How to Record Music at Home – A Short Guide to Choosing a Microphone in 2020

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Are your creative impulses so enticing that you want to record songs at home? You can’t do without a quality microphone in this case. With its help, you can emphasize the strength and beauty of voice, record a song, speech, video without any extraneous noise. Which microphone is better for recording music at home? Let’s try to understand the subtleties of the choice.

In short, you can record a voice or musical instrument with any good microphone available. Read more about different types of microphones on micspeech.

The division into vocal and instrumental microphones is somewhat conventional. With the right location and good monitoring, it is possible to capture a signal with any vocal or instrument one.

This is confirmed in practice by famous musicians. For example, James Hatfield’s vocals on some songs are recorded with the instrumental Shure SM57. And vice versa – nothing can prevent a good guitar recording with vocal Shure SM58. Of course, the exception will be specific microphones that serve narrow targets – such as bass drums (barrels) with a very limited range of perceived frequencies.

Is there a difference?

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The division into a dynamic and capacitor microphone is essential; the latter is much more sensitive and requires a mandatory 48-volt phantom power supply.

Be sure to note that the condenser microphone will also record all surrounding sounds, voice, and throat in addition to the useful signal. It makes even the most delicate sounds loud and clear enough. That’s why sound engineers often use condenser ones for on-site monitoring. This is also the case when shooting dialogue scenes in movies and TV series.

If you don’t have phantom power in your sound interface, you’d better buy a dynamic microphone. Otherwise – you will either have to change your sound card or buy an additional external preamplifier.

A simpler and more convenient solution is dynamic microphones. They differ in their sound but transmit a less clear, brighter signal. However, non-professional performers choose these models most often. It is essential for voice recording and can also be used for performances.

A dynamic microphone like the Shure SM57 is an excellent choice for removing loud signals with a high sound pressure level. For example, it’s ideal for taking guitar signals directly from the cabinet, especially in genres such as hard rock and metal. In addition, dynamic microphones are used to record extreme vocals.

What’s a studio microphone?

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It is any microphone designed to record vocals or any other musical instrument. Low-cost devices for karaoke, cheap acoustic systems, and others will be excluded from this group. In a word – household microphones. They are not distinguished by quality components – the membranes and conductors are all the cheapest. And the output sound is cloudy and with cropped frequency characteristics. In short, these microphones have little in common with studio music recording.

Microphone direction

There are different types of devices based on the sensitivity to sound, depending on its direction. The term” Direction” in acoustics usually refers to the angle at which sound can come to the microphone without compromising the sound quality.

Directions of microphones – eight, cardioids, circular directivity. Eight is sensitive to sound from both the front and back of the microphone; cardioid records all the information that sounds in front of it, but not from behind. But circular – is sensitive to all the sound around. There are also more and more 360-degree microphones now available for surround recording all the space.

How to make a choice

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If you are deciding which microphone is best for recording music at home, we suggest you consider some popular models in detail.

  1. AKG Perception 120 USB. This is a condenser microphone. It perceives a wide range of vibrations, and therefore it can catch both bass and all high-frequency components of voice. This is an excellent solution for extreme vocalists who sing using different techniques. It  has a high-quality assembly and will last long.
  2. Shure SM58S. This is a popular model that has proven itself in the show business industry. It has an excellent combination of price and quality. It can be used for recording vocals or instrumental performances. It is unidirectional and has a wide frequency range. Its special advantage is the anti-noise filter (wind, breathing, air fluctuation during movements). It has an anti-shock body, so it will last at least 5-7 years.
  3. Audio-Technica AT2020. A popular model that has all the advantages of a professional dynamic microphone with USB output. It has a good design, a unique diaphragm design, and a low level of its own noise. The model transmits pure, undistorted sound.
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  1. AKG 2000. The microphone for voice recording is more suitable for novice vocalists. A special feature of the model is the presence of a bass filter. You can easily get rid of the intimacy effect with it.
  2. sE Electronics X1 S. The best microphone for recording vocals in the budget category. It is characterized by a low amount of noise when working with quiet sources and a large amount of gain. As well as a completely neutral and even sound. Ideal for novice musicians as the first serious microphone for a home recording studio.
  3. Rode M3. It is a low-cost condenser microphone with a small aperture. The miniature Rode M3 is suitable for recording vocals, acoustic guitars at home. You can use phantom power or batteries to charge the device. This makes the device mobile and convenient to work in any conditions.
  4. Behringer B-2 PRO. The sound of the microphone is surprisingly versatile, smooth, and juicy for its level, suitable for recording vocals, speech, and musical instruments. A double capsule is installed inside the microphone, and the device itself can work with different directional patterns, depending on the position of the controller on the case.

In conclusion

If you are just beginning to learn the basics of recording, then most likely, the features of budget models will be quite enough. But don’t lose sight of the main thing – no microphone will fix a weak vocal. So work on your voice.

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