The 6 Different Types of Microphones for Your Perfect Studio

Different types of microphones

In the ever-evolving world of audio technology, understanding the different types of microphones and their unique capabilities is crucial.

Whether you’re a seasoned audio engineer, a budding musician, or simply an enthusiast looking to capture high-quality sound, selecting the right microphone can make all the difference.

In this blog, you can explore a plethora of options available, from dynamic microphones to condenser microphones, and from ribbon mics to shotgun mics, thereby making you aware of what might be suitable for you and fulfill the purpose.

Understanding Microphone Polar Patterns

Microphone polar patterns define how microphones pick up sound, with each pattern offering distinct characteristics that make it suitable for various recording scenarios.

Understanding these patterns is crucial for choosing the right type of microphone for your specific needs.

Six Polar Patterns

  1. Cardioid: This heart-shaped pattern captures sound primarily from the front of the microphone, offering excellent isolation from unwanted background noise. It’s ideal for vocals and instruments that need to be recorded in a controlled manner.
  2. Supercardioid: Similar to the cardioid but with a tighter front pickup and some rear pickup. It’s great for isolating sound sources in environments with some ambient noise.
  3. Hypercardioid: Even narrower than supercardioid, with more sensitivity at the rear. This pattern is used when maximum isolation from the sides is required, but there’s tolerance for some rear noise.
  4. Omnidirectional: Picks up sound equally from all directions. Omnidirectional mics are perfect for capturing the ambiance of a recording space or recording a group of instruments or voices together.
  5. Figure-Eight (Bidirectional): Captures sound equally from the front and back while rejecting sounds from the sides. This pattern is ideal for recording two sound sources simultaneously, like a duet or two instruments facing each other.
  6. Shotgun (Lobar): Offers an extremely tight and highly directional pickup pattern. It’s primarily used in film and television production to capture dialogue or sound effects from a distance, minimizing the capture of ambient noise.

Each polar pattern has its unique applications, from recording in studio environments to capturing live performances or ambient soundscapes.

By understanding the characteristics of these patterns, audio engineers and enthusiasts can make more informed decisions to achieve the best possible recording outcomes for their specific projects.

Understanding Types of Microphone

Different types of microphones

1) Dynamic Microphones

Dynamic microphones are renowned for their ruggedness and versatility. Ideal for capturing loud sound sources such as guitar amplifiers, snare drums, and live vocals, they can withstand high sound pressure levels without distortion.

These types of microphones are distinguished by their large and small diaphragm variants, each tailored for specific applications—large diaphragm dynamic microphones offer a fuller sound ideal for vocal performances, while small diaphragm dynamic microphones provide a more accurate representation of acoustic instruments.

  • Pros:
    • They’re highly durable, ideal for touring and live use.
    • Excellent for capturing loud sounds without distortion.
  • Cons:
    • Less sensitive to subtle nuances compared to condenser microphones.
    • Might not capture the full range of frequencies as accurately as other mic types.

The Best Dynamic Microphones

  • Shure SM58: This dynamic microphone is an industry standard for live vocals due to its rugged construction, reliable performance, and ability to handle high sound pressure levels without distortion. It’s known for its clear vocal reproduction and is a staple in live music venues around the world.
  • Sennheiser MD 421: Highly versatile and renowned for its full-bodied sound and clarity, the MD 421 is an excellent dynamic microphone for recording drums, guitar amplifiers, and vocals. Its five-position bass roll-off switch and effective feedback rejection make it a favorite among sound engineers for both studio and live settings.
  • Shure SM7B: A favorite for vocal recordings in studio settings, including radio and podcasting, due to its smooth, flat, wide-range frequency response appropriate for both music and speech. It features excellent shielding against electromagnetic hum and a built-in pop filter to reduce plosives.
  • Heil Sound PR 40: Offers a broad frequency response and excellent rear rejection, making it suitable for capturing kick drums, guitar amps, and vocals with clarity and detail. It’s also a popular choice for podcasters and broadcasters looking for professional-grade sound quality.

2) Ribbon Microphones

Different types of microphones

Ribbon microphones, with their vintage allure and figure-eight polar pattern, excel in capturing the warmth and depth of sound, making them favorites for recording acoustic guitars, brass instruments, and vocals with a classic touch.

Their delicate ribbon elements respond to the velocity of air molecules, resulting in a smooth, natural sound that’s hard to achieve with other microphone types.

