- The main accessories in a microphone set
- Different kinds of microphone for your set
- Specs to consider for your microphone set
auna microphone sets: practicality and convenience for a functional recording studio
Studio microphones are used on many occasions and for countless purposes; on the market, you can find a wide variety of models, of different types to suit a particular use. Making the right choice when purchasing the best microphone set is not always easy, as each application requires a device and accessories with different characteristics. The first step in buying a microphone is, therefore, determining what you need, but also having at least a basic idea of what the different types of studio microphones can offer.
At auna you can find different condenser microphones and accessories. If you already have a microphone, in our product gallery you will find stands, adjustable arms, pop filters, spider stands and all the accessories you need. If you're just starting out, you can buy one of our microphone sets, and you'll immediately have everything you need to start producing in your own recording studio or podcasting station. Take a look at our offers and find the microphone accessory kit that best suits your needs.
The main accessories in a microphone set
It's becoming increasingly common to set up your own space to make recordings such as premixes, demos, song arrangements, or even to release an entire album by yourself. This space is usually called a home studio, and while the setup may be minimal and straightforward at first, it often grows, progressing and becoming more sophisticated. One of the main elements we find in a typical home studio is a good condenser microphone, which can capture much more detail than standard dynamic microphones, and is more sensitive to noise and mechanical vibrations. Therefore, for optimal performance, it is essential to consider using some accessories that can improve the handling of these microphones and help you obtain a cleaner and more transparent sound and save time in editing after recording. Here is a list of accessories that can help you improve your home studio microphone:
- Microphone isolation shield
A mic shield is designed specifically for recording vocals in rooms without acoustic treatment. It is an extremely versatile portable solution that you can use in any situation where you find yourself recording outside of a soundproof room. The microphone isolation shield absorbs the sound energy from the singer on one side and partially eliminates room reflections on the other, thus providing a dry but natural sound.
- Pop filter
This accessory should not be missing in any studio. Pop filters block sounds produced by consonants that can generate unwanted noise due to buzzing in the microphone diaphragm, such as sounds produced mainly with the consonants 'p' and 't'. An anti-pop filter consists of a circular screen with a thin nylon braid, screwed onto the microphone stand and held at a distance of between 5 and 10 centimetres from the microphone itself. Using a pop filter is an inexpensive way to save time cleaning up your recorded tracks: very often peaks and distortions when recording vocals can't be corrected, even with extensive editing, so you can save time and 'secure' a take by eliminating the risk of spoiling it with hard-to-correct imperfections.
Some styles of vocals or instruments can move more air than necessary, and even when using a windscreen, it can be challenging to prevent this vibration from affecting the final quality of the recording. Windscreens consist of a spongy casing that is mounted directly over the microphone capsule, and as the name suggests, are the most effective method of reducing wind noise or hissing consonants during recording. Compared to the anti-pop filter, wind filters capture more frequencies, and because they are mounted directly on the body of the microphone, they are often used for outdoor recordings, especially for interviews.
- Microphone scissor arm stand
Essential for home studios where podcasting applications are required or for adding a large, heavy microphone to a table or fixed location, it is mounted to the table or bench via a clamp, allowing height adjustment. The scissor arm stand makes it easy to find the optimum position, thanks to its spring-loaded operation; its construction characteristics ensure both stability and minimise vibrations that could be transmitted to the microphone itself if accidentally bumped.
- Studio microphone stand
It may seem obvious to mention the classic microphone stand. Still, it should be remembered that many stands can support relatively lightweight microphones, as is the case with some dynamic microphones. Some large-diaphragm condenser microphones can weigh up to 1 kg, so it is necessary to use a microphone stand designed to support a heavyweight without causing unexpected falls or imbalances in positioning, especially when the microphone is placed at a considerable height.
- XLR-USB Adapter Home studios generally use audio interfaces, but sometimes you need to quickly connect a single microphone to an iPad or PC/Mac to make podcasts or record conversations, or simply to increase the portability of your recording media. There are adapters designed to convert any regular microphone into a USB microphone for excellent signal transfer quality.
