Best Computer microphone 2021 • 7 Computer microphones Reviews
In this guide, we’ll walk through the various options and important considerations when looking for the best microphone. Having a proper computer microphone will save you time, money, facilitate professional and personal relationships, and enhance the quality of your virtual communication.
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What is a computer microphone and how does it work?
A computer microphone consists of the main body, which works via electromagnets that, when vibrating, modifies sound current transmissions by utilizing the different pressures within the circuit. It is used to transform sound waves into electrical energy and vice versa, increasing its intensity and ability to transmit and record sound. This, in turn, facilitates the sound-recording and reproduction process.
Its name comes from the Greek words micro, which means small, and phone, which means sound. They have been tested and are used to carry out several 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. Our guide should help you form an opinion about the topic of computer microphones, compare them based on the most important aspects and thereby find the best product for you.
What types of computer microphones are there?
Microphones are usually classified according to their transducer model (energy transformer). They are built with either a condenser or dynamic design, each with its individual directional characteristics. Sometimes other features such as microphone body size, intended use, or orientation of the main sound input are used to classify the varying microphone models.
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.
Also known as magneto-dynamic microphones, these work through electromagnetic induction. They are robust, relatively inexpensive, and resistant to humidity.
These 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.
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.
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.
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.
These 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.
Microelectromechanical systems (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.
These consist 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.
Shopping Criteria for Computer Microphones
Now that you know a little more about how a computer microphone works and all possibilities of functional uses, we want to show you the most important factors to consider when going on the search for the best microphone for you. While it is always advisable to test a product before buying it, this is not always possible. These factors will help you make an informed choice, nevertheless. In our opinion, these are the most important considerations to analyze and compare before buying a computer microphone.
- Intended use
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 for recreation, gaming, communication, or professional use. Different models are tested for specific usages, so keep in mind where you will be using it, as this will affect the necessary quality of the microphone.
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 following.
The unidirectional is sensitive in one direction, the bidirectional receives sound from the front and back, and the omnidirectional has a 360-degree polar diagram. You should either form an opinion about the requirements you have for the product or try to test the different modes of directionality somewhere before buying.
Make sure the microphone you choose has been tested for compatibility with the operating system with which you will be using it, whether that’s 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. It is advisable to test your equipment first. This is an aspect worth comparing before buying a product to avoid unnecessary difficulties.
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. Manufacturers often provide test recordings of the microphones for you to gain a better opinion about the quality.
Inform yourself of the individual characteristics of each model and exactly what they can provide you. Know which programs they support. Being able to chat effectively on Skype is not the same as being able to produce professional-quality music.
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What are computer microphones used for?
Computer microphones are being used for a large variety of purposes in a number of different fields, including telemarketing, computer science, health, concerts, public events, mass media (film and television), radio, live production, professional audio recording, sound development engineering, online teaching, and voice recognition, to name a few.
Is directionality important when considering different computer microphones?
Directionality is a microphone’s sensitivity to sound relative to the direction or angle from which the sound arrives. There are a number of different directional patterns available, and these are plotted in graphs known as polar patterns. The way in which the microphone’s body is oriented in relation to the diagrams depends on the design. Some combine several concepts and designs in creating the desired pattern.
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 pickup 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 for computer microphones?
What you will be using your microphone for will directly influence the directionality capabilities of the microphone you choose. They will range from low-quality, basic models all the way up to professional-grade microphones that offer the capability of choosing between different modes.
Many professional microphones are not limited to a single configuration, which enables the user to test out the different modes in order to find the one which fits the best.
Based on the general characteristics of each model, you should be able to narrow down which design will be best suited for your needs. Omnidirectional 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 sensitivity levels of a microphone tell us the lowest levels of decibels it is able to pick up. The lower sounds that you can “hear” via a microphone, the more sensitive it will be. On the other end, we can look at the sound pressure level (SPL) to tell us the maximum level of decibels that a microphone can pick up without distorting the sound as it is reproduced.
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. Each microphone also has several settings for you to test and find the most fitting one for what you want to record.
What frequency response should a computer microphone have?
Another important feature to consider is how a microphone responds to certain frequencies. This will influence the microphone's capability to pick up and distinguish bass, mid-bass, treble, and high-frequency tones.
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.
Which characteristics should be assessed in a computer microphone?
The main characteristics of given computer microphones will help us select the one that performs the best according to our needs. However, no matter the case, we want to choose a microphone that allows us to channel and reproduce the most powerful and clearest sound. And as it is not always possible to test the microphone before the purchase, have a look at the main characteristics provided in the following to help you form an opinion and choose the best one.
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.
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