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It seems crazy to think that the ability to reproduce sound and communicate over the internet is now something most people can’t live without. Whether for personal calls and videos or for professional recordings and presentations, having a microphone capable of properly transmitting and receiving sound waves is crucial. In order for a given computer to do so successfully, it needs to have an exceptional computer microphone.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through all the various options and all the important considerations to keep in mind when looking for the best quality microphone, all at the best value. Having a proper computer microphone will save you time, money, facilitate professional and personal relationships and drastically enhance the quality of your virtual communication.
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 The Best Computer Microphones on the U.S. Market
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Computer Microphones
- 3.1 What is a computer microphone?
- 3.2 What are computer microphones used for?
- 3.3 What are the different types of microphones?
- 3.4 Is directionality important when considering the different models of computer microphones?
- 3.5 What directionality is best in computer microphones?
- 3.6 What is the sensitivity of a computer microphone?
- 3.7 What frequency response should the microphone have?
- 3.8 What are the characteristics should be assessed in a computer microphone?
- 4 Shopping Criteria
- 5 Summary
- Microphones are used to transform sound waves into electrical energy. They take them in, increase their intensity, record and transmit them through the computer.
- When looking for a mic for your computer, you should consider how you want to use it, what do you want to record, what sounds you’ll be capturing and where and how will they be presented.
- Ask yourself in what setting will you be using it? If you won’t be using it in a professional setting, a lower quality microphone will more than suffice and will save you a great deal of money.
- Directionality and sensitivity are two of the most important factors to take into account when trying to find a mic that will satisfy your needs and meet your expectations.
The Best Computer Microphones on the U.S. Market
Nowadays there is a very large range of microphones on the market. Different models have enhanced features for various specific uses. Many are made to transmit simple conversations from one device to another, while others have the ability to perform at a higher level for professional or high demand settings. Below we’ve created a ranking that includes a variety of the best computer microphones on the market. We hope to give you an idea of all the options available to you.
- Best Computer Microphone for the Best Price
- Best Microphone for Recording
- Best Microphone for Windows and Mac
- Best High Grade Microphone
Best Computer Microphone for the Best Price
Amazon’s Top Choice for microphones, this computer microphone provides smooth recording and clear sound for podcasting, chatting and vocal recordings. The built-in high-performance CMTECK CCS2.0 Smart Chip can effectively block background noise. This USB microphone has a compact design with an adjustable neck. It’s great for convenient use and has a built-in LED light that gives a great visual effect. This is a great option under 20 bucks!
Best Microphone for Recording
This plug-and-play USB recording microphone connects directly to laptops for recording music, singing, and podcasts. It has a solid, sturdy metal build and a stable tripod stand that makes it convenient when doing voice-overs or live-streams on Youtube or other media platforms. This microphone has an additional built-in volume knob that allows a louder output and a more sensitive input to be heard when doing live skyping, gaming or voice recordings.
Best Microphone for Windows and Mac
This microphone records directly to your computer and is ideal for home studio vocals, speech, computer gaming, and podcasts. The extremely high signal output allows the voice to penetrate into the system. It has a smooth, flat frequency response of 50Hz-16Hz and an extended frequency response that is excellent for singing and voice-overs. It is both Windows and Mac compatible and doesn’t require extra software to install; unfortunately, it is not compatible with Xbox and phones.
Best High Grade Microphone
This professional-grade microphone has a multiple pattern selection; cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional and stereo function. It provides exceptional performance for recording musical instruments, podcasts, field recordings, and interviews. It is compatible with Windows 10, 8, 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP and Mac OS V systems of 10.4 or higher. The trip-capsule array can record almost any situation. This microphone requires a minimum of 64 MB of RAM.
Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Computer Microphones
With the emergence of the Internet, there is a large variety of microphones available, right at our fingertips. The microphone once intended almost exclusively for the professional market, has now become an essential tool for almost all computer users. If you don’t know where to start, below we answer the most frequently asked questions from other users.
What is a computer microphone?
Its name comes from the words micro, which means small, and phone, which means sound. They are used to carry out a number of different functions alongside and in conjunction with laptops and computers. They often connect right to the computer and allow us to do video conferencing, music recordings, communication in virtual gaming, adding sound to videos, and so much more.
What are computer microphones used for?
What are the different types of microphones?
- Condenser Microphone: Also called “electrostatic microphone” or “capacitor microphone”, this type of microphone has a main body that acts as a plate that “condenses” the vibrations of sound waves, producing changes due to the variation in the distance between the body and the plate of the microphone.
- Dynamic Microphone: Also known as magneto-dynamic microphones, work through electromagnetic induction. They are robust, relatively inexpensive and resistant to humidity.
- Microphone Tape: They use a thin metal tape (usually corrugated), suspended in a magnetic field. The tape is electrically connected to the microphone output, and its vibration within the magnetic field generates the electrical signal.
- Carbon Microphone: Also known as a button microphone, it uses a capsule or button that contains carbon granules pressed between two metal plates. By applying a voltage through the plates, it causes a small electric current to flow into the carbon.
- Piezo Microphone: A crystal microphone that functions via the phenomenon of piezoelectricity – the ability of certain materials to produce a voltage when subjected to pressure, to convert vibrations into an electrical signal-.
