Studio recording microphone comes in various types in the market. Knowing how to choose the best one among the many types and models available is a must-have skill for anybody who records on a regular basis. It also makes you distinguish from amateurs. Follow our tips to ensure you capture the sounds in high quality.
Decide on the right recording studio microphone
This is your first step to high audio quality. And there are two questions you should ask yourself.
What is your preferred musical style?
If you're recording vocals for hip hop music, you'll usually need a condenser microphone. If you want to record rock music, a dynamic microphone can be your first choice. To record instruments like drums and guitar amps, you'll definitely need more mics to begin with.
What would you like to record most?
A studio recording condenser microphone would be appropriate if you're intending to record a lot of voice overs, vocals, and light instruments that require a full body sound. A dynamic one, on the other hand, is the finest choice for capturing drums, guitars, and other powerful sound sources.
To be specific, you can make a choice between the large and small diaphragm mics. Large-diaphragm capsules are quieter and generally designed to flatter the sound being recorded. It is also generally side-address, which means you sing into the side rather than the end, so it is the best studio microphone for recording vocals.
Small-diaphragm capsules offer a greater off-axis response and are more true to the original sound. They are solid favorites for instrument recording, especially when a precise sound is required.
Table: Specs of each kind of microphone for studio recording
To help you make the decision on the type of music studio recording microphone easily, we list the specs and applications of these two types and you can use it as the reference.
Wide & flat
Any pattern except bidirectional
If you are new to the recording microphone world and want to know what each spec means, you can check the article Complete guide to all basics about recording microphone. This article makes a clear explanation of the basics such as polar pattern, and SNR so you can understand what specs make a good mic and make your own wise choice.
Position studio quality recording microphone properly according to target sounds
Placing the mic close to the target sounds contributes to a good ratio of direct sound to reflected sound. Therefore, getting the mic as close to the subject as possible without sacrificing the sound is typically the best option in the studio.
When it comes to recording vocals, aim to be roughly 20cm away from the mike. If you're singing quietly, go closer to the grill for a more intimate sound, or back off the mike if you're singing loudly for a more open, experimental effect.
The studio recording microphone should be closer to the instrument and make sure it's positioned in the middle if you're capturing the sounds of an acoustic guitar. This will result in a balanced sound. However, you can also try alternative locations to see how they impact the tone. For electric guitar, a clean, clear sound may be achieved by putting the mic around 10cm from the center of the amp speaker.
Ensure a good recording environment
The human hearing system can disregard or shut out (to some extent) elements such as room acoustics, frequency-spectrum skewing, and inter-ear delays caused by direction, but a microphone simply converts whatever it hears into electrical signals. It operates extremely differently from the human ear in this regard: the outer ear imposes some very severe angle-related spectrum filtering to enable humans to detect direction, but a microphone has a much simpler 'polar pattern' that results from the physics of capsule construction.
From the foregoing, it is clear that there are two fundamental techniques to miking a voice or instrument:
To correctly capture the room's character, choose an acoustic location that matches the sound, then pick a professional studio microphone with an off-axis response. Alternatively, attempt to position your microphone such that it takes up as little reflected sound as possible.
Allowing the space to become a part of the sound is more common in choral or symphonic recordings than in pop music production. You can balance the amount of direct and reflected sound you pick up by changing the mic-to-source distance.
The second method, which is most prevalent in tiny studios, is placing a cardioid shotgun mic near the subject and utilizing recording studio microphone isolation shield or blanket to reduce reflections around the recording area. In most project studios with minimum acoustic treatment, hanging absorbent material behind and on either side of the instrument or singer may dramatically minimize room coloration.
Ensure the suitable power supply
Studio recording microphone needs power. A standard separate power system is called phantom power, which sends 48 Volts along the microphone cable. Ensure the right working voltage by checking the specs list.
In addition, to minimize pops and bangs over your monitors and to avoid straining the electrical components in the mixer preamp and the XLR studio microphone, turn off the phantom power when plugging or disconnecting mics.
Buy accessories to get your own recording studio microphone set
Some recording studio microphone accessories play a big role in improving the audio quality. You can make the purchase according to your needs.
XLR / microphone cables Spending money on pricey microphone cables is a waste. There is really little or no difference between a cheap and an expensive cable, and you'll probably only notice the difference if you have a set of extremely high industry-level pre-amps, DA converters, and monitors. Just make sure the connectors on the wires are of good quality. It's inconvenient to have a click or pop during a crucial recording, so try to avoid it.
Pop filter A pop filter is a must in every vocal recording studio. Pop filters remove plosives, or "pops," that occur when vocalists sing. They are frequently caused by a rush of air entering the microphone as a result of singing words beginning with 'P,' 'S,' or 'T's.
Stand Make sure the recording studio microphone stand is robust enough to hold your mic. Don't scrimp and choose cheap ones that tumble simply, which will ruin your recording equipment and even hurt the vocalist.
Spider mount Spider mounts protect the studio recording microphone from bumps and vibrations caused by your floor or desk. If you're having vibration, bump, or rumble issues with your recordings, it might be time to invest in one. They are not costly, and you could get a good universal spider mount for your microphone. It is crucial to make sure the mount is compatible with the mic, so you should read the specification list carefully before purchasing.