Two turntables aren't enough (I need a microphone).
October 7, 2005 10:55 AM   Subscribe

I need to buy one or two microphones.

The microphones will be used for recording speech, not music. The reason I think I need two: I will be recording in two settings. First of all, in a group setting where I want to capture everyone's voices - ambient sound pickup will be important. Second, in one-on-one interview settings, where it would be nice to have good quality directional input.

The recording will be onto a fairly good quality personal digital audio recorder. Obviously, the capturing device will limit the quality of what's saved. Am I right in thinking that given my price range (< $75US / microphone, and ideally less), the microphones that are the limiting factor and not the storage device, in terms of recording quality? What microphones do you recommend in that price range? If I spend 150.00 on a single mic can I get one that's good for both purposes?
posted by louigi to Technology (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This article on microphones from is extremely helpful. I used a lot of Transom's advice when I did recording for my local NPR station.
posted by nekton at 11:20 AM on October 7, 2005

Group Setting: Soundgrabber... Pressure Zone Mic $65

Interview: SM58... the old trusty standby $99

You can find them both cheaper but those were quick links with good descriptions ;)

Good Luck.
posted by Duncan at 11:23 AM on October 7, 2005

You'll see microphones described by different shapes (or patterns) and types. They describe how the microphone takes in sound, be it uni- or omnidirectional.

Although it's geared for professional music quality, you can check out this fairly comprehensive FAQ on microphones.
posted by spiderskull at 11:59 AM on October 7, 2005

For recording group settings, I really like this omni-directional mic from Sony. It'll run you about $50, but you can also get an adequate lavalier (for the interview) for 25 bucks or less.
posted by rocketman at 12:21 PM on October 7, 2005

You could also check out Shure's PG58. Not as nice as an SM, but half and price and it comes with a cable and clip. I have one and it works great for home demo recording.
posted by bradn at 12:56 PM on October 7, 2005

You can pick up a used Shure SM-57 or SM-58 for slightly under $75 on eBay. You'd have to have a pretty good recording setup to expose deficiencies in either of those mics; for example, when you hear the President speak, it's been an SM-57 for over 30 years.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:01 PM on October 7, 2005

There was recently a question about recording a conference with one mic, but I can't find it.
posted by abcde at 3:10 PM on October 7, 2005

Second (or third) the Shure SM58 - they're indestructable, great all-purpose mics.
posted by chocolatepeanutbuttercup at 3:14 PM on October 7, 2005

The SM57 sound better than the 58 in my opinion. If you can find a used EV RE15 they're quite good for interview work too.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 5:19 PM on October 7, 2005

Like everyone else says, SM-57 or SM-58. It will last you forever. Mine have.
posted by aaronh at 7:51 PM on October 7, 2005

I still use the Shure SM57 that I bought in 1985 (for my third band, my god…). It's been used for everything from recording guitars (close to the amp speaker) to vocals (screaming punk rock to whispering emo) to ambient sounds (room mic for poetry readings and assorted room sounds and voice-only recordings). Probably not the best for that recording of the Bach Goldberg Variations, but for anything else…
posted by al_fresco at 10:39 PM on October 7, 2005

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