Main Content

Microphone Buying Guide

Whether you're recording a podcast, singing or on a work call, having the right microphone is important. In this guide, we'll cover the basics of how to choose the best one for your needs.
Microphone Types Explained Video
Microphone Types Explained
Microphone Types Explained Video Microphone Types Explained Video
Still have a question?

Types of Microphones

Different types of microphones are better for certain tasks. There are three main types of microphones and four different polar patterns (which refers to the ways in which a particular device picks up sound), giving you many options for any style of recording. The three microphone types we're covering today are dynamic, condenser and ribbon.

Dynamic Microphones

Silver dynamic microphone laying flat on a white background
Dynamic microphones are commonly used onstage, but can be used for other applications as well. They're a popular choice because they can handle loud noises (like singing) without pickup up too much background noise. They're also typically more rugged than other types of microphone, so you don't have to be too careful with them; they also don't always require a separate power source.

Condenser Microphones

Condenser microphone on a stand on a white background
Condenser microphones are popular for different reasons. They're more sensitive than dynamic microphones, making them ideal for picking up small details in recordings. They tend to be lighter than dynamic models because they don't use magnets, but they do require power from an electrical source (called "phantom power"). Condenser microphones are most often found in settings where the ambient noise can be controlled, like a studio or soundproofed room.

Ribbon Microphones

Vintage-looking ribbon microphone on a stand on a white background
Ribbon microphones are the most delicate of the three types of microphone. They offer the smoothest sound, making them an ideal choice for music studios and TV broadcasts. They are also known for creating a sound most similar to the way our ears hear sound.

Polar Patterns

Now that you've weighed the pros and cons of each microphone type, it's time to consider the polar patterns. Polar patterns define how much of an audio signal is picked up by the microphone from different directions. The four most common patterns are cardioid, figure eight (or bi-directional), omnidirectional and supercardioid.


Cardioid microphones pick up sound mainly from the back and somewhat from the sides, while blocking noise from the back. These devices are best for a single person speaking into a microphone, like when recording a podcast or YouTube video.

Figure Eight/Bi-Directional

Figure eight or bi-directional pattern microphones pick up sound evenly from the front and the back, hence their name. They block sound from the sides, which makes them a great choice for conducting face-to-face interviews with a single microphone.


Omnidirectional microphones pick up sounds evenly from all directions (front, back, sides, above and below). These devices are a great option when trying to avoid wind noise when recording. They're also better at handling plosive sounds, like words with the letters P, T and B. As these devices can pick up sound from every direction, they can be used upside down if necessary.


Microphones with a supercardioid pattern are highly focused on sound coming from the front. They can pick up some sound from behind them, but this pattern is the best for blocking sound from the sides. This polar pattern works well for speeches, singing or recording an individual instrument within an ensemble. Supercardioid is also the pattern of choice for film and video recording.
Now that you have knowledge about the types of microphones and the different polar patterns, you should have an easier time picking out one that works for your needs. Whether you're ready to launch your own podcast or want colleagues to hear you better in Zoom meetings, you'll be able to find the microphone you need at Abt. Browse all of our microphones to see the options we have, compare prices and more. If you have additional questions, give our experts a call at 800-860-3577 for more help.

What Our Customers Say About Us

  • The communication from the delivery team prior to arrival was good they arrived when they said they would. Also, they were professional, courteous and clean.
    Peter B. - Bartlett, IL
    February 22, 2023
Loading Live