In your hand: dynam­ic microphone
If, on the oth­er hand, you want to buy a hand­held micro­phone, the choice is the dynam­ic micro­phone. They have the typ­i­cal micro­phone design and are very robust. The diaphragm is also quite insen­si­tive. There­fore, you sim­ply hold the micro­phone in your hand. Alter­na­tive­ly, you can also pur­chase a stand with a micro­phone holder.

 

By the clothes: Lapel microphones
If nei­ther a micro­phone stand nor a hand­held micro­phone is suit­able, the lava­lier micro­phones can help. On the one hand there are lapel micro­phones. As the name sug­gests, you sim­ply clamp the small record­ing device onto your­self. Most­ly it is the clothes. Lapel micro­phones come in many use­ful vari­a­tions. You will find a large selec­tion of cheap PC vari­a­tions, pro­fes­sion­al wire­less mod­els and good smart­phone microphones.

 

Behind the ear: Alter­na­tive boom microphone
Fur­ther­more, the boom micro­phones are also suit­able for voice record­ing. Sim­i­lar to a head­set, the micro­phone floats near the mouth. It is there­fore advan­ta­geous that hard­ly any ambi­ent noise is record­ed. With the help of a boom, you attach the micro­phone behind the ear or to the neck.

 

On the camera
If you’re plan­ning a video pro­duc­tion and lava­lier micro­phones are imprac­ti­cal for your use, you’ll need a direc­tion­al micro­phone. Con­ve­nient­ly, you attach the micro­phone to the cam­era. That way, the micro­phone is always point­ed at the sound source. Direc­tion­al micro­phones have a very thin record­ing area. This means that lit­tle ambi­ent noise gets into the audio track and the result is quite clear.

 

What to look for in a microphone

Difference between large and small membrane

The mem­brane plays a deci­sive role in the pro­cess­ing of sound waves. How exact­ly the diaphragm works is dif­fer­ent for each micro­phone type. More detailed infor­ma­tion on how the diaphragms work can be found in the respec­tive subpages!

Actu­al­ly, the dif­fer­ence between large and small diaphragms is quick­ly clar­i­fied. Every­thing small­er than half an inch is con­sid­ered a small diaphragm. There are also dif­fer­ences in sound tech­nol­o­gy. So the sound of a small diaphragm micro­phone is often very detailed and life­like. While large diaphragm micro­phones are very pop­u­lar for vocal record­ings because of their volu­mi­nous and warm sound.

Interfaces: The optimal connection

Ulti­mate­ly, the con­nec­tion also plays a major role in terms of sound qual­i­ty. XLR is the stan­dard in the pro­fes­sion­al field. In con­trast, con­ven­tion­al jack micro­phones that you can buy at elec­tron­ic stores often sound ter­ri­ble. An onboard sound card of your PC is just not good enough. It is suf­fi­cient for com­mu­ni­ca­tion via Skype & Co. But for usable audio record­ing you need anoth­er solution.

You could buy a pro­fes­sion­al sound card for micro­phones. But you could eas­i­ly spend a few hun­dred euros. Alter­na­tive­ly, you could grab a USB audio inter­face. For exam­ple, I use the Blue Yeti USB Record­ing Micro. With this you can use your XLR or jack micro­phone and do with­out the annoy­ing noise of the sound card. We will talk about the acces­sories in detail later.

First of all we will clar­i­fy the right inter­face. Wire­less is also pos­si­ble. But either the qual­i­ty is use­less or the price is unaf­ford­able. That leaves USB. USB micro­phones are espe­cial­ly suit­able for the hob­by sec­tor. Uncom­pli­cat­ed record­ings bring you high-qual­i­ty audio tracks that are also suit­able for YouTube, Twitch and Podcasts!

USB micro­phones did­n’t have much friends in the begin­ning. In the mean­time this has for­tu­nate­ly changed. Because with the USB inter­face some advan­tages come to bear (more lat­er). USB micro­phones have already built in an audio inter­face. So to speak an own soundcard!

The same applies here:

Every inter­face has its advan­tages. There are also disadvantages.

 

 

Which microphone do you need

By now you should have a good sense of which micro­phone to buy. In the fol­low­ing sec­tion we will now go into more detail about the cir­cum­stances. Where at the begin­ning the large selec­tion was daunt­ing, now the fun begins!

Gaming, Podcasts & Co: Microphone for voice recordings

The USB micro­phones are ide­al for pod­casts or video com­men­taries. Here you don’t have to deal with unnec­es­sary equip­ment. Usu­al­ly large diaphragm con­denser micro­phones are more suit­able. But Rode offers the Pod­cast­er, a dynam­ic micro­phone with a large diaphragm, which fits per­fect­ly — as the name obvi­ous­ly sug­gests — into the bag­gage scheme of aspir­ing podcasters.


