How to Choose the right Microphone

Choosing the right microphone can be an art in itself. There are a few main areas however that you will need to consider that will help you to start looking in the right direction.

Q. Where will the mic be used?

The first area that will affect which mic to choose is where you are expecting to use it. This may appear obvious at first, but it is critical to understand this basic requirement. Are you going to be using the mic on stage or in conjunction with a PA system? This is important because you will need to consider the placement of the mic in relation to any amplified speakers. If the mic is too near to the speakers, or will pick up the sound generated by the speakers, you have a high chance that feedback could occur. To counter this, a mic that has a narrow pick-up pattern should help, or choosing a dynamic mic which is less capable of reproducing the high frequencies that induce feedback.

If your mic is to be used for recording, and there are no amplification systems in proximity to the mic(s), then feedback and the choice of mic is less of an issue.

Q. Are you using the mic for recording?

With digital recording systems the norm, these recorders are capable of storing an extremely wide range of frequencies. Dynamic mics, due to their heavy capsules, are rarely capable of capturing the extremes of frequency common with a natural-sounding recording. Condenser mics are therefore usually the correct choice (or ribbon mics). This is more specifically relevant to vocal performances or lead instruments. It is however quite usual to record with dynamic mics on certain restricted-frequency instruments such as electric guitar cabinets, or bass drums.

Q. Are you wanting to pick up a single sound source or multiple?

This question is critical as it affects how much distance will be between the microphone and the sound source. Whether you are wanting to mic up a group on stage, record an ensemble, or have a conference call with multiple people around a table, you are going to need a mic that can pick up at distance. In general you are going to need a mic with a wide pickup pattern such as ‘wide-cardioid’, boundary, or omnidirectional. Beware however that using omnidirectional mics on stage can lead to feedback issues.

Q. Does the mic need to be portable?

The vast majority of mics are intended to be put in one place and not moved. However, stage artists, conference presenters, aerobics instructors are not known for being rooted to the spot. For these people, a wireless mic will be needed. These come in a choice of flavours, including handheld, tie-clip (lavalier) , and headworn. With wireless mics, the same rules apply as above so think about where and how it will be used before parting with your cash!

Summary

This article is not intended to answer questions, only to get you to think about how you define what you might need. For personal advice on the right mic for your requirements, why not contact TheMicStore on 0800 098 8079 and we’ll find the perfect solution for you.

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