Recording & Studio Microphones for Every Budget
A recording or studio microphone is typically a large diaphragm condenser microphone with high sensitivity and high quality. A studio mic is typically designed around studio recording or use in a home studio. Recording microphones and accessories are designed to make sure you can record the cleanest tracks possible.
Analog or Digital
Recording mics are available as analog with XLR connectors or as digital USB microphones. We normally recommend using analog microphones with an audio interface for recording. A computer can usually only record from one interface at a time. You have more options when using an audio interface with analog microphones.
Condenser or Dynamic
Recording condenser microphones use phantom power to operate and usually more sensitive to sound. This makes them a better choice for recording than a dynamic microphone. Dynamic microphones are usually a better choice for live performances. But, as with anything, sound is personal preference and different solutions work for different people.
Choosing Your Vocal Recording Microphone
For most budget is king, but selecting the best type of studio microphone for your vocal recordings will really be the key here. Here are a few of our favorite "microphone types" specifically designed for vocal recording applications.
Condenser microphones: This is the most popular type of mic for recording vocals, for recording anything, really. The reason condenser mics are so great is because of their quality and accuracy. Construction quality and of any kind song or spoken word. Condenser mics are also built very well and have polar patterns that aid in sound isolation for only recording what's directly in front of it, as opposed to some other microphones designed for recording everything in the area.
Tube microphones: While still technically considered a 'condenser' microphone, tube mics are sometimes associated with "the old days". Really it's a warmth that is added. "Old" sound can even sound better than some digital based sound these days (of course it depends on who you ask).
Basically, tube mics are built differently than normal condensers, and they have 'tubes' that handle your audio as opposed to transistors. The result is a different 'sound', very subject to and really depending on both the listener and recorder. We recommend giving tube microphones a listen to hear for yourself. This can help decide whether you want a tube microphone or a regular condenser microphone.
USB microphones: Not really considered a 'type' and still technically 'condenser mics' as well. We would still like to keep USB microphones separate for a few reasons. They are a lot easier to use and are mostly for beginner vocalists. USB microphones are plug & play, you simply plug them into your computer and they're powered up and ready to use.
USB microphones are usually more affordable than some professional condenser microphones out there. However, their quality is not as high as standard condenser mics. Also, you lose the ability to hook them up to a preamp or audio interface for flexibility in your recording settings.
Recording Microphones for Instruments
Microphones for instrument music recording are a personal choice. There are some brands, makes and models that always work well to capture the sound any instrument. There are also microphones designed with specific instruments in mind.
Whether recording a piano; acoustic guitar or other stringed instruments; drums, percussion, cymbals or overheads; or woodwinds and brass of many types, there is a recording mic that will be perfect for you.
For instruments, you can't go wrong with any Neumann "U" series mic, Electro-Voice RE20, Sennheiser MD 421 and AKG's C414 multi-pattern condenser. These are just a few of the superb instrument microphones we offer and are good additions to any microphone kit.
Instrument microphones should have a broader range of frequency response and should be very flat and faithful to the sounds they are hearing.
Recording microphones of any kind should be mounted on some kind of stand. Desktop scissor-type microphone boom stands are popular for vocals. Mobile studio boom stands are also really popular as are all the other standard microphone stands out there.
Mounting your microphone on a stand will prevent handling noise and help isolate the microphone from sounds and vibrations in the room.
A good pop filter is a must for recording vocals and a valuable addition to your recording tools. If you have a microphone with someone speaking, singing, or screaming into it, please put a pop filter between the sound source and the microphone.
Pop filters can reduce or eliminate popping or plosive sounds caused by fast-moving air on the microphone which happens during speech and singing. Also a bonus, a pop filter can protect against the accumulation of spittle or saliva on the mic element. Salt in saliva is both gross and corrosive; therefore, use of a pop filter may help improve the lifespan of your recording microphone.
Sometimes the cable you use is an overlooked yet important choice in outfitting your studio toolbox. Make sure to use high quality XLR cables with durable connectors and wire. The cable can be a weak link in your audio route. Getting the right cable doesn't have to be expensive, check out the NM1 series XLR cables from Horizon, or our own Performance Audio professional XLR cables built right here in our custom cable shop.