The debate between condenser microphone vs dynamic has been around for years. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but which one is right for you? Here’s a look at the two types of microphones and what they can offer. Read on to see which might be the better option for your needs.
- 1 Dynamic Mics: How They Work
- 2 Condenser Mics: How They Work
- 3 Condenser Mic Vs. Dynamic Mic: Which To Choose?
- 4 Using A Dynamic Microphone
- 5 Using A Condenser Microphone
- 6 What Is Frequency Response?
- 7 Do I Need to Know All This?
- 8 FAQs
- 9 Conclusion
Dynamic Mics: How They Work
Dynamic microphones work by dangling a wire coil attached to a diaphragm within a magnetic field. The coil vibrates and provides an electrical signal when a sound vibrates the diaphragm.
- Take care of heat and humidity
- High loudness levels with no distortion
- The audio signal that is rougher yet useable
Dynamic microphones are ideal for general voices that do not need precise and smooth reproduction, such as interviews, hosting, and live performances.
Dynamic microphones with a cardioid pattern (more on polar patterns below) tend to remove background noise due to their coarser sound qualities. Yet, they may miss certain subtleties in a performance. This makes them ideal for podcast hosting, general voice recording, and outdoor voiceover or interview recording. They are also appropriate for capturing loud sounds such as drums, firearms, and explosions.
Condenser Mics: How They Work
Condenser microphones convert acoustic energy to electrical energy by vibrating a conductive diaphragm against a charged backplate.
- The frequency response is smooth.
- Crisper highs and more detailed sound
- Outstanding low-frequency response
- Not suitable for severely hot or humid conditions.
Condenser microphones are suitable for most studio applications, including voice acting. They give the voice clarity while also adding warmth and personality.
For voice actors, condenser mics are the industry standard. The Neumman U87 (pronounced NOY-man for you lubbers) is legendary and has defined the sound that producers and voiceover artists want. I strongly suggest it if you have roughly $4000 to invest in a single microphone. For the rest of us, similar microphones with amazing quality are available. We’ll go through some budget-friendly options later on.
Finally, condenser microphones are ideal for use in the field. They have a flatter response and are more sensitive than dynamic microphones, making them ideal for recording detailed sounds.
Condenser Mic Vs. Dynamic Mic: Which To Choose?
Don’t be concerned if this all seems a bit overwhelming. Many podcasters have been using the same microphone for years and can’t tell you if it’s a condenser or a dynamic. Finally, you don’t need to know how your microphone is constructed. You need to assess it based on how it sounds to you.
As I have said, we will make some suggestions soon. However, the next section on polar patterns is worth a short glance. If you have a microphone with numerous polar pattern settings, selecting the best one for your scenario may make a significant difference in the quality of your audio.
Condenser microphones are very sensitive and often have a wide diaphragm to maximize the frequency range they can handle. Since their technology is complicated and sensitive, condenser microphones should be handled with care. These are not the microphones that singers will be swinging about on stage. They need Phantom Power supplied by the mixer or preamp through the cable. Because of this, condenser microphones always require 3-pin XLR cords.
Condenser microphones are most often seen in the controlled atmosphere of a studio, where they are less prone to break. They offer a broad, natural tone that pairs well with acoustic instruments. They are most typically used to record voices, acoustic guitars, stringed instruments, kick drums, and piano. A dynamic condenser microphone is what you need if quality and subtlety are the most crucial aspects of what you’re attempting to record.
These are the kinds of mics you’re likely to see on stage and are instantly recognizable. They are sturdy and durable and can be swung about and flung into the cymbals without breaking. They are not as sensitive as condenser microphones and typically need the user to get up and personal with them to get an acceptable level. These are not powered and depend only on the vibration of the magnet inside the wire coil to generate a signal.
Dynamic microphones may be found in any loud environment. Dynamic microphones may be used in various settings, including guitar amplifiers, brass instruments, powerful vocalists, and drum sets. They are simple to assemble and don’t mind being pushed and knocked about. If you want simplicity and terrific raw sound, a dynamic microphone is a way to go.
Which should I use?
The ideal solution is to have one or two of each kind and utilize them appropriately. And it all depends on what you’re attempting to do. If you’re recording a live band, dynamic microphones are the way to go, but if you’re working on an album, condenser mics will offer you a wider sound to work with.
