How to choose the right microphone (for YOUR voice)

Buying a microphone is challenging. First thing the majority of people do, is ask what brand/model others have or research online for reviews. Most of the time, if you ask 5 different opinions, all 5 will tell you to purchase the mic they use cause they are extremely happy with it or they might tell you to avoid a certain mic cause they had a bad experience with it.

If I can relate this to a funny metaphor would be like advising someone to get the exact shirt you are wearing (size/colour/fit) because it looks good on you. There are mics that have a slight boost on certain frequencies or a slight cut at frequencies that sound harsh at the human ear. (these alterations are calculated by the mic’s designers at frequencies that sound good or not musically).

for example, the famous and almighty Shure SM58 beta A, has a small boost around 3-4k. If your voice has also that boost on the same frequencies then those frequencies will become prominent in your overall sound. If your voice lacks that frequencies, then your sound will benefit from that mic’s boost. If you voice is too bass, and you get a mic with more bass boost then chances are that you will need to roll off that bass from the mixer.

So, in simple words, if you like the sound of your voice, you would need a mic with little to no boost or cuts. To be as flat as possible, and sound good with little to no changes on the mixer. If you find yourself every time cutting 6db on certain frequencies, then you have probably got the wrong mic. Max 1-2 db boost or cuts should be able to do the job.

So, to conclude, how all these mentioned above will help you choose a mic?
Listen to your voice, mark down any repeating changes you do at each live. Do you find yourself boosting the highs, and removing frequencies around certain frequencies? if so, look for a mic that has a similar frequency response.

Most mixers found at small venues have small mixers that don’t give you the ability to be precise on your changes. The majority of mixers found at these places will just give you the option to boost or cut fixed low frequencies, fixed mid frequencies, and fixed high frequencies. And the selection is quite broad, so you cant be too precise. Often times you will find yourself sacrificing lots of mids or basses, or adding too much highs in order to let your voice ‘breathe’.

Below, you can see as an example, the frequency response of the Shure SM5 beta A.

That was our 2 cents on how to choose a mic, covering only the frequency related issues. Stay tuned for the next post, where I am going to analyse polar patterns, and different microphone types.


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