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A musician recording with the Slate Digital ML-1 modeling microphone.

Finding the perfect studio microphone

By Blog

Whether you’re a musician, a podcaster, a streamer, or a content creator, choosing the right studio microphone is crucial for capturing high-quality audio regardless of recording space, especially if you’re trying not to break the bank. 

In this short guide, we’ll explore the different types of studio microphones available, essential points to consider when buying, and what to prioritize when working with a limited budget.

Understanding Studio Microphone Types

Before diving into specific features and considerations, let’s first understand the basic types of studio microphones:

Condenser Microphones

Known for their sensitivity and ability to capture detailed sound, condenser microphones are common in studio settings. They require phantom power to operate, which comes from audio interfaces or mixing consoles.

Dynamic Microphones

Dynamic microphones are rugged and versatile, making them ideal for recording loud sound sources like drums and electric guitars. They don’t require phantom power and are less sensitive than condenser microphones.

USB Microphones

These microphones have built-in analog-to-digital converters and connect directly to your computer via USB. While convenient for beginners and those with limited space, most may not offer the same level of audio quality as traditional studio microphones.

What to Look For

When shopping for a studio microphone, here are some essential things to keep in mind:


Look for a microphone that can handle a variety of recording tasks. Versatile microphones can save you money in the long run by eliminating the need to purchase multiple microphones for different purposes.


Whenever possible, make sure to examine a microphone’s build quality before you buy to ensure it’s sturdy and well-made. Pay close attention to the details: you’ll want to learn what materials were used in its construction, and it’s always good practice to get a sense of the microphone’s overall feel in your hand before bringing it back to the studio.

Frequency Response 

A microphone’s frequency response determines how accurately it reproduces different frequencies.
A flat frequency response is ideal for accurately capturing natural sound. Microphones with tailored frequency responses, meanwhile, are better suited for specific applications, like recording vocals or particular instruments.

Polar Patterns

When buying a microphone, you should also think about its polar pattern. This refers to a microphone’s sensitivity to sound from different directions. 

Here are the three most common polar patterns you’ll encounter in a recording environment:

A graphic featuring the three most common polar patterns found in audio recording: cardioid, figure-8, and omnidirectional.  Credit: Shure Inc.
  • Cardioid microphones are most commonly used in studio settings, as they only capture sound from sources placed directly in front of them.
  • Figure-8 microphones pick up sound sources from the front and back, which makes them great for duets or interviews with minimal bleed.
  • Omnidirectional microphones capture sound equally from all directions. This makes them ideal for capturing ambient sounds or group recordings. 

Sensitivity and SPL 

Check the microphone’s sensitivity and maximum sound pressure level (SPL) capacity before you buy it. Higher-sensitivity microphones are great for detailed captures of quieter sounds. Conversely, microphones with high SPL thresholds can handle louder sounds without distortion.


Finally, ensure the microphone you’re considering is compatible with your existing recording equipment. Check the connection type (XLR or USB) and ensure it will work with your current audio interface, mixer, and computer.

Our Favorite Studio Microphones

While there are many affordable studio microphones on the market, the Slate Digital ML-1 microphone and Virtual Microphone System offer exceptional value and versatility for the price.

The ML-1 Modeling Microphone

The ML-1 is a high-quality condenser microphone that delivers professional-grade sound reproduction at an affordable price point. Its flat frequency response and cardioid polar pattern make it perfect for a wide range of recording applications, from vocals and acoustic instruments to drums and guitar amps.

The Virtual Microphone System (VMS)

The VMS software complements the ML-1 microphone by emulating the characteristics of classic microphones and preamps. With a selection of meticulously modeled microphone and preamp combinations, the VMS allows you to achieve the sound of vintage studio equipment without the need for a large budget or extensive gear collection.

By combining the Slate Digital ML-1 microphone with the Virtual Microphone System, you can access a diverse palette of sonic possibilities without breaking the bank. Whether you’re recording vocals, instruments, or podcasts, the ML-1 and VMS provide professional-quality results that rival much more expensive studio setups.


Choosing the right studio microphone for your home studio doesn’t have to be a stressful or super-expensive process. Stay mindful of your budget and specific recording needs, and you’ll find an affordable professional microphone that delivers professional-grade audio without sacrificing quality. 