  • Pros:
    • Ribbon microphones delivers warm and natural sound, excellent for vocals and string instruments.
    • These types of microphones are exceptional at capturing ambient noise and nuances in a mix.
  • Cons:
    • Ribbon Microphones do have a fragile design that requires careful handling.
    • Higher price point and might require a specific preamp for optimal performance.

The Best Ribbon Microphones

  • Royer R-121: This ribbon microphones are favorite among engineers for miking electric guitars and brass instruments, known for its warm, realistic sound.
  • AEA R84: AEA’s ribbon microphones are versatile and easy to use, with a classic sound that works well on vocals, acoustic instruments, and guitar cabinets.
  • Beyerdynamic M160: This ribbon microphone has a double ribbon design, offering a warm, natural sound. Ideal for strings, overheads, and even vocal applications.

3) Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones

Different types of microphones

Large diaphragm condenser microphones are distinguished by their expansive diaphragm size, typically greater than one inch in diameter, which enables them to capture sound waves with a level of warmth and precision unmatched by other types.

Their sensitivity to sound pressure levels and the nuanced timbre of acoustic guitars, piano, and vocal performances make them a staple in recording studios worldwide.

Large diaphragm condenser mics are incredibly versatile due to their adjustable polar patterns like cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-eight. They’re perfect for various recording needs, from close-up vocals to group recordings, ensuring clear sound in any situation.

  • Pros:
    • These types of microphones offer a rich, warm sound ideal for vocals, providing a “larger-than-life” quality.
    • Excellent sensitivity to capture a wide range of frequencies and dynamics.
  • Cons:
    • Can be susceptible to handling noise and requires a shock mount for stability.
    • Typically more expensive than dynamic mics, making them a significant investment.

The Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones

  • Neumann U87: A legendary studio microphone known for its warm sound and versatility. Widely used for vocals, acoustic instruments, and room mic applications.
  • Audio-Technica AT4040: This large diaphragm condenser microphone offers a great balance of price and performance, with a wide dynamic range and low noise. Ideal for studio and live applications.
  • AKG C414 XLII: This microphone is versatile and known for its detailed sound with nine selectable pickup patterns. Great for vocals, acoustic instruments, and overhead drum miking.

4) Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones

Small diaphragm condenser microphones boast a swift transient response, perfect for capturing the rapid nuances of acoustic guitars, orchestral instruments, and percussion with remarkable precision.

Their consistent pickup pattern across frequencies ensures a balanced representation of the sound field, ideal for stereo recording techniques like XY, ORTF, and spaced pair setups, where preserving the spatial relationship between sound sources is paramount.

These microphones offer unparalleled clarity and accuracy, making them indispensable tools for capturing detailed audio in various recording scenarios.

Whether you’re tracking intricate instrumental performances or creating immersive stereo soundscapes, small diaphragm condensers deliver the fidelity and reliability needed for professional-grade recordings.

  • Pros:
    • Highly accurate and consistent, offering a flat frequency response.
    • Excellent transient response, ideal for capturing fast-moving sound sources like acoustic guitars.
  • Cons:
    • These types of microphones may lack the warmth provided by large diaphragm mics for vocal recordings.
    • Requires careful placement to capture the best sound, as they are highly sensitive to positioning.

The Best Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones

  • Shure SM81: A classic choice for acoustic guitar, overhead drum miking, and piano due to its flat frequency response and reliability.
  • Neumann KM 184: This small diaphragm condenser microphone is known for its clarity and ability to capture the nuance of orchestral instruments, acoustic guitars, and drums.
  • Rode NT5: This microphone offers a compact and durable design with a full frequency response. Suitable for studio and live settings, especially for drum overheads and acoustic instruments.

5) Shotgun Microphones

Shotgun microphones are renowned for their highly directional pickup pattern, making them perfect for honing in on specific sound sources amidst noisy environments.

In film and broadcast settings, where capturing clear dialogue from a distance is paramount, these microphones are indispensable.

Their exceptional ability to isolate the desired sound source from ambient noise guarantees recordings that are consistently clear and focused, meeting the rigorous demands of professional audio production.

The Best Shotgun Microphones

  • Sennheiser MKH 416: A compact shotgun mic that offers excellent directivity and a balanced sound, ideal for film, radio, and television.
  • Rode NTG3: This microphone features low handling noise and is weather-resistant, making it a great choice for outdoor shooting.
  • Audio-Technica AT897: A budget-friendly option that doesn’t compromise on quality, suitable for indie filmmakers and content creators.

