Microphones have been gaining popularity from many years as they make sure that a person can spread his voice to large gatherings. But nowadays, there are different microphone types available to record a particular situation.
This article is going to explain different types of microphones and their uses so that you can get a complete idea of using a specific type of microphone in different situations.
Let’s dive right into the main topic without further time wastage:
- Different Microphone Types That People Use
- Different Microphone Types On the Basis of Polar Patterns:
- Different Microphone Types Based On Diaphragm Size:
- Different Microphone Types Used in Music:
- Uses of Different Microphone Types in Music:
Different Microphone Types That People Use
In this section, I will be talking about the microphone types that usually vloggers and Youtubers use.
Almost every person who is connected to vlogging or youtubing knows that for a high-quality video, a crisp and loud voice or audio is very necessary.
But the problem arises when the inbuilt microphone of video cameras are unable to capture sound in high resolution.
For this purpose, in vlogging cameras, there is a special jack available to connect an external microphone.
Therefore, there are different microphone types that usually vloggers use.
Let’s have a look at them:
1. USB Microphones:
The most commonly used microphones by vloggers these days are USB microphones. That’s because they are easy to use and they have got high portability options at the same time.
USB microphones either come with cardioid pickup pattern or super cardioid pick up pattern and they usually record in only one direction i.e. your mouth.
In this way, these types of microphones are able to record what you actually say in full HD resolution without any worries.
USB microphones are used by Youtubers, Gamers and product reviewers who have to review different products.
In fact, if you are an indoor vlogger, you should check out the USB microphones for YouTube and microphones for gaming.
2. Lapel or Lavalier Microphones:
Lapel or lavalier microphones can also be seen with different vloggers. They are very small in size and one can barely see them as they are not visible easily.
One of the best things about a lavalier microphone is, it has got a very cheap price range. These microphones will cost you not more than $25 to $ 30. Indeed, they are becoming very popular with the passage of time.
Lavalier microphones are usually used by vloggers who have got to do interviews with other people in their vlogs. They can also be used for self-explaining videos or product reviews.
A wireless lavalier microphone is something you should be looking for if your main area of work is interviewing other people.
3. Podcasting Microphones:
Podcast has gained a lot of popularity over the years and that’s why people are now getting interested in this field.
Podcast microphones are basically used by people who want no or reduced background noise while recording whatever they want to share with their audience.
A podcasting microphone can be either a USB mic, a Condenser mic or a lavalier mic depending upon the kind of circumstances you have got.
A good microphone for podcast will come with durable construction, loud and clear sound and that too with a deep bass feeling at the same time.
4. iOS Microphones:
iOS microphones are basically the ones which work with Apple devices or iOS gadgets. These microphones have got a compact size and usually come with a lightning jack which is present in most of the iOS devices.
You will see a lot of vloggers making vlogs with iPhones or iPads. Well, because of the poor audio quality, these devices are unable to deliver crisp audio quality and hence this is where the work of an iOS microphone comes.
A wireless microphone for iPad, in fact, helps a vlogger to record whatever he wants in full HD resolution.
5. Shotgun Microphones:
Shotgun microphones are the most important microphone types that you should know of.
They are mostly used by outdoor vloggers or professional YouTubers who want to capture sound in only one direction.
Shotgun microphones have got better directional polar pattern than that of hyper cardioids. That allows the microphone to pick sound in only specific direction and with a long range.
In addition, the capsule of shotgun mics is located at the end of interference tube. So, it helps the mic to reduce the background noise.
An ideal shotgun microphone means that a vlogger will be able to reduce the sound of wind effectively.
These different microphone types are used by vloggers. Now, if you are a vlogger, you should pick up the type that your scenario demands from you. Anything apart from that might result in faulty apparatus settings for your vlog.
Different Microphone Types On the Basis of Polar Patterns:
What is a Polar Pattern?
Polar pattern of a microphone actually describes how it is going to pick up a sound. In more simple words, it specifically shows that where mics are going to listen to in spatial dimensions.
Now, why you need to know about polar patterns? Polar patterns are indeed going to help you select an ideal microphone according to your needs and preferences. That is, you will be able to know better that which microphone is able to pick up in which pattern.
The different microphone types based on different polar patterns are as follows;
1. Cardioid Microphones:
Microphones with this pick up pattern only capture what is in front of them and they block out every other thing.
That is, if you point out these microphones to the sound source, they will only capture that specific sound while ignoring the ambient or background noises.
Cardioid microphones are commonly used in live performances where one has to take care of the background noise.
Other than that, the reason for their popularity is that you will see them in YouTube videos, podcasting, vlogging and in live interviews.
