Interested in knowing more about the different types of microphones that you can use to help you with your audio recordings? This article will be explaining all the different categories of microphones, what each microphone does and tips on how you can use them to get great sounding recordings.
There are several different categories of microphones:
- Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones
- Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones
- Dynamic Microphones
- Ribbon Microphones
- USB Microphones
- Stereo Microphones
- Bass Microphones
- Multi-Pattern Microphones
- Boundary Microphones
- Shotgun Microphones
Each category of microphones comes in different shapes and sizes, and they all have different recording purposes and uses.
For example, condenser microphones are great for recording vocals due to their warm enhancing signals whereas dynamic microphones are perfect for stage uses due to their resistances and sound quality.
What Is A Condenser Microphone?
Condenser microphones come in two different forms. Large and small diaphragm condenser microphones.
As a role of thumb, large condenser microphones are 1 inch (24.4mm) or more in diameter and a small condenser microphone are 1/2 inch (12.7mm) or less.
Although some condenser microphones may exceed those measurements.
Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones
Large diaphragm condenser microphones produce very warm signals and are great for enhancing vocals. Pop and hip-hop artists primarily use condenser microphones for the warm and deep enhancements it has on vocals, they can also make your vocals sound very clear.
It is best to use pop filters with condenser microphones to help stop the explosives and to improve the quality of your recordings. A pop filter will stop the annoying “p” or “b” popping sounds. For more information on pop filters, read our article about the differences between a mic windscreen and a pop filter.
Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones
Small diaphragm condenser microphones are usually slim shaped about three times the thickness of a pencil and the capsule will typically be in position at one of the ends of the tube.
These microphones are great for recording instruments due to their natural sound capturing ability. These microphones give you one of the most detailed sound recordings due to their neutral sound. They are also usually more accurate when reproducing the acoustic signals compared to any other type of microphones.
What Is A Dynamic Microphone?
Dynamic microphones are the most widely known type of microphones due to them being used on TV’s and onstage.
They are known for being used on stages due to how resistant they are to moisture and abuse and can be dropped and roughly used unlike other types of microphones due to how strong their outta shell is.
Dynamic microphones are very high-quality microphones that sounds suburb. Due to these factors, it makes them perfect for stage microphone.
What Is A Ribbon Microphone?
Robin Microphones falls into the dynamic microphone category, and they are known for their warm natural sound.
A Ribbon microphone is different than the other microphones because of how it operates. Inside a ribbon microphone, you will find two very strong magnets that are located on each side of a super thin strip of conducted material, it’s very light and responds quickly to hardly any air pressure.
Although it does have some drawbacks. It’s not recommended to blow into your microphone or use it in heavy outdoor windows because it can damage the ribbon inside it stop it from working. However, since modern technology has improved they are a lot better than they use to be. You have also got to be careful how you position these microphones because the ribbon can drag and you shouldn’t use phantom power with these types of microphones either.
What Is A USB Microphone?
USB microphones are microphones that have the ability to plug into a USB slot. These microphones tend to be less expensive and not as good quality compared to other microphones. Although microphone brands such as Rode and Shure have released studio quality USB microphones that are great for new artists and voice over actors, a good example of this would be the Rode NT-USB and Shure PG27.
USB microphones have built-in audio interfaces that convert the single from analog to digital. Microphones such as Dynamic and Condenser microphones will need to be plugged into an interface first. Some people don’t like microphones having builtin interfaces due to them having less control over the gain and other input options.
USB microphones are extremely unlikely to be used in professional studios and are more likely to be used for home users, as USB microphones are plug and play and require minimal hassle to set up.
Another thing to point out is that USB microphones are usually cheaper than standard studio microphones and are great for online video/gaming streamers and novice podcast recordings.
What Is A Stereo Microphone?
A stereo microphone is a type of microphone that records in stereo instead of mono. If you’re not sure on what stereo is, check out our difference between mono or stereo page, it talks a lot about what stereo is and is a great resource for anybody interested.
Stereo microphones need two or more input devices so that it can record multiple channels. Stereo microphones work in a way that is similar to how our ears operate. They record left and right audio image. When you listen back to the recording using stereo speakers or a pair of headphones, you will notice each channel will sound slightly different. This allows us to add a sense of direction to the audio. This makes the audio much more enjoyable to listen to.
There’s more information about this on our What Is The Difference Between Stereo and Mono page.
What Is A Bass Microphone?
A bass microphone is a type of microphone that is used to record deep, low-end sound such as a bass or a kick drum.
They have large diaphragms and are very robust microphones and can record very high sound-pressure levels (SPL) and very low frequencies, which makes them great for recording specific instruments.
If you can afford is, Bass microphones are an excellent investment for all recording studios. You will never know when you need to record a bass drum or very low-frequency sounds.
What Is A Multi-Pattern Microphone?
A multi-pattern microphone has a different dual-capsule design that is normally in the form of large condenser microphones. Since they have a three dual-capsule design they can switch between 3 polar patterns, these are Cardioid, Omnidirectional, and Figure-8. They are very adaptable and makes them a great type of microphone to have for stereo recording.
What Is A Boundary Microphone?
Boundary microphones will usually be used for recording the room or instruments. These microphones have many uses in conference rooms, lecture rooms, and theatres.
Music studios don’t use Boundary microphones as often, although they have plenty of uses.
They need to be mounted on a flat surface due to how they are shaped.
Boundary microphones do not suffer from comb filtering since they are flat up against a wall.
What Is A Shotgun Microphone?
Shotgun microphones are the big long microphones that often have a large windshield over the top of it.
News reporters and film makings will likely use a shotgun microphone.
Shotgun microphones are mainly used for outdoor recording and are perfect for recording the news or films.
They also have good isolating sound functionality and the ability to record sound much further away in noisier environments compared to other microphones, they’re also good at isolating sound due to their internal design.