Before making your purchase decision, it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll need to have an idea of what you want out of your microphone before you start shopping. The most important things to keep in mind are:
Dynamic or condenser? This is usually a matter of personal preference, but podcasters need to have an idea of what sort of sound quality they want. Dynamic sound can be more focused, but it usually has a warmer quality. Condenser mics are bright and clear, but they can also pick up more ambient noise. It’s all about finding the tone that you want.
Get started with podcasting with our recommendations on microphones.
Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone
Made for commercial broadcast, live sound, and more sophisticated recording projects, the Heil PR 40bills itself as outperforming most condenser mics through its wide frequency range.
Heil microphones, in general, have a strong reputation for quality and performance, dating back more than 25 years. Reviewers of this mic note that it’s reliable (some cheaper mic varieties may have dropouts or glitches) and offers incredible side and rear rejection.
The sound, for seasoned podcasters, is a perfect blend of bright and rich but still soft and controlled. Think liquid velvet. It’s amazing. The end-fire pickup is a serious crowd-pleaser, delighting podcasters, vocalists, and broadcasters alike.
SONTRONICS SIGMA ribbon microphone
Sontronics’ SIGMA phantom-powered ribbon microphone is one of our most popular products thanks to its incredible performance and value for money.
Ribbon microphones are renowned for their smooth, uncoloured audio characteristics but most are ‘passive’ which means they have a transformer-based output, making it difficult to achieve consistency when using different preamps. SIGMA, however, is phantom-powered and operates just like any other Sontronics condenser mic, allowing you to plug and play with practically any preamp. You simply connect the microphone to any source supplying 48V phantom power and away you go.
“SIGMA captures performances with a special warmth
and vibe that only vintage ribbons do.
It is the new vintage standard!”
MICHAEL ‘FISH’ HERRING, ARTIST/PRODUCER (Prince, Cristina Aguilera, 2Pac, Mariah Carey)
SIGMA’s sensitivity is high and its low self-noise figure is simply amazing for a ribbon microphone, making it suitable for even the most subtle of sources. It excels at reproducing signals with a high-frequency bias (such as solo woodwind and stringed instruments), resulting in an extremely pleasing, natural sound.
It can also be used on sung or spoken vocal to achieve some incredible results. As always, if you’re accustomed to using condenser microphones on voice, it will take your ears some time to get used to the results of a ribbon mic, but once you do, you and your SIGMA will create incredibly intimate, clear and honest recordings.
“SIGMA is lovely… it’s so solid and feels like
a classic from the Motown era.
Such warm, well rounded response too”
ALAIN JOHANNES, PRODUCER (No Doubt, Queens of the Stone Age, Chris Cornell)
RODE NT1-A Condenser Microphone
The RODE NT1-Aand its abilities are well-respected by recording studios, TV post-production teams, professional podcasters, and musicians.
- Large 1”capsule with gold plated diaphragm wide frequency response and excellent signal-to-noise ratio
- A cardioid polar pattern that minimizes off-axis noises, blocking out environmental disruptions, monitors, or off-axis instruments
- Quiet, noise-free output with maximum signal gain using a transformerless output
- Internal capsul shock mounting
It uses standard XLR for power and when registered with RODE, includes a 10-year warranty. If you’re looking for a mic that can handle more sophisticated projects while giving you purely professional sound, this $369 wonder is a must-try.
The RNT: A new flagship tube microphone
Electronics and Rupert Neve Designs®.
Delivers the pristine, musical sonic character and uncompromising performance of the world’s most prized recording equipment.
The RNT is the third microphone in the collaboration between sE Electronics and Rupert Neve Designs, founded by the legendary audio designer Mr. Rupert Neve.
Much like the RNR1 Active Ribbonand RN17 Small-Diaphragm Condenser, the RNT is something truly special, developed over several years of careful listening and measurement by Mr. Rupert Neve, Mr. Siwei Zou, and the engineering teams from both Rupert Neve Designs and sE Electronics.
All in all, this new flagship tube microphone brings the larger-than-life sounds of classic studio microphones into the modern age with greater depth and clarity than ever before.
The RNT utilizes fully discrete, Class-A electronics throughout both of its active stages.
The first stage is tube-based, with a hand-selected, low-noise ECC82 tube within the microphone chassis, and implementing a custom-built Rupert Neve Designs output transformer.
The second stage is within the floor box– which controls polar pattern, filter and gain switching – and is also coupled with a second custom-made Rupert Neve Designs output transformer.
This second stage is is built around the same custom op-amps used in Rupert Neve Designs’ flagship 5088 recording console, known worldwide for its unrivaled transparency and headroom.
