Only a trained ear can tell you how to get great and reliable equipment at excellent prices. Take a look at my recommended equipment, make your calculations, and choose the right gear for your budget.
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Recommended High-Quality Microphones
Why I recommend it: Neumann is a state-of-the-art brand in the best recording studios in the world since the 1940s. You can get superb quality recordings for all kinds of music projects (vocals, audiobook narration, game voice acting, voice-over narration, acoustic instruments). It’s a condenser cardioid pattern mic.
It is a big plus to mention on your personal webpage or online freelance gig pages that you use Neumann mics. Neumann has been a leading brand that other manufacturers have followed as a sample of perfection to make their own versions of condenser cardioid microphones.
Compared to the competition: Although Neumann is one of the elite brands in music production equipment, their microphone performance stands out immediately, leaving neither doubts nor regrets when purchasing them for your home recording studio.
Why I recommend it: The NT Series have provided great results at really affordable prices for music projects, vocals, and all sorts of acoustic or amplified instruments. It’s a very reliable condenser cardioid polar pattern, great for voice-over, audiobook narration, and game voice acting. Rode has been in the market for over 50 years.
Compared to the competition: The NT1-A comes with a very complete kit (SM6 shock mount and pop shield, a 20′ XLR cable, a microphone dust cover, and a useful training DVD). All this makes the NT1-A a very appealing bundle of excellent quality mic plus professional accessories.
Why I recommend it: This vintage-style microphone has proved that great quality is also available at an incredibly reasonable price. CAD Audio has been in the market since 1931, offering excellent performance and endurance audio gear. I highly recommend this mic for music vocals, voice-over, audiobook narration, game voice acting, acoustic instruments, and any instrument played through an amplifier.
Compared to the competition: The greatest feature you get with the M179 is that you get an infinite adjustable polar pattern, ranging from super-cardioid, cardioid, bidirectional figure-of-8, to omnidirectional patterns, by smoothly broadening or narrowing the sensitivity, allowing you to reach your own customizable pattern, something that has not been achieved by other manufacturers. It comes with a high-pass filter and a -20 dB attenuation pad. A super microphone you really need to have in your studio.
Why I recommend it: This is the latest released model of the famed Equiteq E line. It’s a super-cardioid condenser mic, with a much larger diagram than the CAD Audio M179 and a little attenuation between 6000 Hz to 8000 Hz, and 13000 Hz to 20 Hz, something that provides a great warm sound for audiobook narration, game voice acting, and voice-over narration. This characteristic can help reduce using De-Esser effects to correct unwanted S sounds.
Compared to the competition: It offers only a super-cardioid pattern, but the results are completely amazing. It also offers a high-pass filter and -20 dB attenuation pad to enable recordings of amplified instruments, to protect its valuable diagram. In conclusion: You can make an excellent job with a microphone that is under $400 rather than investing in other brands that offer those same features for more than $1,200.
Why I recommend it: The simplicity and low prices of USB microphones have made them a really appealing tool for voice-over products, podcasting, gaming, and YouTubing. This microphone has proved to be a top seller, and Logitech has achieved that by adding a built-in headphone input to the mic. Once it’s connected to the USB port, there is no delay at all, nor static noise, something that most gaming headsets do suffer from.
Compared to the competition: The Blue Yeti X USB Microphone for PC offers four polar patterns (cardioid, omnidirectional, bidirectional, and stereo). Other built-in options are the headphone volume, mute, and gain. Go ahead and take a look at all the details behind this great mic.
Vlogging, and YouTubing Lavalier Microphones
Why I recommend it: If you’re a vlogger, or YouTuber you need to get clear audio that you can clean and process to make it sound professional. This USB-C omnidirectional pattern microphone is a good choice for recording indoors and outdoors, and that means that you don’t depend on buying professional high-end gear, such as digital portable recorders, or an audio interface connected to a laptop.
All you need to do after you connect it to your smartphone is set up the right audio input levels in the video or audio recording app on your phone before you touch the recording red button, to avoid distorted or clipping sounds. Then you can edit your video, and apply a reverb remover (indoor settings) and noise remover plugin, as well as level the sound to get a professional result.
Compared to the competition: Boya offers a good quality product for a very affordable price, taking into account that you won’t need any other external devices to make it work. Other options (like the Rode GO) do require a portable wireless receiver or a separate digital recorder.
Film and TV Shotgun Microphones
Why I recommend it: This microphone is the number one choice of most voice-over artists, narrators, and game voice actors. It’s also a great tool for film and TV, for indoor and outdoor locations, as it can capture the voices with a clean and nice warm sound. It’s a super-cardioid condenser mic that provides a natural gentle boost at 4500 Hz to 15 Hz.
Compared to the competition: The outstanding reputation of the MKH 416 makes it a best-seller mic for film and TV. Do not hesitate to get it if it is on your budget. Film and TV mics are commonly used with portable digital recorders (take a look at my recommended options).
Why I recommend it: This mic is much lighter than the MKH 416 (only 76 gr) which makes it more comfortable to handle for the boom mic operator. It has a robust build in spite of being smaller than the same type of mics in other brands. You get really good sound and great quality in this super-cardioid mic.
Compared to the competition: If you need to stretch your budget, the Rode NTG5 is the best choice for indoor or outdoor locations. Also, many vloggers and YouTubers prefer using shotgun mics, as they provide really good results.