Home Studio: What Microphones Do You Have In Your Arsenal?
Microphones, microphones, microphones and more microphones. They’re like camera lenses except there are more inexpensive “quality” mics on the market for those operating on small budgets.
Here’s a snapshot of my small, but versatile arsenal of mics
Studio Projects B3 (large diaphragm condenser)
One of my favorite condenser mics. It’s affordable, equipped with 3 pickup patterns and it sounds good.
Cardioid – good for vocals as well as instruments. The cardioid rejects sound from the back as well as the sides. For best results place the source directly in front of the mic. Gain staging and distance should also be taken into consideration. I like to position my source 6-12 inches in front of the mic.
Omni – This pattern will allow the mic to pick up sound from all around the mic. That would be 360 degrees. What some people don’t realize is the Omni pattern is more natural sounding than the Cardioid pattern because it’s flat.
I like to use this pattern for acoustic instruments as well as capturing reflections in a room.
Figure 8 – This pattern allows sound to be back captured from 2 sides of the mic, both front and back. I’ve never used this pattern for anything
I use this mic for recording choirs, vocals, foley, instruments (all types). I like this mic because it has somewhat of an edgy sound to it.
Behringer B2 (Original)
Another large condenser mic. I’ve owned it since I was about 16 years old. It was actually my 1st condenser. Funny story about this model. I did an A/B comparison with a U87 and it sound damn near identical (except for the high end).
So, I purchased more of the exact same model hoping to turn a profit, but not much luck. A few were good, the rest weren’t even close, nowhere near the quality of the 1st. Behringer is a great company (kicking out affordable gear), but their quality control…
I use this mic for recording choirs, vocals, foley, instruments, ambiances etc (everything). I like it a little better than the B3 because of it’s overall quality.
Shotgun Shell Mics
Yes I have 2 condenser mics made from shotgun shells. One is Cardioid the other is Omni. I use them when I’m on the go as they’re easy to carry around (right in the pocket).
The downside is they have low SPL which makes them very easy to overload.
Knock Off Shure SM58
My model is actually called the APA 101, it’s a knock model of the SM58 (same parts different company). This is mostly used as a stage performance mic, it’s great on just about any type of sound and it can receive high SPL’s
SPL = Sound pressure level btw. Most mics have a specific range they can take before they distort or damage.
Oh and it takes abuse like a champ! This mic is great, it’s versatile and sounds good recording just about anything. I mainly use this mic for recording really loud noises as well as a backup mic.
Rode NTG1 (Shotgun Mic)
This is what’s known as a shotgun mic, because of it’s length. It has a super-cardioid pickup pattern. Think of a regular cardioid on crack. Better yet, think of the mic as having tunnel vision.
These type of mics allow you to focus in on what it’s pointed at while rejecting sounds from the sides. The term super-cardioid is used because it gets in closer and is more direct than a regular cardioid mic.
I use this mic for both foley and field recording. It’s not an NTG3 (great shotgun), but it get’s the job done and nicely I might add.
AT2020 Condenser Microphone
This is the cheapest mic I have in my arsenal. I purchased it a few years ago because it was on sale ($70) and I wanted to try a different brand (I do that sometimes). You can find them for around $70 – $99… sometimes cheaper
What I love about this mic besides it’s clarity and warmth was the sound rejection when aiming the back of the mic at unwanted sound. See the problem most home studio musicians face is having their computer in the same room they record in.
They end up fighting fan noise throughout the entire mixing/editing session. This wasn’t an issue with the 2020 surprisingly.
AT2020 USB Condenser Microphone
This is a USB version of the AT2020 condenser mic. It only has 1 pattern (cardioid) and is great for voice overs and any other instrument sounds. It has no filters or DB cuts. All gain staging must be done in box (in the computer)
Very sensitive to noise, almost unusable in noisy environments. Axis sound rejection? Mmmm…. Not good at all
Hand held Field Recorder Mics
Tascam DR40, Zoom H1, Zoom H2n
I’m not going to go into detail, but all of these field recorders are great for on the go recording. The mics aren’t as good as a shotguns or standard studio mics such as the Rode N1A, Spark etc, but with the right gain staging and a good noise removal app they get the job done.
Actually, if you get the gain staging and pick the right environment… it’s a winner.
I use the stock mics for recording ambiances as well as everything out in the world. All 3 of these mics use an XY configuration and if memory serves correct they are all cardioid mics. The H2n use Cardioid, MS and figure 8.
Those are the mics I own and use, what mics do you have in your arsenal?