Application, environment and sound. This article shows you how to use these criteria to find the best microphone for you.

The first important criterion to choose a suitable microphone is the application. Are you speaking, singing or playing an instrument? Dynamic microphones are generally preferred for loud voices, amplified guitars or drums. Condenser microphones provide a more natural, detailed sound and are therefore the better choice for acoustic instruments such as guitars, brass and overheads with drums or delicate voices.

Especially in studios a more natural sound reproduction is desired, which makes the condensers more suitable in recording applications. If a condenser microphone is your first choice, remember that your mixer must be able to supply phantom power to the microphone or you need to buy a condenser microphone that uses batteries to supply the condenser element power.

Will the microphone be used on stage, in a conference room or in a recording studio? The usage environment influences the directionality of a microphone. Omnidirectional microphones provide the most natural sound reproduction. However, they are the most sensitive to feedback. They are best suitable for recording or presentations where small PAs are used.

On stages with loud PA and monitoring systems, you will not find omnidirectional microphones but cardioids or supercardioids. Through picking up the sound from the front and isolating unwanted off-axis sound and ambient noise, these unidirectional microphones minimize feedback.

Depending on the use of the microphone and the environment it is used in, a flat or tailored frequency response may be the better choice. A microphone with a tailored frequency response (e.g. the PGA58, SM58, Beta 58A) cuts through the mix without the need to adjust the mixer.

If it is desired to reproduce a sound source without changing or coloring, a flat frequency response (e.g. PGA81, KSM137) is the better choice. In studios you will mostly find microphones with a flat frequency response.