How to Choose a Microphone

The choice of microphone directly depends on how you are going to use it. For example, microphones for recording vocals or instruments are different from devices for laptops and PCs. In the article, you can find out how to choose a microphone, what are its types and other important details.

How Will You Use Your Mic?

So, before choosing the perfect microphone, it is worth figuring out how you will primarily use it:

  1. For live concerts and performances. Such mikes should be distinguished by increased reliability and shock resistance. There can be wired microphones and radio ones which give more freedom of movement around the stage.
  2. For studio recording. They are used to record the sound of vocals and musical instruments. The studio mikes are the most expensive, but there are also budget models for recording sound at home. The recording quality also depends on the equipment with which the studio microphone will be used.
  3. For use with a PC or laptop. These ones are the cheapest and simplest. They are mainly used for communication over the Internet, for example, in Skype, for dubbing videos. The requirements for them are much lower. First of all, such microphones should be user-friendly, and then sound parameters come.

Thus, if a musician is looking for the best microphone for vocals, then it is better to pay attention to quality studio models. If the user needs voice acting for videos, then it is not necessary to spend money on studio ones, a computer microphone will be enough.

Types of Microphones and Their Applications

There are many parameters by which different types of microphones differ. The first classification (for the main purpose) is described above, but professionals prefer to distinguish devices by the directional pattern. The directional pattern shows the dependence of the microphone sensitivity on the sound`s location in space. Thus, there are three types of mikes:

  1. The omnidirectional microphone picks up the maximum amount of surround sound — it`s suitable for studio use only (in an isolated room with a minimum of extraneous sounds).
  2. The bi-directional microphone picks up sounds from the left and right, but its sensitivity is much lower in front and behind — it`s suitable for home use and studio recording.
  3. A unidirectional microphone “hears” sounds primarily from one direction and has little sensitivity to sounds from other directions. It is ideal for vocalists performing in noisy environments.

In addition to the type of directional pattern, there are two several classifications of microphones:

  1. By the type of processing of sound waves: condenser (for working with voice) or dynamic (for recording instruments and live performances).
  2. By the type of connection: USB-microphones (you can immediately connect and record sound) or XLR-microphone (additionally you need a sound card).

If a musician uses the unsuitable mike when recording vocals, noise problems may arise. Luckily, the quality of the track can be improved by professional mixing and mastering. However, you shouldn’t rely on processing alone, it’s best to choose the optimal microphone ahead of time.

Understanding the Specs

Even if you choose a simple microphone for a laptop, and not a high-end device for professional use, it is worth understanding the main mike parameters:

  • sensitivity (characterized by the quietest sounds that the device can record);
  • maximum sound pressure level (sound that distorts the output signal);
  • self-noise (the noise level that the microphone produces on its own without being influenced by external sound);
  • frequency response (range of frequencies available for recording);
  • directional pattern, or polar response (how the microphone responds to sounds from different directions).

The highest quality manufacturers where all these specs are balanced are Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Sony, Logitech. The segment of budget devices consists of A4Tech, Canyon, Genius, Sven, Defender.


All of the listed parameters affect the quality of the recorded sound, so you shouldn’t buy a device at random. First of all, it is worth deciding what purpose the microphone will be used for, then you should study the range of models that suit your requirements.

Also, it will not be superfluous to consult with an employee of a specialized store. Fortunately, the modern market offers a huge number of devices — you are guaranteed to find a microphone for any purpose and for any budget.