Microphones

Need a microphone but don't know what to choose?

We will help you make the best choice!

Operating priciple of microphones is converting sound into electrical voltage. When you connect the microphone to the speaker, the diaphragms in the microphone and the headset oscillate at the same rhythm, and so you get the transmission of sound remotely.

Most importantly is that the conversions of sound to electrical voltage, the shape of the voltage curve and the air pressure are as similar as possible, that said, it is desirable to minimize the linear and nonlinear distortion of the signal. The microphone should be sensitive equally to all frequencies, otherwise linear distortion occurs. When nonlinear distortion occurs, the microphone adds higher harmonic tones to the base signal that were not present in the original sound.

The microphone plays a similar role to the human ear in converting one energy into another. Modern microphones outperform the ear in both frequency and dynamic sense.

Microphones are classified according to the principle of conversion (eg dynamic, condenser) and according to the characteristics of orientation. Sometimes other characteristics are used to describe the microphone, such as the size of the diaphragm, the intended use, or the direction of the main sound input to the main axis of the microphone.

Before buying a microphone, it’s a good idea to answer a couple of key questions.

There are two main types of microphones. There also are other types of microphones, but if you don’t have really specific needs, you’ll usually consider buying one of these two types of microphones.

Do I need a dynamic or condenser microphone?

Dynamic microphones

The most common type of microphone found when performing speeches and live music is a dynamic microphone. It is also very common in recording podcasts and recording at home or professional studio. In most dynamic microphones, a very thin, light diaphragm moves in response to changes in sound pressure. The movement of the diaphragm causes the voice coil to move, which is suspended in a magnetic field and generates a small electric current. Generally cheaper than condenser microphones (although high-quality dynamics can be quite expensive), the dynamics have a fairly solid construction and often handle very high sound pressure levels (SPL). Due to the mechanical nature of their operation, dynamic microphones are sometimes less sensitive to transient attacks and may not reproduce such high-frequency "details" that other types of microphones can create.

Condenser microphones 

Condenser microphones are most commonly found in recording studios. However, many condenser microphones are now used in sound environments. A condenser microphone is a very simple mechanical system, simply a thin, stretched conductive membrane that is near a metal disk called the back plate. This arrangement creates a capacitor, with the rear panel receiving an electrical charge from an external power source (phantom power). When sound strikes the diaphragm, it vibrates slightly in response to the waveform. This causes a change in capacitance, causing the output voltage to change. This voltage variation is the output signal of the microphone.

Which microphone is right for me? 

There is a number of factors to consider when choosing the right microphone for your needs. In most cases, you will probably use directional microphones when performing live music, because they best isolate the sound source and thus avoid microphone problems. In the studio, the use of an omnidirectional microphone, which will capture not only the sound source but also the ambient sound of the room, may be welcome. You will definitely avoid such a microphone when recording in a home studio, which is mostly in the bedroom or living room, where you probably do not have optimally arranged acoustics of the room and capturing ambient sound is undesirable. The type of instrument you are amplefying or recording and the sound you want to achieve will dictate whether you need the frequency response of a condenser or dynamic microphone.

Which instruments or vocals will I mostly use the microphone for?  

General use  

If you need a very widely useful microphone for stage or studio use, which will be useful mostly for various instruments, as well as vocals, that will be durable, high quality and at the same time affordable, then the Shure SM57 dynamic microphone is by far the best choice. This model has been the industry standard on world stages as well as in recording studios for many decades.

Vocals - singing or speaking  

Some top singers use relatively affordable dynamic microphones instead of condenser models, such as the legendary Shure Beta 58, as dynamic microphones give them a warmer sound and are very reliable in long-term use. On the other hand, more delicate and gentle vocals can take advantage of better high-frequency reproduction provided by condenser microphones such as the Shure Beta 87. For stage use, however, it is highly recommended that you use a directional, cardioid, or hypercardioid microphone to prevent capture unwanted sounds and reduce the possibility of microphones. You also need to consider whether you will need a regular wired microphone, or whether your stage performance requires a wireless system.

Drums

You will typically use cardioid dynamic microphones on drums (e.g. Shure SM 57, Shure Beta 56, Shure Beta 57), a cardioid condenser microphone with a small membrane on the hi-hat (e.g. Shure PG81) and a pair of condenser microphones with a large or small diaphragm over the drummers head (overhead). The bass drum needs a good low frequency microphone (e.g. Shure Beta 52, Shure PGA 52). Several manufacturers make kits with multiple drum microphones that provide all the microphones you need (e.g. Superlux DRKB5C2MKII)

Electric guitar

A typical guitar amp has sound characteristics, believe it or not, similar to the human voice. In most cases, a dynamic vocal or drum microphone will work perfectly. If you use only one microphone, in most cases the Shure SM 57 is by far the best choice, it is usually placed directly in front of a grill cloth of amplifier directed somewhere between the center and the edge of the speaker, depending on the sound you want. You can also use a condenser microphone with a large diaphragm, but it is wise to place it a couple of 10 inches away from the amplifier speaker. You can also combine both microphones, but in this case you must be careful with the layout so that the sound of both microphones will not be phased out.

Wind instruments and Brass

Directional (cardioid) dynamic microphones with a neutral response and high sound pressure capability are a good choice for wind and brass instruments (e.g. Shure SM 57).

Acoustic piano

An acoustic piano requires two condenser microphones with a large or small diaphragm (usable only for high strings). Try one that is placed about 30 cm above the high strings and the other at the same height above the low strings. Keep them about 20 cm away from the hammers. This should only be your starting point, as the optimal microphone layout can vary greatly from piano to piano and depending on the space where it is located.

Electronic keyboards

Since most electronic keyboards can be connected directly to the mixing desk, you can skip the microphones. However If you amplify, for example an electric piano or clavinet, often connected to a guitar amplifier, you can follow the instructions above in the Electric Guitar section.

String instruments

Violins, violas, cellos, double bass. Normally, any quality condenser microphone will be suitable for string instruments. If you do not have a condenser microphone at your disposal, you will achieve satisfactory results with a dynamic microphone such as the tried-and-tested, versatile Shure SM 57. As with string instruments, the mentioned applies to all acoustic instruments, such as acoustic guitars, mandolins, ukuleles, tambourines, zithers, banjos, etc.

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