Field Recording Microphone Specifications Quick Lookup Chart

2017/09/06

Lately I was trying to find a microphone for a parabolic dish. I wanted a low-noise omnidirectional microphone under $1,000.

I looked in the regular forums. I browsed Facebook. I popped in and out of manufacturer websites. It took a lot of time to compare and contrast mic models, current prices, and technical specifications.

I thought: There must be an easier way to do this.

Microphone Statistics Chart

So, I decided to create a list of popular microphones for everyone to explore. Naturally, not every microphone is listed. I’ve focused on popular field recording microphones. If you think an important model is missing, please email me and I’ll add it. (Bonus points if you have a link to their specifications page.)

Here is the list as an image. Make your browser window extra wide and click the image below to view a large version, or view the chart on Google Sheets, which is much easier to read. You may also view a PDF in your browser.

Field Recording Microphone Specifications (click to enlarge)

Here are links to downloadable versions of the specifications.

Some notes:

  • Blank fields indicate that the information wasn’t available or relevant.
  • Some microphones with multiple capsules or patterns show more than one number in the relevant fields.
  • The chart assumes every manufacturer uses similar measurement techniques. Check each manufacturer’s site for details. Do you see discrepancies? Let me know so we can build a community resource.
  • Prices are sourced from the manufacturers and from B&H Photo Video, mid-2017. Prices prefixed with a tilde (“~”) are approximations based on currency conversion.

Decoding the Microphone Results

For each microphone, the list includes:

  • Manufacturer.
  • Model and link to manufacturer’s model page.
  • Directionality. The pick-up pattern of the microphone.
  • Low and high frequency rating.
  • Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR or S/N) in A-weighted decibels. This number is the spread between a standard signal and the level of background noise. Larger numbers are typically better.
  • Self noise in A-weighted decibels (also known as Equivalent Input Noise (EIN)). The noise output of a microphone itself. A smaller number here is better, as it indicates the microphone’s components will contribute less noise to recordings.
  • Maximum sound pressure level (SPL) in decibels. The is loudest level a microphone can accommodate, also known as its “clipping point.” Sounds with levels beyond this point will be distorted.
  • Dynamic range. The span between self noise and maximum SPL.
  • Sensitivity in decibels with reference to the standard of 1 kilohertz sine wave at 1 pascal (Pa) pressure or 94 decibels. This is the microphone’s output level at a standard measurement. So, given a test level of 94 dB, a microphone with a sensitivity rating of 25 produces a signal 25 decibels below the one volt reference. A number closer to zero means the microphone is more sensitive (i.e., -45 is better than -60).
  • Impedance in ohms. The amount of “resistance” a microphone’s components have to an electrical signal (i.e., an audio signal). Lower numbers here are better. They mean the audio has less trouble “passing through the device.”
  • Price and link to popular stores for price checks.

Feedback is encouraged. Please feel free to comment below.

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My thanks to TV for his help with this article.





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17 responses to Field Recording Microphone Specifications Quick Lookup Chart

  1. Paul, I’m not sure how often people thank you for all the work you share with us, so THANK YOU–your stuff is so very helpful. I work in Toronto on a regular basis, and one of these days I am going to buy you dinner and a drink for all your effort!

  2. great list , thank you for your effort and work!

    of course you cant pencil in all microphones existing , though this is a pretty complete list already, there is also Haun http://www.mbho.de/t2.htm they do very good mics, maybe not especially for fieldrecording , but a good alternative to the neumann km series and for some tlm mics definitely. there are all the specs on their old schoolish website 😉 All the best, Kris

  3. Hi, I remember seeing a similar (but much older) list somewhere on the internet. Can’t find the link now but I’m sure I have it saved somewhere.

    In the meanwhile, here’s a link to a spreadsheed for binaural microphones:

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1GZW4-27igmuaYPwVL-4pqNc2HxwIyLAScHRgm8sLsPE/edit#gid=0

  4. Great job, thanks! Here’s primo EM-172 specs https://www.primomic.com/products/pdf/EM172.pdf

  5. I remembered! I’m sure you know about Rob Danielson, (former?) professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee – he had an extensive spreadsheet with microphone specs. He kept updating it since 2008 but now I can’t find it anywhere online. I probably have it in some archive. The link (now offline) was: http://www.uwm.edu/%7Etype/audio-reports/MicSpecCharts/Mics_16dBA.xls

    Does anyone still have that file? It would be a helpful addition to Paul’s list.

    • Florian, that sounds fantastic. I actually found the original file by using the Internet Archive Wayback Machine… I will get in touch with Rob to see if I have his permission to use the data. Thank you for the info, Florian!

  6. Thanks for this, Paul! It’s very timely as I’ve been looking into expanding/upgrading my gear. And thanks for this website. It’s been very helpful. By the way, which mic did you decide on for your parabolic set-up?

    • Thanks very much Gregory. Glad it is helpful! I ended up buying a used Audio Technica 4022 on eBay. It has very low self noise (13 dB) and I found it for around $300. So far, so good!

      • Nice! A friend of mine just recommended the 4022.

        By the way, I was looking into the Oktava MK-12. It’s on your list as a figure-of-eight. Is that the same multi-capsule mic which also has cardioid, hyper and omni capsules? I also found a different website for it here: http://www.oktavausa.com/mics/product/mk-012-multi-capsule-single-microphone/
        Have you had any experience with it versus the Studio Projects C4?

        • Yes, the Oktava is indeed the multi-capsule – I have yet to update the list with that. I haven’t compared it directly against the C4 – let me know if you do so, I’d be curious about the results!

  7. Mark Vaughan 2017/09/12 at 10:22

    SNR for Sennheiser MKH70 P48 is 88 dB
    SNR for Sennheiser KE66 is 84 dB
    Having difficulty with some of the other Sennheisers