With so many microphones on the market, it can be difficult to know which is best for what you are shooting. Various aspects need to be taken into account when finding that perfect microphone. Planning ahead and making sure you are prepared for your upcoming shoot will pay off with having great sound quality. In this article, we will take a look at the different types of microphones and each of their pros and cons. Then we will look at common shooting situations and advise on the best microphones.
Different Types of Microphones
There are numerous types of microphones, but the most common are shotgun mic, lavalier mic, and condenser microphone.
Shotguns are the most popular type of microphone for video production. They are directional, meaning they pick up sound from in front of the mic only. This makes it ideal for focusing on one specific sound source without picking up extraneous sounds. Shotgun microphones are bought mainly for this reason, so they are on the more expensive side of microphones. They also require more post-processing than other mics due to their directionality.
Lavaliers are unidirectional mics that clip onto the talent or into their clothing. They can be wired or wireless; however, wireless are most commonly used in videos where the talent is moving around a lot and cannot hold a handheld microphone. These mics do not have a long-range, so they need to be close to the person speaking, from one foot up to six feet. Lavs can also pick up sounds that are coming from behind the person speaking, but this can be reduced by the placement of the mic.
Condensers microphones are the least versatile microphone type, but overall they give you the best sound quality. Their range is not as high as lav mics, and they need phantom power to be turned on. They are commonly used in studios due to their high quality.
Common Shooting Situations
Choosing the perfect microphone can be difficult when you don’t know what type of shooting situation you will need it for. This is why it’s important to know what kind of sound you are looking for. Here are some common situations that video makers encounter, with the appropriate microphones needed.
The Right Microphone for Podcasts
Podcasts require great sound because their primary purpose is to be listened to. With that being said, it is great for marketing purposes to get a video recording of your podcasts for YouTube and social media. When recording a podcast, the best type of microphone to use would be a condenser microphone.
Condenser microphones are great for this because they pick up a wide range of sounds, from your voice to any background noises. You want your podcast to have a wide frequency of sounds to get excellent quality for when they are listened to on headphones. Condenser mics can record a lot of noise from the room that you are in, so make sure to record in a place that has minimal echo or reverb, like a studio setting.
Condenser mics typically need phantom power because they have active electronic components inside them to play and pick up sound. Some USB mics can be plugged into your computer’s audio input without having phantom power, but most require more power than your computer can provide to work properly. If you have a mic that does not need phantom power, make sure your audio interface or mixer has a pre-amp with enough gain for it to play loudly enough without clipping the input.
There are many different condenser mics out on the market, each one tailored to a certain budget and build. You can get a cheap condenser mic for under $100, but the audio quality will not be as good as higher-end ones.
Great Audio Quality for Dialog
Most YouTube videos require you to record dialog between your subjects. When looking for the best microphone for YouTube dialog, you want to think about your overall budget and your average shot length. If you’re on a tight budget, some cheap mics will work well for these types of videos, such as the microphone built into your camera or an external lavalier mic.
When looking for the best mic to use for dialog, having excellent audio quality is important, so if you can spend a little more money on your microphone, it will be worth it. The best mic for dialog would be a large-diaphragm condenser microphone if you are in a studio. If you are not in a studio a lav mic would be your best option.
It is common sense that the better your microphone is, the easier it will be to pick up great audio quality when recording dialog. Large-diaphragm condensers typically offer the best sound quality because they have a large diaphragm which allows them to pick up more detail in your voice. When speaking into a mic with a larger diaphragm, you will notice that sounds coming from closer to your mouth are louder than sounds coming from further away.
The Perfect Microphone for Action Sequences
Action sequences can be tricky to record audio for. There are more variables such as wind, loud noises, and other loud sounds that can cause your video to have bad sound quality. It is common for many action sequences to be recorded on a green screen to allow for backgrounds to be easily changed. Learning to adapt to different recording situations quickly is similar to using a green screen and green screen lighting effectively. When using a green screen, you need to be able to change your green screen lights quickly to adapt to the background. The same is true that you must adapt your microphone use for changes in your action scenes. When shooting an action sequence, there are certain mics you should be using in order to get the best sound possible while being versatile enough for any situation.
The best mic for action sequences is a shotgun microphone. Shotgun microphones are great because they are designed to cancel outside noise and focus on the sound of whatever you are pointing it at. This makes them perfect for recording action sequences where they will pick up sounds from your subject while negating any background or wind noise.
The most common shotgun microphone used for recording action videos is the Rode NTG-3. However, there are many other great shotgun mics out there, such as the Sennheiser MKH-416, the Azden SMX-10S, and the Audio-Technica AT899.
The right microphone for your YouTube recording will depend on the type of video you are shooting. If you’re looking to get great audio quality when recording dialog, look for a condenser or lav mic that works well in loud environments. For action sequences, it’s important to use a shotgun mic that can pick up sounds from farther away and cancel out wind and other noises picked up by your cameras or wind. There are many different types of mics available, so don’t be afraid to experiment until you find what is perfect for your shooting style.