Who Makes The Best Microphones?
Many people have asked me over the years what the best microphone brands were. It is difficult to answer as it all depends on the purpose of the microphone. In a nutshell: If you want to know which brands are the best, I would say, Neumann, Sennheiser, and Shure.
These mics are all professional-grade and available in many styles and classes. Let’s look at the key features and types of microphones that are best for us to help you decide which brand is right for you.
The Main Features of the Top Microphone Brands
Microphones can be more complex than they appear. Many features can affect the mic’s performance and sound quality. You will find some of these important features in the best microphone brands, such as a wider frequency range and higher SPL.
Frequency response refers to the frequency range that the microphone can pick up. The frequency response is greater the wider the range. Some mics, such as drum mics, focus on the lower-end frequency response and will capture sounds within the 30-Hz range. Vocal microphones can capture sounds in a wider range, while cymbal and vocal mics have a greater range. The best microphone for your purpose is one that offers the best frequency response.
Also, you need to consider the SPL ratings and sensitivity. A mic with higher sensitivity will pick up more sound, while a mic with a lower sensitivity will pick up less sound. The SPL rating, on the other hand, is how loud sound can be sent to the microphone without becoming distortive. Higher SPL ratings mean that the microphone can record sounds at higher volumes.
These specifications should not be overlooked. You also need to consider how the microphone was built. Quality microphones produce clear sound without static, hissing, or popping when moved. Knowing how they are made and what materials are used is important. It is likely to feel cheap if it does not feel expensive. A good microphone should have some weight.
Dynamic and condenser microphones
There are two main categories for microphones, but there are some exceptions. There are two types: condenser and dynamic microphones. A coil is attached to a diaphragm within a magnetic field to create dynamic microphones. The coil produces a low-level electric signal when the diaphragm is moved. The SPL of dynamic mics is usually higher and is great for church and live performances.
On the other hand, Condenser microphones are more commonly used in studio settings or when recording is done. They are equipped with a thin diaphragm as well as a metal backplate. They are mostly powered by phantom power. These mics are perfect for recording studios as they have a lower SPL and higher sensitivity. Some of the most powerful condenser microphones can also be used live for performances.
Shure and Sennheiser make both condenser and dynamic microphones. Their mics are as affordable as $100.00. Shure dynamic microphones are used by many musicians for recording and live performances. Condenser microphones are my preference if you want to get the best recordings.
Understanding Polar Patterns: How they Work
Next, take a look at the microphone’s polar pattern. The microphone’s polar pattern determines the type of directionality it has. The polar pattern is simply the direction in which the microphone will pick up sound.
The cardioid is the most popular polar pattern. This is a pattern with a heart shape that picks up sound from the front of a microphone. They sound exactly like Omnidirectional microphones. Omnidirectional microphones pick up sounds all around the microphone. These microphones are great for recording orchestras or acoustic music but not so well for recording vocals.
The super-cardioid, hyper-cardioid, figure-eight and ultra-directional polar patterns are all examples of other types. These patterns differ from the standard 180-degree arc.
Many microphone manufacturers offer multiple polar patterns. Rode, for example, makes microphones with multiple polar patterns that can be used in podcasting. You can choose the polar pattern using a selector switch. They have everything you need, from figure eight to cardioid patterns.
It isn’t cheap, as with everything, if you want to get the best. The best microphone brands are no different. Although there are many cheap microphone companies out there, the bottom line is that you get what you pay for.
You can spend thousands on a top-of-the-line Neumann microphone. Companies like Shure and Audio-Technica can supply a professional microphone for as little as a hundred dollars to a few thousand.
Make sure you choose the right mic for your use. It does not necessarily mean it is the best mic for your use.
This should answer your question about the best microphone brands.