|General Purpose: $15-$50||Handheld: $30-$300+||Studio: $100-$1,000+|
The cost of a microphone (also known as a mic or mike) varies according to the intended use. Microphones can be used for podcasting, voice recording, karaoke singing, live broadcasts or with Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) applications (see How Much Does Internet Phone Service Cost). Microphones are usually either dynamic mics or condenser mics. Dynamic mics use magnetics, are less expensive and more rugged while condenser microphones are powered by electricity and are smaller and more sensitive.
What should be included:
- A general purpose vocal microphone costs $15 to $50. Expect a dynamic, handheld microphone for use in a home studio or with a karaoke machine. The Nady SP-4C costs about $16 and features an XLR connector (used in professional equipment) and a standard 1/4-inch jack found in most amplifiers and home audio equipment.
- Desktop computer microphones are suitable for voice recording, podcasting and VOIP applications from services such as Skype. Expect to pay $3 to $75 for a desktop microphone with either a USB connection or mini 3.5mm mic-in jack. The Logitech USB Desktop Microphone pivots on its base for comfortable positioning and features an 8 foot long USB cord for $20 to $30.
- Handheld microphones suitable for live performances (speeches, singing, interviews) need to be durable so tend to be dynamic microphones. Most offer directional pickup systems that only pickup sound from in front of the mic and not crowd or background noise. These cost $30 to $300 or more. An example is the Shure SM58 costing about $100.
- Hands-free microphones for stage use include headsets, ear-sets and lavalier microphones (tiny mics that clip on ties or blouses). Due to the smaller size, expect condenser microphones with either directional or omnidirectional pickup (recording sound from every direction) costing $70 to $500 or more. An example of a lavalier microphone is the Sony ECM44B , which costs about $220 and includes a holder clip and XLR connector. The AKG C520 is a headset microphone that costs $160 and offers a cardioid directional mic (with a heart-shaped sensitivity pattern), suitable for concert recording as it doesn't totally eliminate background noise.
- Wireless microphones offer greater convenience and mobility for a performer and can be found in handheld, headset or lavalier designs. In handheld wireless microphones the transmitter is integrated into the mic, while a separate pocket-sized transmitter is required for headset or lavalier microphones. Expect to pay $120 to $500 or more for a wireless microphone. The Audio-Technica 2000 series , for example, features a receiver and handheld microphone or receiver, transmitter and either a lavalier or headset microphone. It costs from $277 with lavalier or headset, and from $262 with handheld microphone.
- Studio microphones are typically condenser mics, since they're more sensitive and don't need to be as rugged as stage mics. Expect to pay $100 to $1,000 or more for a high quality studio microphone. The Rode NT2-A condenser studio microphone has three different pickup patterns, including omnidirectional and cardioid, and costs about $400.
- Most handheld microphones come with an on/off switch and cable.
- Many microphones include a stand clip and protective pouch.
- A microphone should include at least a one year limited warranty.
- A microphone stand costs $10 to $30 or more for professional quality equipment. See How Much Does a Microphone Stand Cost for more details.
- A basic microphone clip that attaches to a stand costs $2 to $25. A shock mount isolates the microphone from physical vibration and stand noise and costs $15 to $95.
- A microphone pop filter helps prevent the popping sound during voice recordings and typically costs about $15 to $30.
- A foam windscreen for a handheld microphone for use on stage or in a studio costs about $5 to $10 while a wind muff for use outside costs $5 to $40 or more for professional grade quality.
- Some microphones that use an XLR connection may or may not come with an XLR cable to connect it to an amp or receiver. A 15' XLR cable can run $10-$20.
- Microphone extension cable costs $5 to $20 or more depending on length.
Shopping for a microphone:
- Online retailers such as Amazon sell brand-name microphones in discounted packages that include the mic along with accessories such as a stand, pop filter and/or shock mount. The price of these kits represents a discount over buying the items separately but make sure every piece in the outfit is required.
- B&H offers used microphones at a discount.
- Sweetwater's Trading Post offers customers the opportunity to buy and sell used music and audio equipment, including microphones.
- J&R offers a microphone buying guide.
- Compare online prices from sites such as B&H with those from national retails chains such as Best Buy .
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