Hi, im new to this. Was wondering if anyone could recommend a good, quality but affordable mic. I need a mic to pick up sounds outside and during my travels. Something that doesnt pick up too much background noise. Someone before suggested I get a behringer mic. But I dont know what those are. I was thinking about a condenser mic. Im in the budget of 50-100 dollars. Ill buy something better later. Thanks.
I use the Zoom H1 Portable Digital Recorder, a wireless stereo mic with mini sd card recording in wav or mp3 - you can get a sponge or rubber mic muffler for your outdoor recording for next to nothing. It might be just a little bit more than you have budgeted for, (but not much) I would recommend it as a budget entry stereo mic and suits my needs perfectly. (and I don't work for Zoom, lol)
Here's some examples of my drum kit recorded with this mic:
O-o-oh. This is a classic question with an expensive answer. The issue here is, you begin with a cheap microphone, then you quickly find out it's not quite up to the quality of the stuff that's out there (and the interface/mixer/recorder is capable of better quality, obviously). Then you dump money on the medium-priced microphones. Then it turns out those microphones have flaws which are critical to the kind of work you're doing. So you end up buying the expensive mikes and dumping nearly as much, or at least half the expensive price, on cheaper stuff.
Bottom line is, usually it is safer to go with the more capable and expensive kit and never worry about the cheaper stuff unless it's worth it and everyone's buzzing about it. And stay away from Behringer, that company often copies other manufacturers' designs at low costs (translation: using cheap bottom-quality parts). Meaning, Behringer kit tends to fall apart fairly quickly and is not quite up to it. That's not a general rule, but as an example a fellow who records his own band recommended Yamaha C-series mixers against Behringer mixers, saying the Behringer kit colours the sound something nasty. And then another fellow who plays the guitar and sings in a band slammed his Behringer mixer for falling apart on him.
What you need is a shotgun microphone. Preferably battery-powered, and a recorder to go along with it. The recorder could be anything, some people use little electret shotguns with photo cameras like Panasonic Lumixes for recording video. Search EBay for EM-320, it's a cheap Chinese AT OEM (clone?) shotgun. Here's one result:
- you can get one for $30 and attach it to a camera or anything with the right cable adapter, the microphone is battery-powered.
Look up reviews of the thingie, it's apparently quite popular with the video crowd, might not be perfect for serious recording though (see warning above).
Obviously you'll get better results with a real pocket recorder (Zoom, Korg, Roland/Edirol, Olympus, etc.) rather than just using a camera or, say, a phone for recording.
That said, here're some recommendations, aside from the Zoom thingies (which Tony Iommi & Geezer Butler use, so they can't be bad).
Dynamic microphone: AKG D-40. Cheapish $100 or less dynamic which works wonders for percussion and a lot of instruments. This is an instrument microphone however, it may give weird results with vocals. People will always push the Shure SM57 for instruments, get the D-40 instead. The D-40 is more sensitive and works wonders on drums and brass instruments and pretty much anything except maybe cymbals.
Extra-cheap dynamic: Shure SV100. $25 if lucky, and you can correct its frequency response with Photosounder Spline EQ, which is an essential software tool anyone ought to have (it's $20, too).
Sound interfaces: E-Mu 0204, 0404, Roland Tri-Capture. "Don't bother with anything less than 96/24" is the rule. 0404 has phantom power for condenser microphones, 0204 at last check only worked with dynamic microphones.
Recorders: Korg MR-2, Edirol R-09HR (or whichever new version there is of it). Olympus CS-11 or whatever's the new version. While at it, get Roland's CS-15 - it might be what you're looking for in terms of small microphones, it's a good dual-capsule setup, and cheapish for what it is. It plugs into Roland interfaces and recorders and anything else that will feed a 3-pole 3.5 mm. (same as headphones) plug. Does not require phantom power (it's an electret).
Condensers: Rode IXY is a 96/24 ADC and dual-capsule microphone for $200 that plugs into an IPhone. Might be your gig, works for bootlegs for sure.
Look up any specific shotgun battery-powered microphones from Audio-Technica, AKG, Shure, Rode, etc. They might be more on the expensive side, but worth it.
Now for "room" microphones...
MXL 440/441 and 990/991 packages are dirt-cheap (less than $100 for two condensers), but they're so-and-so (Marshall saving on steel means they're more susceptible to EMI). Sterling Audio ST51 is a goodie large condenser that works fine on just about anything and is a good value for $100. Anyway, larger condensers are not outdoor microphones unless protected with windsocks and feeding off battery power. Still, there you have it.
Depending what do you want to record, in which condition you will do the record and what is the quality you expect. It will depend also on the specs of your recorder (phantom power available?) and the size or your backpack.
If your are interested in ambiance sound recording, the most convenient option would be a portable digital recorder with good mics embedded(Zoom H1 for example). No hassle, discrete, easy to operate but above $100.
The next step would be a nice X/Y cardioid microphone (for stereo recording). If you want a low background noise you will have to go with a large membrane condenser mic (you enter here in professional territory). I like the rode NT4 due to its great quality price ratio. It works with a 9V battery so you don't need the phantom power. However the microphone is very sensitive to the wind (this is the price to pay for large membranes mic)=> the mic requires proper windshield (can be home made) => extra cost. You can get a NT4 for $350 on the bay
If you are not interested in stereo recording you could get a nice cardioid or omni condenser mic like the Rode NT5 (same mic than the NT4 but mono) for $200 on the bay.
If you are interested in interviewing people in a noisy environment, a hyper/super-cardioid mic will be more appropriate.
A third option if you want to go cheapo and if you know how to use a solder iron is to make your own mic from WM61 panasonic microphone cartridges:
The results (if made properly) will be far better than any low-cost mic for consumer market you could get. The WM61 cartridge being quite small there will be a higher background noise compared to the mics listed above but they will pick very nice details and they will be less sensitive to the wind.
Search for WM61 sample here on freesound to make your own judgement. This mic is quite popular among the binaural community (binaural meaning mics placed closed to your ears) Those binaural audio records must be listened with an earphone to get the proper stereo image.
what a great site! and "Seidhepriest" what awesome advice! lots of great info you've shared, thanks so much.
If I were you, I'd also look in the MXL 990 Condenser Microphone. You may need a stand and pop filter for it but it's well worth it. I'll provide a link to it.
Stormpetrel: thanks for the WM-61 tip.
Btw, I just realized that the microphone described in http://www.wildlife-sound.org does not involve modded WM61.
It is highly recommended to modify the WM61 cartridge as follow to improve drastically the performances of the microphone.
The first article about WM61 mod has been published by the Linkwitz lab as a solution for a high quality flat frequency response microphone for speakers calibration.
Here is the link http://www.linkwitzlab.com/sys_test.htm#Mic//