How to Make Sure that your Microphone is Optimized for Recording
Whether it’s your music or your vocals you need to record, your microphone can break or make the audio quality. If the microphone is not optimized for recording, you could end up with nothing but wasted efforts. Even if it’s a simple podcast, you want to draw your audience in with your words.
This can be difficult when your words are scarred by bad audio quality. It can be frustrating for your listeners to understand what you’re saying or to enjoy your music. But the real question is: What exactly is bad quality audio and how do you find out if your microphone is the culprit?
Defining Bad Quality Audio
Recognizing bad quality audio may be an intuitive process but you can still recognize it if you pay close attention. Also, remember that audio quality is subjective. What some might deem good quality, others can easily discard as bad.
All in all, you should know that your microphone is not optimized for recording if you hear a ton of noise in the background. This can include hisses, hums, buzzes, echo, background noise, static, or just an unnatural tone due to excessive sound processing.
Which Type of Microphone is Perfect for Recording?
We mentioned before how audio quality can be subjective. This is the same case with optimizing your microphone for recording. You can be recording with a band in your garage, or in a professional studio, or perhaps in your room; each case would need a different type of mic to ensure high-quality audio.
Thus, you need to decide the type of microphone you’re going to use. Here are some options:
These microphones include a large diaphragm that vibrates when sound waves collide with it. The vibrations are transferred from the diaphragm to the computer via electric signals. Some condenser mics also include a smaller diaphragm.
Whatever the size, the diaphragms are still larger than in other mics. It allows them to be more sensitive so they can catch all kinds of audio. This makes it easier to record the intricate details. Also, the sound pressure level (SPL) is quite low which means they can even catch the low volume sounds.
A concern most recording artists have is getting too loud with condenser mics. They fear it might damage them but the concern is baseless. Your voice would have to be extremely loud to damage them. Even so, they can be easily damaged if handled roughly or dropped.
This is why they are highly recommended for studio artists and recordings. They can face a fair chance of damage with live performances.
You can use condenser mics to record quieter instruments such as:
- Acoustic Guitar
What condenser mics lack in durability, dynamic mics more than make up for. They are virtually indestructible. While condenser mics are not affected by loud vocals, they can certainly face damage in the face of loud instruments such as an electric guitar.
On the other hand, dynamic mics can take a beating from loud volume without any damage. Also, they are lesser prone to damage from hitting or dropping. Their excellent durability makes them perfect for live performers.
Another aspect that makes them perfect for live performers is the orientation of the diaphragm. Their diaphragms are at the top, which makes it easier for vocalists to sing. Condenser mics have diaphragms that point to a side.
If the performer were to hold a condenser mic in his hands, he would have to make sure he is holding it in the correct direction. Dynamic mics effectively eliminate this hassle.
You can use Dynamic mics to record:
- Electric Guitar
- Brass Instruments
- Percussion Instruments
This direct comparison of the two types of microphones shows that each performs best with different types of instruments. If you need to optimize your mic for studio recordings or regular wind and string instruments then go for condenser mics. Otherwise, going for a dynamic one will suit you better.
Another way to ensure your microphone is optimized for the type of recording you want is to check its pickup pattern. The following are the most common pickup patterns:
Omnidirectional: These mics pick up audio from all sides. They are the easiest to operate since you don’t have to worry about their orientation. On the other hand, they are also the noisiest.
Cardioid: Cardioid mics are slightly directional and may result in noise if not set up in a controlled environment.
Hypercardioid: These mics are an improvement upon cardioid mics as they pick up the sound at the front. Only minimal noise from the sides and rear makes its way into recordings.
Shotgun: These mics are best for studio recordings as they only pick up sounds from the front. They effectively cancel out any noise from the sides.
Once again, the type you choose depends on the type of the recording you want. Shotgun mics are great for studio recording or solo performances while omnidirectional mics can be perfect for group interviews or recordings.
Recommendations According to Vocals
Singing: For singing, you will benefit from condenser mics as they pick up very little noise. On the other hand, for rock and metal music that involves very loud vocals, dynamic microphones with their durable layout may fare much better.
Speaking: For speaking in formal occasions such as voice over and reading, we recommend a condenser. Dynamic mics might be more suitable on less formal occasions such as interviews and podcasts.
All in all, you need to choose microphones that are specifically designed for recording your desired audio. Otherwise, you will end up with bad audio that does nothing but drive your listeners away. While investing in a high-quality microphone might solve the problem, you need to look at other factors such as pickup patterns etc.