Condenser Microphones vs. Dynamic Microphones

In this days you can find many good microphones, and much cheaper than they were a few years ago. If you have a good microphone, a good performer, and a good room to record, you can get excellent recordings results. Microphones are varied, and everyone is wondering what microphone needs to record something.

There not exist a rule, or a standard recipe. But a few useful things about microphones will help you to know what to choose and how to use them. One of the criteria is price, next is the environment (home, live, studio etc).

Condenser Microphones

Many people name them studio microphones, because they are used a lot in the studio, capturing detailed frequencies.

To record voice details, or acoustic instrument, the best way is to use a condenser microphone.

In more technical terms…

Condenser Microphones Technical DetailsCondenser means capacitor. A capacitor has two plates with a voltage between them. In the condenser mic, one of these plates is made of very light material and acts as the diaphragm. The diaphragm vibrates when struck by sound waves, changing the distance between the two plates and therefore changing the capacitance. Specifically, when the plates are closer together, capacitance increases and a charge current occurs. When the plates are further apart, capacitance decreases and a discharge current occurs.

Condenser microphones with small diaphragm have higher self noise, low sensitivity, wider frequency response, and a greater dynamic then microphones with large diaphragm.

Technical Notes:

  • Condenser microphones need for this additional 48V power source also called Phantom Power.
  • Condenser microphones have a flatter frequency response than dynamics.
  • A condenser mic works in much the same way as an electrostatic tweeter (although obviously in reverse).

Dynamic Microphones PrinciplesDynamic Microphones

Dynamic Microphones are used mainly on stage for shows and live concerts, but also in the studio for various applications. Dynamic microphones are the best choice when comes to record percussion instruments in studio. They have a more solid construction, and withstand at high sound pressure – suitable for capturing amplified instruments, like electric guitar or bass, percussion instruments and drums.

The operating principle is simple – Dynamic microphones work via electromagnetic induction. Sound waves move the diaphragm (a circular nylon membrane in many cases), an this moves the coil that is stuck to it, in a permanent magnetic field and induction generates a small current across it, depending on the frequency which the diaphragm is excited .

One of the major drawbacks of the dynamic microphone relates to the mass of its moving coil. Due to this mass, the dynamic mic has a relatively poor transient response, and is less sensitive than the condenser mic.

This kind of microphones do not require additional power, resistant to moisture and are relatively inexpensive.

Microphone polar patterns

Microphone polar patterns

Microphone polar patterns shows how sensitive is the microphone for sounds from different angles from its central axis. Shows you from which direction captures the best sound.

Most condenser microphones have the ability to set multiple polar patterns: cardioid, omnidirectional, bidirectional, directional, etc..

I hope now, after you read this article you will know what type of microphone to choose for your needs.

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