»The Pod­cast­er by Rode

To buy the right micro­phone for voice record­ings there is not much to con­sid­er. Basi­cal­ly, there is no way around the USB micro­phone. At least there are only a few dis­ad­van­tages. The exact advan­tages of a USB micro­phone will be dis­cussed in detail later!

Acces­sories are usu­al­ly not nec­es­sary with a USB micro­phone. If no tri­pod is includ­ed, a table tri­pod is very use­ful. A pop fil­ter also con­tributes to a good sound.

 

Microphone for vocals and rap

For the hob­by area or small exper­i­ments a USB con­denser micro­phone would be a good choice. This is already enough to pro­duce your first own record­ings. A big advan­tage: You don’t need to buy any addi­tion­al equipment.

In the long run, how­ev­er, a micro­phone with a USB inter­face makes no sense.

If you are real­ly seri­ous about your record­ings, you should go for an XLR micro­phone. This means that you also need record­ing equip­ment. You can find out which one exact­ly, below. Let’s stick to the micro­phone for a moment.

Basi­cal­ly, you have the choice between a dynam­ic micro­phone or a con­denser micro­phone with a large diaphragm. In the end, you have to make the choice. Because your taste is the decid­ing fac­tor. Most singers and rap­pers use large-diaphragm micro­phones in the studio.

The rea­son?

Large-diaphragm con­denser micro­phones add charm to your voice. Your voice sounds present. For the first time you will enjoy lis­ten­ing to your own voice. I also took my first steps with a con­denser microphone.

There­fore: If you want to buy the opti­mal stu­dio micro­phone, you should choose a con­denser micro­phone with a large diaphragm.

 

Recording of instruments

Buy­ing an instru­ment micro­phone is not easy for every­one. Often a few micro­phone tests are nec­es­sary before you have the right micro­phone in your hand. As dif­fer­ent as the sounds, as dif­fer­ent the micro­phones have to be. Almost at least. Although there are uni­ver­sal micro­phones that serve many pur­pos­es. In prac­tice, how­ev­er, one often falls back on a whole set.

Because dif­fer­ent fre­quen­cies as well as high and low sound pres­sure lev­els demand a lot. Small diaphragm micro­phones, for exam­ple, are suit­able for string record­ings with an eye for detail. For a kick drum, on the oth­er hand, the dynam­ic micro­phone is often the first choice.

 

Video production (VLOG, interview, reports)

For the video pro­duc­tion it depends above all on what you want to film. If it’s main­ly about voice record­ings, the Lava­lier micro­phone is attached, which you sim­ply plug into your clothes. Also for a VLOG, it is best to use a lava­lier micro­phone. If you are sit­ting at your desk at home, con­ven­tion­al gam­ing & pod­cast micro­phones are also suitable.

Alter­na­tive­ly you can use a cam­era micro­phone. This term refers to a direc­tion­al micro­phone that is plugged onto a cam­era. Thus, cam­era and micro­phone are always aligned to the same place. Due to the nar­row record­ing range of the direc­tion­al micro­phone, ambi­ent noise is great­ly reduced.

Final­ly, we will dis­cuss micro­phones for mod­er­a­tion or inter­views. If you are on stage, for exam­ple, the dynam­ic micro­phone is a good choice. For pro­fes­sion­al reportage, sound engi­neers use small diaphragm micro­phones. You can also hold these in your hand. How­ev­er, you should equip them with a suit­able wind­screen. Direc­tion­al micro­phones are also suit­able for inter­views. Be it as hand or cam­era microphone.

 

Accessories for your microphone

I hope you have no more ques­tions about buy­ing a micro­phone. If you do, you will find a sec­tion below with more answers.

Now that we have clar­i­fied the top­ic of buy­ing a micro­phone, we will now turn our atten­tion to acces­sories. Because a good micro­phone alone is unfor­tu­nate­ly not enough for high-qual­i­ty sound.

Okay, there is one exception.

 

Advantage USB Microphone

In the course of this arti­cle you have already heard about the advan­tages of a USB micro­phone. At this point we will go into it more detailed.

Prob­a­bly the biggest advan­tage of a USB micro­phone is its sim­plic­i­ty. Nor­mal­ly you need a lot of acces­sories for a good record­ing micro­phone. Acces­sories which are already inte­grat­ed in the USB micro­phone. Most of the time, you are spared the need to install them your­self. Instead, you can start record­ing right away.

The only dis­ad­van­tage of the USB micro­phone is the sound qual­i­ty. For pro­fes­sion­al pod­casts and Lets Play it might be enough. But for vocal or instru­men­tal record­ings, XLR micro­phones are still the bet­ter choice. With tech­ni­cal progress, how­ev­er, USB micro­phones can still be used to a great extent in the long run!