The custom handcrafted large-diaphragm true condenser capsule is the finest capsule sE has ever made, born from years of rigorous testing and listening, and developed and constructed by hand in sE’s own factory.The Class-A electronics and switchable gain ensure a massive dynamic range, with high sound pressure level (SPL) handling capability and extremely low-noise components, and the switchable low-cut filters eliminate rumble or footfall noise, and can also compensate for an excess of bass frequencies caused by the proximity effect.
This enables the RNT to close-mic many instruments including electric guitar speaker cabinets, brass instruments and drums.
Lastly, the 9-position polar pattern switch allows for omnidirectional, cardioid, and figure-eight pickup patterns (plus several positions in between each) for precise tailoring of the balance between direct and ambient sound when recording with the RNT
Audio-Technica AT2020USB Cardioid Condenser USB
Audio-Technica AT2020 USB Micis compatible with both Windows and Mac, this USB condenser mic is a popular pick for podcasting, especially when you take into consideration the sound quality for the price (just $129.00).
- A custom-engineered low-mass diaphragm for extended frequency response and superior transient response
- Cardioid polar pattern to reduce pickup of sounds from sides and rear
Because it’s USB-powered, this podcasting mic is great for the casual or beginner podcaster – just plug in to your laptop and you’re ready to go. Reviewers note frequently that they love the easy-to-use design, the portability, and the price, as many good quality condenser mics clock in at around $300+. This is a great pick for podcasting, but it can also be used for voiceover, digital recording, music, or field uses (an interviewer’s best friend!). Includes tripod desk, stand, pivoting stand mount, USB cable, and storage pouch.
Earthworks SV33 studio vocal mic
Earthworks have launched a brand new flagship studio vocal microphone, the SV33, at the AES Convention in New York. The SV33 is a front-address cardioid condenser microphone featuring hand-tuned circuitry paired with a 14mm capsule. Earthworks claim this delivers the warmth of a large diaphragm capsule but with the detail that Earthworks are known for.
The new mic incorporates Earthworks’ patented polar technology, the SV33 delivers a near-perfect cardioid polar pattern that is consistent up to 80 degrees off-axis, claim its makers. The idea is that this allows the singer to move freely in front of the microphone without sacrificing timbre or level. The microphone also has very low handling noise and a built in windscreen to minimise plosives.
In addition, Earthworks say that the SV33 excels at rejecting unwanted sounds at the rear of the microphone, while any sounds that do come in off-axis sound natural and uncoloured.
The SV33 boasts a frequency response of 30Hz to 33kHz ±2dB at 5 inches with self-noise of 15dBA, yielding a 79dB S/N ratio. While its maximum acoustic input level is 145dB SPL.
Every SV33 is individually handmade in the company’s New Hampshire, USA headquarters and is housed in an elegant aluminium body with Nextel® Dark Black plating for low reflectivity and durability. The SV33 comes with a flexible mounting bracket for attaching the microphone to booms or stands. Each microphone comes in a custom designed carrying case to protect the SV33.
The SV33 Studio Vocal Microphone will be available in December 2017 with a U.S. street price of $2,399.00.
New Microphone Technology
Designed for professional studio and home recording applications, Sony’s three new ultra-compact High-Resolution microphones build on Sony’s legendary studio microphone heritage and continue its recent development of Hi-Res audio products.
The new Hi-Res models include a side address mic, C-100, optimized for vocal use, and two end address “pencil” models (one cardioid: ECM-100U and one omnidirectional: ECM-100N), both ideal for instruments. With a body structure that prevents acoustic vibration, a high-frequency response up to 50kHz and high sensitivity, the new microphones are designed to offer unrivaled sound quality.
C-100 Hi-Res Mic (Side Address) – for Vocal Applications
- Supports Hi-Res recording (?50kHz) in an ultra-compact package
- Two-way structure incorporates newly developed capsules with variable directivity that deliver a wide frequency response of 20Hz to 50kHz
- Selectable pick-up pattern (Omni/Uni/Bi) supports a wide variety of recording applications
- Two-part metallic body structure succeeded from the C-800G microphone prevents acoustic vibration resulting in low noise and clear sound
- Low-cut filter eliminates low-frequency noise and proximity effect
- -10dB pad switch provides added headroom
ECM-100U and ECM-100N Hi-Res Mic (End Address) – for Instrument Applications
- Ultra-compact with a choice of two models: Uni-directional (ECM-100U) or Omni-directional (ECM-100N)
- Flat and wide frequency response (20Hz to 50kHz) ideally suited for Hi-Res recording
- Low-cut filter eliminates low-frequency noise and proximity effect
- -10dB pad switch provides added headroom
Manley Silver Microphone
Manley Labs introduces the Manley Reference Silver Microphone. Featuring an American built capsule by David Josephson and a Manley designed circuit, this microphone has a warm and rich tone.
