Large Diapragm Condenser Microphones for Studio and home studio recordings

When choosing microphones for both live and home studio use, you will discover a number of different types and options. Genrally the choice will be between dynamic and condenser microphones. Both types contain different models and have advantages and disadvantages.

Condenser Microphones

The most common types of studio microphones are Condenser microphones. They have a far better frequency and transient response ie. the ability to reproduce the rapid changes of an instrument or voice. They produce a good output level and are more sensitive to louder sounds.
Condenser microphones are usually more expensive than dynamic microphones and are less rugged.
A good quality studio condenser mic requires the use of a power supply. This is usually referred to as a 48 volt "phantom power", which is supplied by all good quality mixing boards or if not an external power supply can be used. A mixer will usually have a switch labelled "P48" or "48V" on the back of the mixer unit.
The condenser microphone is connected to the amplifier by an XLR cable. This cable will provide both the signal and the power supply to the microphone.
Condenser microphones are often used in studios because of their sensitivity to loud sounds, but because they are quite fragile compared to dynamic microphones are less common for touring. However despite this they are often used onstage at live music venues as drum overheads and also for orchestral or choral sound reinforcement.
Condenser microphones are usually diveded into two types: small diaphragm, and large diaphragm.

Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones

Large diaphragm microphones are the best choice for studio vocals, and most instrumental recordings where a deep sound is desired. A large diaphragm microphone will add warmth to the sound of the recording.
You'll may want to use a pop screen when recording vocals using a condenser microphone as they are sensitive to transient noises that the "P" and "SH" sounds you make can cause distortion.

Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones

Small diaphragm microphones are often used if you want a wide frequency response and the best transient response, ie. the ability to reproduce fast sounds, like string instruments and concert recording.

Dynamic Microphones

Unlike condenser microphones, dynamic microphones are more rugged. This makes them a better choice for use onstage.
A dynamic microphone does not require a power supply like a condenser microphone. The sound quality is generally not as accurate. Most dynamic microphones have a limited frequency response and can withstand high sound levels, this makes them a good choice for onstage use with guitar amps, live vocals, and drums.

Recording Vocals At Home

In our opinion this is best achieved using a large diaphragm condenser microphone, but you will need a mixer with 48V phantom power.
Alternatively you could use a USB condenser microphone. These give excellent results and require no mixer or power supply, and can be used with the majority of recording software with little else.

Recording Instruments - Cello/Upright Bass/Guitar

Ideally use a large diaphragm condenser microphone. The slower transient response of the large-diaphragm microphone will provide better low frequency recordings on these instruments.
Alternatively you could use the USB condenser microphone as described above.