Terri Doty

Time to geek out about microphones!

If you’re in search of a mic (please never abbreviate microphone as “mike”), best to test out a bunch of different ones. This is the best way to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Dynamics are a good “workhorse” mic. They work in a variety of situations. I personally like to use a dynamic when I do live events. Most live sound engineers (least ones I know) prefer them for both vocals and instruments.

If you want the studio standard, go with a condenser microphone. Condensers bring out the subtle nuances of a voice. I’ve found that they also help with room noise in audiobooks.

Though they are pretty sensitive, ribbons tend to be the most natural sounding when it comes to vocals. Because they are super fragile, I would not recommend using them for instruments.

Currently using a condenser (Blue’s Bluebird) in my home studio, but my next purchase is a toss-up between one ravishing ribbon and three classy condensers.

“Care to share?”

Well, since you asked…


With all due respect to my husband (aka the most amazing guy in the world), I think I’m in love. Manley’s Reference Cardioid is what I like to call the “just add talent” mic. A condenser that’s good for vocals, drums, saxophone, guitar, and so on. There’s a built-in tube which allows for a warm, natural sound. Definitely not the cheapest thing, but the best products are rarely inexpensive. Think of a fabulous piece of gear such as this as an investment.

Just recently learned of the awesome sauce that is this fantastic brand. Royer’s R121 is my current obsession (actually on the top of my wishlist…. Yes, I dare to dream). Honestly never thought I’d like a ribbon, but there’s something about the way this particular microphone compliments my voice (not trying to sound conceited, I’m just that big of a fan). It has a flat response, so what you hear is what you get. The recordings mimic what your ears naturally hear. Another thing to love? It is very forgiving of mouth noise and sibilance, which is something everyone in the voice-over world struggles with from time to time.

Blue is a brand that I became very familiar with when working at a music instrument retailer (that I won’t even bother naming). Again, my current microphone is the Bluebird. I have no complaints about Blue, it’s a damn good brand. The Bottle is a tough condenser that can take on high pressure levels from vocals and instruments. Also has a great proximity effect for the “radio voice” sound.

Hello, Neumann (oof, that reference hurt). The U87 is pretty much the studio standard and there’s a reason for it. This condenser mic is great for commercial work as well as music vocals. Its figure-8 pattern makes it possible to record from either side of the mic on one track.

So… Who wants to give me a couple grand or purchase all of these for me so I can figure out which one works best?

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