As the clock hands changed, technology underwent many advancements so did the microphone.
Today’s industry is brimming with diverse options from which we have to choose. Well, picking a microphone is itself a tiresome task. USB microphone and 3.5 MM microphone both are trending currently in the market
But, how to know this is for you or not?
In the impending article, I would be doing a comprehensive analysis of USB vs 3.5MM microphone.
Their uses, how they differ from each other, Pons and cons, your right pick. Both the choices are attractive at the same time.
- What is USB Microphone and How It Works?
- Pros and Cons of USB Microphone
- What is XLR Microphone and How It Works?
- Types of XLR Microphones
- Microphones Based Upon Polar Patterns
- Microphones Based Upon Diaphragm Variations
- Different Types of XLR Microphones Based On Usage
- Pros and Cons of XLR Microphone
- Is USB or 3.5 mm better for audio?
- Are USB Mics Worse Than XLR?
- Can you turn a USB mic into an XLR?
What is USB Microphone and How It Works?
Starting with the foundation building, the first question that pops into our minds when we hear about a new product or gadget is what this product is all about and its working mechanisms.
USB microphones work similarly to a regular USB device (which stores and transmits data). It can be connected to the USB port provided on your PC and laptop or can be to your tablet or mobile device.
USB Mic takes in signals in the form of a mechanical sound wave, converts the audio into electrical signals, and generating the outputs in the form of a digital audio signal.
Here it is essential to know the fundamental differences between the analog and digital signaling output. Analog signals use the replication of the original sound wave and store that in the form of a wave signal.
However, a digital signal takes samples of the initial sound wave at fixed time intervals and stores the data in the form of bits (0,1). Digital signals lead to a better audio quality output.
USB microphone requires recording software for its processing and storage.
For recording software, I would recommend Garageband for Mac, and if you are working with Windows, Linux, or any other system, our recommendation would be Audacity because of its user-friendly interface.
Pros and Cons of USB Microphone
When deciding between different alternatives, it is essential to look up the pros and cons of that particular accessory to gain a better insight making your choice much secure.
Without wasting any further time, let us quickly move on to the pros and cons of a USB microphone.
What is XLR Microphone and How It Works?
XLR is one of the choices that a user considers when buying a new microphone because of its excellent features. Giving the users a very professional feel.
It utilizes an analog signal and uses four different connectors, including three males pronged and one female connector.
Unlike a USB microphone, it outputs a stable and high sound quality as it inputs original sound waves without converting them into binary bits.
It also utilizes sound cards on our Personal computers and laptops. Moreover, it requires a fusion of different equipment’s from cables to audio interface device because, without that, our computers would not recognize the microphone.
Types of XLR Microphones
As we visit the market, we realize that there are many microphones available under the name of XLR microphone leading to more confusion about which one to choose.
If a user is inexperienced, there are clear chances that they must pick the wrong one that would refuse to support them in their future projects.
I would try to discuss some of the best choices that one can go for without the panic that he or she has picked the wrong one.
Microphones Based Upon Polar Patterns
Polar patterns are the specific working direction of a microphone by which they receive and process mechanical sound waves. There are five diverse types of polar patterns.
Cardioid Pattern microphones working in this pattern can only sense the sound anteriorly blocking any other sound that the microphone pick from the environment or notes that are not projected to their front.
This pattern is usually exhibited by the microphones used in speeches, live concerts, and places with big crowds.
Hyper Cardioid Pattern: As the name shows, microphones exhibiting such a pattern are more sensitive to the specific direction, and the surface area from where they pick the sound is even narrower.
These kinds of microphones can be used for the disturbing environment of the stage and if we have not set up our studio microphone with these patterns would adjust easily given crispy voice notes.
Omnidirectional Pattern: If we want to capture a soundtrack with multiple effects, this is the ideal microphone, as it can sense the sound from all directions and angles. Usually does not reject any of the sounds coming from the environment.
Figure 8 Pattern: As the name indicates, figure 8 microphones capture the voice notes as an eight, anteriorly and posteriorly it goes both ways.
