There are 3 categories of microphones based on how they translate sound waves into electrical energy: Dynamic, Condenser, and Ribbon Dynamic, the most common and least expensive uses a diaphragm moving against a magnetic coil. These are also the most rugged type microphones. Condensers are more expensive and more sensitive microphones using an electrical charge between 2 plates. They need power from a battery or an external source to work. The external source is usually called phantom power. Ribbon microphones are the most expensive and sensitive. They are usually found in recording studios for recording vocals and soft instruments. They have a thin aluminum ribbon that is suspended in a magnetic field. Your choice should be based on how much you can spend, how rugged the microphone has to be-for example if you are moving it often- and how sensitive it has to be.
The next important category of microphones is based on their pickup patterns. This designates which sides of the microphone are designed to pickup sound. The most common is called the cardoid, named after its heart shaped pattern. It mainly picks up sound coming from the front, some from the sides, and virtually none from the back. The near opposite of this pickup pattern is an omnidirectional, which picks up sound from all directions, most importantly the rear of the microphone. For the most part, you'll want to use a cardoid microphone to control the sound you record. However, occasionally you may need an omnidirectional mic to pickup a group of people that may surround the microphone.
Microphones come in a wide variety of shapes and designs. In a moment we’ll list some of the most common. Your choice of microphone design should be based on your particular needs in the field or in the studio. Let's look briefly at some of these designs and when you might use them. Hand held or mountable on microphone stand- usually cylinder shaped Boom- usually used in video or film production to gather sound from a distance Boundary or PZM- gathers sound from that bounces off a table or wall Lapel also known as lavalier- for close miking of a singular speaker Wireless- to remove the tether for an active presenter Headset- typically used for webcasts or webconferencing Built-in Microphones- many recorders and computers have them-not usually high quality USB microphones- ouput a digital signal that computers recognize
Here are at least four initial recorder choices to record your audio
Three types of connectors will most commonly use to connect your microphone to the recorder are: XLR- used for low impedance professional microphones Mini-plug 1/8 inch can be found on lower end microphones and recorders-same size as a headphone jack USB- for connecting directly to your computer
These formats may initially seem like a mixed-up alphabet soup. But we’ll focus on the few you need to know and their attributes. They are recognizable on your computer by their suffixes. Two are uncompressed and produce larger size files. These are wav and aif files. wav (pronounced "wave") is standard digital audio file format for storing waveform data similar to aif wav files but more common on windows based systems. aif or aiff is a CD-quality audio file, similar to a wav file; uncompressed large size files The others are compressed and may be of lower quality than uncompressed files, but they are more portable and can be used for long recording when you don't have enough space on your card or hard drive. mp3 or mpeg 3 are compressed audio file, roughly tenth the size of an uncompressed file such as aif or wav aac is an advanced audio coding file, compressed similar to a mp3 file but higher coding efficiency wma is a windows media sound file a compressed audio file produced by windows media player
Before you start recording there is another decision you need to make. It regards the audio level settings on your recorder. Typically you will have two choices:
Level set Too Low- produces insufficient signal to noise ratio
Good Sound Levels- this is an example of the same audio text with good sound levels.
Distortion- can be caused by setting level too high, preamp too high, too high on mixer, or mismatch between mic and line levels
Clipping- can be caused by setting level too high on a digital recorder
Background Noise- using internal mic and not adjusting for background noises can produce a distracting recording.
These are some tips and tricks that will help you produce a better quality recording