You Should Have
I am often asked, "Which home recording mics are needed for the home music studio?" My purpose in this post is to answer that question. I am going to focus more on the types of mics I believe every home studio should have. If you would like some specific microphone recommendations please check out the Tool Box page. I will also mention a few mics that I often use myself.
As we begin it is important to realize that my perspective here is based on affordability and performance. I've said this before but it's worth repeating. There is no magic bullet when it comes to home recording mics. Every room, singer, performance, and setup could certainly benefit from the best mic selection.
The truth is though, many home music studio enthusiast are working within limited budgets. For this reason you may not have 10 home recording mics to choose from when laying down your tracks. With this in mind I do believe there are 3 types of home recording mics that will prove to be the workhorses in almost every project you record.
Large Diaphragm Studio Condensers
Large diaphragm studio condensers have never been more affordable. Now days you can get your hands on some really great mics for under that $100 mark. Large diaphragm condensers tend to be more precise in their pickup. To capture that articulate and smooth vocal line, this type of mic often works best.
When it comes to home recording mics, the large diaphragm studio condenser is one of the most versatile as well. These mics work great for most vocals but also on many instruments. I've used my ADK A-51 on vocals, percussion, acoustic guitar, and even as a drum overhead. A good Large diaphragm studio condenser is 1 of the 3 home recording mics you should most certainly have.
Small Diaphragm Condensers
This type of mic is also extremely versatile. Having a good home recording mic in this category will also give you several options to cut your tracks. Many small diaphragm condensers work well on cymbals, acoustic instruments, and even guitar cabinets.
This type of mic tends to handle a bit more sound pressure before clipping than its larger cousin. However, both the large and small diaphragm condensers have many similar uses but each with its own unique sound. I personally use my Shure Sm137 for acoustic, cymbals, drums overheads, and even recording the podcast.
The last type of home recording mics is a dynamic microphone. In this class the top 2 I personally reach for are my Shure Sm58 and the Sm57. I tend to use dynamic mics for more aggressive applications. Acoustic drums with snare, toms, and kick are all great applications for a good dynamic mic.
Dynamic microphones tend to pick up much less background noise from their surroundings. This can come in very handy for many applications in the home studio. In reality there are many types of dynamic mics tailored for different applications.
I would note here that having a dynamic mic with a low frequency response is best for kick drum and micing bass guitar cabinets. One that comes to mind is the Shure Pg52 which sells for around $115. The PG52 Certainly would be a great buy if you're looking for an affordable mic to handle the low-end.
Every home music studio should have a least 1 good dynamic mic, in my opinion. Adding another with a low frequency response may also be best suited, depending on your needs.
Lastly, let me say that I'm not suggesting that there aren't other great affordable mics out there. For this reason I'd love to hear your thoughts. It would be great to hear what types of mics you are currently recording with. Please add your comments to the section below.