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Having a great karaoke experience is more than just choosing the right song to sing, it’s also using the right type of microphone. The right microphone will help you give the greatest karaoke performance by making your voice sound better.
Generally speaking, a karaoke mic is not that much different from a regular vocal mic. It can record vocals, be used for live performances, and capture loud vocals. However, the sound quality will differ because you will be using a karaoke machine for the former and a more professional audio interface for the latter.
While karaoke is intended for fun, it does not mean you can just use any recording device. After all, the sound quality of your overall performance would rely greatly on the type of microphone you will be using — and sounding great will also make it an enjoyable experience for everyone.
The condenser and dynamic mic are often the two mics to choose from when recording vocals. Let’s take a closer look at dynamic and condenser mics and determine which one is better for singing, vocals, and karaoke use.
A condenser microphone has a higher sensitivity than a dynamic microphone. Condenser mics also have a wider frequency response and dynamic range than dynamic mics, which means they are preferred for capturing delicate sounds and quieter sounds.
With that said, a condenser mic is good at capturing sensitive and accurate sounds but is not ideal for recording louder sounds with high sound pressure levels. This means that a condenser mic is good for a closed and controlled recording environment rather than loud karaoke nights.
Condenser mics tend to pick up intricate and complex sounds, which is why they are ideal mics for recording music and instruments such as acoustic guitars, drum overheads, and high-frequency sounds. However, for this same reason, using a condenser microphone for karaoke may create a feedback loop. While condenser mics are great at picking up details and have a wide frequency response, they can create a high-pitched squealing sound from the karaoke speakers.
Although the high-sensitivity trait of condenser microphones is great at capturing sound waves and making your vocals naturally shine, it can be a downfall when used in karaoke applications. As condenser microphones are intended to be held on a fixed mic stand, rough handling will result in a shaky karaoke performance. If you’re using a condenser microphone for karaoke night, then you will need to stay still so your vocals won’t come out shaky.
Condenser microphones also have a large diaphragm and make use of complex and delicate technology inside that will help sound waves hit a thin metal plate and produce a small electrical signal. With such technology and process, condenser mics require phantom power to make the thin diaphragm move. While it’s easy to simply turn on the phantom power switch of condenser mics, looking for an external power source or external power supply is more legwork needed for a simple night of karaoke.
Unlike condenser mics, dynamic mics can withstand very loud sounds and rowdy environments. Dynamic microphones are tough, robust, and durable enough to be swung and thrown around — making them perfect for over-the-top karaoke nights. A dynamic mic is also not as sensitive as a condenser mic so you can get up close and personal with it, especially when you are feeling the song you are singing. Just make sure to use a pop filter so you can still reject plosives and wind noise.
Dynamic microphones are also more suited for live performances where volume levels are high, and where loud noise and background noise are present. Crowds, public spaces, and concerts are ideal venues where dynamic microphones can be used, making it a great choice for karaoke nights. Dynamic microphones can also handle loud sound sources such as guitar amps, a drum kit, and heavy vocals.
However, not all dynamic mics can handle loud sounds. Ribbon mics are a type of dynamic mics that are better at picking up quiet sounds and are great for podcasts and live streaming applications. A ribbon mic is also delicate, even more delicate than a condenser mic because of the parts it uses. With that said, ribbon microphones are not ideal for karaoke nights even if they will make your vocals sound rich and full.
The setup of a condenser and dynamic mic is also very much different. Unlike the former, a sound wave hits a dynamic mic’s metal coil to produce an audio signal. No phantom power is needed so using a dynamic mic is easy for karaoke nights. However, in case there are audio interfaces needed, then both a condenser mic and dynamic microphone can be turned into an XLR microphone depending on the model.
On a side note, karaoke nights are meant to be fun and simple. Taking this into consideration, using a USB mic is also a viable option for said application. There are plenty of good USB microphones to choose from — both condenser and dynamic. Just make sure that your karaoke machine is compatible with them!
Now that we know that a dynamic mic is the better option for karaoke, can the same be said for recording vocals? If you walk into a music store, you would often be told that a dynamic microphone is better for vocals. However, this is not always the case. Choosing the best type of vocal microphone will rely on your intended application and the sound you are aiming for.
A condenser microphone is designed to pick up delicate sounds and noises. In a controlled setting, such as a recording studio, condenser mics can accurately record fast transients and details. For this reason, a condenser mic does a great job at recording acoustic instruments, acoustic guitars, and vocal recordings wherein you want your nuances to shine.
A large diaphragm condenser will be able to make your vocal sound as natural as possible. If you want your vocals to sound as if you are sitting right beside your listeners, then use a condenser mic with such build. However, use small diaphragm condenser mics for close-micing applications and instruments.
Dynamic mics are resistant and powerful recording devices. Even in noisy environments, dynamic mics will be able to pick up specific sounds and vocals, which makes them a great choice for live performances in open spaces.
Since dynamic microphones can withstand high-pressure sound levels, recording guitar amps, a bass drum, and a snare drum while a vocalist is belting out tunes can be achieved. However, it’s good to make use of cardioid mics for this off-axis rejection.
Most of the time, dynamic mics are more versatile when it comes to connectivity and setting up. This helps make recording vocals easier and more convenient since you won’t need to account for a few factors such as phantom power and an external supply.
The Shure SM58 is one microphone that is versatile in that sense. It is a great dynamic cardioid XLR mic that doesn’t need phantom power despite it requiring an XLR cable. It has a frequency response of 50Hz-15kHZ, which makes it tailor-fit to highlight vocals.
To summarize, a condenser mic is great for recording vocals in a quiet and controlled setting, but not particularly for karaoke nights. For the latter application, a dynamic mic is the best choice.