Deciding which type of microphone to buy – Various important factors to be considered
Contrary to the popular misconception, microphones aren’t a one-type-fit for all occasions.
When you are actually planning to purchase one and when you visit the market you will understand the diversity of shapes, sizes and types of microphones that are available.
Basically deciding which type of microphone to buy always depends on what you need it for, as this decides what features are required. Hence, the deciding factor when purchasing a microphone is always its intended use.
There are a plethora of different mics available these days. Prices vary depending on the characteristics, the features available and obviously the quality. Deciding whether you need a high end version or a low end version depends completely on how you are going to use it.
Obviously, a microphone required for your personal use or hobby such as the Blue Yeti microphone needn’t be as expensive as the one used for a live show, right?
In basic terms a microphone’s job is simply is to amplify sounds. A simple basic mic will do this. Then there are those high end devices that have unlimited features which can be used for live shows, TV and radio shows, by journalists, etc. All the latter ones are expensive and are specific to the function they perform.
When deciding which type of microphone to buy it can be advantageous if you know what the various types of microphones are where they are generally available (Amazon is usually a good bet) and which model is suitable for your needs. Here are a few common microphone models and the various situations in which they work best:
The hand-held microphones are the most conventional models and can be useful for all-purpose use. These can be used by amateurs and professionals alike. These are generally used for live or stage performances, by singers or orators. A common model is the Shure SM58. These are the hardiest type and can resist abuse to a better extent than most other models. These microphones come both in the wired as well as the wireless format the latter or which are more commonly used.
Next common types are the headsets which come inbuilt with ear phones. These are generally used by people who frequently use the internet for communication (voice, video chats and calls).
The next common variety generally used in public places like airports, malls, hotels, etc are the mounted microphones. This model is also popular with computer users and podcasters. The main feature of this microphone is that it is generally fixed to a location generally a work desk. Often a USB microphone (mics that plug simply into your computer) is designed for desktop use only.
Next there are the hanging microphones that are most common in television sets and radio stations. These have the ability to catch even the slightest sound and hence should be used in a closed environment.
Finally, the most convenient microphones are the clip-on mics that are frequently used by news reporters.
So, one factor that is crucial for deciding which type of microphone to buy is its requirement. The second factor is the quality. Opting for a good quality device can obviously make the choice easier for you in the category of microphones you require. But it has to be understood that quality determines the price of the equipment and when the quality of the device increases the price automatically goes up.
Thus along with the price you should also consider your pocket when deciding which type of microphone to buy. Obviously how much you are ready to invest depends on why you need to purchase the microphone. The best advice in terms of quality and price is to select a microphone that is good quality-wise and is also affordable!
Effective Microphone Placement for the Best Voice Overs
Ever since man started inventing various gadgets to record sounds, voices and music, he has been trying to find the right approach in order to get the best results.
As most people are aware, various recording instruments are being used today to record the sounds in a perfect manner. A well recorded sound or voice would produce the desired effect for the listener than a badly recorded one. To create the required effect of sound to the listener, the output devices of sound are not the only ones responsible. Every care has to be taken to record the sound with the required clarity and precision with the microphone being used. It is also important to choose the right microphone to be used to record the sound or voice.
There are different kinds of audio recording systems available in the market today for clear voice and sound recording. However, it is important to choose the right recording equipment to get the best quality audio. It can be observed that the effect of sound or voice would be impressive and long lasting if the right microphone is positioned properly to record the sounds at the required levels. Positioning microphone may not sound to be too important to record audio. It is quite important to position the microphone properly to avoid unnecessary sounds and noises being recorded. Contrary to the conception of many people, the positioning of the microphone greatly affects the audio being recorded.
It is always recommended to position the microphone at a level where the sound reaches it at the required level. For a voice or sound which needs to be projected in extreme clarity, the microphone has to be placed at a distance where adequate sound reaches it. Placing the microphone quite nearer to the source in these situations may result in recording additional sounds like the breathing of the speaker or the rattling of leaves or air blowing around. Hassle free recording can be done in a closed set up like a room unlike in open area where the wind and traffic may cause noise.