- Fiber Optic Microphone: Converts acoustic waves into electrical signals by detecting changes in light intensity. While operating, a light from a laser source travels through an optical fiber to illuminate the surface of a reflective diaphragm.
- Laser Microphone: Can be used to collect sound remotely and directly from the microphone. A laser beam is directed at the surface of a window or other flat surface that is affected by sound. The vibrations of this surface change the angle at which the beam is reflected, allowing it to detect the movement of the laser beam point. After making its way back to the microphone and its corresponding equipment, it is transformed into an audio signal.
- Micro-Electromagnetic Microphone: MEMS microphones are also called microphonic chips or silicon microphones. A pressure-sensitive diaphragm is recorded directly onto a silicon wafer using MEMS processing techniques and is usually accompanied by an integrated pre-amplifier.
- Liquid Microphone: Consists of a metal container filled with water that also contains a small amount of added sulphuric acid. A sound wave causes the body of the microphone to move, forcing a needle to move up and down in the water.
Is directionality important when considering the different models of computer microphones?
These incorporated technologies range from shielding the housing itself (diffraction/dissipation/absorption) to electronically combining dual membranes. The polar diagram can be defined as the focal length of the sound. This is the pick-up angle that the microphone is estimated to have. This factor depends, among others, on the level, direction, and frequency of the sound input.
What directionality is best in computer microphones?
Many professional microphones are not limited to a single configuration. Based on the general characteristics of each model we’ve listed below, you should be able to narrow down which design will be best suited for your needs.
- Omnidirectional Microphones: These microphones capture sound coming in from all directions.
- Directional Microphones: Capture sound that comes from only a single chosen direction.
- Bidirectional Microphones: Capture front and rear sounds thanks to a membrane that vibrates in two opposite directions.
What is the sensitivity of a computer microphone?
The sound of a drop of water falling or the whispers from a distant conversation can only be obtained with extremely high sensitivity microphones. On the contrary, microphones with high SPL capabilities will be able to capture every detail in a great din of mixed sounds, without losing the quality, clarity and varying levels of each individual part.
What frequency response should the microphone have?
This is extremely important for those who have a desire to record and share music and other media productions. For example, a vocalist should be able to see in the response curve of the microphone whether it is more suitable for low, medium, or high-pitched voices.
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What are the characteristics should be assessed in a computer microphone?
- Maximum Sound Pressure Level: Indicates the maximum level at which microphones begin to distort. The greater the pressure support, the better the performance it will have.
- Proprietary Noise Level: This is the noise produced when air molecules collide with the microphone membranes due to thermal movement. In this case, the lower the unit level, the better.
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio: Calculated by subtracting the self-noise level from the maximum pressure level. The higher the rating, the higher the quality of sound the microphone will record and produce.
- Sensitivity: Indicates the efficiency in capturing weak sounds. The higher the sensitivity, the easier it is to pick up distant our very weak sound waves.
- Impedance: This is the measure of the opposition to the passage of an alternating current or electric current. In the case of a microphone, this will affect its frequency functions.
- Saturation Limit: This depends fully on the construction of the microphone and the amount of sound it can withstand and take in. Everyone has the ability to distort sound when the pressure level is too high.
Now that you know a little more about how a computer microphone works and all the possibilities functional uses, we’ve created a short list of the most important factors to consider when going on the search for the best microphone for you. Here are the most important considerations to analyze before buying a computer microphone:
Depending on where and how you want to use your microphone will determine the overall quality, individual features, and respective model. Researching what each microphone specializes in will help you narrow down the right model; whether it be for recreation, gaming, communication or professional use. Keep in mind where you will be using it, as this will affect the quality of microphone necessary.
Directionality (polar pattern) indicates how well a microphone can pick up and differentiate sound from various directions around its central axis. The three main categories of directionality are:
The unidirectional is sensitive in one direction, the bidirectional receives sound from the front and back, and the omnidirectional has a 360º polar diagram.
Make sure the microphone you choose is compatible with the operating system you will be using it with, whether it be Mac, Windows, Linux, Xbox or your mobile device. Most microphones work with the main operating systems present in the technological world.
Check if the connection requirements are simple (directly to the USB port) or if it requires some kind of extra software or drive. Higher, professional-grade microphones often require extra costs and time to get the microphone up and running.
Generally, a very cheap product usually ends up costing us more money in the long run. Good quality is non-negotiable if we want to avoid disappointment and setbacks. To do this we must inform ourselves of the material and expected service of each product. Make sure to choose renowned and trustworthy brands that are known for producing good quality microphones that last.
Inform yourself of the individual characteristics of each model and exactly what they can provide you. Know which programs they support and their ability to function properly within with. Being able to chat effectively on Skype is not the same as being able to produce professional-quality music.
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Computer microphones have become an essential item for modern communication, to enjoy your favorite games, upload videos to networks and carry out professional work. All this without mentioning how they have enabled the everyday person to take their hobbies and careers to the next level.
It’s become effortless to find high-performance computer microphones on the market at affordable prices, allowing users to access quality products at the click of a button. However, because of the endless plate of options available to us, it’s important to do proper research to make our investment worth it.
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(Featured image source: Lurii Golub: 107514901/123rf.com)