2. Super/Hyper Cardioid Microphones:
Super or Hyper-cardioid microphones have got the same capturing pattern but they are a bit more sensitive as compared to cardioid microphones.
The narrow sensitivity results in more sound isolation with higher resistance to the feedback.
As these microphones have got an enhanced ability to reject noise, you can use them for large sound areas, concert stages or even in recording rooms with bad noise conditions.
3. Omnidirectional Microphones:
Omnidirectional microphones have got a wide polar pattern. That is, they are able to capture sound in every direction.
Because of the non-directional pickup pattern, these microphone types can capture sound with a more natural feeling.
That’s why you will see omnidirectional microphones in studios for vocal recording. One can also use different microphone types in churches or for an acoustic sound capturing. On the other hand, they are also ideal for live performances.
The only downfall which is present in an omnidirectional microphone is it is prone to background noise.
So, until and unless you don’t have control over the ambient noise from the background, you should refrain from using these mic types.
4. Figure-8 Microphones:
Figure-8 microphones have been given the name because of their graphical representation. These different microphone types have got an ability to capture sound from the front as well as back while rejecting the sound from two sides.
To be more precise, these mics have got front and back sensitivity but they can isolate the sound coming from the left and right side. One can say that they are actually omnidirectional mics, but they are able to reject background noise easily.
However, you will not see figure-8 microphones more often rather than for recording two instruments at the same time. You can also use these mics for stereo recording.
Lastly, this polar pattern is commonly used in ribbon mics or on a large diaphragm.
5. Switchable/Multi-Pattern Mics:
These microphones are able to switch their polar pattern according to given circumstances. They are the latest microphones available with a variety of polar patterns that can be changed easily with just a flick of a switch.
Most commonly, USB microphones have got this ability to switch between different polar patterns. Microphones like Blue Yeti and Blue Snowball have got different pickup patterns.
The benefit of using these microphone types is, they can be placed for different purposes. That is, you can use them according to different positions and conditions.
However, you should take care of these microphones while changing the pickup pattern as they are prone to different accidents.
These were the different microphone types based solely on polar patterns. You should analyze the graphs with the care in order to understand more about how these mics pick up different sounds.
Different Microphone Types Based On Diaphragm Size:
The scenario just doesn’t end here. There are many microphones that can be classified on the basis of their diaphragm sizes.
But, before we move further, you should know that what diaphragm size actually is and how it affects the sensitivity, sound, and range of different microphones.
What Is Diaphragm Size? How It Affects a Microphone:
Diaphragm functions same in a mic as it functions in a human body. That is, it picks up the sounds in different microphones. The process works as a thin material vibrates and it does so after getting in contact with the sound. That vibration then converts the sound or sonic energy into electrical energy and in this way a microphone delivers sound.
Basically, there is no ideal measurement unit when it comes to a diaphragm, but different microphone types can be classified intothree classes based on the size of a diaphragm.
Keep in mind that the size of a diaphragm impacts the sound pressure level handling of a microphone, its sensitivity, its internal noise level, and the dynamic level.
Let’s have a look at different microphone types based on diaphragm sizes:
1. Small Diaphragm:
The microphones with small diaphragm size are commonly known as pencil microphones as they have got a cylindrical shape. Indeed, pencil mics have got a compact size range which allows them to be lighter and thus you can position them easily to different places.
The interesting fact about these microphone types is, they are specially designed to be rigid so as to handle high-level sound pressure easily and to have a better and wider dynamic range at the same time.
The mics can be used to record acoustic guitars, hi-hats, and other musical instruments. However, they also come with the increased internal noise level and issues of lower sensitivity.
2. Large Diaphragm:
The bigger the diaphragm gets, the more it is able to sense air vibrations and as more vibrations are captured, there will be better and more sonic details produced by the mics.
In contrast to small diaphragm sizes, large diaphragms are able to move easily which means that they can easily detect the smallest differences in sound pressure levels for a transparent and natural sound production.
That’s why different microphone types with large diaphragms are mostly used in recording studios, and this configuration is also widely used in modern USB mics.
Therefore, large diaphragm microphones can be used to record almost everything in full HD resolution. However, make sure to check the volume level of these mics as they can distort the sound when the sound pressure level is high.
3. Medium Diaphragm Mics:
Different microphone types with a medium diaphragm are also available.
They are sometimes called hybrid because they acquire some properties such as fuller and warm sound from large diaphragm.
Whereas, some properties are being acquired by small diaphragm microphones such as retaining the high-frequency content.
Microphones with a medium diaphragm are commonly used for different recording purposes. However, you can easily skip on them if you have already got large diaphragm mics.
Different Microphone Types Used in Music:
There are three different types of microphones used for music recording. Let’s have a look at them:
1. Dynamic Microphones:
Dynamic mics are an ideal choice for you if you are looking for something extravagant and reliable.
