Good Evening Everyone,

My first “in depth” post on recording is going to be about microphones.

For the first two to three years of my time recording, I simply used the internal microphone in my MacBook Pro because that was the simplest option.  It was convenient, it was cheap, and it perfectly fit the needs that I had at the time.  Unfortunately, after recording on that computer for three to four years, I had pretty much ruined the microphone.  The quality of the recordings I was creating sounded different: the playback sounded funny, and no matter how I adjusted the recording volume it always seemed to be static-y.  So, I started looking into external microphones.

I had a normal, “mono” microphone that had come with my electronic keyboard, but the issue with that was that I had no idea how to find an adapter for the 1/4″ male mono plug.  I started doing research on microphones, and I learned that there are so many options out there!  Keep reading to learn more about microphones!!

DISCLAIMER: I am providing links below to promotional and descriptive videos on these two microphones.  I want to be clear, this is not a sponsored post.  The MTRC is not receiving any compensation in response to the information that is detailed below.  The fact that the microphones mentioned below are all from the same company is a coincidence.  I have provided a link to a blog post from The Wirecutter, a list blog that focuses upon technology.  The post actually is a list of microphones that the authors of the blog have tried, reviewed, and ranked.  Please feel free to peruse their blog for more detailed information.

Here are some terms that you’ll probably come across if you are looking for a microphone:

Mono – A microphone that records from one channel.
Stereo – A microphone that has 2 channels for recording–right and left.
USB Microphone – A microphone that directly connects to a USB.  This makes it easier to record straight to your computer.
XLR Microphone – A microphone that directly connects to a sound board.  This is said to have a better (more complex) sound, but is more difficult to input into a computer without a USB adaptor/connector.
Pop Filter – A membrane that goes between the microphone and you that softens different consonant sounds. Example: [P], [K], [s], [sʰ]
Shock Mount – A device that absorbs any shocks from movement that may happen to a microphone stand.

The music therapists that I know of who use microphones in their practice mainly have either the Snowball or the Yeti, both by Blue Microphones.  These are both USB microphones that have multiple recording settings.

The Snowball has three different recording modes, thus rendering it versatile to different situations.  The first is a mono (Blue defines it as cartioid), single person recording setting.  Secondly, it has a “dampened” single person recording setting (let’s say you’re working with a very loud someone/instrument–this setting would reduce the damage that could happen to the sensitivity of your microphone).  The third setting is called omnidirectional, which means it records all around the microphone.

The Yeti has four recording modes.  Like the Snowball, it has an omnidirectional setting (records all around), as well as the cartioid setting.  But the Yeti also has a stereo setting, and a “bidirectional” mode, that records through the front/back of the microphone (perfect for a duet or interview).  Something that I found to be useful when using this microphone is that you can plug your headphones directly into the microphone and hear in real time what the recording will sound like.  This microphone also has a gain dial, a mute button, and a headphone specific volume dial.

I was somewhat impractical when I chose my microphone.  At the time, I wasn’t necessarily thinking of using it as a music therapist–I was thinking about what microphone would be best for my personal use in recording my own music.  Thus, I chose to go with the Blue Spark.  The Spark is advertised as being a great studio microphone, and I have to say, it’s true.  This microphone has two modes: a “Focus Control Mode” where higher frequencies are clearly recorded, and a “Normal Mode” that picks up lower frequencies.  When I’m recording with my ukulele, I can use the focus control and record that timbre, and when I pull out a bodhran, I can just switch to normal mode and record it just as well.  This microphone also comes with a shock mount as well as a pop filter.  This microphone is an XLR, so in order to use it with Garage Band (or any computer recording software), one must use a USB connector/adapter.  But this means, if I were to ever purchase a soundboard, I could plug this microphone directly into it.

I fully admit I am no expert on this topic, but my hope is to provide some basic information to you, our lovely readers, so that you can make more informed decisions when it comes to how to use recording technology within your sessions.  Let me know if you have any questions, or if you want to share what you use to record!  I’m all ears!

If you are looking for more in depth information about the above microphones, or for more reviews and information about other microphones, I suggest you follow this link to a blog post on The Best USB Microphones from The Wirecutter.

Until next time,


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