Posted November 11, 2012 by Stephan Earl in Home Studio Setup

How Choosing the Right Microphone Makes the Difference

How Choosing the Right Microphone Makes a Difference - Home Music Production

Setting up gear in your home recording studio requires you to select the most essential part of your studio’s equipment. Choosing the right microphone is one step that should not be overlooked, if you want to create the best sound when you finally get down to recording tracks.

It’s quite understandable to feel overwhelmed with so many choices in the market today.  To help you look for the best option for your studio, gain a better understanding of the different microphone types and their respective purposes.

Dynamic Microphones

A dynamic microphone is the type you often see on live performances because they provide rugged durability at a relatively affordable price. Resistant to wear and tear, they can withstand abuse from the onstage antics of rock stars during high-octane concerts. For this reason, dynamic microphones are suited to recording at home with drums and guitars involved.

Dynamic microphones are also low-maintenance equipment, meaning that they don’t need a dedicated power supply. There are shortcomings in some of its features. You will get low levels of sound quality and frequency response. Hence, they are much better used as gear for belting out vocals and ripping guitars.

Condenser Microphones

Considered a fixture in recording studios, condenser microphones are the more sophisticated cousins of dynamic microphones. They have greater output in frequency response and are more sensitive to sound, particularly the loud kind. Because of their high performance, you would need a separate power supply to operate condenser microphones.

Built primarily for studio use, the condenser microphone is not ideal for outdoor conditions because of its delicate parts. It comes in two categories:

  1. LDMs or Large Diaphragm Microphone. Judging from the name alone, this type of condenser mic is most suitable for recording vocals. It has the ability to reproduce a well-balanced sound due to the hypersensitivity to all kinds of noises. To eliminate some of the transient sounds you make when enunciating “sh” or “p”, you need a pop screen to avoid getting distorted output.
  2. SDMs or Small Diaphragm Microphone. For recording guitars and other stringed instruments, the small diaphragm microphone gets the job done. It offers optimal results in transient response and wide frequency response as well. SDMs are the preferred choice for taping live concerts.

What Microphone Works Best For What Situation?

To recap, it all depends of the type of recording you intend to do more in your home recording studio.  There are inexpensive options for both condenser and dynamic microphones if you do need both.

For recording sessions with acoustic guitars, a good small-diaphragm condenser mic is the way to go.  If you are a cello player, the large-diaphragm type would be able to work best with the strings. Taping concerts through the small-diaphragm condenser microphone will create that good stereo sound and efficient transient replication.

As for vocals, you can aim for the large-diaphragm condenser mic with a power supply.


Want more Tips on Choosing the Right Microphone?

Home Music Production: Getting Started - a complete guide to setting up your home studio to make professional sounding music at home.


Were these tips helpful?  These tips and much more are available in full detail inside Home Music Production: Getting Started.

Stephan Earl

Composing, recording and producing music in the home studio environment for over 25 years, musician and author Stephan Earl now enjoys sharing his home studio setup experience with other home studio recording musicians via HomeMusicProduction.com.