The thing to consider in these mics is their magnetic coil diaphragm which is moving at the same time.
Indeed, dynamic microphones can capture the sound even at high-pressure levels.
In addition, the mics can be used for loud sound sources such as bass and guitar amplifiers. You can even use them with drum kits without any worries of the sound distortion or any other damage.
However, the mics are not for high sound pressure level. They will work more ideally in quieter settings.
2. Condenser Microphones:
Condenser microphones are actually more advanced in operation.
They have got a conductive diaphragm which is really thin and is placed close the metal backplate. In addition, the process works just like a capacitor.
That is, the sound pressure vibrates diaphragm which as a result changes the capacitance of the capacitor to produce different audio signals.
Because of the use of capacitors in condenser mics, they have got improved sounds and reliability at the same time. Therefore, the mics are ideal for studio recording and you will see them commonly in home or professional studios.
Well, one thing that you should keep in mind is, these microphones require power to operate, so you will either need a mixer or a direct box that comes with phantom power.
No matter what kind of instrument you have got, condenser mics are able to record them but you should keep the sound pressure level a bit low. On the other hand, condenser mics also require care as they are not as sturdy or reliable as one would expect them to be.
3. Ribbon Mics:
Ribbon mics are not as popular as they were a few years back. They were much more popular back when radio was popular. These mics have got a light ribbon metal which helps the mic to pick the velocity of air rather than displacement.
Thus, these mics were able to improve the sensitivity of higher frequencies i.e. capturing high notes without any ruggedness. In this way, a warm vintage voicing is produced.
However, the modern ribbon mics have now got more improvements but they are low in popularity. One can use them for multi-instrumental recording in places where the background noise can be managed easily.
In addition, ribbon mics can also be used easily for recording music if you want to get a vintage vibe from it. Setting it up with a combination of condenser and dynamic mics will allow you to record yourself in ribbon mics easily.
Uses of Different Microphone Types in Music:
Let’s have a look of some practical uses that different microphone types are providing:
1. Use of Different Microphone Types in Vocal Recording:
In case you have got a live performance where there is chance of stage volume getting loud, the best choice is to use cardioid microphones.
On the other hand, if you are recording vocals, you should need a microphone with a large diaphragm.
Therefore, condenser microphones with large diaphragms can work best in this regard.
In case you want to do vintage vocal recording, then you should use ribbon microphones or try the dynamic microphones with old construction.
Dynamic microphones, on the other hands, can also be used for churches. In contrast to dynamic mics, one can use omnidirectional and shotgun mics for recording vlogs or different choirs etc.
2. Different Microphone Types Used in Drum Recording:
This is a fact that acoustic drums are naturally very loud and punchy. So, to record such drums, one should indeed go for dynamic cardioid mics and they should be used to record snare, toms, and bass.
Contrary to that, small diaphragm microphones can be used to capture the sound of hi-hat ride along with cymbals.
Well, if you want to get away from this mess, then there are different microphones available in the market with adjusted frequencies and SPLs for each part of the drum kit.
You can get them easily to make sure that you record drum kits in an ideal way.
However, if you want to record drum kits in a studio, then a better choice will be to go for ribbon mics with an omnidirectional pattern so as to add a bit of ambiance and vintage vibes in the drum tracks.
3. Different Microphone Types Used In Electric Guitar Amplifier:
Close mic amplifiers are sometimes louder than that of the drum kits. So, to record them you would need mics that can easily handle high SPL.
Therefore, in this case, your ideal deal would be getting cardioid or super cardioid dynamic mics which is placed in an ideal manner in front of the speaker.
On the other hand, you can also place a second condenser or ribbon microphone at a good distance in case you are using multiple amps or you want a warmer sound output.
4. Used in Acoustic Guitars:
Acoustic guitars if not amplified have got a soft sound along with deep shadows. If you want to record these type of instruments, you will probably need large diaphragm condenser microphones.
In contrast, you can also try out a cardioid condenser microphone or a figure-8 pickup pattern ribbon mic depending upon the noise level.
After you are done with setting up the large diaphragm condenser mics, you can finally add an extra small diaphragm mic to capture high frequencies that can get lost in case you have plugged in the acoustics.
The Final Word:
Microphones make it easier to record the current scenario without any worries. Indeed, with the help of a perfect microphone type, you will be able to capture full HD resolution audio for your vlogs or videos which is very necessary.
Keeping the knowledge about different microphone types is going to help you a lot when you will be selecting an external receiver for capturing different sounds. Make sure that the microphone that you are about to choose has got an ideal pick up pattern.
That would be all from me. I hope this article is going to help you in understanding the basic types of microphones and their uses.