Choosing a microphone for any occasion can be a daunting task. There are many different types of microphones for many different applications. This is no different when it comes to choosing a microphone for home recording or a home studio.
As a record producer, a lot of Artist and home recording enthusiast ask me all the time “what type of microphone should I get for home recording?” While there is no definitive all around perfect mic for all recording applications, there are some smart choices one can make when choosing a microphone for recording instruments and vocals.
The AKG 414 ranges from $500 to $1000 depending on the capsule options and how new it is. The AKG 414 is a condenser microphone and comes with selectable polar patterns which dictates the direction in which the mic receives sound. e.g. Cardioid receives sound in front of the Microphone. Bi-directional receives sound from the front and back, omnidirectional receives sound from all around the mic and hypercardioid is extremely focused in the front.
The new C414 XLS has all of these patterns and more. A total of 9 patterns can be selected from a switch on the back of the mic. The 414 also has selectable pads which attenuate the sound level coming into the microphone. Meaning, if you put the mic on something loud like a snare drum, or guitar amp, you can attenuate (turn down) the input to the microphone. This is helpful for guitar amps, drums, some horns and even some singers. This Mic is one of my favorites on female vocals, Acoustic guitars, electric Guitars, pianos and percussion. The 414 has nice high frequency response and diversity making it one of my favorite home and pro user microphones.
My other choice of microphone for under $1000 is the Shure SM-7. This mic is a classic and only cost about $300 making it very affordable for home recording. The Sure SM-7 is a staple in Rock and Rap styles of music and is used most often for male vocals. You have heard this mic in action on a ton of recordings from Michael Jackson to John Mayer as well as on almost every radio station. The SM-7 is also used for voice narration and is a favorite of radio DJ's. The Shure SM-7 microphone has a low input level so you can turn up the mic pre amp volume. I use this mic over my $10,000 tub mic's quite often on Rock and rap vocals.
As a Music Producer, I get asked the microphone choice question all the time. Like most people recording at home, your budget is probably limited. With the AKG 414 and the Shure SM-7 you should be able to handle a large amount of recording applications and you are sure to get a lot of bang for your buck.