Bonus 32: Outdoor microphone testing 1

I’ve decided that I’m not happy with the microphones I’ve been using to record outdoors.  They are picking up too many of the distant sounds in the environment.

So I decided to test eleven of my microphones to see which type might work better.  That’s right, welcome to Harris going all techy, geeko, and nerdapalooza for almost a full hour.  I tested various types of microphones ranging in cost from $30 to $1000.

You can see a photo of the microphones here:

Here are some terms I use in this recording:

  • Mini-boom mic: a small microphone that you might see on a gamer headset or used by a telemarketer.
  • Boom: a long shotgun microphone that you might see on a long boom pole at a movie or TV film set.
  • Condenser mic: a microphone type with more sensitivity for picking up distant sounds.
  • Dynamic mic: a microphone type with less sensitivity for picking up distant sounds.
  • Polar pattern: the focus pick-up area of the microphone, such as omni (from all directions), cardioid (mostly from the front), and super-cardioid or hyper-cardioid (very much from the front).
  • Diaphragm: the specific part of the microphone which captures the sound waves – diaphragm size may be small, medium, or large.  Larger ones capture higher quality sound.

Here are the time codes to the different microphones tested.  I also included a rating score:
<1> = low rating due to most distant sounds
<5> = high rating due to least distant sounds

  • 0m:0s Mic #1 (FUSION, condenser, cardioid, mini-boom):  <2>
  • 12m:0s Mic #2 (VMODA, condenser, cardioid, mini-boom):  <3>
  • 17m:22s Mic #3 (CAD, condenser, omni-setting):  <1>
  • 20m:5s Mic #3 (CAD, condenser, cardioid-setting):  <3>
  • 21m25s Mic #3 (CAD, condenser, super-cardioid-setting):  <4>
  • 22m45s Mic #3 (CAD, condenser, omni-setting again):  <1>
  • 24m20s Mic #4 (TASCAM, condenser, cardioid, candle-stick):  <4.5>
  • 28m0s Mic #5 (POLSEN, condenser, cardioid, candle-stick):  <5>
  • 30m40s Mic #6 (SENN-MKE, condenser, super-cardioid, boom):  <5>
  • 33m55s Mic #7 (SENN-MKH, condenser, super-cardioid, boom):  <4>
  • 37m55s Mic #8 (PYLE, dynamic, cardioid, handheld):  <3>
  • 40m40s Mic #9 (SAMSON, dynamic, cardioid, handheld):  <2.5>
  • 44m50s Mic #10 (ATR, dynamic, cardioid, handheld):  <3>
  • 48m30s Mic #11 (SENN-835, dynamic, cardioid, handheld):  <3>

Summary: Cardioid was definitely better than Omni for recording outside.  Surprisingly, I think some condenser mics sounded better than the dynamic mics for rejecting distant sounds without adding extra hiss.  I think mics #5 and #6 picked up the least distant sounds.

Leave a Reply