Building a Home Studio | Top 10 Microphones

Microphones are the pulse of a studio. They capture the sound and deliver it to the interface. This is the first point of contact where the sound is captured and harnessed to be preserved for eternity in the digital realm. Every mic has its advantages and disadvantages. In the right situation, a good recording can be made with a handful of SM57s and one large diaphragm condenser.

Now you may want to build a vocal studio or a full-production studio for instruments. Either way, you're going to need some mics that will get the job done. I've put together this list of mics to help you get started. These mics range in price and offer many different levels of quality. Based on what you want to record, I'd say stick to a budget that isn't going to deplete your bank account.


If you are on a tight budget or don't want to spend a lot of money on buying all the gear, I've got the solution for you. The Neewer line of mics comes with everything you will need. The kits include a mic, cable, table clamp arm, windscreen, and pop filter. This will literally get you going right out of the box. If you download a recording program like Audacity, you can be up and be running for under $50 total. This is just insane! The NW-700 model gets you in for $23. You can upgrade your setup to the NW-1500 for $36. These prices are very reasonable and you will have something to get the ball rolling and figure out if this is the path you want to take. Now lets move on  to the more sophisticated and more professional mics.


If you're going to be doing Voice Over work for TV or radio commercials, the Shure SM7B is the primary mic you should be considering. This mic has become legendary in the world of VO production. I use the SM7B to narrate all my YouTube videos. This mic has the iconic Radio Station look and is great for recording vocals on music tracks, too. This is a dynamic mic, so you need to get right up on it for good presence. It has a built in High-Pass Filter and a presence boost. You can select either of these options directly on the back of the mic. This allows you to tailor your recordings right from the source. With the additional foam windscreen cover that comes with the mic, this is the best option for anyone getting serious about vocal recordins of any kind. As a perk, this mic is also a great option for recoridng guitar amps. 


The Shure SM57 is a tank & a workhorse. It's great for recording almost everything. This dynamic mic can take a beating and still give you great recordings. It's ideal for recording snare drums and guitar amps. Each SM57 has a different sound, so it's a good idea to have a few in your mic locker. These mics are $89 each, so you can get 3-4 and use them for more than just mono recording. If you place them properly, you can put a few on a guitar amp and get a huge sound!


Focus on getting a decent vocal mic that can be universal for other applications. The RODE NTK is a great place to start and will be a handy mic to have when you start to build up your mic collection. This large-diaphragm tube mic has warmth and character that gives vocals the texture they need to fit nicely into a mix. RODE has a long lasting reputation as a microphone manufacturer and I've had my NTK for 15 years and the beast is still getting used every day in the studio.


If you're going to be recording drums, the AKG D112 is a popular mic for kick drums. The D112 is also great for recording horns and brass instruments. This mic is primarily best for percussion instruments. I've had good luck using it on a traditional kick drum and congas. I've always found that it provides the right amount of attack and punch to keep the drums right in the mix.


The Shure Beta 52A is another great mic to have in your locker for tracking kick drums. The design is simple, but the results are amazing. 


If you're in the market for a USB mic to work on your computer or laptop, there are some really affordable options. One you probably heard of is the Blue Yeti. This little guy has a built in stand and controls for your headphone output directly on the mic. If you need a no-hassle mic to start your recording, this is by far one of the best options. At $129, it's also a very affordable mic that will provide quality audio recordings. 


The other options for USB mics are quite vast. You may want to consider the Marantz MPM-1000U or the MPM-2000U mics for a more traditional option. These mics are USB powered and provide a very clean and open sounding audio recording. The 2000 version comes with a shock mount to help with the dissipation of rogue vibrations that may bleed into the mic. Both will provide good quality, so go with the one that fits with your budget. If you can spring the extra $50 for the 2000  model, you will notice the improvemnt in the audio quaility. 

There are so many options that it is impossible to keep this post short and still pack in all the details about microphones. If you're considering a mic for your studio, leave a comment below and we'll start up a discussion about it.