Microphone lingo may sound quite complicated, but if you want to find exactly the right microphone for your purpose it’s worth learning the following terms.
Directional polar patterns. This refers to where the microphone picks up the sound. Different patterns are good for different purposes – for example bidirectional is good for interviews. If you’re going to use the microphone for many different things, it’s worth investing in one that can switch between different polar patterns.
Proximity effect sensitivity. This is about how evenly the microphone records sounds, based on how far away it is. It's important if you want to record podcasts, as you don’t want unevenly recorded sound due to not being as close to the microphone as each other during recording.
Frequency response. Measures how sensitive the microphone is to certain frequencies. The optimal frequency for podcasts isn’t the same as for recording songs, so it’s worth checking this range depending on how you’re going to use your microphone.
Some microphones are made to withstand more than others. For example, if you record in different places and travel with your microphone, it may be better to have a dynamic microphone as they’re often made from more durable materials.
Before purchasing a microphone, make sure you have the correct connectors on your computer. Many come with a USB connector, but XLR is also common. On many laptops, there is often only one audio socket, which is used for both headphones and microphones.