- Desktop microphone stand
A tabletop microphone stand is very practical and convenient, and it's cheap too. Not only is it often used in podcasting microphone setups, but it is also useful for other purposes when, for example, you need to record instruments that are placed on the floor, such as percussion and drums, or in a mic a drum kit.
Different kinds of microphone for your set
Once we've talked about the main accessories that should be part of your microphone set, we'll give you a brief overview of the different types of microphones that you can find on the market to help you make your purchase decision.
- Dynamic microphone: widely used for stage vocals, it is very robust and can handle high sound pressure without distortion, so it is particularly suitable for noisy or poorly acoustic environments. Dynamic microphones usually have a low output impedance and do not need 48v phantom power, although they do need high input gain for flawless operation. These microphones are normally used as handheld microphones and often for use very close to the sound source.
- Piezoelectric microphone: glass or ceramic microphones are generally low-cost units that provide a high output voltage at high impedance, so the amplifier must provide a high input impedance. This type of microphone is at the lower end of the market, as it does not offer an extensive frequency response and, because of the high impedance, is not widely used. The high impedance level results in greater signal attenuation and worse noise immunity when long cable runs are used.
- Condenser microphone: it is used to pick up sound details on both vocals and instruments, being able to intercept ambient sounds, and requires 48v phantom power both to add deflection to the condenser and for the necessary preamplifier. Output impedance is generally low to allow the use of longer cables.
- Electret microphone: this is required for low-end microphone applications. It uses the same basic technique as the condenser microphone, except that the dielectric is made of a material that maintains a polarising voltage and therefore requires no external power supply.
- Ribbon microphone: In the past, this was the high-end solution for recording studios. Now it is no longer so popular, except for special applications. The output is low and therefore requires a preamplifier. The impedance is also minimal, meaning that the microphone must use an internal gain transformer to make the best of it.
- USB microphone: it uses a condenser insert, but incorporates a preamplifier, an analogue-to-digital converter, and it uses a USB interface to allow the output to be connected directly to a PC, where the sound can be recorded. These types of microphones offer an alternative solution to using an audio interface, which requires an XLR cable to connect the microphone. If you are looking for a Plug and Play option, you might want to consider this type of microphone.
- Wireless microphone: strictly speaking, this is not a different type of microphone technology, but a microphone with an integrated or external wireless module. Very useful in stage situations, where the presence of cables can be a problem, it is more prone to interference, as signal reflections can cause the signal level to drop below what is necessary for the system to function. A receiver is also required, thus increasing the purchase cost.
Microphone set: different types of directionality
The directivity of the microphone is an essential factor to consider. Most microphones used for vocal and PA applications feature a cardioid directional pattern, to pick up sound coming from the front while rejecting sound from the sides and back. The ability to eliminate the sound from the rear makes cardioid patterns handy in multi-microphone situations, where capturing a large amount of ambient sound is undesirable.
A super-cardioid polar pattern is more directional than a cardioid, and hyper-cardioid is even more so. Unlike cardioid, these two polar models have sensitive rear lobes, which pick up sound, making the positioning of these highly directional microphones more complicated. Omnidirectional microphones, on the other hand, pick up sound in all directions. All microphones, in theory, are omnidirectional, and further engineering is then applied to them to create directional polar patterns.
Specs to consider for your microphone set
Among the main variables to consider before purchasing your microphone recording set, don’t forget to consider impedance. Most microphones are low impedance and designed to work with a low impedance load. However, some microphones have a high impedance and twill need an amplifier with a suitably high input impedance, often around 1Ω (Ohm).
Frequency responseis another important parameter. If you plan to record instruments such as strings, which can be very wide in frequency but need a good high-frequency response, the overall response may have to be very wide, requiring a more expensive microphone. Vocals, on the other hand, need a good - but not excessive - frequency response. A microphone's frequency response chart will tell you a lot about which situations are appropriate for a given microphone and which are not. In theory, frequency response charts are generated after testing the microphones in an anechoic chamber.
The idea is to create a controlled atmosphere in which each microphone can be tested equally, so that the room is completely 'dead', with no sound reflection. The microphone is routed to a spectrum analyser which measures the output and produces a graph of the frequency response. The chart is usually in the range of 20Hz to 20kHz, which corresponds to the range of frequencies perceptible to human hearing.