When it comes to shopping for the best microphones, it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed by everything available to you. To that end, understand that even with so many different types of microphones on the market, we are still dealing with a finite list of ways in which to capture soundwaves in the air.
Let’s take a look at the four most common types of microphones that are currently available. Among these choices, the odds are excellent that you are going to find exactly what you need. Barring that, you will at least be able to leave this article with a better idea of what you should look for.
What Are Dynamic Microphones?
A dynamic microphone is often known as the workhorse of microphones. This is one of the most common types to be found anywhere. These microphones are celebrated for being durable, affordable, and capable of sounding pretty fantastic nonetheless. A dynamic microphone utilizes movable induction coils. These coils are suspended in the field of a magnet. Think of a dynamic microphone as a speaker that works in reverse.
Responsive to a transient, a dynamic microphone can also handle a high SPL quite well. If you are working with loud sources, such as guitar cab, this could be the microphone for you. The Shure SM57 is an excellent example of what you can find on the market right now. The Electrovoice RE20 would be another.
What Are Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones?
If you really want something along the lines of a studio recording microphone, large diaphragm microphones are going to be one of the first things you consider. They are large, offer a pleasing aesthetic, and are popular in serious recording sessions. These mics function by converting acoustic vibrations into electrical currents. 48V phantom power is ideal for their operation.
This is a very sensitive microphone, which makes it ideal for vocals. This microphone can be utilized on all sorts of viable sources. Many artists love the fact that these microphones can handle a wide range of tasks.
What Are Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones?
Also known as a pencil condenser, small diaphragm microphones are smaller and less flashy, when compared with the large diaphragm counterparts. Nonetheless, they can be supremely useful in a variety of different situations. Their transient response is impressive, and their pickup patterns tend to be pretty consistent. Extended top ends are worth keeping in mind with these microphones, as well.
For a realistic stereo technique, this is a good microphone. These microphones also work well taking advantage of any acoustic instrument you may have. You can often find these microphones being used for classical music recording sessions. For studio recording efforts, these microphones are frequently put to work in pairs.
What Are Ribbon Microphones?
Ribbon technology has been around for a long time, as far as microphones are concerned. If you have ever seen a photo of someone doing a radio broadcast in the early days of the medium, the odds are good that you saw them using a ribbon microphone. Although these are considered somewhat old-fashioned by some, there is no question that they still have value in today’s world of music production.
A ribbon microphone consists of very thin ribbons of electroconductive materials. Everything is then suspended between the poles of magnets, which generates the signal you want. The earliest versions of these microphones were notorious for being incredibly fragile. That is something which has thankfully improved throughout the decades. In the present, ribbon mics are worth a look for anyone who wants to create a vintage-style sound in whatever they are recording. If you’re dealing with problematic high-ends, this is a great microphone to guide you in the right direction.
Ribbon microphones are still a little on the fragile side, particularly when compared to other options, but you really can’t beat the sound they are capable of creating.
In terms of recording, your choice of microphone is obviously important. Some would argue that after the quality of the instruments, the microphone is going to be your most crucial consideration.
Choosing the right microphone pretty much comes down to knowing what you want to do with your voice and/or instruments. Don’t be afraid to find a way to try out some of your possibilities.