Whether you are a classical musician or just want to make your podcast sound professional, the right microphone is essential for home recording success. Unfortunately, most of us do not have an unlimited budget for our home recording studio, so knowing where to spend and where you can save is key in order to get the results you want without wasting money. Different situations can also call for microphones with different features – here’s how to make the right choice for your project.
For quick, easy recording by beginners, or for a podcast with the need to record on-the-go, a USB microphone is a good place to start. They often include recording software and eliminate the need for a separate audio interface.
A good USB microphone will offer high-resolution articulation and intelligibility that’s perfect for home studio recording, field recording, podcasting and voiceover use. The versatility and convenience of USB microphones are also valuable features. Most do not require a separate power source, and can be used to digitally capture audio on Apple computers, Windows PCs or iOS systems like your iPhone.
Choosing An Audio Interface
If you are ready to move beyond a USB microphone and the sound card in your computer, one of the first things you will need to consider is choosing an audio interface. This piece of equipment gives you the ability to input professional microphones, instruments, and more to your computer and recording software.
It also increases your output options, and overall greatly improves the sound quality of what you can record and produce by capturing a more accurate version of the sounds you create. An audio interface is useful for recording music and podcasts, and also in video post -production for recording voice-overs and any other sound edits.
If you are ready to add an audio interface to your home recording set-up, here are a few things to consider as you make your selection:
- The inputs and outputs (I/O) needed
- Compatibility with the computer you will be using
- The level of sound quality you are looking for
- Your budget
- Any additional features you will need
Condenser and Dynamic Microphones
Now that you have an audio interface, you have many more options available to you when it comes to microphones. The primary choice to make is between condenser and dynamic microphones.
Condenser microphones are what will be found in most professional recording studios. They have an extended frequency response, which allows them to record a voice or instrument with a high level of accuracy, and an open, natural sound. They are a great choice for general purpose recording, particularly for detailed capturing of vocals and solo instruments. The negatives of Condenser microphones are that they are generally expensive, fragile, and can be sensitive to the loud sounds found in live performances or certain styles of music.
Dynamic microphones might not have the sound quality accuracy of condenser microphones, but they have many other advantages. First of all, they are much more rugged and durable than delicate condenser microphones. They can handle both physical abuse, and environmental conditions like moisture very well. This makes them a good choice if you will ever be recording in challenging conditions, such as a live outdoor event. Dynamic microphones also have a limited frequency response, making them well-suited to capturing loud amplified sound, live vocals, and drums with a bright, clean sound. Last of all, they are much more affordable, with certain models like the Shure SM57 being legendary as the “workhorse” choice of performers, producers, and sound engineers worldwide.
Finding the right microphone for your home recording studio depends on many factors, including your budget and the type of music or other projects you will be recording. There is no single best microphone – take the time to consider the features you will need (an limitations you want to avoid) in order to find the right equipment for you.