I get asked this question all the time – “what mic should buy?”
The first thing I say is “what mics do you have and why do you need another?”
Depending on the response, I’ll know whether or not another mic is really the best investment. Most of the time it is, but sometimes we like to buy new mics thinking it will drastically improve our recordings.
While a new mic definitely has the potential to improve your recordings, it isn’t a guaranteed investment (is anything guaranteed to make your recordings better? Sign me up if you find it!)
Here’s what you should consider when thinking about expanding your mic locker:
1. Is this mic going to allow you to record something better? Are you going to be able to record your acoustic guitar better, vocals better, or piano better? If not better, in a different way that is going to give you a new sound? If so, you’re probably making a smart decision.
2. Is this mic different from what you have? It’s important to have different “colors” of mics. Dark mics for bright instruments, bright mics for dark instruments, etc. If you’ve already got a great dark microphone, you should look at getting a brighter mic to contrast it.
3. Is this mic a decent replacement? There’s a big jump in quality from the $100 mics to the $10,000 mics. But surprisingly, there’s not a huge jump in quality from the $250 mic to the $350 mic. While there is a bit of an improvement, it’s not worth the investment unless you’re satisfying one of the other points made above.
4. Are you diversifying your mic locker with dynamics, condensers, and ribbons? It’s always nice to have the option between dynamics, condensers, and ribbon mics when recording. If you load up on condensers and don’t have any dynamics, you might be shortchanging yourself in the long run. You may not notice it all the time, but when you really need that warm tone and don’t have a ribbon to reach for, you’ll be wishing you had thought it through earlier.
There’s no “best mic” to buy. It’s really a subjective decision. But there is a best way to buy your mics – diversify your mic locker and you’ll free yourself up to make incredible decisions in the studio.