With the right microphone in your arsenal, you’ll be well-equipped to unleash your creativity and produce amazing recordings regardless of your studio space.

An engineer sitting at his workstation in a recording studio. Photo courtesy of Jesman Fabio via Unsplash

The Exciting Universe of Online Mastering

By Blog, Uncategorized

The concept of ‘online mastering’ doesn’t have to be scary.

The process of music-making is extensive. From the writing to the arranging to pre- and post-production, the road to a finished piece of music is a long one.

And fittingly, awaiting your arrival at the end of said journey is the most feared, mysterious step: mastering.

Understanding Mastering

Mastering is the art of refining and enhancing certain sonic characteristics of a song to ensure a universally high-quality listening experience.

Traditionally, mastering is done by professional engineers in professional studios. However, with the rapid development and democratization of professional-grade music production software, the mastering process has become more accessible than ever.

Through online mastering platforms, artists of all experience and financial levels can give their songs the professional polish they deserve. In this quick guide, we’ll look into the world of online mastering, exploring its benefits, drawbacks, and everything in between.

What is audio mastering?

Mastering is the last stage in the music production process before distribution. Its primary goals include enhancing clarity, optimizing volume levels, and ensuring consistency across tracks within an album.

The process typically begins with careful listening and analysis of the mixed tracks. The mastering engineer evaluates aspects such as tonal balance, dynamics, stereo imaging, and overall cohesion to identify any areas that may require adjustment.

Main mastering objectives

One of the primary objectives of mastering is to achieve optimal loudness and dynamic range. This involves using tools like compressors, limiters, and equalizers (‘EQs’) to balance the mix while preserving the original sound.

Another essential aspect of mastering is ensuring compatibility across various playback systems. This includes addressing issues such as frequency balance, stereo width, and phase coherence to ensure that the music translates accurately across different devices and environments.

In addition to technical adjustments, mastering also involves creative decision-making to enhance the emotional impact and sonic character of the music. This may include adding effects like reverb or delay, fine-tuning the stereo image, or making EQ adjustments to highlight certain elements of the mix.

The Shift to Online Mastering

In recent years, there has been a notable shift towards online mastering services. This shift is the result of several factors, particularly recent advancements in the capabilities and accessibility of digital music technology.

Online mastering platforms, like our VIRTU Assisted Mastering platform, allow musicians to upload and process their tracks remotely without the need for expensive studio sessions.

Additionally, online mastering services offer a level of convenience that traditional studios cannot match. Musicians can collaborate with mastering engineers from anywhere in the world, saving time and money on travel expenses.

The Pros & Cons of Online Mastering

While online mastering offers many advantages, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons before diving in.


On the positive side, these services are often more affordable than traditional studio sessions, making the mastering process accessible to independent artists and small-budget productions. The availability of online music-sharing tools also makes it easier for projects to get done quicker.


However, using an exclusively online mastering solution isn’t without its drawbacks. Without an unbiased ear listening to your music, you might not be getting the most reliable results. You may also find you struggle with significant quality differences from platform to platform. However, most artists find that despite its flaws, online mastering is an effective, accessible way to give their mixes that professional touch.

Tips for a Successful Mastering Session

For musicians looking to take their first step into mastering their music, here are some things to consider:

Firstly, it’s essential to prepare your audio files properly before submitting them for mastering. This means making sure your mix is balanced and that there’s no audible peaking in your final mix (unless it’s intentional).

A clear sense of artistic direction is also crucial throughout the process. Even in the early stages of sketching out your track, having a sense of where you’d like to take it can help inform stylistic decisions down the road. With VIRTU, for example, you retain control of deeper creative decisions, like tweaking your overall EQ curve or spreading your mix a little wider.

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. Making music is all about taking creative risks and learning from them.


Online mastering is a convenient and accessible solution for musicians looking to elevate the quality of their recordings.

Whether you’re an independent artist or a seasoned professional, there are a host of online mastering platforms that provide a range of options to suit your various needs and budget. By understanding the basics of the mastering process and exploring the various online mastering options available, you can unlock your music’s true potential.