Types of Computer Microphone: Which One Is Best for You?

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We live in a digitally advanced world where you can have just about any kind of device you can imagine.

Even for basic hardware components like computer microphones, your options are virtually endless.

Unfortunately, this makes selecting the right microphone a daunting task.

That said, before you spend hours comparing products, you should learn about the different types of computer microphones first.

This way, you’ll have an idea of what specific type is most suited to your audio needs.

Types of Computer Microphones

In the new normal, having a reliable audio device for your computer is indispensable.

Whether you’re attending online meetings, creating music, recording, streaming, or video calling with your loved ones, computer microphones make all of those happen.

Given the right connector, you can use just about any type of microphone for your computer.

Let’s explore the four major types of microphones used for computers that you’ll find in the market today.

Desk-Mounted Microphones

Most laptops have built-in microphones.

However, if you’re using a desktop computer, you will need a separate device for your audio needs.

Desk-mounted microphones are easy, inexpensive ways to allow your computer to process sound signals from your voice or instrument.

They come in different styles and designs but are generally light and portable.

These microphones are also easy to connect to your computer’s sound card.

Depending on your audio recording or voice calling needs, you can choose a higher-end model for better quality, especially if you’re using it for podcasting.

Some models are specially designed for conferences since they can pick up multiple voices at a time.

USB Mics

Home users looking to record audio on their computers can choose between a USB and analog format.

USB mics, as the name suggests, connect to any open USB port.

These mics have their own processing hardware and drivers, which means they act as their own sound card.

That said, USB mics will produce the same sound quality regardless of your computer’s hardware specs.

This suggests that they will work well on computers with a cheap sound card or none at all.

Also, since computers recognize a USB mic as a separate audio source, it’s great to mix multiple recording sources without a sound card that supports multiple units.

Audio Mics

Unlike USB mics, analog mics rely on your computer’s sound card to process audio signals.

Thus, its sound quality is dependent on your computer hardware.

If you have high-end audio hardware, it’s better to choose an audio mic.

That’s because it can take advantage of any included features in your sound card, including special effects like reverb.

Headset Microphones

Many people prefer using a headset since this device allows them to talk and listen simultaneously.

Headset microphones are great for both communications and gaming.

Since they are convenient to use, they are also ideal for remote work.

More expensive headsets are configured in such a way that they pick up voice and ignore background noise.

A headset mic is also typically positioned adjacent to the mouth to pick up your voice better.

Additionally, since headsets are very portable, they make a popular option for people who are always traveling.

Professional Microphones

If you’re setting up a home studio or using your microphone for recording music, it’s worth investing in a professional microphone.

Yes, you can connect a professional mic to your computer, but sometimes, it will require a power source or a microphone preamplifier.

You can also install an internal sound card in your computer that offers better audio connections for your mic or preamplifier.

types of computer microphone

Computer Microphone Types Based on Function

Computer microphones can also be categorized according to how they work.

Learning about the different mechanisms used in computer mics gives you more insights into the best device for your needs.

Dynamic Microphone

Dynamic microphones are the most common and probably the cheapest type of microphone for computers.

These devices work by converting sound into electrical signals through the process of electromagnetism.

Dynamic microphones fall into two categories.

These are moving coil and ribbon microphones.

Moving coil mics are essentially built like a loudspeaker.

They are heavy and bulky, but they tend to be very durable.

Ribbon mics, on the other hand, work by the same principle of electromagnetic induction.

These are lighter than the moving coil mics but are sensitive and must be treated with great care.

Condenser Microphones

Also known as capacitor mics, condenser mics are widely used in studios.

They are considered technical microphones because of their detail and accuracy.

These devices are constructed with a lightweight diaphragm suspended by a fixed plate.

Condenser mics are highly sensitive to sound, so they are great for capturing vocals and instruments, such as acoustic guitars and drum overheads.

If you’re using a microphone to record music or instrumentals, you should consider a condenser mic.

However, condenser microphones require external power.

To connect them to your computer, you need the following components:

  • A power source
  • A preamp to amplify the low signal into a higher, better level
  • An analog-to-digital interface to deliver those bits and bytes to your computer

Alternatively, you can use an audio interface that has all the said functions in one external hardware.

They’re quite expensive, but they make the process of connecting and using your condenser microphone a lot easier.

How To Choose a Microphone for Your PC

Now that you know the different types of microphones for computers, below are some tips when you start shopping around for one.

Webcam With Mic for Light Use

Consider a solid webcam with a built-in mic if you don’t really have a specific need.

If you don’t use your mic that often, only during occasional chats with friends or loved ones, a basic yet reliable mic should be enough.

Headset for Frequent Video Chat User

Choose a headset or a dedicated mic if you’re a frequent video chat user.

If your audio needs are more frequent, like you participate in video calls regularly for work or study, you should invest in a dedicated mic or headset.

These microphones typically have volume controls and ambient sound control, so they do a better job at cutting out background noise.

A headset is also a good choice if you’re after portability.

With a headset, you don’t need a separate device on your desk.

Dedicated Microphone for Audio Production

If you’re a video creator, musician, or podcaster, you will need a microphone designed for the task.

As mentioned earlier, condenser microphones are best suited for these projects.

You may consider buying a simple pop filter for your microphone if you’re concerned about natural reverb and noise since these microphones are very sensitive to sound.

USB vs. Audio Computer Microphones

If you’re using a computer with a low-end sound card or audio hardware, it’s best to buy a USB microphone with its own processing unit and drivers.

However, if you have a high-end system with a great-quality sound card and audio features, you’re better off with an audio or analog microphone.

Final Words

There are different types of computer microphones.

Generally, you can connect computers to any type of mic as long as you have the right connector and your system supports it.

The most common microphones used for computers are desk-mounted mics, USB mics, analog mics, headsets, and professional microphones.

You must factor in your audio use, activities, and lifestyle, so you end up choosing the type of microphone that matches your needs.

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