Article on how to buy a microphone
In this guide, you’ll learn the things you need to know before shopping for a microphone. It’s important to keep in mind a few small things — but after that, the microphone world is yours for the taking!
Before you begin…
You don’t have to spend the best to get “the best” sound. A lot of microphones are considered “homages” — microphones that replicate a certain characteristic of a historic microphone. These are generally sold by small manufacturers, and carry a much lower price than the original.
Also, don’t be tempted to overspend; a great instrument or voice will sound great on a modest-priced microphone.
Dynamic or Condenser: What are you recording?
If you can only afford one microphone, consider a high-quality condenser. You can find many within the $100-300 price range.
If you can afford it, a great “utility” condenser along with a great dynamic microphone will cover almost all of your recording bases. If you can only afford one, a good condenser microphone will do.
Does your mixer or interface offer phantom power?
Many companies manufacture 48volt phantom power supplies; these will cost you between $100 (for plug-in models), to $250-300 (for elaborate battery-powered solutions).
It simply depends on your resources; if you don’t have built-in phantom, and can’t afford to add the capability to your system, chances are a dynamic microphone is best for you.
One or two microphones?
If your ultimate goal is recording live concerts, rehearsals, or recitals, you might want a stereo pair of condenser microphones. These can be had for a variety of price ranges, from the $100-200 range to many thousands of dollars. Some of the best — companies like Earthworks, Neumann, and DPA — offer models to suit all price ranges.
Don’t forget to budget money for mounting systems (t-bars, as they’re called) and extra cabling to make your two-track recording work.