People have been inventing various gadgets that record, edit and amplify sounds in the way needed. However, technology can be of help only to some extent and adequate care has to be taken while recording the audio by positioning the microphone at the desired level.
Another important aspect in positioning microphone while recording is the angle of the microphone to the source of sound. It is recommended to place it straight to the source of sound for regular speeches. However, placing the microphone at particular angles may improve the quality of sound in particular situations. Positioning the microphone to create special effects is only being used in theaters and movie making in Hollywood. For regular audio recording, it is important to position the microphone at a comfortable level and angle so that the sound reaches it aptly.
If the voice of a particular person is being recorded, adequate care has to be taken that the microphone is at a required distance from the source. The angle and distance of the microphone should not only be adequate enough to record the voice but also comfortable to the speaker. A USB microphone can be of great help for recording the voices of people. As these USB microphones can be connected to the computers and laptops, they can easily be placed at the required distance and angle on the desk. The microphone should be placed on a stand so that it is steady all through the recording of the audio.
1. Blue Snowball Mic
If you do rap or hip hop music, are a musician or podcaster, the Blue Snowball mic is the best USB mic for rap vocals. With a look that is retro-styled, but sound quality that is extremely modern day, read on to find out more about this cool looking USB mic.
For a more advanced Blue mic that has superior sound and features (and is, therefore, a bit more expensive) check out our Blue Yeti review.
The Blue Snowball mic is a plug and play device that works easily with either a Mac or PC.
With it’s unique three-pattern switch and dual capsule design, it can handle anything from soft-spoken word recordings to a loud rocking garage band and all without any additional software necessary.
This condenser style mic produces a smooth natural sound without requiring any additional extra power source such as batteries. All the power is provided directly through the USB connection.
(By the way you can usually get a 33% discount at Amazon here. They won’t show the price until you put it in your cart for contractual reasons but it’s under $70)
While older models (pre-2007) were not compatible with Windows Vista, newer models are compatible with current operating systems. The output from this mic is strictly digital so while this mic is not designed to work with a traditional analog mixer, it does very well for all digital recording needs.
What’s So Special About The Blue Snowball Mic?
This microphone is perfect for anyone with a laptop or home computer that wants to create home recordings with clear high-quality sound without spending $500 or more on a microphone that might also require an audio interface. It is particularly well suited for both podcasting and musicians that want professional digital recordings.
With competitive pricing, great sound quality and easy setup, this device is a natural fit for home digital recording. It’s sleek design reminiscent of the golden age of radio also makes it a very attractive accessory for your computer as well as a very useful plug and play device.
Check out this incredibly in-depth review of the Snowball:
This mic is available cheap at Amazon here
- 3 mode pattern settings for different types of recording. For podcasting, vocals and live room recording
- Easy plug ‘n’ play set up – Mac or Windows
- Swivel mount so you can direct it easily
- Looks awesome
- No additional software needed which means no installation hassle
- Users have reported receiving faulty or older model units from online retailers
- Some reviewers have said the gain can be too low
Audio Technica AT2020
The Audio Technica AT2020 USB Microphone is a great investment for anyone wanting their own home recording studio. Some say it isn’t right for them, but many say you can’t beat the sound quality.
It’s similar in style and quality to the Blue Yeti Microphone but is smaller and lighter. It’s got a really nice vintage radio mic look and feels to it. (you can read our Blue Yeti review here)
This mic is a must see for anyone wanting to start recording on their laptop or home computer, or if you’re doing some podcasting. So if you haven’t already, you should take a look at the several great features that the AT2020 microphone has to offer.
