Buying Guide: Microphones (Condensed Version)
The following is a very general guide for the first-time mic buyer.
There are many microphones to choose from in a wide range of prices. To narrow your search, the important first consideration is how you intend to use it. For live performance or for recording? Are you planning to use it for vocals, or to mic a specific instrument? Use is the most important factor in shaping your choice.
Types of microphones
There are two basic types of microphones: dynamic mics and condenser mics. Here are the main differences between them. Dynamic microphones are more rugged than condenser mics making them more suitable for onstage use. Condensers are more sensitive and more delicate, and are most often used for studio recording. This is not an absolute—some condensers are used onstage, and some dynamic mics are used in recording studios. Another big difference between them is that dynamic mics operate without a power source, while condensers need a battery or phantom power from the mixing board or preamp to function
Recording or sound reinforcement
The Music123 website makes it easy to shop by dividing microphones into groups under headings "Recording" and "Live Sound." You can search within the appropriate category for mics that are suited for your specific application.
Choosing an onstage microphone
In shopping for a live performance mic, you need to find those models designed for your specific application, be it vocals or miking a specific instrument. Mics are often designed to be especially good for one use or another (voices, mid-range instruments, low-range instruments, etc.), and the descriptions for each mic should tell you this. The majority of stage micphrophones are used for vocals. Accordingly, there are many choices of dynamic mics designed for this purpose.
Choosing a mic for recording
Here, as with the stage microphones, use will guide your choice. You will most likely want a condenser mic. Different types of condenser mics serve different recording purposes and situations.
If you are new to recording, you are most likely seeking an all-purpose mic rather than one that is specialized in some way. If so, look for microphones described as general use or that have a long list of instruments that they record well. Large-diaphragm condenser mics are an especially versatile class. They are used for voices, for a range of instruments, for close miking, and for overhead or area applications.
How much is it going to cost me?
Generally, the more you spend the better the mic. But be realistic. Probably you'll be limited by your budget, but in any event, you should ensure your choice is appropriate to your use. For a DJ needing a microphone to talk to his audience occasionally during a show, a low-priced mic can be perfectly adequate. If you need a vocal mic for your garage band, a slightly better but still affordable mic will do. But if you're performing in a band that plays professionally and you are serious about sound quality, you may want to spend more for a better-sounding and more capable microphone.
Of course, you want the best mic you can get for your money. It is helpful to ask friends about their mics and read online reviews of specific makes and models. Many Music123 online mic offerings include real-world reviews from customers that can be very helpful.
Another strategy for finding a good affordable mic is to stick with the established, big-name companies that make professional mics. Most of them have affordable models, and since these companies have the know-how and reputations to uphold, their lower-priced mics are usually respectable or even surprisingly good.You can spend as little as $40 to $50 and get a decent dynamic stage mic. For recording mics, the more you spend usually has a direct effect on the quality of your recordings, so it is best to avoid the very lowest-priced models. Starting at around $100 you can find condenser recording mics that serve very nicely for home recording.