Buying Microphone

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Shopping for a microphone. Here's my research notes. If you are not an audio professional, and confused and don't have time to research, just buy any on this page, can't go wrong. $80 gets you very good ones. $30 still pretty good for video conference or YouTube.

Best Recommend Microphones, Under $100

Ordered from expensive to cheaper:

 t b4jFN-s250 Audio Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Microphone, XLR Buy at amazon
MXL 990 Condenser mic XLR HMjJN-s250 MXL 990 Condenser Microphone with Shockmount. XLR Buy at amazon
Samson Q2U USB XLR Dynamic mic nf7nn Samson Technologies Q2U USB/XLR Dynamic Microphone amazon
Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser JB5cN Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser amazon

Fifine Metal Condenser USB Microphone

This is what i bought. A cheap one. Good enough for my YouTube.

Fifine mic 202104 502-s1000
Fifine Metal Condenser USB Microphone Buy at amazon 4032×3024
Fifine mic 202104 283-s1000
Fifine microphone 4032×3024
Fifine mic box 202104 563-s1000
Fifine mic box 4032×3024

What's the Different Between a Headset with Decidated Mic?

Dedicated mic is a magnitude higher quality. And dedicated mic usually have knobs to let you control gain. And dedicated mic can be used for singing. You can actually hear the “space of the room”. Headset is exclusively for just for speech communication only. With headset, your natural voice is not transmitted fully.

USB vs XLR Microphones

XLR connectors is a standard connector for professional audio industry.

XLR connectors kbJFz
XLR connectors [image source]

USB microphones are basically entry level. Good USB mics are good enough today.

For professional audio work, you want mic with XLR connector.

XLR Mic Need Preamp

Microphones usually need to be connected to a preamplifier before the signal can be recorded or reproduced. In usb microphones, the preamplifier is builtin.

Recommended preamp:

Types of Microphones

Dynamic or Condenser microphone
This is the general purpose mic for human voice. Often seen used by singers or radio hosts. Need mouth close to mic. The term “Dynamic microphone” and “Condenser microphone” refers to the tech used in picking up sound. Dynamic microphones
Lapel/clip-on microphone
(aka lavalier mic) clip on to shirt. lapel mic
Shotgun microphone
Aim at a sound source in a straight line, ignore sound from other direction. The mic can be placed 1 meter away from mouth. Shotgun mic
Noise reduction
Usually used in headset. Ambient noise or any sound in room are cut off, usually signal processing circuitry. This type is usually just for functionality talking, such as in gaming or phone. Does not capture the full context of human voice.

Microphone Technologies

The tech of mic is very diverse. There are many different tech to pick up sound and transmit it into electronic signal.

Dynamic Microphone
Use a coil of wire suspended in a magnetic field. Similar to speakers but in reverse.
Condenser Microphone
Use the vibrating diaphragm as a capacitor plate. Capacitor was known as condenser.
Contact Microphone
Use a crystal of piezoelectric material. This type is used to capture sound transmitted from solid objects, such as table, window, wall. Not from air.
Fiber optic Microphone
Use fiber optic tech by measuring light variation reflected from a vibrating mirror. This type has no electronic inteference.
Laser Microphone
Shoot laser from far away onto a window, and capture the reflected light, measure intensity variation or movement pattern, decipher it. Used for spying etc.

Sensitivity Direction Pattern

Microphone is more sensitive to certain direction of sound, due to how it is build. Here's the terms and what they mean.

microphone sensitivity patterns
microphone sensitivity patterns [from Wikipedia]

Here's common patterns:

Omnidirectional
Sensitive in any direction.
Cardioid
Most common. Most sensitive in tip of mic (called end fire or end address) or front side of mic (called side fire).
Supercardioid
Like cardioid, but a bit extended in opposite side.
Hypercardioid
Like cardioid, but a much extended in opposite side.

Mic Shock Mount and Pop Filter

Shock Mount is elastic bands holding the mic, preventing noice generated from shock or vibration from the mic holder.

mic shock mount z5FJY
mic shock mount

Pop filter is used to remove noise of wind such as blowing into mic. pop filter

mic shock absorber n pop filter F8568
mic shock mount and pop filter (aka windscreen)

Blue Yeti USB Microphone

Blue Yeti is popular, but is actually one of the worst with quality/price ratio.

Blue Yeti mic s7b8w
Blue Yeti USB mic Buy at amazon

Blue Snowball iCE USB microphone

Blue Snowball iCE Condenser mic k9xv5
Blue Snowball iCE Condenser USB mic Buy at amazon

The Blue Snowball Ice is extremely popular, and as such, i think it tends to be hyped by ignorant populace therefore over priced.

This is actually one of the worst.

Headphone, Headset, Microphone