When planning to start a home studio, the microphone that you choose will determine the sound of your space. Whether you’ve decided to convert your basement into a professional studio, or you plan to record in a small corner of your living room, choosing the correct microphone is essential.
With that said, you will need to understand the following three things that are essential in capturing sounds using a mic. These things are:
- Your choice of microphone – the type of microphone you choose can make or break your recordings. We shall discuss more about different types of microphones later in this post.
- The acoustic qualities of your recording location – the sound quality and ambience of a room have a big impact on the recorded sound quality.
- Mic placement – how you place the microphone when recording a vocalist or instrument can affect the output sound quality.
When choosing a home studio microphone, you can easily get overwhelmed by the choices out there. Today, microphones come at different types and prices, making it a daunting task to choose your preferred microphone.
However, having a basic understanding of the different types of microphones designed for home studios can make things easier for you. With that said, let’s look at the top tips to help you choose a microphone for your home studio.
There are three types of microphones that you can use in a home studio. However, the microphone that you choose will depend on your personal preference. To help you in choosing the right microphone for your home studio, here are the three common types of microphones and their differences:
- Condenser Microphones – there are a variety of DPA Condenser Microphones that you can choose. A condenser microphone has a suspended diaphragm inside a capsule, which vibrates when sound frequencies come into contact with it. Typically, condenser mics have high sensitivity and have the highest sound quality when compared to the other microphones.
- Dynamic Microphones – these microphones are not as sensitive as condenser microphones. Because of this, they are not ideal for home studios. However, they are more durable than condenser and ribbon microphones. Also, dynamic mics don’t produce quality sounds like condenser microphones do.
- Ribbon Microphones – ribbon microphones have a metal sheet that captures sound waves and transmits them as an electrical current. They are the oldest models than dynamic and condenser microphones and are ideal for producing vintage sound. However, ribbon microphones require advanced audio interfaces to increase the sound quality. Besides, they are very fragile and require extra care when being handled.
Also known as polar pattern, the pickup pattern of a microphone refers to the direction from which a mic can capture sound. Typically, there are three types of pickup patterns:
- Cardioids – mics with cardioid pickup patterns capture sound directly in front of the microphone, and these microphones cannot capture any sound from the back or side of the microphone. Thus, they are very effective in blocking ambient sounds, like PC fan hums in your studio.
- Bidirectional & omnidirectional – unlike cardioids, these pickup patterns can capture sounds from different directions, making them the least effective for home studios because they can capture both primary and ambient sounds.
Therefore, you must consider the microphone’s pickup pattern you want to buy depending on the intended use. Please note that the pickup pattern can affect sound quality.
Consider your singing style
While this might seem obvious, not every microphone works well for jazz singers as it does for metal screamers. Thus, different singing styles require different types of microphones. To give you some ideas, the following are some mic characteristics of common vocal styles:
- Rapping – this vocal style requires a mic that’s not very sensitive to the loud plosives of the vocal style
- Breath female voice – here, you will need a microphone with a smooth top end, which does not get fricative
- Baritone male voice – this voice requires a microphone that can clearly capture warm, low-mids
- Aggressive or screaming vocal style – the ideal microphone for such vocal style should handle the intense transients and high Sound Pressure Level of the voice.
Sensitivity and Sound Pressure Level (SPL)
A microphone’s sensitivity determines how quiet a sound it can capture. So, a microphone with low sensitivity will require higher pre-amplification to achieve the required output. The quality of the resulting audio is lower because most home studios don’t have preamps.
The Sound Pressure Level handling of a microphone, on the other hand, is the maximum volume that the microphone can handle. SPL is measured in decibel (dB)—any microphone with 100 dB and above is can be used in a home studio
Your budget will determine the kind of microphone that you buy. Condenser microphones are the cheapest of the three microphones discussed above, while ribbon mics are the most expensive. High- and low-cost microphones can deliver quality sound because the mic’s specs are more important than the price. However, setting a budget can help you limit the amount you’d like to spend on your microphone, especially if you need to purchase other equipment for your home studio.