When recording a vocalist, place a condenser mic approximately a foot away from their lips. If they go too near, you risk overwhelming the microphone and generating distortion. A “popper stopper” or “pop shield” is a piece of gauze-like material on a frame that you place in front of a microphone to prevent the peaks of a plosive “p” sound. It also keeps the performer at a safe distance from the microphone.
A dynamic mic is preferable if the vocalist loves to yell and dance about it throughout their performance. They’ll be able to use the microphone with little noise and sing straight into it without any filters. Many prominent singers produce award-winning records with standard dynamic mics, and they sound fantastic!
You may use the same concept for anything you’re filming. Turn on a condenser if it’s something natural with a broad frequency range. If it’s going to be loud and chaotic, a dynamic is your best chance.
Pros and cons
Most condenser microphones are used from the side rather than the end, as dynamic microphone vs condenser microphone is, and thus take up sound better from one side. They may also feature additional technologies like noise filters and variable polar patterns to suit their position context better.
A polar pattern describes how effectively a microphone takes up sound based on its location and direction. Condenser microphones are far more adaptable, allowing them to sit amid musicians and collect sound from all directions. Alternatively, they may be flipped to prevent unwanted sound from leaking from other instruments.
A condenser microphone’s sensitivity might work against you. A condenser microphone will take up all kinds of background noise if your recording setting isn’t particularly quiet. That is why voice booths are used inside studios – to exclude unwanted background noise. Not so with a dynamic microphone, which can only detect what is right in front of it.
When dealing with condenser mics, a mixer with phantom power is required, which is another consideration when selecting a microphone.
Polar patterns show how a microphone responds to sounds originating from various angles. There are various polar pattern varieties, but Omni and cardioid polar patterns are our primary emphasis for vocal microphones.
An omnidirectional microphone hears a sound from all directions with equal sensitivity. This implies that sounds originating from the microphone’s back and sides will be caught up with equal loudness and clarity.
- Room reverberation is picked up.
- The low-frequency response that is extended
- Cost savings
Omni microphones are useful when sound isolation is not required or desired. They are especially handy for interviews and circumstances where several vocals must be captured, but sound isolation is not an issue.
Cardioid microphones are most sensitive in the front of the microphone, approximately 6dB less sensitive on the sides, and around 20dB less sensitive on the back.
- There is less reverb pickup than with Omni.
- There is less room noise pickup than with an omnidirectional microphone.
- Reduces off-axis pickup
Cardioid microphones are suited for one-voice, one-microphone applications. Off-axis pickup reduction benefits voice actors and show hosts by concentrating the sound on what matters most: the speaker’s voice.
The bulk of professional audio recording in a studio needs unidirectional microphones (cardioid, hypercardioid, or supercardioid). Voice actors and podcast presenters (and singers!) are likely to discover that cardioid polar pattern mics are most suited to their demands.
Depending on your voice and application, hypercardioid and supercardioid microphones can function well. However, they are more costly and do not provide the warmth that a large-diaphragm cardioid does for more resonant male and female voices.
Using A Dynamic Microphone
Because of their low sensitivity and greater gain threshold, dynamic microphones can absorb a lot of input without being destroyed. Therefore you’ll see them employed in a lot of live scenarios. They’re also excellent studio microphones for drums, brass instruments, and anything else that’s loud. Here are some examples of how they are often used:
- Amplifiers for guitars
- The vocals are really loud.
- Snare and tom drums
- Instruments made of brass
Using A Condenser Microphone
While microphones may be used interchangeably, condenser mics are typically more sensitive to signal, so you can get a lot of distortion if your signal is too hot. They may be utilized in live circumstances occasionally, although they are more usually employed in studios to get a larger, more genuine tone.
The following are the most prevalent uses for condensers:
- Snare drums
- Guitars, acoustic
- Piano Ambience (Room)
What Is Frequency Response?
The frequency response of your microphone refers to the range of frequencies it can reliably reproduce at an equivalent level. Understanding frequency response is one of the most useful things you may have while investigating audio equipment.
