Selecting the ideal microphone for your home recording studio is important if you want to get the sound right. If your microphone can capture the sound clearly and accurately, you’ll not need to invest a lot of time and effort into post-production to get the sound you need. In short, getting the right microphone can help you greatly in getting the right sound.
Microphones work by turning the input sound into signals of energy. Different microphones have different ways of doing this. The major categories of microphones used today are dynamic and condenser.
Condenser microphones are commonly used for capturing high frequencies and delicate vocals and in-studio usage. Condenser microphones, also known as capacitor microphones, are employed in studios to pick sound with great accuracy and detail. This is mostly accomplished by using a lightweight membrane, also referred to as a diaphragm, suspended by a fixed plate. The pressure generated by the sound waves hitting this diaphragm will create motion in the diaphragm and produce an electrical output.
The most important thing to take away from its working is that condenser microphones are very delicate and are frequently used to pick and amplify delicate sounds. They use power from an external source. Usually, the 48 volts sent from the preamp, to create a characteristically high output. This is ideal because you don’t need a lot of gain at the preamp to amplify the signal to a suitable level.
If you use the wrong microphone for the job without enough output, you’ll need considerable gain at the preamp. If a preamp can’t supply enough gain or introduces noise when cranked up, a condenser microphone can solve this problem.
Using a condenser microphone is like holding a magnifying glass to sound and capturing all of its details with high accuracy. Hence, it makes more sense to capture a crooning singer but not for capturing a loud snare drum sets and you guessed it right; for that purpose, we use dynamic microphones.
Dynamic microphones are used for capturing strong signals and powerful vocals as well as for live performances. They are ideal for recording loud sounds and, unlike condenser microphones, they use a wire coil to amplify the signal received by the diaphragm. This output is considerably lower than the condenser microphone, but it’s appropriate for when the signal being captured is powerful.
Known for their ruggedness and reliability, dynamic microphones need no external power or batteries to work and cost a lot less than a typical condenser microphone would. Not only is the output level high, but these microphones also have an extended and smooth response and can work straight into most mic inputs with their ideal signal-to-noise ratio. They’re low maintenance and will perform for years with reasonable care.
Other Types Of Microphones
Besides condenser microphones and dynamic microphones, there are other kinds of microphones as well for different tasks and applications. To name a couple, carbon microphones are very common and are used in the majority of telephones. There are ribbon microphones too, which capture sound with a very thin metal strip suspended in a magnetic field and are very fragile and expensive. Microphones are also classified from their polar patterns or sensitivities to sound coming from different angles or direction. All these factors are important to consider while buying a microphone.
Interested to know which microphones are the best regardless of it being a Condenser or Dynamic? Check out our Top 10 Recording Microphone list.
A dynamic microphone utilizes robust design using a thin diaphragm that is attached to a wire coil arranged around a permanent magnet. Variations in the air pressure acting on the diaphragm causes the coil to generate a small electric current, which is then amplified.
These microphones are inexpensive and rugged and are considered ideal for all around high sound pressure levels and preferred for live applications. They don’t even require electrical power to operate.
Condenser microphones, on the other hand, are capable of picking up sound via a flexible and thin diaphragm that is placed in proximity to a plate of metal. They also need the power to operate, and the most common source is a 48 volt DC source.
However, these microphones are very sensitive to high frequencies and distant sounds, which means that they are commonly used in studio recording applications.