Computer Microphones - What Are They?

Just a couple of short years ago, there wasn't any such thing as computer microphones, which tend to be referred to by their acronym USB microphones. However, with the rising need for a simple plug and play solution for recording onto a computer with professional sound quality, has led to huge advancements in this technology, so much so that a standard USB microphone has become a staple piece of equipment for most podcasters, artists, businesses, etc. Even though many of the newer models cost upwards of $100, most people don't carry more than one around, for use at different times. Here's a list of five popular computer microphones that work just as well as the more expensive ones


Sound card microphone. These computer microphones plug directly into your sound card (HDMI in particular). They're cheap but also depend on the sound card that you have. There are several brands to choose from.


Pod Mic. Also known as a portable headset microphone, these computer microphones come with a microphone element that plugs into your computer via the USB port. Some brands even have the ability to be wireless! A great pick for beginners, these can be a good choice for college or even home studio sessions.


USB mics. Perhaps, the most common and popular type of computer microphone. plugged into the USB port, these come loaded with sound card (either Analog or Digital) and usually include a standard microphone element. These offer the best sound quality, however if you record very often they can be a bit costly.


Pod Microphone. Similar to the previous style of computer microphone, these come with a microphone element that plugs into your computer via the USB port. These are less expensive but do suffer from some of the limitations as described above with USB mics. However, if you record very little, these can be your best computer microphones available.


Condenser Microphones. Like their close cousins the USB mics, condenser microphones use a diaphragm to record sound. Unlike the previous two styles of computer microphones, they don't include a battery so are limited in terms of battery life. Still, these are the most popular of all computer microphones because they produce highly consistent and reliable recording quality.


Tweeters. As the name implies, tweeters are used to make the sound of the recording. Many top pick recording styles actually utilize a tweeter, and as such many people argue that a computer microphone without one is no good. While some people do not agree, this is probably your best pick of top picks for computer microphones whether you use it for music or sound editing.


Other points to consider when picking out a microphone to include the user's comfort level with the microphone and the sound quality it produces. The majority of today's microphones are user friendly, however those that are not can be frustrating to use. If you need a lot of versatility in terms of positioning and mobility, then perhaps a condenser microphone would be better suited to your needs. Bear in mind that even though you may want a more portable option, that doesn't mean you always want a small or lightweight microphone. Sometimes, a larger and heavier microphone will capture and reproduce a sound better than a smaller and lighter one.


Condenser Microphones. A lot of people debate whether or not condenser microphones produce the cleanest sound. There are pros and cons to both condenser mics, but most experts seem to side on the condenser microphone. This type of microphone uses a diaphragm to convert electronic vibrations into physical vibrations, which are then amplified by a transmitting transmitter.


Magnifiers. This type of microphone works by passing an electric current through a magnet. The magnet attracts the current and this current is then passed through a piece of paper or other material. The diaphragm then moves back and forth along the coil. As the diaphragm moves back and forth, this creates a varying magnetic field within the coil. The end result is an electric signal that is then amplified.


Phantom Power Microphone. This type of microphone uses phantom power, which is basically extra electricity that is generated using a motor. To generate the needed amount of electric signal, a phantom power generator is used. Basically, a phantom power microphone works by creating a low frequency electrical signal that is then amplified many times over using a DC motor, resulting in an extremely strong sound.