Simply enough, frequency response demonstrates how a microphone impacts the sound of your speech. In general, while viewing a frequency response graph, you want the curve to be as flat as feasible in the frequencies produced by the microphone. In terms of voice, the frequencies between 80Hz and 12kHz are of particular interest: the human vocal range.
Significant microphones have modest peaks in the 5–12kHz range to increase presence, while others have some lift in the 500–800 Hz range to add warmth. Depending on your production and scope, these traits may be beneficial.
Microphones that roll off below 80Hz (high pass) and above 12kHz (low pass) are ideal for voice because they eliminate low-frequency rumbling and high-frequency hiss. This is particularly useful for reducing noise from automobiles and HVAC systems. However, these frequencies may also be removed by employing an EQ highpass and lowpass filter.
While studying and selecting a microphone, other aspects are condenser versus a dynamic, polar pattern, and frequency response.
Impedance is a measurement of the resistance of a microphone. Higher resistance in a microphone creates hum and decreases high frequencies, resulting in a noisy or thin recording. Low-impedance microphones, often known as low-Z microphones, enable lengthy mic wire lengths without noise or lower frequencies.
Sound Pressure Levels (SPL)
Sound pressure levels indicate the maximum sound intensity that a microphone can tolerate before distorting. A standard of 120dB or above is often preferred. Microphones with a greater maximum SPL are excellent for podcasters miking loud instruments like brass or drums.
Equivalent Noise Level
The equivalent noise level, often known as self-noise, is the electrical noise or hiss produced by a microphone. For high-quality recording, a self-noise standard of 28dB or less is generally acceptable.
Signal to Noise Ratio (S/N)
This is the difference (in decibels) between the sensitivity of a microphone and the comparable noise level. 64dB or above is ideal.
Do I Need to Know All This?
Let’s be honest: most people don’t go into podcasting to become audio engineers.
While this is all valuable information, it’s fair that you may find some of it a little too technical or perhaps just plain dull. That’s perfectly OK!
Keeping this in mind, we aim to assess as many various voice microphones as possible on the site. This implies we should be able to provide you with an overview of each a look. We can go through the important topics with you. What do you think? How does it appear? What is the price?
That should be considerably simpler than poring through mic specifications on Amazon. However, if it is something that interests you, make sure to bookmark this post.
Editor’s Note: There’s no question that some individuals go completely insane with microphones, and for a good cause. It’s one thing to record vocals, but imagine having to record instruments or even a whole drum set! Instead of just one mic, you’ll need a full set to cover various frequencies. Check out the picture of a 7-mike setup at the bottom of this drum mic kit post to understand what I mean.
Some relevant posts:
- How Does A Dynamic Microphone Work? Top Full Guide 2022
- What Is A Dynamic Microphone? Top Full Guide 2022
- MXl 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone Review 2022: Is It For You?
Do condenser mics sound better?
Condenser microphones are more sensitive, have a broader frequency response, and have a greater dynamic range. So, in terms of recording quality, they are superior.
Should I get a dynamic or condenser microphone for the home studio?
Condenser microphones are the most flexible studio microphones, capable of recording almost any instrument. They are less common in the live scenario because they are more delicate and acoustically sensitive than dynamic microphones and need a tiny electrical current to function.
Are condenser mics louder than dynamic?
Condenser microphones provide more sound than dynamic microphones (not true). No, one microphone isn’t louder than another; it’s just a matter of sensitivity. Condenser microphones are often more sensitive than dynamic microphones.
Are dynamic mics good for vocals?
Dynamic microphones are ideal for recording voices – from podcasting to voiceovers to singing – and perform particularly well when recording many persons in the same space. There is a range of different types at various price points, as with our comparable post on the best condenser mics.
Is Shure SM7B condenser or dynamic?
Microphone with dynamic response
The Shure SM7B is a large-diaphragm dynamic microphone, not a condenser microphone. The SM7B’s physical form seems to be a condenser microphone, but it is an industry-leading dynamic microphone suited for studio use.
Are condenser mics good for recording?
Condenser microphones (sometimes known as capacitor microphones) are well-known for their high sensitivity and audio quality. They offer a broader frequency response and a better transient response than dynamic microphones.
A condenser microphone uses a thin diaphragm to convert sound waves into electrical energy, while a dynamic microphone uses a moving coil to do the same. Both microphones have advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs.