How to Choose the Perfect Condenser Microphone for You
There are a variety of microphones out there, but some might suit your needs more than others. Here's how to choose the perfect condenser microphone for you.
Keyword(s): condenser microphone
Whether you're live on stage or starting a podcast in your parent's basement, your choice of microphone is key to the sound of your project.
And if you've done any basic research into the different mics, you've likely come across the age-old debate: Condenser microphone vs. Dynamic microphone.
That topic is way too deep to go into all in one post! So this article will look at how to choose the perfect condenser microphone, if that's what you're going for, so you can sound clean and crisp.
1. Know Your Budget
This one may seem a bit obvious, but your budget is the deciding factor in what sort of mics you're able to get.
As well as knowing the maximum you're willing to pay, keep in mind how much is the least you're going to. This will help you find a range of microphones to choose from.
Are you willing to spend $500 but not willing to go above $750? Maybe $500 is your rooftop and you'll pay anything for it?
Whatever the case, knowing your price range helps you narrow down on a specific list of hardware much easier.
A Note on Product Lines.
It's worth mentioning here that some condenser microphones, like the Sennhieser range, have varying models and prices for the product line. The less you pay, the lesser quality version you may get.
Other mics can be stand-alone models, so be sure to check the microphones in your price range to see if they have scalable pricing or not.
2. See if You Need An Interface
Sometimes a condenser microphone plugs straight into your computer via USB cable. Other times, they need an audio interface.
An audio interface is like a physical controller for your mic, that has various switches and buttons on it to affect the volume etc. of your mic. These interfaces yourself plug into your laptop or computer, rather than the mic itself.
Some interfaces support multiple microphone inputs, while only taking up one USB port on your computer. Others, like the Scarlett Solo, are made for one mic and maybe an electric guitar input.
They usually take XLR inputs from a mic, which means you may get less feedback/popping on your microphone's audio track.
One downside of mics that need an audio interface is that they could significantly bump up the price of your order. Rember that when looking at mics that need one.
USB mics have their ups and downs, like their portability, but so do audio interfaces, like their improved sound quality.
With all this in mind, do heavy research into the hardware requirements of each of the mics on your list, and dump any unuseful one.
3. Listen to Audio Tests & Reviews
Your list of condenser microphones should be getting much thinner by now, so now is a good time to start listening to audio tests of some of the mics you're thinking about.
When possible, see if you can listen to direct comparisons of mics on your list, so you can see how they sound in direct competition.
If your microphone needs an interface like we mentioned earlier, check tests of the mic on different interfaces as well. The difference may not be major, but every subtle tone counts.
At this step, you should throw out any mics that you don't like the sound of. Following your gut here is important because only you know what you want your content to sound like.
After you've got your list down to three or so mics you like the sound of, read up some reviews.
- "How durable is the mic when travelling?"
- "How long does it last with heavy use?"
- "Does it need specific software to get the best possible sound?"
All these questions, and more, you should be asking yourself to see what condenser microphone will last you the most amount of time.
You don't want to pay big-bucks and only get a month or two's use from your purchase!
4. Bargain Hunt
Once you have your list down to your preferred one or two mics, get bargain hunting!
Lookout for online coupon codes, see if there are any software/hardware deals on etc.
If big sale times like Black Friday or New Year's are coming up, see if you can hold out for the coming price drops.
At the end of the day you want to make a good investment on long-term hardware, so don't buy from the first website you see. Shop around a bit and find a deal that fits your price range.
5. Commit to one Condenser Microphone
Once you take all these factors into account, pick a mic and stick to it.
We talked about the importance of listening to your gut, or rather your ears, earlier, and it is vital!
You don't want to spend hundreds of dollars on a condenser microphone only to use it for a week or two and blow money on a different one.
Try and get the most use out of one mic set at a time as possible. See where the condenser microphone performs well, and where it doesn't.
If you find the mic suits your needs well, then you'll have no trouble rebuying it when it comes time to replace your current one.
Alternately, if you were unsatisfied with your mic this time around, maybe look at some other models next time.
Ending this Track
So there you go, following these steps you should have no trouble choosing the perfect condenser microphone for your project.
At the end of the day, however, these are just general guidelines to help you choose. The specific mic you're going to need will highly depend on your personal recording needs, so keep that in mind.
What mics have you used? Got any you're finding useful right now? If that's the case, or you have any other tips and tricks, feel free to comment and discuss below with other readers!