Keep in mind that we are just starting out and are really not in need of a Neumann U87 or some other such magnificent specimen of the old-world microphone-makers art!
On the other hand, the microphone that came with the computer is NOT gonna cut it, even for us newbies.
There are a staggering number of microphones out there that a sorted into many different categories. There are mics that you can plug right into your computer, and there are mics that you can’t. There are Dynamic mics, condenser mics and ribbon mics, with subcategories of all of those. There are Omni directional mics, Unidirectional, Cardiod, Supercardiod, Hypercardiod, Figure 8 and more. The list is exhausting and at this point, we really don’t even need to know it.
For recording vocals, most studios use Condenser mics, and that will be our focus today.
When it comes to powering and receiving the output of a condenser mic, there are a couple different options. The traditional XLR corded mic that must be plugged into an interface or mixer, or the relatively newer style of USB powered mic that plugs directly into the USB port of your computer and receives it power that way. It also records directly into your computer software.
The USB mics are easier to use because they can be plugged directly into your computer and off you go. They also tend to be a good bit cheaper; however, they just can’t produce the quality of sound you can get from the better XLR mics. The quality of the USB mics has improved considerably over the last few years though, as bigger manufacturers have gotten into the market, due in large part to the booming Podcasting phenomenon.
For now, for purposes of learning how to record, and to monitor and improve the sound of your own voice; as well as for submitting dry recordings for audition purposes, the USB mic will serve our purposes pretty well.
There is now quite a spectrum of USB mics available. Samson offers quite a range of USB mics running from around $50.00 to several hundred. Blue, Rode,CAD, MXL, and Audio Technica, among many others, all offer USB mics of varying sophistication and complexity.
For now the USB mic will fit the bill admirably for our purposes. Later that will most likely not be the case and we will all need to give thought to how we might be able to record high-quality, broadcast-ready sound at home. That is not as hard as you might think!
I will post some links to various microphone review sites in the sidebar.