Top 5 Features of the Audio Technica AT2020 USB:
1. USB Digital Output Condenser Mic (Windows and Mac compatible)
2. Perfect clear sound for podcasting, home music studio, outside broadcast or voiceovers
3. Low self noise making it perfect for use with laptops and computers
4. Awesome look and feel
5. Fixed Cardioid Polar Pattern which improves isolation of the intended sound source and reduces extraneous noises.
So why does everyone like the Audio Technica AT2020 Microphone? Well, my bet would be the sound quality and sleek design. Or possibly the fact its very easy to set up and use. Below you will find a list of the pros and a list of the cons of this mic.
- Plug and Play with USB.
- Sleek and elegant design.
- Nice and light and easy to handle (great if you have a small desk).
- Doesn’t require a lot of know how to use.
- You might need a better stand (thank the one that comes with it) to avoid background banging and shock noises.
- It can under some circumstances pick up a lot of room noise.
Here’s a video of exactly what you’ll get if you order this mic
Get this USB mic at Amazon with a great discount
This product is great for anyone wanting to create professional recordings, record podcasts, or produce online talk shows. Also a great product to use if you want to put your voice out there on sites such as YouTube, and there are many other great uses for this microphone. Really, I would say you must check out this mic if you’re interested in home recording.
It’s good enough to be used in a pro environment if you use a proper stand, cradle and pop shield.
Microphone Care for Longer Life
It is essential that any person handling a microphone needs to understand that a microphone is an electronic item and hence should be handled carefully and gently. A common misconception with microphones is that the only abuse that we subject this equipment to is dropping it around.
If you’re buying a USB microphone it’s worth investing in a well built one such as the Audio Technica AT2020.
But in reality there are many instances where we subject the device to much more extreme conditions than just dropping it. Hence, it is important to understand that the life of the device also depends on how well we handle it and that Microphone care and maintenance is essential for longer life.
Here are a few typical abuses that a microphone can be subjected to:
Though the work of a microphone is to amplify sounds the intensity of sound levels that it can withstand are limited. Hence, any intensity more than the threshold limit will affect the microphone adversely. One such practice that troubles the equipment is blowing. Blowing into the microphone to test it is a common practice, which needs to be totally avoided to make sure your microphone works for a longer period of time without any repairs and complaints. It is better to stick to the conventional, “test, one, two, three” for quality check.
Another common issue with the Microphone care and maintenance is with storage. The method of storage for microphones should be as advised by the manufacturer. For most of the brands it is good to remove the battery packs before storing it. Make sure that it is placed in a dry and cool place away from excessive moisture and any direct forms of heat. Make sure you place it away from all types of strong magnetic substances. Avoid placing it along with heavy substances which can damage your microphone accidently. Hence, it is important to take enough care while storing it too.
Moisture especially from the mouth of the person using the microphone is another major problem. Microphones are designed to catch sounds from quite a distance; hence it is necessary that you keep the microphone slightly away from your mouth while using. This will also help to give a clearer sound as such disturbances such as your breath are avoided. In case it comes with a pop shield, make sure you use it while in usage. This will make your microphone work for longer. In case your microphone comes with a windshield make sure that it is used while usage and removed during storage.
Cleaning is an essential part of the Microphone care and maintenance procedure. It is important that your microphone is minutely cleaned periodically with the right sort of tools that won’t harm the device in any sort of manner. Generally with most of the handheld set the top portion, i.e., the metal grill along with the pop guard is generally removable. This makes the cleaning procedure much easier for you. You can easily take out the removable portion and clean it in mild soap or detergent solution and rinse it in clean water. This will help to remove all the air borne, microscopic materials that might be embedded in the mesh like structure. Once the parts are completely dried they can be reassembled.
In case the device isn’t removable then you should never use soap or detergent solution. Rather using a soft brush for cleaning the outer portions is preferable. The soft brush can be used after wetting it with a little water. This facilitates easier removal of the air borne particles. Hence, regular Microphone care and maintenance is essential for long and problem free service life of your microphone.