Skip to Main Content

MIT Libraries logo

MIT logo Search Account

Circulating Audio Equipment Guide: Microphone Details

This is a guide for finding general information about audio equipment

Microphone Types

Microphones are audio devices used to record and amplify sounds.

There are many types of microphones and all with different strengths designed for certain situations.
This page details the types of microphones and how they are normally used. 

Here is the list of microphones Lewis currently offers for circulation:

Dynamic Mics:

  • Shure SM58 - vocal mic (3)
  • Shure SM57 - instrument mic (4)
  • Shure MV7 - USB vocal mic with tripod (6)

Condenser Mics:

  • Audio Technica AT4041 - small diaphragm (2)
  • AKG 451B - small diaphragm (1 pair)
  • AKG C414 - large diaphragm (1)


General all purpose microphone, great for live and studio applications. Dynamics are less sensitive than other types of microphones, which means they are great for isolating sound sources. 

Common recording and live applications are vocals, guitars, drums, brass, and woodwinds. Dynamic mics are great for loud sources in loud environments.

Shure SM58

Shure SM58

Shure SM57

Shure SM57


USB mics are relatively new to the microphone family, they trade off sound quality for ease of use. Using a USB mic is very simple, it just requires to be plugged into a computer via USB cable with no extra auxiliary components.

The trade off of sound quality happens because USB cables aren't designed to carry as much information as an XLR for example.

Shure MV7


Used for recording higher fidelity, condensers come in a few varieties. Most commonly, large and small diaphragm, with medium diaphragm recently coming into the diaphragm sizes.

Condensers need an external power supply to function. This is achieved by using phantom power, 48V, from your interface.
These mics are great at picking up the details of whatever you're recording, but are much more sensitive. 

Common recording and live applications are vocals, guitars, pianos, drums, brass, and woodwinds. Because condensers are more sensitive, using these in an isolated situation is key. Recording outside with condensers can work great, but they need ample noise protection.

AKG C414

AKG C414

Audio Technica AT4041

AKG 451B