These patterns are usually exhibited by ribbon microphones and the ones with a large diaphragm. Diaphragms would be discussed later in the article.
Shotgun Pattern: It takes its name from the graphic representation of its pattern.
They are overly sensitive, just like hyper-cardioid, and capture the voice notes just like a tube. Such mics eliminate all the sounds coming from side angles.
These pattern exhibiting microphones are used in shootings, instrumental recordings etc. Etc.
Microphones Based Upon Diaphragm Variations
Large Diaphragm: The size of the diaphragm is directly proportional to its sensitivity towards sound vibrations.
Microphones with a large diaphragm can capture the slightest voice notes. They also possess features to make our sound feel attractive. These are multipurpose microphones and can be used for anything.
Small Diaphragm: A small size diaphragm gives the simplicity to the design of its mic hence makes the handling easy. Mics with a small diaphragm help the mic handle excessive sound pressure comfortably. That is the reason they are mostly used in instrumental recordings.
They also offer a wide coverage area.
Different Types of XLR Microphones Based On Usage
There are three distinct types of microphones available in the market based upon the features mentioned earlier.
Dynamic: Dynamic microphones are all-rounder sound pre sure, enduring mics. They can be used in settings with high air pressure and are equally suited for quieter settings.
Condenser: Condenser work by utilizing capacitance, unlike dynamic which works over the coils. They provide their users with crisper sound quality.
These mics are ideal to be used in studio settings but will not be able to handle excessive sound pressure.
Ribbon: Ribbon mics are no longer participating in the run. But they were excellent microphones to capture the radio environment.
They were used to capture high sound frequencies and notes. If we want to record an aesthetic vibe these mics are ideal for that.
Pros and Cons of XLR Microphone
Is USB or 3.5 mm better for audio?
Coming to the main concern that a user shows when choosing a Mic, which one is better for me that perfectly fits all my needs?
If I am a beginner and I have less time to devote to the audio setups, I would go straight towards the USB microphone but picking a decent quality microphone after extensive research is necessary.
If I am a professional and can afford to invest a handsome amount in my audio setup, no doubt XLR is the best choice. But in the end, all it depends upon my needs.
Are USB Mics Worse Than XLR?
Are USB mics worse than XLR?
I asked myself this question and concluded that it all depends upon the mic you are choosing.
Many of us think that the digital signaling output of the USB microphone must be contributing to the quality of the sound but it’s just a myth.
There are some of the best quality USB mics present in the market today. These mics are highly competitive to XLR mics. At the same time, if we investigate the XLR microphones, certain mics disappoint their users.
It also depends upon our needs, that when and where we want to use our microphones, and for what purposes.
But on the other hand, professionals prefer XLR microphones over USB because of the above.
Again, it all depends upon your needs, the stage you are at, and the budget you are utilizing. If you have a handsome budget and hands-on experience, do not hesitate in investing in a good XLR mic. If you lack any of these, go for a USB microphone.
Can you turn a USB mic into an XLR?
A short answer is “NO”, we cannot turn our USB mics into XLR given several reasons.
Above all, Both the mics differ in their inputs and processings. USB microphone utilizes digital signals. On the other hand, XLR or 3.5mm microphone uses analog signals for its working and outputs.
Their ports of attachments vary USB microphone is directly attached to a USB port provided in your PC or laptop while XLR requires an extensive setup.
One uses a sound card but, the other utilizes recording software. USB microphone easily connects to any portable gadget such as laptop, cell phone, or tablet, but at the same time, XLR can connect to your computer or a recorder only.
All the reasons contribute to making it impossible for us to turn our USB mics into XLR.
Latest inventions are bringing to us microphones with diverse options from which we can pick. We can now select the signal output, polar patterns, and even personalizing of diaphragm size is possible. It is essential to choose a microphone wisely by putting forward our needs and the environment we want to use our mics.
Microphone plays an integral role in the success of your tracks.
A good microphone can bring you amazingly excellent feedback, and a poor-quality microphone can ruin all your efforts. If we have gained essential understanding, there are clear chances we would pick the right one. Let it be a USB microphone or XLR microphone.