If two equally educated and socially equivalent friends walk into an art gallery, there is a great chance that one person will view certain pieces as true works of art while the other person will scratch her head over why those pieces are in the museum. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
People often ask, “What’s the best microphone?” The answer is simple: The best microphone is the one that provides the sound you want. Recording studios constantly experiment with various extravagantly expensive microphones to find the one that best suits a particular voice or application.
If you have ever participated in a microphone shootout or a double blind test, you have seen that not everyone agrees on which microphone sounds best. For some people, the Heil PR40 is the only option. For others, the ElectroVoice RE20 is the winner. Some people choose the Shure SM7B. If it’s what you like, that’s what you should get.
When you select a microphone for your voice, you will be best served if you are able to test several models for a few days in your own studio. Not every dealer will let you test microphones and return them, but some will. A second best solution is to find someone who has the microphone you’re considering, and test your voice on theirs. Record yourself at their studio and then listen to that recording in your own studio to compare the result with your current setup. Maybe you should consider renting the model you want to try for a few days.
Be aware that most people cannot hear a dramatic difference between any two particular microphones. There are certain exceptions, like the AKG D112, but that one has no place in a broadcasting or podcasting studio. Ribbon microphones are rarely useful for broadcasters and podcasters, although they are sometimes the perfect choice for a particularly sibilant female voice. An expensive microphone does not always sound better than a cheaper one.
While I’m not a golfer, I have heard that die-hard golfers will pay hundreds of dollars for a new and improved driver that will enable them to hit the ball 6” farther. Or something like that. Microphones, like drivers, are personal items. Sometimes we buy what we want. Sometimes what we want costs a lot of money. If you want an expensive microphone and you can afford it, buy it. Just don’t get your feelings hurt if someone with an Audio-Technica ATR2100 sounds as good or better. (Charlie Van Dyke sounds better on a Wollensak tape recorder microphone than most people sound on a Sony C800.)
Let’s not get too deep into microphone preamplifier selection. There are some preamps that cost thousands of dollars. They work and sound great. However, for most broadcasters, it is impossible to hear the difference between the preamp built into the Behringer mixer and the totally awesome Greg Hanks BA-660. If you want the BA-660, get it, but don’t expect miracles in a broadcasting environment.
Microphones can be like fine paintings in an art museum. Their beauty may be apparent to some and not to others. Make your own decision. Get what you want. Just be aware that your satisfaction with a microphone is not always directly proportional to the money you spend.