Home Recording Basic Microphone Setup - dummies

By Jeff Strong

A basic microphone setup consists of a couple of dynamic microphones for drums, guitar amps, or other loud instruments and a decent large-diaphragm condenser microphone for vocals or other acoustic instruments.

Dynamic microphones

A Shure SM57 is hands down the best choice for your first dynamic microphone. This is a great dynamic microphone for very little money — about $80. This microphone works well for miking amps and drums and the occasional gritty vocal. Everyone should have at least one of these microphones .

Large-diaphragm condenser microphones

Your choice here depends on your voice and the acoustic sound that you’re looking for. For economical options, you should check out the following microphones:

  • Studio Projects B1: This inexpensive microphone is a good choice for your first large-diaphragm condenser mic. You can find one for about $80.

  • MXL 990: This microphone has a slightly different sound than the Studio Projects B1 and costs about the same ($70 to $80). Buy the microphone that sounds better to you.

  • MXL V63M: This microphone is a step up from the MXL 990 — its street price is about $100 — and you may like this one better than its less expensive brother. Again, only buy the more expensive microphone if you think it sounds better.

  • Blue Spark: This microphone is more expensive than the previous three — about $200 — but it’s several steps up from the others and worth an audition. Blue makes some awesome microphones, and this is one of their least expensive ones.

  • Audio Technica AT3035: This microphone is about the same price as the Blue (about $200), but if you can afford it, check it out because it has a different flavor (sound) than the Blue Spark. Some people prefer the sound of this microphone over that of the other microphones.

A large-diaphragm condenser microphone is the first condenser microphone for most home recordists. These good all-around microphones can work well for a lot of applications.