There is a vast array of microphones out there that choosing the best one can be an overwhelming task, especially if it is your first time. However, it does not have to be as daunting as it seems. Visit www.guitarguitar.co.uk/microphones/ for a full range of microphones. In this read, we are going to cover the most common types of microphones and what they have to offer.
1. Dynamic/ Moving Coil Microphones
Mostly used for public addressing, stage vocals, and the like, these microphones are the workhorses of the mic world. They are pretty sturdy, thus tolerating rough handling. They can also handle high sound levels without causing distortion and have a relatively high output level and low output impedance. Dynamic mics don’t need an internal pre-amp, and therefore, there’s no need for phantom power. The kinds of Shure 57 have been a go-to for pop groups and vocals over the years and are still great performers.
2. Capacitor Microphones
Also known as Condensor microphones, Capacitor mics are usually used for high-quality audio, both in instrumentals and vocals. They don’t tolerate being overloaded and require power for the preamplifier, and to add a bias to the capacitor. Their output impedance is generally low, allowing the use of longer leads. However, they are not as sturdy as their dynamic counterparts.
The price of a good capacitor mic can range between a hundred and thousands of dollars. When used for general voice or vocals, it’s advisable to consider an extra pop filter in order to minimize pops from plosive sounds. Most Condensor mics have an additional optional one designed for the specific model. However, you can always buy a general one and get the same results.
3. Crystal Microphones
Also referred to as ceramic microphones, crystal mics are generally on the cheap end but provide a high output voltage into high impedance. As such, the amplifier needs to feature a high input impedance. Crystal mics are usually at the low end of the market as they don’t provide wide frequency responses. Also, in regards to high impedance, they’re not widely used nowadays. That’s because high impedance means the mics cables are susceptible to picking up stray noise and static.
4. Ribbon Microphones
These used to be the go-to mics for studio sessions. However, it’s rare to come across them nowadays, except for the high-end ones. Their output is low and requires a pre-amp. They also have low impedance, usually because the mics have an internal step-up amplifier.
5. Electret Microphones
These microphones are often used for lower-end mic applications. They utilize the same basic technique as the capacitor type, except that the dielectric is designed from a material that holds a bias voltage. As such, the mic element itself does not need external power.
6. USB Microphones
These are a bit different but do not really incorporate different technology. USB mics usually use a condenser insert, but feature a pre-amp and analog to digital converter, thus using a USB interface that allows the user to connect the unit directly to a computer. There is a wide array of USB microphones on the market, ranging from dirt cheap to relatively expensive. You can get a really good USB mic ranging between $100 and $200, but the prices can go up, depending on your specific needs.
USB mics are excellent for video voiceovers, vocals, and the like. It is also worth considering getting a pop-filter, similar to the condenser mic situation discussed earlier. Similarly, most of these microphones come with an included pop-filter, but in some cases, you might need to buy one. You also have the option of getting an array of filters that can be attached to the microphone’s stand.
7. Wireless Microphones
As with USB mics, these don’t feature that much different technology. They are simply your typical microphone with an embedded wireless module. Wireless microphones come in handy in places where wires can be a headache. However, it’s important to note that signal reflections can lead to a drop from the ideal level, resulting in dropouts. In such cases, simply moving from one side to the other fixes the issue. To avoid regular dropouts, ensure you position the receiver antenna in an ideal location.
And there you have it, a brief look at the different types of microphones on the market. By weighing their pros and cons, you’ll be in a better position to pick the one that meets your needs.