If you plan to record real audio in your home studio you’re going to need at least one microphone and probably more, depending on what you’re recording. Here are my suggestions for the five best low-cost microphones you’ll need to get started, with one or two bonus entries for good measure.
The Shure SM58
The Shure SM58 is well known to be the best loved stock microphone for live and recorded sound. You’ll be sure to find at lest one in every studio. I’ve had a couple of these on hand pretty much ever since I started recording and find them invaluable and very flexible. The are great for vocals (especially male) as well as amps, guitars and other sources too. These mics are very sturdy and also have an internal pop-filter and resistance to feedback.
*BONUS* The Shure SM57
The Shure SM57 actually has the same cartridge design as the SM58 but in a different casing. The SM57 doesn’t have the inbuilt pop-filter and is therefore less suitable for vocals but very much suited for recording amps and instruments. Both Shure mics are very commonly found in studios and live setups and each will be better for different applications, though much of that decision can be down to personal opinion.
The Behringer C-1
The Behringer C-1 is a very affordable large-diaphragm condenser mic. The quality is surprisingly good, considering the price. Although it won’t compete with the really high-end condenser mics it’s still very capable and is a great beginner’s mic. I’ve personally used mine for vocals and for recording acoustic guitar with pretty good results. The key is to experiment with placement as this is a very sensitive mic and small changes in position can drastically affect the tone. I found that it was great on the acoustic when aimed at the ground! But the best thing to do is to experiment yourself. Also, be aware that you will need phantom power for this microphone.
*BONUS* The Blue Spark
Though I’ve never used one myself, the Blue Spark has been recommended to me as a better alternative condenser mic. At the moment it looks to be about four times the price so if you’re on a tight budget you may want to go for the Behringer C-1 for now. If you’ve got a little more to spend it might be worth checking out though.
The Rode NT3
The Rode NT3 is a slightly more expensive, but still great value, condenser microphone which is recommended for use on percussion and drums where high-end is important (so not for your kick drum, we’ll come to that shortly).
If you fancy shelling out a little more then there’s also the Rode NTK valve mic comes highly recommended for warm sounding vocals.
The Samson C02 Matched Pair
I would recommend getting hold of a pair of Samson C02s, especially if you’re planning to record drums, but also for recording acoustic guitars. Having a matched pair allows you to record a stereo image in the case of drum overheads, or you can get creative with micing a guitar in different places to capture a variety of tones which you can blend together in the mix. Do be aware of possible phase issues, however.
The AKG D112
Finally your going to need a suitable mic for your kick drum. The AKG D112 is a low cost but high value large diaphragm dynamic microphone specifically for bass instruments. The AKG D112 mic comes highly recommended, especially considering the low price. Note that it can be used for other instruments that could benefit from that extra low end, not just kick drums.
*BONUS* The AKG C414
Okay, so this one isn’t exactly a beginners microphone, but I’ve decided to include the AKG C414 because it’s basically my dream mic. I don’t yet own one myself but I’ve used them in other studios and they are highly regarded as one of the best vocal mics available. One great feature is the ability to choose the pick-up pattern, which means you can use it in a variety of situations. But the bottom line is that this mic just sounds great. It is, however, not cheap. So maybe look out for a second hand one? (Let me know if you see one for a good price. I really really want one!).
That’s all for now…
Thanks for checking out my list of microphones for your new home studio. I hope that you’ve found the information here useful. Please do feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments below or via the contact form. Please also give the DIY Music Facebook page a ‘like’ and follow me on Twitter to keep up to date with my latest posts, articles and tutorials.