This guide is for everyone looking for an instrument microphone. Find out what the best microphones are for vocals, vocals, speech, drums, electric and acoustic guitars, piano, wind instruments, woodwinds and percussion. And so that you can get started right away, you will also find proven techniques for making various sounds – your guide through the jungle for band recording and instrument microphones.
Instrument microphone basics
In each section, you will find specific recommendations for choosing an instrument microphone. Here we specifically name brands and models for some of the best microphones that can deliver perfect results on Instrument X or for vocal recording.
It should of course be noted that there are numerous other manufacturers with great models on the market. Unfortunately, we cannot list or even know all available models in our overview “Which microphone for which instrument”. The information we provide is based on the experience of our editors and sound engineers who are friends.
We asked them about the best microphone. Recording an instrument is one thing, choosing the right microphone is another. And finally, it is also about the technology – although we cannot go into this deeply enough in this guide. Nevertheless, you can find here which types of microphones and which directional characteristics work for your purpose.
Proven instrument microphones
In the following chapters, you will find out which microphones have proven themselves in the best cheap shotgun microphones for DSLR video recording practice for which instruments with which making techniques. This means that you can achieve very good results with the instrument microphones presented here.
As in all creative areas of life, chance and experimentation with new techniques have led to artistic innovations. It is quite possible that the use of completely different models leads to technically better or artistically more exciting results.
There are also major differences between individual models of an instrument class. So you may find a mic that fits (or you like) better in your case than in our recommendations.
Close-up with an instrument microphone
The closer the microphone is to the sound source, the less surround sound (reverb and echoes) is recorded. The further away you are from the instrument, the more you perceive its sound in the room. A recording also appears more present and intimate if it was recorded particularly close.
Instrument microphones with a cardioid characteristic show what is known as the close-up effect: the sound becomes more bass-heavy the smaller the distance between the sound source and the microphone capsule. In addition, there is less crosstalk at close-up – read more about this in the next chapter.
Crosstalk with instrument microphones
Acoustic crosstalk (bleeding) occurs when the microphone for sound source A simultaneously records sound source B. This is deliberately used in drum recording to give the sound of the instrument more life and an authentic sound. If you record your band at the same time, you can’t avoid acoustic crosstalk. It is best to record other types of instruments individually.
Vocals, voice, speaker & rap?
For recording a single voice in the studio, condenser microphones with a large diaphragm and cardioid pattern are best. They deliver an intimate, expressive sound with enough details and nuances. For metal and other harder paces, we recommend dynamic microphones. Although these record fewer details, they can cope with higher levels without distorting the recordings.
Tips for taking
Before you buy, check how strongly the “Popp” sounds (“p”, “b”, slightly weaker “t”, and “d”) are received. A switchable low-cut (high-pass filter) on the microphone provides flexibility if the sound becomes too bassy. This happens, for example, when you can’t or doesn’t want to do anything other than getting very close to your condenser microphone while singing or shouting. It is always advisable to use a pop screen to keep the blast of air away from the microphone when singing.
Instrument microphones for drums
A drum kit is usually recorded with several instrument microphones at the same time. Some drums even have several microphones to record their sound in full.
The number of microphones should be chosen carefully: the more microphones you use, the greater the likelihood of phase shift and thus undesirable interactions in the sound. That means: The signals can cancel each other out, either completely (silence) or partially (thin, hollow sound). Many classic drum recordings only used two or three mics.
The choice of the right instrument microphones also differs across genres. A pair of microphones in the overhead position and a third for the bass drum or kick drum are sufficient for a jazz drum kit. Metal drums, on the other hand, are often recorded with one microphone per drum or cymbal.
Tips for recording with instrument microphones
If you use a bass drum without a resonance head or one with a hole in the resonance head, you can very easily influence the sound of the hit noise in the recording. The closer the microphone is to the batter’s head, the clearer the “kick” of the clapper sounds in relation to the bulbous sound of the drum. First experiment with distances between 10 and 20 cm.
When placing the microphone near the soundhole, it is important not to position the microphone close to it, but within it. So you should “immerse” it at least a couple of centimeters, otherwise, the sound pressure will skyrocket with every beater strike.
If, on the other hand, you use a drum with a closed resonance head, you can only emphasize the kicking noise more clearly with an additional microphone on the batter head – this microphone is best attached to the snare stand with a clamp.