Microphones for home recording come in many shapes and sizes. Which ones will you need, and for what will you need them? Read on for a basic crash course in microphoneology.
There’s a good chance the dynamic mic represents 90% of the microphones you’ve seen. That’s because the dynamic mic is most often used for vocals onstage.
Dynamic mics can take a beating (such as a drunk karaoke fan dropping one on the floor). Dynamics also resist feedback even under high gain (distortion).
The dynamic mic works best with low-mid frequency instruments such as drums and electric guitar cabinets.
Probably most importantly to many Mondo DIY artists, the dynamic mic can be purchased for as little as 100 USD and be darned good. If you want a top-of-the-line dynamic mic, you’re not looking at more than 500 dollars or so.
Condensers work best for high-freq instruments like acoustic guitars, cymbals, and piano.
They pick up quieter sounds and can achieve higher gain, but suffer from fragility, both audible and physical.
Not only can dropping one damage it, but using one to record loud instruments like drums can, too. Even changes in humidity can hurt a condenser.
Mics for specific uses
Large diaphragm condenser (above)
Small diaphragm condenser (pencil mic)
Great for singer-songwriters. Use one to capture the bright acoustic guitar, the other to get the vocals.
Bass guitar, cello, bass/kick drum.
Versatile Jack-of-all-trades dynamic
Some dynamic mics seem better than any other mic for a great many purposes. Most studios keep one or some of these tried and true legends around to capture elusive tones.
See ehomerecordingstudio.com for details on these as well as on the others described above. Ehomerecordingstudio has done a great job of fleshing out what engineers do with their array of mics.