If you decide not to use USB and want to buy an XLR micro­phone instead, you can find out what acces­sories you need now.

Equipment for dynamic XLR microphones

First of all you need an inter­face to which you con­nect your micro­phone. This is for exam­ple a mix­er, a PC sound­card or the USB audio inter­face. There are also oth­er audio inter­faces. Basi­cal­ly it’s all about get­ting the sig­nal into the PC. The eas­i­est way to do this is with a USB audio interface.

Pay atten­tion to the gain when buy­ing. Because dynam­ic micro­phones are quite qui­et. There­fore you need a good pre­am­pli­fi­ca­tion. If you want to be sure, an addi­tion­al micro­phone pre­am­pli­fi­er — the pre­amp — is a good solution.

To con­nect a micro­phone to a device, you need an XLR cable. The con­nec­tion between the inter­face and the pre­amp is usu­al­ly done with a jack cable. But there are also USB audio inter­faces that have an XLR input.

As you already know, dynam­ic micro­phones can also be held in the hand. But in many sit­u­a­tions this is rather imprac­ti­cal. For this rea­son we use a micro­phone stand. There is a wide range of choic­es here as well.

For a lit­tle sound aes­thet­ics the micro­phone wind­screen helps. You can buy the foam pro­tec­tion for just a few euros. It helps to reduce wind and breath­ing nois­es. It also works against pop sounds. But dynam­ic micro­phones are already well pro­tect­ed by the bas­ket. On the oth­er hand, a wind­screen has a (most­ly neg­a­tive) influ­ence on the sound quality.

Final­ly, the only thing miss­ing is the record­ing soft­ware — the DAW (dig­i­tal audio work­sta­tion). For sim­ple pur­pos­es, check out the free Audac­i­ty. Often an entry-lev­el ver­sion of Cubase is includ­ed with the pur­chase of an inter­face. In many cas­es, this is already enough and offers you an entry into the pro­fes­sion­al world of recording.

 

Accessories for XLR large diaphragm condenser microphones

With a large-diaphragm con­denser micro­phone, you need all the acces­sories required for the dynam­ic micro­phone. It is best to read the sec­tion above if you have not already done so. Because apart from the wind­screen every­thing is the same.

The wind­screen is replaced by the pop­screen. This is a cloth-cov­ered screen that hangs in front of the micro­phone. It makes sure that explo­sive sounds don’t dis­tort your record­ing tracks. For good sound a micro­phone pop­screen is mandatory!

In addi­tion, you now need a micro­phone stand in any case. Again, I rec­om­mend that you read the guide to the micro­phone stand. There you will find all infor­ma­tion to buy the right micro­phone stand.

As con­nec­tion between stand and micro­phone we use the micro­phone spi­der. With the help of the elas­tic sus­pen­sions your record­ing track is free of noise. On the oth­er hand, vibra­tions from the micro­phone stand would be trans­ferred direct­ly to the micro­phone. This includes, for exam­ple, ground noise or touch­ing the stand.

 

Anything else you should know

So far, we’ve cleared most of it up. You should now be able to buy a micro­phone that real­ly suits you! Since the top­ic micro­phone and record­ing is not cov­ered in a sin­gle arti­cle and only offers an intro­duc­tion, you will find more answers in this section.

Polar pattern

Anoth­er term that has a deter­rent effect at first. But it’s actu­al­ly not that bad. Because as a begin­ner you best ignore this part and reach for the kid­ney char­ac­ter­is­tic. The car­dioid is the stan­dard polar pat­tern, so to speak. Basi­cal­ly, the car­dioid reflects the area that is with­in the pick­up range of the micro­phone. With the car­dioid, this area is car­dioid — hence the name. You can also buy a super-car­dioid, hyper­car­dioid or omni­di­rec­tion­al microphone.

Phantom Power

I’m sure you’ve stum­bled across that term before. To pow­er a micro­phone, it needs ener­gy. Sure. With a dynam­ic micro­phone, this is already done by induc­tion. With a con­denser micro­phone, the sig­nal is too weak. Phan­tom pow­er is the rem­e­dy. With the help of a pre­amp or audio inter­face and XLR cable, the con­denser micro­phone receives the nec­es­sary voltage.

When buy­ing a micro­phone, make sure that your record­ing device pro­vides phan­tom power!

Mono instead of Stereo

Have you ever won­dered why the major­i­ty of micro­phones are all in mono? Stereo micro­phones, on the oth­er hand, are not very com­mon. With good reason.

Espe­cial­ly for the begin­ner a good imple­men­ta­tion of stereo record­ings is dif­fi­cult to do. Because both record­ing chan­nels have to run syn­chro­nous­ly. But that is not too bad. Because mono is per­fect­ly ade­quate. In addi­tion, even with a mono micro­phone a high-qual­i­ty and nat­ur­al sound is given.

