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Main question: Can I use a lot of cheap microphones off digikey and combine the signals somehow and will this make it sound like a higher-end mic?

How do you shop for a microphone: what specs are important in judging how "good" the mic will be?

Any experiences with microphones? What did you find out regarding the above? Thanks.

I will be sampling audio at 44 KHz approx and also transmitting it lossless. This will probably be important in deciding whether or not I need a more expensive mic.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Found Optoacoustics company that makes fiber-optic mics. How much do these cost, anyone? Sent them an email.... \$\endgroup\$ – Shine On You Crazy Diamond Feb 1 '14 at 21:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ "if your question … and it is not about a shopping or buying recommendation" If you remove the "where can I buy" part and focus only on "Can I improve signal quality by using an array of low-cost microphones?" then it would be an allowed question. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Voigt Feb 1 '14 at 21:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Buy Rode or Sony microphones - they work great on my acoustic guitar and my voice even though it's me singing!! Don't mess around trying to re-invent the wheel just to save a few dollars. If you're serious about your music follow good advice. Sampling at 44kHz has no bearing on answers I believe. The internal electric components (such as JFET amplifier) of a microphone have very little bearing on the quality. \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka Feb 1 '14 at 21:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the comments. @Andyaka so you suggest I provide a jack for a fancier mic that the user can buy? \$\endgroup\$ – Shine On You Crazy Diamond Feb 1 '14 at 21:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @EnjoysMath I don't understand your question - what user? I use balanced XLR for my mic (not a jack aka 1/4" guitar thing) but XLR may be called a jack outside the UK \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka Feb 1 '14 at 23:30
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The key aspects of high-quality microphones include:

  • Frequency Response: In many cases flatter is better, but many high-end microphones are selected for particular applications precisely because their responses are not flat. They might have just the right amount of high-end or low-end rolloff, or have a midrange boost in just the right place.
  • Pickup Pattern: You have a choice of pickup patterns ranging from omnidirectional, to figure-8, to cardioids and super-cardioids. For the non-omnis, the off-axis frequency response can vary quite a bit from design to design. Again, this makes different microphones better for different situations.
  • Sensitivity and Dynamic Range: It's difficult to produce a microphone that has good sensitivity for soft sounds while also having the robustness to handle loud ones. You'll use different models depending on the type of sound you're expecting.
  • Noise: Especially if a microphone has an active preamp, the noise floor can become the limiting factor on the dynamic range.
  • Physical Robustness: You wouldn't take your best studio microphone and give it to a singer to hand-hold in a live concert.

It would be difficult to achieve good scores in all of these areas with an array of cheap microphone cartidges, for a number of reasons.

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