See the Open-Source Sound/Record Studio Project overview
Today I want to talk about microphones. I've just spent over 2 hours reading stuff about microphones! And guess what, I still haven't got it all figured out. But have figured out what matters for recording! (I don't think most of you will lie awake because they don't know how the microphone works, electromagnetic forcefields aren't that interesting (for recorders))
At first I want to make three big categories: Dynamic mics, Ribbon mics, and condenser mics.
A dynamic microphone is one of the most common used microphones out there, they are quiet cheap and are able to handle a lot. In general we can say artists use these microphones when performing on stage. They can handle a damn high amount of dB's and are very shock resistive. But if you want to record audio in a studio there are better options, the strength and the ability to handle high dB's make the quality less good than the other mics.
Ribbon mics and condenser mics, those are the once you want to use when recording in a studio. If you compare them both there can be discussion about which one is best. But in my opinion condensor mics are just a slightly bit better than ribbons. They both sound very full and will be able to get a lot of warmth out (think about the radio presentators who have voices you'd kill for.. they use ribbons or condensors). I think a condenser just has a little more warmth in the lower spectrum. There is a nice warm, deep tone that's just a little better than the ribbons.
condenser microphone with stabilization
An other thing you'll have to keep in mind is the polar pattern of your microphone.
This will tell you how which amount of the signal is captured from different angles.
when you're in a studio and want to record voice it doesn't really matter, you just don't want a 'shotgun' pattern. If you are using a drum and want an overal sound you'll probably have a better sound with an omni-directional.
If you're singing with multiple people a subcardioid pattern is great.
Different microphone patterns
Everyone of you who has allready spoken in to a mic knows the ssssss and pop effect. it ruins everything. That's why you'll want to use a pop-filter, normally you can find those for around 10€ these days, but you can make one yourself. Just take an old nylon, cut a leg off, cut the toes, cut it open lengthwise, fold double and clamp over a embroidery clamper.
An other thing that might help is a stabilizer. this allows your microphone to stand still when minimal vibrations occur (yes it can make a difference with good microphones), such as a passing car on the street.
A stand is quiet essential, without it you won't be able to set the mic in a permanent position and this will affect your record!
As a last hint I want to advice you to look around on ebay for a secondhand microphone, and if you are to buy one consider buying a set. I've seen a set with a pretty decent Fame condenser microphone, a cable, pop-filter, stand and usb soundcard for 180€. This is a lot of money but a microphone is everything for your song!
One encore: monitoring your output true a set of headphones will not be the same as just hearing yourself sing. Studies have proven that the sound of the headphones and the sound we hear in our head differs half a note!