Are you planning on creating a podcast / news release music recordings, or entertaining evening karaoke at home, a reliable microphone plays a crucial role. While most mics stick to the familiar shape — it’s like working with a flashlight, except the business side records sound rather than lighting — you can find ones that show a bit more creativity with different shapes and sizes. As with many other types of modern technology, microphones can exhibit various features and useful features.

Dynamic microphones
  • outdoor use

  • Live performances

  • News gathering / interview

  • Recording at high volume levels

  • Low frequency vocals/instruments (Barry White, bass guitar, cello, tuba, etc.)

  • When you need something durable

Condenser microphones
  • Internal use

  • Studio performances

  • Podcasting / newscasting

  • Recording for detail and accuracy

  • Higher vocal/instrument frequencies (Mariah Carey, violin, flute, piano, etc.)

  • When durability isn’t a factor

Microphones are sold at a wide range of prices. Affordable models can be purchased for less than $50, while expensive models can be purchased for up to a thousand dollars. While there are plenty to choose from, nearly Each microphone is classified into one of two main types: dynamic and condenser. Another less common type is the ribbon microphone. Although each of them is a converter which performs a similar function capturing and capturing sound, the ways to create electronic output signals are quite different.

Depending on specific recording needs/situations, one may be a better option over the other. The fact is that it is very difficult to distinguish between different types just by looking at them.

Dynamic microphones

  • Requires no external power and/or batteries

  • Easily handles high volume sounds/instruments

  • Usually more accessible (but not always)

  • More durable than condenser microphones (typically)

  • Ideal for outdoor / real-time recording

  • Typically an additional amplifier is required (for best results)

  • Not as sensitive/sensitive as condenser mics (especially at high frequencies)

  • Frequency response can vary greatly depending on design/application

Typically, you can link dynamic microphones to

, but in reverse order. Thus, with a traditional speaker, the audio signal travels from the source to the voice coil, which is attached to a cone (also known as a diaphragm). When electricity (audible signal) reaches the coil, a magnetic field (electromagnet principle) is created, which then interacts with a permanent magnet located just behind the coil. The fluctuating energy causes the magnetic fields to attract and repel, causing the attached cone to vibrate back and forth, which creates the sound waves we can hear.

As with traditional speakers, dynamic mics excel at high volumes thanks to proven and true technology. Not only are dynamic microphones generally less expensive to manufacture, but electronic components tend to be more durable than their condenser counterparts. This means they can take a hit and survive a fall – ideal for active handholding rather than keeping it on a fixed stand. Keep in mind that overall longevity comes from quality construction; The fact that a microphone is dynamic does not guarantee its longevity, let alone outlive a condenser microphone.

Dynamic microphones are not as sensitive — for the most part, as there are some expensive models that can produce incredible results — as condenser microphones. This is largely due to the weight of the magnets and coil, which hinders how quickly the cone can respond to sound waves. Although, of course, a disadvantage, depending, is not always a bad thing. lower sensitivity and more limited high frequency response usually means less detail captured in recordings, but this also includes ambient/unwanted sounds.

Condenser microphones

  • Creates strong audio signals without the need for a preamp

  • Generally more sensitive to faint and/or distant sounds

  • Large dynamic frequency response

  • Ideal for indoor/quiet recording (usually)

  • Requires external (phantom) power and/or batteries

  • Oversensitivity can lead to distortion in certain situations

  • Can be more expensive (but not always so)

  • More fragile electronics than dynamic microphones

You can relate the operation of condenser microphones to the operation of an electrostatic speaker, but in reverse. With an electrostatic speaker, a thin diaphragm is suspended between two grids (also known as stators) that are connected to a voltage source. The diaphragm is made of electrically conductive materials so that it can hold a fixed charge and interact with the grids.

Audio signals of proportional strength but opposite polarity are sent to each grid; if one grid pushes the diaphragm, the other grid pulls with the same force. As the gratings oscillate with voltage changes, the diaphragm moves back and forth, resulting in the creation of sound waves that we can hear. Unlike dynamic microphones, capacitors do not have magnets.

As with electrostatic speakers, the main benefits of condenser microphones are increased sensitivity and sensitivity. The thin diaphragm design is able to quickly respond to weak and/or distant pressures of propagating sound waves.

This is the reason why condenser microphones are exceptionally accurate and able to capture subtleties with crisp clarity, making them ideal for high fidelity recording, especially with vocals and/or higher frequency ranges. And due to the way the electronics are designed to work, condenser microphones can be found in a wider variety of shapes and sizes than dynamic microphones.

While the increased sensitivity may sound fantastic, there are some downsides. Condenser microphones are prone to distortion when trying to record very loud instruments or sounds, for example. They are also more susceptible to audio feedback — this happens when the sound received by the microphone travels through the speaker and is picked up again by the microphone in a continuous loop. They can also detect unwanted noise, especially if you’re not in a very quiet or soundproof room. For example, a condenser microphone may not be the best option for interviews/recordings outdoors with wind, rain, or city/nature/people noise in the background. Although such noises can be removed with software for editing music and sound recordings this requires an extra step.

Final verdict

While both types show strengths in how they function, there are other aspects to consider if you’re looking for a new or replacement microphone. Many microphones are designed with specific use in mind, so it’s best to use them based on your needs. You may need a microphone that is designed for: general purpose recording, live performances/events/shows, loudspeakers, interviews, studio recording, vocals, acoustic instruments, electric instruments, high frequency instruments, low frequency instruments, flat frequency response enhanced/custom frequency response characterization, podcasting/newsletting, etc. You can find great deals with any of the many brands.

Microphones also have variable dynamic range frequency response (see manufacturer’s specs) which can make one type better than another, depending on how they are intended to be used. Some of them are also designed to handle recordings naturally/neutrally, while others add an enhancement — this could be in the form of coloration and/or perceived sound size — to the overall image. Other characteristics to compare and consider: ratio signal / noise maximum sound pressure level (input sound), total harmonic distortion polarity and sensitivity. In the end, it is the microphone that will sound best to your ears that will suit your usage needs.

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