6) USB Microphones

In the era of digital content creation, USB microphones stand out for their convenience and ease of use.

Connecting directly to a computer or tablet, they are perfect for podcasting, voice-over work, and home recording.

With built-in audio interfaces, these types of microphones provide a simple, all-in-one solution for capturing high-quality audio without the need for additional gear.

The Best USB Microphones

  • Blue Yeti: Popular for podcasting, streaming, and home recording, offering multiple pattern selections (cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional, stereo) for versatility.
  • Audio-Technica AT2020USB+: This USB microphone provides studio-quality articulation and intelligibility, perfect for home studio recording, field recording, and voiceover use.
  • Rode NT-USB Mini: It Offers studio-quality recording with easy setup, ideal for podcasters, gamers, and musicians working from home.

While understanding different types of microphones is crucial for capturing great audio, choosing the right type of headphones, such as open and closed back headphones, is equally important for monitoring sound during recording sessions and to fully immerse yourself in audio editing or during recording sessions, proper equipment like noise cancelling headphones can make a significant difference by filtering out the distracting background noise and allowing sound technicians to focus on the finer details.

Microphone Techniques and Accessories

Stereo Recording and Phantom Power

  • Stereo Recording: These types of microphones capture a more immersive sound field, ideal for live performances and ambient sound.
  • Phantom Power: Necessary for most condenser microphones, it’s supplied by audio interfaces or mixing consoles.

Cardioid Patterns and Beyond

  • Cardioid Mic: These types of microphones offer a heart-shaped pattern that’s great for isolating sound sources and reducing pickup from the sides and rear.
  • Omnidirectional Mics: Capture sound evenly from all directions, perfect for capturing a natural ambiance.

What Type of Microphone Is Best for You?

Different types of microphones

The choice of microphone largely depends on the specific requirements of your recording environment and the sound you aim to capture:

  • For Vocals: A large diaphragm condenser microphone is typically the best choice for studio recordings, offering the sensitivity needed to capture the full range of the human voice. For live performances, dynamic microphones provide the durability and feedback rejection necessary on stage.
  • For Acoustic Instruments: Small diaphragm condenser microphones are preferred for their accurate response and ability to capture the intricate details of instruments like acoustic guitars, violins, and pianos.
  • For Loud Instruments and Amplifiers: Dynamic microphones are favored for their ability to handle high sound pressure levels, making them ideal for miking guitar amps, drums, and brass instruments.
  • For Field Recording and On-Location Shoots: Shotgun microphones are invaluable for their directional pickup pattern, allowing for clear audio capture in noisy environments.
  • For Home Studios and Podcasting: USB microphones offer a plug-and-play solution that combines ease of use with quality audio capture, making them perfect for podcasters and content creators working from home.

While we’re discussing different types of microphones and their applications, it’s fascinating to see how they contribute to various music genres. For instance, in Lo-Fi music, a genre celebrated for its mellow, nostalgic sound, the choice of microphone can significantly affect the warmth and intimacy of the recording.


The quest for the perfect microphone setup is a journey through sound waves, electrical signals, and a countless microphone types and techniques. From the robust dynamic microphone to the sensitive condenser mic, and from the vintage charm of ribbon mics to the modern convenience of USB microphones, understanding the nuances of each type ensures you capture the sound source with clarity and detail.

Whether you’re recording in a professional studio, capturing live vocals, or simply experimenting with acoustic guitar in your home studio, the right types of microphones can elevate your audio experience.

Remember, the best type of microphone is not just about the price or the brand; it’s about finding the right tool that resonates with your voice, instruments, and recording environments, unlocking new dimensions of sound and creativity.
To dive deeper into the world of high-quality audio and to discover the ideal microphone for your needs, be sure to visit SoundHub, a platform dedicated to helping you achieve the best sound possible.

Just like there are various types of microphones tailored for different needs, headphone drivers, which is one of the important components in a headphone, also play a vital role in enhancing your audio journey. This fantastic article delves into the world of sound and audio, which would be your ticket to leveling up your knowledge and taking a step closer to becoming a true sound-audio expert!


1) What are the 4 types of microphones?

The four main types of microphones are dynamic, condenser, ribbon, and USB microphones.

2) What types of microphones are used for singing?

For singing, the most popular types of microphones are dynamic, condenser, and sometimes ribbon microphones.

3) What types of microphones are used for filming?

For filming, the primary types of microphones used are shotgun, lavalier, condenser, and sometimes dynamic microphones.