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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:
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.
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.
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.
I also found some other great microphones I can recommend to you guys. Check it out.
My best picks for recording microphones
- Blue Yeti USB Mic
- Fifine Metal Condenser Recording Microphone
- Samson G‑Track Pro USB Microphone
- Rode NT-USB Versatile Microphone
- AVerMedia Technologies AM310
- HyperX QuadCast USB Microphone
- Rockville RCM02 Pro Studio Recording
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?