Check out any online music store and what do you see?
Thousands upon thousands of microphones.
But do you really need that many for a simple home recording studio?
Of course not.
But, you should at least join in
- The different types of microphones
- The instruments that you record with it
- Know the top brands…
Then how can you ever fight your way through the tangle of microphones that you do NOT need…
To find the ones you REALLY need?
The answer is … not at all. And you’ll waste a lot of time and money on some pretty stupid purchases.
To save you the headache that this topic causes so many beginners…
I’ve put together the following guide that covers everything a beginner should know in order to choose the right Studio Monitors for a home studio.
Does that sound good? Let’s start then.
The 2 “super categories”
That there are two “super categories “:
- Condenser microphones
- Dynamic microphones
95% of all microphones you will ever use…
Fall into either of these two categories. That’s the easy part.
It is more difficult to understand in which 8 KEY PROPERTIES they differ
So let’s discuss them. First …
The rule of thumb for beginners is:
Condenser microphones are better suited for instruments with high frequencies … for example:
- Acoustic guitar
While dynamic microphones are better suited for instruments with low frequencies … for example:
- Electric guitar amplifier
The reality is of course much more complex, but it’s a good rule of thumb to start with.
Diaphragm size and weight
The reason condenser microphones are better for high frequencies…
They use a smaller, lighter membrane to absorb sound.
Because high frequencies have LESS energy than low frequencies, they have less power to move a mass.
This is why the heavier diaphragms of dynamic microphones react worse.
The advantage of a heavier membrane is that…
The larger mass achieves enough tension through the movement that an external energy source is not necessary. That is why dynamic microphones are called “passive “.
Condenser microphones, on the other hand, are “active” because they need “phantom power” to amplify the weaker voltage.
But that’s by no means a disadvantage.
With phantom power, condenser microphones can achieve a higher gain and record a softer sound.
Unfortunately, the lighter diaphragms in condenser microphones are also more fragile.
A higher sound pressure level (SPL) can damage them.
This is why the more stable diaphragms of dynamic microphones are better for louder instruments like drums.
General shelf life
Not only are the membranes more stable … the construction of dynamic microphones is also more stable.
If you drop a dynamic microphone, it will likely survive. If you drop a condenser microphone, your chances are nowhere near as good.
That’s one of the reasons dynamic microphones are so good for the stage.
Another reason dynamic microphones are so good for the stage…
They are very resistant to environmental influences such as moisture.
Condenser microphones, on the other hand, can cause problems if there are significant changes in humidity.
Gain before feedback
A third reason dynamic microphones are so good for the stage is…
They offer higher protection against feedback.
In live conditions, where many microphones pick up a lot of sound in close proximity … feedback is a common problem.
But since dynamic microphones are generally “less sensitive” than condenser microphones, they are also more resistant to feedback.
If you compare the best dynamic microphones with the best condenser microphones…
The maximum price for dynamic microphones is around € 400-500 per piece but…
Condenser microphones can cost up to € 5,000-10,000 PER PIECE.
That might scare you…
But don’t worry, there are enough affordable options for recording studios on a budget.
Which is better for a studio recording?
Many newbies ERROR assume that condenser microphones are somehow “better” than dynamic microphones for studio recording.
And after everything we’ve discussed so far, one can understand why.
But in reality … NONE is better overall … and NO microphone in the world is good for EVERYTHING.
That is why recording studios use more than just 2 “super categories”…
But MANY different microphones, each for a specific task.
In the next section, let’s take a closer look at each one…