Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Welcome to our big test of studio microphones 2021. Here we present all the studio microphones we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best studio microphone for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should pay attention to if you want to buy a studio microphone.




The most important information

  • Studio microphones are mainly used in professional settings because they offer high-quality sound.
  • In our article, we distinguish between dynamic microphones, condenser microphones and ribbon microphones.
  • The directional characteristic of microphones depends on the angle of the received sound waves.

The Best Studio Microphone: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a studio microphone

Who needs a studio microphone?

Studio microphones are used to make professional audio recordings. As the name suggests, they are primarily used in recording studios. Such studio microphones are usually in a higher price segment and are also of higher quality than conventional microphones.

If you are planning to make quality audio recordings or if this is already your profession, studio microphones are a good choice for you.

Study microphones are used for professional recordings. You can make high-quality recordings not only in the studio, but also at home. (Image source: unsplash.com / Dan LeFebvre)

To illustrate where studio microphones are most often used, we have prepared the following list:

  • Singing, Rap
  • Musical instruments
  • Radio
  • Television
  • Film
  • Podcast
  • Audio book, radio plays
  • Web video content (YouTube)

If you can find your activity here, a quality studio microphone is a good choice for you, because you depend on good quality if you want to reach a certain audience with your sound recordings.

What are the alternatives to studio microphones?

It depends on what audio quality you need. As mentioned earlier, studio microphones are used in a professional environment.

Such an environment usually has a certain range, where a certain quality is required, such as in radio or television.

In itself, sound can only be recorded with microphones, so there is no alternative to sound recording. However, you can use various types of microphones.

For example, you can get a directional microphone if you want to record sound from the front. If, on the other hand, you want to record speech only, a lapel microphone is best for you.

Above, in the section "Who needs a studio microphone?" you will find the activities where studio microphones are usually needed.

Now comes the decision section, in which we will introduce the most common types of studio microphones and show you their advantages and disadvantages.

Decision: What types of studio microphones are there and which is the right one for you?

When choosing the right microphone, it is also important to know the different advantages and disadvantages of each type of microphone. If you want to make quality recordings with a studio microphone, you have these three categories that we will introduce to you.

  • Dynamic Microphone
  • Condenser microphone
  • Ribbon microphone

In the following, we will take a closer look at each category and examine the advantages and disadvantages of each microphone.

What distinguishes a dynamic microphone and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

With a dynamic microphone, sound is converted into electrical impulses. The way it works depends on the type of transducer.

In the so-called induction principle, two magnets form a magnetic field inside a so-called coil. When the sound enters the dynamic microphone, the coil moves up and down in the magnetic field. The movement in the magnetic field then generates electrical pulses.

Advantages
  • Robustness
  • Suitable for loud instruments
Disadvantages
  • Preamplifier needed
  • Heavy diaphragm

Because it is so robust, it is often used for live performances. For example, you can use it to record loud instruments such as drums. In addition, a preamplifier must be used to operate the unit.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a condenser microphone?

With condenser microphones, the sound is converted differently.

When you speak or sing, the sound waves enter the microphone. This then sets the diaphragm in motion and an electrical signal is generated. With a condenser microphone, phantom power is always necessary.

Advantages
  • Warm and powerful sound
  • light diaphragm
Disadvantages
  • Robustness
  • Noise

Due to the low mass of the diaphragm, higher sensitivities can be produced. This then results in an outstanding sound quality. However, it has a low robustness at high temperatures or under the influence of humidity. Therefore, this microphone is not suitable for live performances.

What are the characteristics of a ribbon microphone and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Ribbon microphones, like dynamic microphones, work according to the induction principle.

Advantages
  • Low frequencies
  • Detailed recording
Disadvantages
  • Robustness
  • Noise

Ribbon microphones are, however, much more sensitive than dynamic microphones. Therefore, they are more recommended to be used in an isolated recording studio than for home recording. They are therefore also very susceptible to ambient noise.

In the buying criteria, we will then go into more detail on the individual factors to look for when buying a studio microphone.

Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate studio microphones

Now we would like to show you which criteria can be decisive for you when buying a studio microphone. You can use the following criteria concerning the product to better compare the devices with each other:

  • The features
  • The sound
  • The workmanship

Now we will explain these individual criteria, which are important for the purchase of a studio microphone.

Features

Features describe the equipment of a studio microphone. These can be highly dependent on the cost of a microphone.

Usually, microphones with many features offer a better quality result than microphones with fewer features.

