Most of the best vlogs, videos and films all have one thing in common—great audio. The same is obviously true for podcasts. Greater sounding videos and other productions will undoubtedly feature excellent audio mixing and editing, often with audio plugins. But the single most vital ingredient in creating great audio for your production is having the right type of microphone.
Knowing your mic options will help you find the best one for your next project. Initially, you will most likely have only a single microphone for your production, but over time, you will find it handy to have several at your disposal. In addition, different microphones will give your audio recording more versatility, allowing you to adjust on the fly to different circumstances and conditions.
Before listing the types of microphones that work well for vlogging, podcasting and filmmaking, let’s briefly discuss how microphones work and their polar patterns, or “pickup patterns”. Once we understand how microphones capture sound in space, we’ll be ready to explore microphone types.
Condenser, dynamic and other mics
The 2 most common types of microphones are Condenser and Dynamic. Ribbon and Carbon microphones were also developed and used in the 20th century, and other mics exist, like the Piezoelectric. But for our purposes here, we will keep things focused on the condenser and dynamic mics.
A condenser mic is made of a lightweight diaphragm fixed to a case and suspended over a backplate. When soundwaves hit the diaphragm, it vibrates toward and away from the backplate, which transfers waves into electrical signals that are picked up by the mic’s electrical field. Condensers are known for capturing vocals and higher frequencies with great detail and accuracy.
By comparison, a dynamic mic features a magnet, coil and diaphragm. When sound waves vibrate the dynamic mic’s diaphragm, it vibrates the coil, which the magnetic field translates into electrical signals. Dynamic mics, which are usually larger and more rugged than condensers, are often used to record musical instruments, but they’re also frequently used to pick up the voices of television broadcasters.
Frequently asked questions
About DJ Pangburn
DJ Pangburn is a multimedia content designer with 12 years of experience in online and print publishing and is currently working for NEAR, an Open Web platform. He focuses on copywriting, editing, video production, and the occasional graphic design. DJ's work has appeared in publications like Vice, Fast Company, and Dazed, as well as on the brand websites of Polaroid, Ableton, and others. DJ is also an electronic musician who records and releases music under the name Northern Telekom.