This graph, developed by Dan Richards of the Listening Sessions, plots the brightness and color characteristics of more than 50 microphones. As noted in the Studio Forums discussion it spawned, the graph says nothing about each microphone’s relative quality (note the proximity of the MXL 603 to the Neumann U87.) However, it’s a useful tool for choosing a microphone based on the sound you want to capture.

(Click the graph above to view the original.)