Microphone Buying Guide

4 June 2020

With more and more digital cameras and smartphones featuring high-resolution video recording, aspiring content-creators have turned their attention to the moving image. If you want to make sure the audio of your movies is as crystal clear as the visual components have a look at our microphone buying guide.

Do I need an external microphone?

Digital cameras and smartphones feature decent built-in microphones. If you are recording quick home movies that will only be seen by you and your family, this microphone will suffice, but if you want your work to appeal to a wider audience, you need an external microphone.

If you have been frustrated by inadequate sound levels or by your desired sound source being overshadowed by too much background noise, it is a good sign that you too need to investigate picking up a dedicated microphone to boost your production levels.

Dedicated microphones are must-haves when recording musical performance, where it is essential that you capture the details and intricacies of separate instruments, and for audio-only content, such as podcasts.

Microphone Buying GuideMicrophone Buying Guide

Understanding Microphone Technology

Microphone Buying GuideMicrophone Buying Guide

Once you have decided that an external microphone is the next step you need to take to improve your Vlogs or similar projects, it helps to have a basic understanding of the available technology and common jargon.

The first consideration when purchasing an external microphone is input type. Pro-level Video Cameras will often feature XLR inputs which are compatible with suitably high-end Microphone devices. More common is the 3.5mm jack that can be found on certain DSLR or Mirrorless cameras. 

If you are looking to improve the sound recording abilities of your smartphone, there are many TRRS compatible microphones on the market which are generally very portable, while if you are recording straight to your computer keep an eye out for plug and play USB models.

No matter what type of microphone you purchase, the way that it captures sound will place it into one of two camps, dynamic or condenser microphones. As a general rule, dynamic microphones are better suited to recording louder sounds, such as live music. Condenser microphones are more sensitive and often pick up more detail, rendering them more suitable to a studio environment.

Which microphone should I buy?

Now that you know a little bit more about microphone terminology, we can take a closer look at our most popular and favourite microphone models, and figure out which one is the best fit for you.

In recent times we have seen an increase in available smartphone accessories, which help them capture better quality photography, video and of course audio. Lavalier style microphones are commonly used by smartphone users, as their discrete and portable size make them ideal for content creation on the go. 

Mirrorless and DSLR users will find hotshoe-mounted microphones extremely useful. They match the size of interchangeable lens cameras, can be used hands-free and are well-positioned to capture the desired subjects with incredible accuracy. As you generally do not want large microphones appearing in your shot, shotgun-style microphones are popular amongst videographers, as they can be directed at chosen subjects, and they will pick up sound from this source with minimal distracting background noise captured.

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Whether you are recording voice overs to add to your vlogs or podcasting straight into your computer, a USB microphone is an obvious choice. These are simple to use, desk-friendly in size and sometimes come with pop-filters and stands so you are poised to capture the best quality audio out of the box. These microphones are also perfect for ensuring your voice is heard clearly during meetings while working remotely.

The best microphones in 2023

Shotgun Microphones

Shotgun microphones are highly directional, meaning they will only capture sound from the source that they are pointed at.

Lavalier Microphones

Lavalier microphones are extremely portable and lightweight, which makes them perfect for travel. They are otherwise known as lapel mics, as they can easily be clipped to lapels of jackets or shirt collars - this positions them well for picking up spoken words. Although discrete, they will be visible in your shot if you are using them for video.

Podcasting Microphones

With most podcasts being recordeed directly to a computer using audio capture software, USB microphones are the most straightforward choice. Generally these are plug and play, so they will not require any additional hardware. If you are using a microphone with an XLR output, you will need a separate mixer to connect this mic to your computer.

Stereo Microphones

Stereo microphones pick up a wider scope of sound than shotgun microphones, as they make use of two separate microphone elements. This allows them to record sound with a greater sense of space and perspective. While perfect for recording in an environment in which you would want to hear sound coming from each direction, such as a live band, they are not ideal for isolating voices from background chatter.

Start capturing better audio today

Nothing makes people skip past your content faster than muffled audio. Hopefully, this microphone buying guide saves your vlogs and podcasts from this fate. If you are looking for ways to improve your photography, video and content creation skills, stop by our blog regularly.

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