See these two microphones? Other than the color, they look very much alike. One is priced at $99, the other at $325. It would seem that the $99 mic is just a cheaper copy of the $325 one, right?

Wrong.

These two mics couldn’t be more different:
One is dynamic, the other is condenser.
One is addressed from the side, the other from the end.

Which one is better? (here it comes…) It all depends on what you are planning to do with it. A dynamic mic is better suited for close-talking in a small room with less than ideal acoustics. A condenser is better suited for a singer or an acoustic instrument in a well-treated room.

Yes, you can use a condenser for speech, or a dynamic for music. The point is that you shouldn’t select a mic just because it looks nice. A pretty mic that doesn’t suit your needs is just a waste of time.

When considering a new microphone, think first about the job you want it to do. Speech, singing, instrument, quiet, loud? What about the pickup pattern? Does it need to be highly directional, a broad cardioid, figure-8, omni, or switchable? Then consider the acoustical environment it will be in.

Once you have narrowed the search to those mics that properly meet your needs, then you can start comparing them by looks and price. Too many mics are bought simply based on their appearance.

Take the time to determine the right type of mic, then have fun browsing.

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