The Manley Reference Silver Microphone offers a mechanical selector on the rear of the head basket that is switchable between cardioid and omni pick-up patterns. Boasting a mic grade 5670 vacuum tube, Manley IRON® transformers, and a low-noise switch mode power supply, the Manley Reference Silver Microphone is a studio workhorse.
This microphone is at home in-front of instruments that range from female vocalists, to saxophones, from drum overheads to banjos. Use the Manley Reference Silver Microphone where you might be thinking about a ribbon, and use it with confidence!
Lewitt LCT540 Subzero
Austrian microphone maker Lewitt have been showing off their latest flagship: the single-pattern large-diaphragm condenser LCT 540 SUBZERO.
The mic features a premium-quality capsule, together with some very clever circuit design, dropping the electrical self-noise —allegedly — to -1 dB (A) at a sensitivity of 41 mV/Pa, -28 dBV/Pa, increasing the dynamic range to 132 dB (A).
Head of Product Management Moritz Lochner explains: “Everybody thinks 0 dB SPL is the hearing threshold, but that’s in fact only true at 2 kHz. At this point, the LCT 540 SUBZERO actually has self-noise of below -7 dB SPL – hence the name. The acoustic self-noise of 4 dB (A) is caused by random molecules bouncing against the diaphragm. But that’s a cumulative value; if you look at self-noise across the full frequency spectrum, you’ll see that the LCT 540 SUBZERO is all the way below the hearing threshold. It’s literally better than your ears. Describing something frequency-dependent in one single value is nowhere near detailed enough at this level of engineering. We even went and redesigned our self-noise measuring equipment especially for this microphone. To make a long story short: if you want to capture everything without ANY compromise, you’ll need to get an LCT 540 SUBZERO – because ultimately, it’s the details that turn a good recording into something magical.”
The initial small batch of microphones will be available within the next couple of weeks, with final roll-out planned for January 2018. Lewitt is aiming for a very competitive price point, so a street price well below $1,000 is expected.
Josephson now shipping C725 hybrid tube mic
After more than five years of development and testing with critical recording engineers in Europe and the USA, Josephson Engineering is now shipping the C725 hybrid vacuum-tube microphone — their first production model to use a vacuum tube. Designed and manufactured in their facility in Santa Cruz, California, the C725 is a new twist on an old challenge: how to get a compelling studio sound pickup in a reliable and flexible package, that can be maintained with currently available components.
Engineers want the ‘smooth’ and ‘warm’ tube sound without loss of detail, and with precise capture of subtle musical nuances. However, designers have been faced with obstacles of tube selection, noise and reliability using traditional circuits. Now the company have developed a circuit using the cascode topology already used in most of their other mics, but with an FET and a tube doing the work rather than two FETs as with other models. The capsule, which is the same dual-diaphragm multi-chamber design used in the C700 and C716, is manufactured in-house.
One of the major contributors to harshness and high-frequency artifacts that detract from the smoothness of a microphone is the set of reflections inside the microphone grille, say Josephson, which for many large-diaphragm mics results in resonances in the sibilance range. To combat this, Josephson Engineering have developed and patented an aluminium foam grille that’s fused to the microphone housing and then machined as one continuous piece of metal. Because the structure is random, there’s no concentration of reflections in a narrow frequency band. They claim that the grille’s influence on microphone sound is greatly diminished — sibilance is not boosted, off-axis pickup is not compromised, and an absence of concentrated high Q resonances means the microphone can “take EQ well,” say its makers.
The Josephson C725 power supply features a ‘sun’ and ‘moon’ control to switch between hotter and more neutral sound characters.
The circuit inside the microphone uses a FET and a vacuum tube in cascode configuration, and a custom nickel-core output transformer. This allows the low noise of the FET to be combined with the dynamic characteristics of the tube. This, say Josephson, is like having two different microphones in one. A ‘sun’ mode provides full gain with noticeable tube character, while the ‘moon’ mode is designed to be a little cooler, with less gain, a higher overload point and a more neutral sound. The mic is furnished with a dedicated power supply that operates from 100-130 or 220-250 VAC. Two stages of heater regulation are provided so the tube has a constant operating point even with extended mic cables. Meanwhile, polar pattern and sun/moon mode switches live on the power supply front panel.
Concurrent with the release of the C725 microphone, Josephson Engineering have announced that Liverpool headquartered Studiocare Professional Audio has been appointed as an authorized dealer in the UK. David Josephson reports, “…when I first met Richard Threlfall and Rick Whalley, I was impressed by their understanding of microphone technology and the high level of customer service they offer at Studiocare.” Studiocare has acquired the first C725 in the UK and it’s now part of their extensive demonstration and hire inventory for demanding engineers to evaluate and add to their arsenal of tools. The C725 is available now, priced at $8,800.