When choosing cello microphones, you should consider your budget, the best microphones for recording cellos and the best microphone for the recording environment. When money is no object, the best choice for a cello mic setup in a high-end studio includes a combination of cardioid condensers and directional dynamic microphones to accurately record the fine properties of cello sound. Lower-budget or outdoor recordings often benefit from the durability of less-expensive standard dynamic microphones, which deliver decent cello sound when properly placed at roughly arm's length from the bridge of a cello.
A professional studio microphone can be more then 12 times as expensive as the microphones used at a local performance or hobby recording studio, but a cost restriction does not mean that you are stuck with bad sound. Under the control of a skilled sound engineer, achieving high-quality sound is usually less difficult when the recording is made with a professional microphone. Many of the companies that manufacture high-end professional microphones used in recording studios also make approachable and affordable options for an entry-level recording artist.
Microphones are essentially divided into two types: condenser microphones and dynamic microphones. Though both types of microphones have applications in cello recording, there are certain situations that give one an advantage over the other. Dynamic microphones tend to be more durable than condenser microphones, making them a good cello mic choice for recording outdoors or while on tour. The more fragile condenser microphone is generally relegated to a controlled studio environment.
Another aspect of choosing a cello mic is evaluating the shape of the space that the microphone records, known as polar patterns. The best polar patterns for a cello mic are omnidirectional, which records all around the microphone and cardioid, which records in a heart-shaped pattern on one side of the microphone. When you are recording in good acoustic space with desirable reverberation in the room, an omnidirectional microphone is the best pick. If the recording space has unfortunate acoustics, or if you are recording in an area with crowd noise that you want to avoid, a cardioid microphone can help you focus the recording on the cello sound.
How far you want to go to record the details of the sound of a cello is up to you. Studio recordings of cello soloists often include not one cello mic, but several positioned in different locations to capture several different perspectives on the sound of the instrument. Some cellos are recorded using stereo microphone pairs, which are positioned to simulate hearing the cello through a pair of ears. Other microphones can be placed near the cello in different locations to focus on different aspects of the sound, such as the vibration of the body of the instrument versus the strings squeaking.