Choosing a microphone is not an easy task. As it usually happens in everything related to technology, the cheap in the end is expensive, and expensive does not guarantee that it is the best for your purposes. The offer of microphones is huge, and the different types of micro are well suited to some needs but are not suitable for others. Dynamic or condenser? XLR or USB? Omnidirectional or Cardioid? In this article, we will show you what the different types of microphone and in what situations are more appropriate are. In this way, you will be able to choose with less risk to make mistakes and knowing in what you are spending the money. Because not always spend more means that you will have best results.
Types of microphone
There are many ways to classify the microphones but here we are going to focus on the most important ones:
- Depending on the type of connection: USB or XLR.
- According to their directionality: omnidirectional or directional.
- According to the type of membrane: dynamic or condenser.
USB or XLR
Usually, when one starts in the world of recording, it is fixed first on the USB microphones. They are cheap and offer you everything you need without having to buy other accessories. The USB microphones are connected to your computer through the cable they incorporate, and you can start working with them. However, everyone who decides on this type of microphone will finally leap the XLR. USB microphones offer poor build quality, at least those that are within the most affordable price range, and the audio you get with them is also of low quality. They are usually microphones, therefore suitable for occasional use without great demands.
XLR microphones usually offer many more alternatives when choosing the model, and although the microphone itself is usually not expensive (although there is everything) needs more accessories to connect to your computer. A mixer is required that is connected via USB to which you will connect the microphone, or at least an XLR interface easier than the mixer. A few days ago I was reviewing the Behringer Q802USB mixer that for price and performance is an excellent option to combine with this type of microphones. In return, when you want to change the microphone you can quickly do so while keeping the rest of the equipment, and the sound quality you get will be much better.
Omnidirectional or directional
Depending on how they pick up the sound you can choose between omnidirectional (from all directions) or directional. Within these the most common is the “cardioids,” so called because they capture the sound like a “heart,” giving priority to what is right in front of it and ignoring what is just behind it.
Omnidirectional microphones offer a massive variety of sounds as they capture everything around them. So they are ideal when we want precisely that, but if we ‘re going to be only heard from us without disturbing the passing cars On our side, we must then choose a cardioid micro that just captures our sound and rejects the rest.
Dynamic or condenser
The dynamic microphones are very robust, and they will last you a lifetime unless you mistreat them intentionally. They are also resistant to moisture. They do not need an energy source to operate, which is very interesting, and they also handle high volumes very well without distortions. They tend to be less sensitive to the noises that surround us, but they are very apt to produce “papers” an annoying little noise that occurs when pronouncing the letter “P” and that is easily eliminated with an “anti-pop” filter.
The condenser microphones have a higher audio quality but as long as it is recorded in optimal conditions. They are very sensitive and pick up all kinds of noise. So if you record in a studio with the padded walls and quietly the result will be excellent. But if you do it in your room, as a rule, they will give you more of a headache because it will capture all kinds of vibrations, echoes, noise from the outside.
Examples of microphones
The Samson SAGO Mic is a perfect example of what a USB microphone can offer us. It is a condenser microphone, and it can be omnidirectional or cardioid thanks to a switch that it has on the side. A very tight price (€ 35-40), a very simple handling and an ideal design to always carry with you. A single USB cable to connect to your computer serves to give you enough power to operate, and also has a headphone output to monitor the audio. However, the sound quality it offers is enough to accompany small video recordings but not to achieve optimal results.
The Blue Microphones YETI microphone has long been one of the most recommended for podcasting. A price not very high (€ 125-150) and its USB connectivity make it an excellent candidate for those looking for something simple and affordable. It is a large membrane condenser microphone, which means it will catch the last fly flying in your room. Although it offers the possibility of selecting different patterns (omnidirectional, cardioid, bidirectional, etc.) it is advisable to use it in places equipped for recording and thus avoid annoying echoes and other noises.
One of the most affordable and reasonable results (for the price you have) is the Behringer Ultravoice XM8500. A dynamic and cardioid microphone with XLR connection that will be more than adequate for most situations. I am the one I use with the mixer that I indicated before, and the result is quite good, without capturing the echo of the room. As with this type of microphone, the pope is a problem, but it can be minimized by speaking at the proper distance or by buying a filter. It has a price of € 19.90 on Amazon that makes it an ideal choice to start with your recordings.
One of the most affordable and reasonable results (for the price you have) is the Behringer Ultravoice XM8500. A dynamic and cardioid microphone with XLR connection that will be more than adequate for most situations. I am the one I use the mixer that I indicated before, and the result is quite good, without capturing the echo of the room. As with this type of microphone, the pope is a problem, but it can be minimized by speaking at the proper distance or by buying a filter. It has a price of € 19.90 on Amazon that makes it an ideal choice to start with your recordings.
One of the best options for podcasting recordings is without a doubt the Shure SM58 microphone. As the previous one is dynamic, cardioid and XLR. The audio quality it gets is excellent, and that’s why it’s the choice of many podcasters, rock bands and even preachers in the United States. Apparently, its price is higher than the previous model that I mentioned, reaching € 125 on Amazon.