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The best microphone of 2019

By PriceRunner Updated 02/14/2019

We have tested microphones and name Blue Microphones Yeti as best in test. This table microphone has a high sound quality and many functions which makes it suitable for a wide range of uses, for example podcasts, twitch streaming or for the recording studio. The design is user-friendly and it's easy to get started.

How the test was made

We carry out all of our tests ourselves and test all products in real conditions. We tested the microphones in their intended environments. If the microphone is intended for home studios, we have created such an environment. If the microphone is intended to be portable, we have used it in the type of environments it is meant for. All microphones have been connected as stated in the user manual, and have been tested with several different types of technical equipment to ensure that any faults aren't related to aspects such as the computer used in the test.

We have focused on the following aspects.

  • Sound: How good is the sound quality of the recorded material? Is there any noise? How natural is the sound? How clean is the sound? Is the sound well balanced? How well does the directional sensitivity work when we move around the microphone? How much environmental noise is picked up?

  • Build quality: How well built is the microphone? Are there parts that give off noises? If there are controls, can they be altered during recording without them giving off noise? Do the controls move smoothly? Is the microphone stable?

  • Functionality: Are there any functions in addition to the microphone's primary ones? If so, how does it perform? Does it include any software? If so, how user-friendly is it and what possibilities does it provide?

Beyond these factors, we have also taken into account user-friendliness, the manual and guarantee. Finally, we have compared all of these aspects with the price of the test product and allocated a score on the basis of value for money.

Microphone

You can find microphones as both freestanding units and built into products within a number of different use areas - everything from hearing aids to surveillance cameras. The microphone was invented in 1877 by Emile Berliner, the same person who invented the gramophone. But it was only when Alexander Bell got involved that a truly usable model was developed.

Microphones transform sound waves into electrical signals. How they do this varies. Many of the more expensive microphones on sale today are condenser type mikes. This means that they have two electrical conductive condenser plates, one of which is mobile. Between these, an electrical field builds, making the mobile plate vibrate, and depending on the length of the sound waves, the distance between the plates varies. This distance is then transformed into electrical signals that turn into the digital sound that you hear. Because this technology is quite expensive, condenser type microphones are also relatively expensive compared to other microphone types. For example, they are suitable as studio mikes because of their high quality. There are also other types of microphone. An electret microphone is a cheaper variant of the condenser microphone, and is similar in design. The difference is that the electret mike has material with a permanent electrical charge instead of an externally supplied charge. This type of microphone is also used often in a studio context. Other examples of microphone technologies are dynamic and ribbon.

Different types of microphones

When you buy a microphone, it's important that you choose the right type on the basis of what you intend to use it for. If you're recording songs in a studio, you need one type of construction, while if you only intend to use it for voice calls via your computer you can get away with something cheaper. This affects both the technology inside and the visual design. Some examples of microphone types:

  • Studio microphone/hand-held microphone
  • Table microphone
  • Clip-on microphone
  • Shotgun microphone
  • Zoom microphone
  • Built-in microphone

Microphones can also capture sound in a number of different patterns, known as the polar pattern. With a cardioid microphone, the polar pattern is heart-shaped and the sound capture area is only focused on the area in front of the microphone. This is a useful pattern when recording songs or during conversations, because you don't capture as much environmental noise. It's also useful for avoiding feedback. But if you instead want to capture environmental noise, an omnidirectional microphone is better. Here, the microphone picks up sound from all directions. If you instead want to interview someone and want your questions to be captured so that you don't have to move the microphone, you should choose a bidirectional, or "figure 8", microphone, as this picks up sound from both in front and behind the top of the microphone so that you and the person you're interviewing can be heard equally well. However, this type doesn't pick up sound from the sides. Some microphones have support for a number of different polar patterns and have controls allowing you to choose the pattern you want. Others are developed for one particular type of need and therefore only have one polar pattern.

As mentioned above, there are a number of different types of microphone, all built in different ways, and it's important that you choose the right sort depending on what you intend to use it for. But instead of reading about the technology involved, it's often easiest to assume that the well-known manufacturers have chosen the right microphone technology for the type of task it's intended for. Many manufacturers only have one type in their product range. For example, microphones from Razer and Blue are often the type that you connect to a computer, while Shure more often make microphones for singers. There are also manufacturers that target different areas equally. For example, there are Röde microphones for podcast recording, home music studios and other segments.

You should also remember that all microphones have a certain level of inherent noise. Naturally, you want to buy one that produces as little noise as possible, but still within your budget.

Remember too that if you buy a microphone with a built-in amplifier, it has to get power somehow. This often applies to condenser microphones. Some microphones come with a space for built-in batteries, while in others the power is supplied via the cable (known as phantom power). This means that the appliance you connect the microphone to, such as the amplifier, must be able to handle phantom power with the right voltage.

Connecting the microphone

Depending on the type of microphone you have purchased, it will be connected in various different ways. If you have purchased a microphone for your computer, it is normally connected via USB. Examples of this type of microphone are podcast mikes and microphones intended for gaming. But it's also very common for microphones to be connected with an XLR connector. This is above all common in a studio context, but USB mikes also sometimes have an XLR connector.

Another, simpler type of connection - also for computers - is via the 3.5 mm input.

Many microphones sold today can also be connected wirelessly.

There are also microphone manufacturers who make mikes that can be connected to your mobile phone, tablet or camera. There are equally manufacturers who make manufacturer-specific mikes for their video cameras, such as Sony's ECM microphones.

Microphones sometimes also have a 3.5 mm headphone output so that you can directly listen to what is being recorded without the sound being picked up.

Accessories

If you intend to use your microphone for recording conversation, it's a good idea to buy a pop filter for it. This prevents the popping noise caused by plosives (such as the first p in the word "popping"), and also reduces the amount of moisture reaching the microphone from the breath.

If you're recording outdoors, a windscreen is also a useful accessory to consider.

Another accessory appreciated by many users is some form of stand. This keeps your hands free as you record. Microphone stands are available both as freestanding models, table stands and those that you can attach directly to furniture, shelving etc. Remember that the stand should ideally absorb vibration to prevent the creation of additional noise.

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