Recording Mics

An Introduction to Recording Microphones

When it comes to purchasing your first studio microphone, the task can seem daunting. What makes a good microphone? What brands are the best? How do you know what to look for? The questions can be endless.

While the options are plentiful, when armed with the right information, it’s easy to make a smart purchase within your budget. Read on to learn more about different types of studio microphones and find out how they can help you achieve the sounds you’ve been dreaming of.

Large Diaphragm Condenser Mics

A must-have for any studio, large diaphragm condenser microphones offer a wide frequency range that can pristinely capture any sound source you want to record. While these studio microphones are largely favored for vocals, they can truly be used on everything, including recording guitar cabs, bass cabs, drums and small orchestra ensembles. There are plenty of different large-diaphragm condenser microphones for your studio that won’t hurt your wallet, including the Aston Spirit ($449), Aston Origin ($299), Roswell Pro Audio Mini K47 ($299) and Vanguard V13 Tube Condenser Microphone ($749).

Aston Spirit

Street Price: $449 (at time of writing)

Roswell Pro Audio Mini K47

Street Price: $299 (at time of writing)

Aston Origin


Street Price: $299 (at time of writing)

Vanguard V13 Tube Condenser Microphone

Vanguard Audio Labs V13 Tube Condenser Mic

Street Price: $749 (at time of writing)

Small Diaphragm Condenser Mics


While using the same technology to operate as their larger counterpart, a small diaphragm condenser microphone is defined as any condenser mic with a diaphragm that measures less than one inch. Sonically, these small diaphragm mics are known for being more precise and accurate, making them ideal for miking acoustic guitars, piano, or orchestral instruments like violins and cellos. A few small diaphragm condenser microphones that are ideal for multiple studio applications include the Josephson C42 Cardioid FET ($455) and Soyuz SU-013 Small Diaphragm FET ($599).

Long known as a major recording studio staple, ribbon mics feature a transducer element that is actually a ribbon made of metal floating in a magnetic field. These studio microphones have a mellow warmth to them, a signature characteristic evident on the epic drum sounds of John Bonham and electric guitar of Jimi Hendrix.

Josephson C42 Cardioid FET

Vanguard Audio Labs V13 Tube Condenser Mic

Street Price: $455 (at time of writing)

Soyuz SU-013 Small Diaphragm FET

Street Price: $599 (at time of writing)

Dynamic Mics


Dynamic microphones turn sound into an electrical signal by pushing a magnet and coil through to the rhythm of your sound source’s wavelengths. This type of a microphone is a popular one in both the live sound and studio setting, as they are often very durable and don’t need external power to operate. In the studio, dynamic microphones like the Shure SM7B ($399), Sennheiser MD 421 II ($379.95), and beyerdynamic M 88 TG ($399) have been used for years on drum tracks, live vocals, acoustic guitar, harp and other stringed instruments.

Shure SM7B

Vanguard Audio Labs V13 Tube Condenser Mic

Street Price: $399 (at time of writing)

beyerdynamic M 88 TG

Vanguard Audio Labs V13 Tube Condenser Mic

Street Price: $399 (at time of writing)

Sennheiser MD 421 II


Street Price: $379 (at time of writing)

Ribbon Mics


Long known as a major recording studio staple, ribbon mics feature a transducer element that is actually a ribbon made of metal floating in a magnetic field. These studio microphones have a mellow warmth to them, a signature characteristic evident on the epic drum sounds of John Bonham and electric guitar of Jimi Hendrix. For drum overheads, the beyerdynamic M 160 ($699.99) has been a long-time standard, while the Royer Labs R-121 ($1,295) has always been a favorite for recording electric guitar.

When it comes to selecting your first studio microphone, there are a whole host of options to choose from. The most important factor is finding something in your budget that will allow you to have a flexible studio tool that you can advance your skills with.

beyerdynamic M 160

Vanguard Audio Labs V13 Tube Condenser Mic

Street Price: $699 (at time of writing)

Royer Labs R-121

Street Price: $1,295 (at time of writing)

USB Microphones


While they aren’t often used in the professional studio setting, USB microphones are the perfect way to get started if you are just learning the basics of recording. These microphones hook up to your computer via USB and give you the ability to record straight into your DAW, or digital audio workstation. Whether you want to start working on demos in your bedroom or recording a podcast, USB microphones like the Blue Microphones Yeti Studio Microphone ($269.99) and Audio Technica AT2020USB+ ($149) are fantastic options.

Blue Microphones Yeti Pro Studio

Vanguard Audio Labs V13 Tube Condenser Mic

Street Price: $269 (at time of writing)

Audio Technica AT2020USB+

Vanguard Audio Labs V13 Tube Condenser Mic

Street Price: $149 (at time of writing)

In Closing

When it comes to selecting your first studio microphone, there is a whole host of options to choose from. The most important factor is finding something in your budget that will allow you to have a flexible studio tool that you can advance your skills with. If you’re interested in learning more about studio microphones and finding the right one for you, please feel free to reach out to me or one of Vintage King’s other Audio Consultants via email or by calling us at 888.653.1184.

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