Investigating your options for a good quality microphone such as what is it, and what should I get?

When choosing a microphone for a home audio set-up, there are hundreds of options. For beginners, I recommend not spending a whole lot. After all, microphones can range from $60 to $5,000 for different levels and the difference won’t matter to most of us. Many lower-priced USB microphones will work well when you’re just starting out.

There are many options for you here from sets that come with the microphone, pop screen filter, and headphones, to just headphones. Whatever your option, you’ll want to make sure it’s a Cardioid Condenser microphone.

So what is a Cardioid condenser microphone and why is it important?

Cardioid: A cardioid (from the Greek καρδία “heart”) is a plane curve traced by a point on the perimeter of a circle that is rolling around a fixed circle of the same radius.

Condenser Microphone: Due to its low mass, the diaphragm of a condenser microphone follows sound waves more accurately than that of a dynamic microphone. Condenser microphones offer superior sound quality and have the widest frequency response. Also, condenser microphones usually offer much higher sensitivity output and lower noise than dynamic microphones.

Microphones & Equipment Bundles

  • Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone Studio Kit – Cost: $163.00
    • USB Microphone, Pop Filter and Headphones
  • Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone – Cost: $149.00
    • A good USB Microphone (same as what’s in the kit above) except it’s only the microphone here.
  • Blue Yeti USB Microphone – Studio Bundle – Cost: $139 
    • USB Microphone, Pop Filter, Headphones, and USB Hub
    • This microphone is USB but packs a punch for home users. It has four patterns of vocal pickup for versatile recording using cardioid, omnidirectional, bidirectional, and stereo modes. It also has the ability to adjust the gain and pattern selection on the back of the mic as well as having a headphone jack built-in to monitor recordings. This device only works on PC or Mac devices (not mobile) but is a powerful microphone.
    • I use this in my home studio. It may pick up room noise and other sounds, so you may need to adjust the gain on the rear of the microphone. It’s still a good option for general podcasting and voiceover work.

No matter what direction you choose to go, the components and software are almost always interchangeable depending on what you need them to do. If you’re ready to dive right in, then you can’t go wrong with any of the options listed above.

Stay tuned for the next edition where we’ll cover additional equipment for your recording setup. Until next time, Producer Steve signing off.