While I already have a condenser mic for vocals, I'm looking for a microphone that would be good for recording random naturally occuring sounds out in the open or inside as well. There would probably be a different recommendation for indoors and out, but something that would work reasonably well with both would be preferred.

Examples of random noises: Paper tearing, clicks on wood, mechanical sounds, smoking noises, lighters, random conversations in public, water drops, video game noises, dog barking. Ya know, kind of any and everything.

One that is pretty transparent is preferred too. Going to purchase a preamp very soon for use with vocal and instrumental recording and realize I won't be able to use this unless I'm indoors with the sound being created within chord length.

1 Answer 1


Depending on the quality of audio you're trying to get, there are several options you can go for.

Assumptions: This will be used in fair conditions, and does not require any additional ruggedness.

1) Buy an omnidirectional LDC (Large Diaphragm Condenser), a matching shock mount, and some sort of boom stand. Set it up in the middle of the space you want to record. Done.

2) Buy a switchable polar pattern LDC. These usually include an omni pattern, as well as cardioid and bipolar. Usually more flexible in the long run if you ever want to record a more isolated sound effect.

3) Buy a hemispherical mic. Best one I can recommend is the Shure PZM. You basically tape it to whatever surface, and it picks up a half-sphere centered around its location.

4) Buy a mic designed for calibration. They have SUPER flat frequency response, and are often used in places like reverb chambers to get the most accurate reproduction of the sound that existed in the room. Edit: An example would be the Audix TM1.

For all of these, look at polar patterns and frequency response graphs before you buy. Try to listen to some samples of things recorded with them. You can find good mics for $200-$300, and can find workable ones as low as $60 and amazing ones (AKG 414) for as much as you want to spend.

  • Nice coverage, good work.
    – filzilla
    Sep 27, 2012 at 23:00
  • Thanks for the awesome response! I have a Sterling Audio ST51 Condenser Mic that doesn't capture stuff like this as well as I'd like. I didn't think of a shock mount but will have to get one of those today when I go to the store to get my Shure SM7B that I have decided to buy. Does a shock mount actually make a noticeable difference? That Shure fits the 2nd description right? A pop filter wouldn't be required when recording these type of sounds either right?
    – Travis Dtfsu Crum
    Sep 28, 2012 at 14:08
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    SM7B is a dynamic, and one with a fairly low output gain, so it's really not that suitable for area effects. It's much better for focused sounds (mostly vocals, but I've seen it on snare and kick as well). It's a little pricy to pick up on top of the SM7B, but the mic i was thinking about for #4 was an Audix TM1. They run about $300. The Behringer ECM8000 is similar, much cheaper, and I can't give a quality review for it, so you'd need to do your own research. For #2 you're looking at something more like an Audio-Technica AT2050.
    – WLPhoenix
    Sep 28, 2012 at 14:32
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    As to the shock mount, it mostly helps to reduce noise traveling through the stand and makes it so slight movements of the stand effect the sound less.
    – WLPhoenix
    Sep 28, 2012 at 14:34
  • Thanks for the info! My next purchase is going to be a preamp but have been looking into your recommendations. Definitely looking at the AT2050 right now because my ST51 just doesn't cut it. Mostly just use it for natural reverb right now.
    – Travis Dtfsu Crum
    Oct 1, 2012 at 19:55

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