How I Test and Review Microphones & Score Them

Reviews for anything are subjective, but they serve an essential purpose – to help the reader better understand the products they are interested in. The microphone reviews I do on this site aim to serve that purpose directly, which is always my goal. 

I review all of the microphones on this site based on my experience with each model in the studio or on stage. By getting quality real-world applications of these mics, I hope to give you a good and honest assessment of how they perform in various situations. 

Who Am I? 

My name is Donovan and I’ve been actively working in the music industry for over 20 years. I’ve toured in bands, worked in recording studios, and now spend most of my time in my home studio making music and other audio-related projects. 

I’ve used dozens of different microphones over the years, and this experience gives me high-level insight into how to assess and review them accurately.

You can learn more about me here.

How Do I Get These Microphones

I’ve had some of the microphones I review on this site in my mic locker for years, such as the Shure SM57, SM7B, AKG P420. I purchased other microphones online through Amazon or other sources to use in my studio to develop a review. 

I don’t get any of the microphones for free from the manufacturers and judge each one based on how they actually perform – not just their name, brand, or reputation. 

How Do I Test Microphones? 

I test the microphones in several ways, based on whether I’ve used the mic for a long time or have just purchased it. 

For mics I have owned for a while, I start the review process by assessing how the mic has performed for various recording applications or live-stage situations. This can include various approaches, such as micing vocals, instruments, etc. 

I tend to be pretty exploratory in the studio, so I also like to push the envelope and test mics in certain ways they aren’t necessarily designed for. This could be a unique recording style or using a studio mic on stage or vice versa. 

After I have used a mic in several different situations, I have a solid understanding of what it can do, what it’s best suited for, and what its limitations or downsides are. And the more hands-on experience I get with a model, the better I can assess all of these factors. 

For mics I just purchased, I obviously don’t have as much experience with them in the studio or on-stage. But the process for testing them is essentially the same, and I start by plugging them into my recording setup and seeing what they can do. 

I typically test a new mic by recording some vocals and then an instrumental track as well. This gives me plenty of dynamic range to explore the frequency spectrum of the mic, as well as how it sounds with different recordings. 

I haven’t been involved in many live-stage situations recently, so I typically test mics more in my studio than on stage. But I do still record live bands and jams, which helps me test various mics in live-stage-like settings – just typically without an audience. 

Once I put the new mics through various real-world applications, I can assess how they sound, perform, and what they might be best suited for. I also know what they aren’t good for after all of this. 

How Do I Review a Microphone? 

After putting a microphone through my testing process, it’s time to sit down and start the review. I included several key factors in every review to help readers understand how the mic holds in each of them. 

Overall Sound Quality is typically my first key factor in any review. This is an all-encompassing assessment of how the mic sounds, including where it stands out and what it might be best suited for. 

Design is another key factor in my reviews, and it’s an important consideration when choosing a mic to meet your specific needs. I’ll highlight any special design features, unique characteristics, or other things of note here. 

Next up is my review of the frequency range of a mic, which includes a look at how the lows, mids, and highs all sound. This is a quick but accurate look at how the mic does across various frequencies to help understand what it’s good for. 

Construction and durability are also critical to a microphone review. I look at how well the mic is built and assess if it is durable enough to last a long time in the studio or on the road. 

Value is the final key factor I usually look at, and I weigh the cost of the mic compared to how it performs across all the other parameters to let you know if it’s a good value or not. 

How Do I Score It? 

I rank each microphone review on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. This applies to all of the key factors mentioned above. A score of 1 would be a poor ranking, and a 5 would be an excellent ranking

I also include half points, so an average or mediocre ranking on any key factor would be 2.5. I provide a ranking on this scale for each factor in my reviews. 

Why You Can Trust My Microphone Reviews

Here are a few reasons why you can trust my microphone reviews: 

  • My reviews are unbiased, and my goal is to provide an accurate assessment of every model I work with. 
  • I am not sponsored or endorsed by any of the products I review. 
  • I try to test the microphones as thoroughly as possible to develop an in-depth review related to real-world applications. 
  • I have nearly two decades of experience working with audio, microphones, and music, which gives me expert insight into what makes a good (or bad) microphone.

If you have any questions about my testing method, feel free to contact me here.

This page was last updated on September 29, 2023.