How to Choose the Best Microphone for Your Needs

How to Choose the Best Microphone for Your Needs

How to Choose the Best Microphone for Your Needs

For many people, the science behind the microphone is simple:  talk into this funny-looking gadget and some machine, somewhere, will be able to reproduce the sound.  Whether or not the microphone looks different from others isn’t always a top consideration, let alone the kind of technology that lurks beneath the plastic or metal casings.

But there really is a science behind these devices, and if you want to optimize the sound coming out of your lungs to capture it the best way possible onto a computer, you’re going to want to know the basics.  How do you tell which microphone is right for you?  You get a basic understanding of the different microphone types, and learn their advantages and disadvantages.  If the advantages cater to what you need out of a microphone, you might have found a match.

Dynamic Microphones:

Live microphones, according to Sound on Sound, are almost always dynamic microphones.  You know the type – it looks like a black ball-on-a-stick.  The science behind a dynamic microphone usually means that it is best suited for cheap, live hook-ups, but not necessarily a high level of sophistication and detail.  They’re great for a party, but not necessarily for a plug-in-the-headphones type of experience.

Capacitor Microphones:

Capacitor microphones are usually more expensive than a live or dynamic microphone, but this increase in price comes with an improved ability to pick up high-frequency details and noise.  One reason capacitor microphones are generally more expensive than other microphones like the dynamic microphone is that the sound requires a built-in preamplifier.

Electret Microphones:

An electret microphone is primarily a “subset” of the capacitor microphone, but usually with a reduction in cost.  A microphone like this will require a preamplifier in order to secure proper sound conversion, but if you have plenty of sound equipment lying around, this shouldn’t necessarily be a problem.

Understanding the types of microphone suited to your needs doesn’t only mean knowing the types of microphones available out there, but what they’re good at.  If you’re a band that only performs live, you’ll probably only need basic dynamic microphones – these can pick up instruments such as drums just fine, and they don’t cost as much as other types.  If you’re more concerned with achieving studio-quality sound for recording purposes, you’ll want something with more sensitivity and capacity, like a capacitor microphone.

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