Using poor quality cheap microphones may do for unimportant things but as a visitor to this site you are probably looking to get a great sound! Below is a list of microphones available from most studio retailers and via our favourite on-line seller who guarantees to match any legitimate price. We have found them to offer excellent service and a good returns policy. In ten years we have yet to have a complaint about zZounds.
Let's look at the kinds of microphone choices available and go over the pro's and con's of each. We won't go in to mega detail but we hope that this helps you!
We have listed the key microphones available here:
We have listed the major microphone brands here:
Dynamic microphones that offer really good all round performance include the Shure SM57 and Shure SM58. Many others from AKG, Beyer etc are available. Typical uses for dynamic microphones are for stage use and recording studio use. Dynamic mics don't need phantom power.
In a studio situation a dynamic microphone such as the SM57 will be great for snare drums, guitar cabs and a hundred other uses. They generally can take a fair amount of abuse such as a drum stick hitting the microphone. Dynamics are generally quite affordable and make for a great starting point.
The range of condenser microphones is vast, from cheap and cheerful right up to state of the art and classic studio microphones. Typically you will need phantom power supplied by your mixing desk or mic pre amp though many simply need a battery to operate.
In a studio situation one of the most typical high end microphones is the Neumann U 87 and it is probably the best-known and most widely used studio microphone. It is equipped with a large dual-diaphragm capsule with 3 directional patterns:
Omnidirectional, cardioid, and figure-8. These are selectable with a switch below the headgrille. A 10 dB attenuation switch, located on the rear, enables the microphone to handle sound pressure levels up to 127 dB without distortion. Furthermore, the low frequency response can be reduced to compensate for proximity effect.
Another very popular recording studio microphone due to its versatility is the AKG 414. It has a solid metal housing and transformer-less output stage with 3 switchable bass cut filters and 3 pre-attenuation pads. It has high sensitivity and extremely low self noise with 5 switchable polar patterns for placement and application flexibility. Using an elastic capsule suspension greatly minimizes structurally-transmitted noise from chassis vibration.
Although the above microphones are quite expensive you need to remember that a great mic, when used well, will produce results far better than a cheap one. Don't forget that it is important to keep the cable as short and as high a quality as possible and to use a really good mic pre for the best results.
If you are on a budget don't feel that a decent microphone is out of your budget. Many manufacturers such as Rode with their Rode NT1A, AKG, SE etc produce amazing microphones at a decent price.
Ribbon microphones are coming back in to fashion as many recording engineers are using a new generation of ribbons on instruments such as electric and acoustic guitar because of their warmth.
Brass, dums and piano really suit ribbons too. Some of the old classic Coles are very sought after and new pairs can be had for around $2,000 while the Royer's are around $2,000 each.
Some microphones attain cult status and the prices seem to keep going up and up. One way to try and get some interesting old microphones is to search eBay or go to boot fairs and second hand shops. We are often amazed at some of the interesting microphones people have found and just because it may not be perfect it may have an interesting character.
The range of microphones and accessories available here includes:
Microphones - Studio
dynamic mics - Stage
Condenser Microphones - Large capsule mics - Small capsule condenser mics
Ribbon Microphones - Ribbon microphone
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