Connection type

A basic distinction is made between USB, XLR and wireless. We will show you what the individual types are here:

  • USB: A useful feature would be, for example, a USB port that allows you to connect the device directly to your PC. Not every studio microphone has such a digital connection, as they are traditionally operated in analogue mode.
  • XLR: The traditional microphones are mostly connected via an analogue signal via an XLR connection, which cannot be tapped via a PC sound card. You would need an additional converter to convert your signal from analogue to digital so that the PC can recognise the sound.
  • Radio: Then there are also, for example, dynamic microphones that can also be operated with batteries. In order to still be able to transmit the signal, they also have an internal radio function. The advantage of a radio microphone is that you no longer have to rely on a cable and, especially for live performances, you don't have to worry as much about cabling. It also has the advantage that you can move around more freely.

Polar pattern

Then there is the directional characteristic. Depending on how the angle is set, this affects the sensitivity of the sound waves received.

The directional characteristic describes the sensitivity and dependence of the angle of the received sound waves.

There are four different categories of directional characteristics.

Polar pattern Range of application
Omnidirectional For a home studio, you might use this type to record your acoustic instruments or background vocals.
Cardioid This characteristic can be used to record vocals, speech or instruments when you want them to come across particularly close.
Eight This microphone is especially recommended in professional applications to create stereo techniques such as crossed eight or mid/side stereophony.

Omnidirectional

These microphones can hear everything around them in the circumference of a circle. As or sound can be picked up from all directions. In terms of characteristics, this is very much like the human ear.

Cardioid

This is the most commonly used type in stage and studio applications. To pick up only the sound that hits the microphone directly in front, the cardioid characteristic is used.

This means that sound waves hitting the side of the microphone are picked up less. Sound hitting the microphone from behind is directly suppressed, i.e. not picked up and thus made inaudible.

Eight

A microphone that can pick up sound from the front and back has what is known as a figure-of-eight characteristic. This means that in this case the sound hitting the microphone from the sides is suppressed. Ribbon microphones have this type of characteristic the most.

The diaphragms are supplied with current individually or simultaneously with different voltages. The characteristics already mentioned can then be achieved from this.

With the directional characteristic, the angle determines how the sound is picked up by the microphone. (Picture source: unsplash.com / Jason Rosewell)

Other characteristics

In addition to the characteristics already mentioned, there are also more specific types. These are, for example, the switchable, the wide-cardioid and the super-cardioid.

The wide cardioid is a mixture of omnidirectional and cardioid characteristics. In this case, the cardioid is less forward.

The mixture of omnidirectional and cardioid characteristics is suitable for recording acoustic guitars or vocal groups.

The supercardioids result from the characteristics of the cardioid and the figure-of-eight. The sound coming from the front here is even stronger than with the conventional cardioid characteristic.

However, with this method, the rear sound is suppressed less than with the normal variant. Hypercardioids are very useful on stage. For example, when positioning stage monitors correctly.

There are condenser microphones that are equipped with a switchable characteristic. They consist of two single diaphragms with cardioid characteristics, which are placed back to back.

The desired one can then be selected as needed on the microphone, usually via a switch. If it is a tube microphone, such a switch is also located on the power supply of the unit. It is also good for picking up drums, such as the snare.

The Sound

Possibly the most important aspect of a microphone used in the studio is the sound quality.

If you want to achieve a professional sound, choosing the right microphone with a studio quality is crucial.

The frequency range plays an important role for the sound because it describes in which range the microphone can pick up sound. The frequency range is always given in Hertz (short: Hz).

A common frequency range is between 50 Hz and 18,000 Hz. Particularly high-quality studio microphones can also have a frequency range between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz.

The limiting sound pressure level evaluates the sensitivity or the transmission factor of microphones. This is often stated under SPL (Sound Pressure Level) with the corresponding decibel (short: dB).

The higher the dB, the louder the sounds the microphone can pick up. For your orientation, this is often between 100 dB and 140 dB.

The impedance of a studio microphone is the output impedance and the load impedance. These are usually expressed in ohms. If a microphone specifies an output impedance of 200 ohms, then the input impedance of the preamplifier should be at least 1.00 ohm.

Processing

The workmanship of studio microphones is usually of a higher quality than that of less expensive microphones. On average, it should be noted that expensive microphones usually have a higher quality finish.

This includes the material the product is made of and the quality of its production.

Image source: unsplash.com / israel palacio

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