Quality

Depend­ing on what your record­ing pur­pose is, the record­ing qual­i­ty is a deci­sive cri­te­ri­on. If you only want to record for your­self, this point is not deci­sive. But espe­cial­ly for pub­li­ca­tions you need rea­son­able quality.

Think of your listeners!

After all, you expect your favorite pod­cast or YouTube chan­nel to have enough good sound. There are numer­ous reviews on the Inter­net. This gives you a rough overview. But you won’t get around your own micro­phone test at the planned record­ing loca­tion. Just try a lit­tle bit. But remem­ber: If you buy cheap once, you always buy twice.

 

Known manufacturers

Among the best known brands in the field of home record­ing or record­ing stu­dio are cer­tain­ly Shure from the USA, the Aus­tralian man­u­fac­tur­er Rode or the Ger­man com­pa­nies such as Sennheis­er and Neumann.

The clas­sic among the live micro­phones is the Shure SM58. This dynam­ic micro­phone has been pro­duced for more than 30 years and is still a box-office hit today, which is miss­ing in hard­ly any reper­toire of live musicians.

For begin­ners the brands t.bone is rec­om­mend­ed. The Com­pa­ny Thomann is behind this brand. The micro­phones of the t.bone series are well man­u­fac­tured, promise a good record­ing qual­i­ty and are also quite inex­pen­sive. For long-term use in home record­ing, I rec­om­mend brands like Rode or AKG.

 

My recommendations for different types of recording

Final­ly, I would like to give you some micro­phone rec­om­men­da­tions. You’re not going to go wrong with buy­ing one of these mics. At the same time they will give you an ori­en­ta­tion which micro­phone is opti­mal for you!

 

Rode NT USB for gamers & podcasters

This PC micro­phone is a stu­dio-qual­i­ty USB micro­phone accord­ing to the man­u­fac­tur­er’s spec­i­fi­ca­tions. The Rode NT USB also made a very good impres­sion in the micro­phone test on Mikrofonwelt.de. Thanks to the USB tech­nol­o­gy you don’t need any fur­ther equip­ment. Fur­ther acces­sories are also unnec­es­sary! Because in the scope of deliv­ery you will find a table tri­pod and a met­al popscreen.

With the Rode NT USB you will have a lot of fun in the long run!

» Get this micro­phone on Amazon

 

Rode NT1A for singers and rappers

The Rode NT1A is a very pop­u­lar micro­phone for the home stu­dio. As a large diaphragm con­denser micro­phone, it gives your voice pres­ence and a volu­mi­nous sound. The micro­phone comes with a micro­phone spi­der and pop­screen. There­fore only a stand is miss­ing. Espe­cial­ly begin­ners enjoy a high qual­i­ty sound at a com­par­a­tive­ly low price. This vocal micro­phone will prob­a­bly accom­pa­ny you for a long time. From the first vocal attempts to the first pro­fes­sion­al recording.

»Get this Micro­phone on Amazon

 

Rode SmartLav+ for VLOGer

Con­ve­nient­ly, Rode’s Smart­Lav+ can be con­nect­ed to the smart­phone. There is no unnec­es­sary cable lying around and it guar­an­tees free­dom of move­ment. As a clip-on micro­phone it focus­es on your voice. This guar­an­tees you clear record­ings and lets your lis­ten­ers under­stand you.

For a VLOG you can also use direc­tion­al micro­phones. How­ev­er, lava­lier micro­phones are in my opin­ion the bet­ter and eas­i­er choice.

»Get the Smart­Lav+ on Amazon

 

Sennheiser MKE400 for filmmakers

Direc­tion­al micro­phones are the best choice espe­cial­ly for out­door record­ings with the video cam­era. They focus the sound record­ing on the image detail. It not only cap­tures indi­vid­ual sounds, but binds the whole atmos­phere onto the tape. With a suit­able direc­tion­al micro­phone, you can achieve excel­lent videos of the brand Eigenkreation! The Sennheis­er MKE400 is a great way to get start­ed, and thanks to its jack plug, you don’t need any addi­tion­al equip­ment. Instead, you sim­ply con­nect the micro­phone to the video cam­era. This way, sound and image are synchronized.

» Get this on Amazon

 

Conclusion: Buy a microphone

If you’ve read this far, you real­ly have sta­mi­na! I’m sure you were pay­ing atten­tion. Because then you know that there is much more to a good sound than a good microphone.

I hope you now know every­thing and can buy the right micro­phone! If you have fur­ther ques­tions, please leave a com­ment below the arti­cle. I also appre­ci­ate your feedback!

Which micro­phone did you buy?


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