A condenser microphone is a type of microphone that uses an electrical field to convert sound waves into electrical energy. It is the best microphone for recording vocals, acoustic guitars, piano, and high-frequency response are condenser microphones.
These microphones are the best for studio applications. Because they can handle high-volume levels with less distortion than dynamic microphones. They are also sensitive enough to pick up sounds from a considerable distance away.
But what is a condenser microphone? Why is it so popular? Do you want to use it for your recording projects? The following article will help you to understand and have the best answer to your curiosity.
What Is Condenser Microphones?
We’ve already discussed the basic characteristics of a condenser mic: A microphone that is active (it needs the external power to function), with a capsule-based capacitor that uses electrostatic principles to convert audio into sound.
Condenser microphones like all microphones require a diaphragm to communicate with sound waves and approximate their movement.
Even though condenser mics come in many forms, there is a common working principle. This principle is accompanied by a few key components condenser microphone share.
- Capsule-based parallel-plate capacitor
- A diaphragm, or more, that acts as one plate for the capacitor
- A backplate, or more, that acts as the other side of the capacitor
- A converter of impedance
- Circuitry that allows electrical power to charge or power active components.
Although technically complex, this is the easiest way to describe a general condenser mic with basic information.
Condenser mics have a wide frequency response, high sensitivity, accurate transient responses, and excellent sound quality. Many condensers perform better than others, and it is difficult to list all condenser microphones.
The components of a Condenser Mic
Although condenser microphones look simple from a design standpoint, the science and interaction of the components inside them are quite complex. Here is a list of condenser microphone components and their functions.
A static piece of metal placed behind the diaphragm is called a backplate. The backplate is stationary while the diaphragm vibrates.
Sound waves cause an air pressure difference that creates capacitance. This capacitance can be translated into an audio signal.
A capacitor stores electrical energy between two parts. One of these components is the backplate in a condenser mic.
Condenser Mic capsule refers to a collection of components that includes the backplate and diaphragm. The capsule is the entire sound capture portion of the mic in most cases.
Sometimes, you may hear people using capsules or diaphragms interchangeably. This is technically incorrect.
The diaphragm acts as the membrane for the capsule. The thin, electrically conductive part of the capsule vibrates in close proximity opposite the backplate to cause capacitance. To conduct electricity more efficiently, diaphragms can be coated with gold.
The diaphragm is the component that acts opposite the backplate in a capacitor’s storage of energy in an electric field.
Condenser Mic JFET microphone’s impedance converter increases the voltage generated by the backplate vibrations and diaphragm.
This feature is found in many microphones, as the low current generated by the device is not enough even though sufficient voltage has been created.
Phantom power supply for condenser mics. This phantom power supply can be either a dedicated unit or is provided via an XLR cable or USB cable.
The microphone uses phantom power output via an impedance converter, which amplifies the current. This phantom power usually comes from an audio interface or pre-amp.
When To Use A Condenser Microphone?
There are many condenser microphones available on the market. I’ve already talked about my favorite, but the most popular is the small diaphragm condenser or large diaphragm condenser microphones.
They are completely different and can be used for entirely different purposes. We’ll be discussing the different types of condenser microphones and when they can be used.
How Does A Condenser Microphone Work?
They are also known as capacitor microphones in the UK. A capacitor is two plates of metal in close proximity. This may be something you learned in physics class. The capacitance is higher if they are closer together.
A similar construction is used for a condenser capsule. It is composed of a thin membrane that is close proximity to a solid plate.
As it is sometimes called, the membrane, or diaphragm, must be electrically conductive, at least on its surface. Gold-sputtered mylar is the most popular, although some older models use a thin metal foil.
Sound waves hitting the diaphragm cause it to move relative to the solid backplate. This means that the distance between the capacitor plates changes.
The capacitance of the capacitor plates changes following the sound wave rhythm. Voila! We have transformed sound into an electrical signal.
However, the capsule signal is too fragile to be connected with other pieces of gear. Although the output voltage of the condenser capsule is quite high, it produces very little current due to the small energy storage capacitor.
An impedance convert circuit is required to buffer the capsule from the outside world. By making more signal current available, the impedance converter makes the signal stronger.
External power is required for condenser microphones. Although this external power may have been a problem in the past, today, almost all microphone inputs offer P48 phantom power – a Neumann invention that has become the international standard.
Superior Sound Quality
The sound produced from a condenser microphone can be described as being crisp, clear, and detailed. Often the sound quality is better than that of a dynamic microphone.
Condenser microphone’s diaphragm can follow sound waves with greater accuracy than dynamic microphones attached to a moving coil. This is due to its low mass.
Condenser microphones offer superior sound quality. Condensers offer the most dynamic response of all microphone types and have the highest frequency response.
The attack of drum overheads or the picking of an acoustic guitarist. For drums, you’ll want a combination of dynamic and condenser microphones.
Also, condenser microphones usually offer much higher sensitivity (i.e., output) and lower noise than dynamic mics.
These theoretical benefits only apply to well-constructed specimens (like Neumann’s). Although a Condenser microphone for as low as $ 99 may sound better than high-end Dynamic microphones, such as the Sennheiser MD 441 dynamic microphone, it will likely have a more loud sound and produce a lower quality sound.
Condenser Mic Advantages and Disadvantages
The condenser is suitable for recording studio work or live performances that require a lot of clarity and nuance. However, they’re not the right device choice for all situations.
Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using it.
Microphones Condenser can pick up subtle details and rich tones in sound that are impossible with other microphones.
This can be an advantage for recording voice-overs or vocals, but it can also help record acoustic instruments that require a particular focus on tone.
When used in conjunction with an omnidirectional pattern, a condenser microphone is ideal for group sound capture. Condenser microphones are designed to be placed stationary and not held in hand.
This allows you to capture crisp sounds from many places, such as an ample recording space or vocal booth. You can record more tracks with one device, and post-processing is much faster.
The volume issue can be compounded by the possibility of damage to the diaphragm in a condenser microphone’s diaphragm from high volume.
The fragility of their diaphragms can also damage condenser microphones if they are not taken care of. A simple drop or a bump could damage the relationship between the backplate and the diaphragm.
The biggest drawback to using condenser microphones is its advantage: their sensitivity to sound.
Their capsules can be easily overwhelmed by loud sounds and cause distortion when recording vocals and acoustic guitar. This is particularly true when recording things like drums and amplified sounds with a condenser mic.
When recording sound in live environments, they are also at a disadvantage. These include situations where you need to speak in front of a crowd, sing during live performances, or provide narration in a play-by-play case.
The sensitive nature of condenser microphones means that they will pick up background noises. However, it can also pick up noises made while handling the device. This could potentially cause a recording to be damaged.
Types Of Condenser Mics
There are many types of microphones, but there are only two types: small diaphragms or large diaphragm.
The difference between the small diaphragm and large-diaphragm microphones To put it simply, small diaphragm condenser microphones are much thinner and smaller.
In contrast, large-diaphragm condenser mics are bigger and side-addressed. Each microphone has its sound characteristics and is used uniquely when recording vocals and acoustic guitars.
The capsule’s surface area is larger because the diaphragm measures over 1 inch in length.
An average large diaphragm microphone will be placed in a fixed position in a recording booth. Large-diaphragm condenser microphones models are used to capture the richness and depth of low-end sounds. They create a widening effect that fills the audio space.
The small Diaphragm of a Condenser mic is sometimes referred to as a pencil microphone due to its small size and usage in long, thin designs. A small-diaphragm condenser mic usually has a diaphragm that is less than an inch in length.
This configuration will most likely place the small-diaphragm condenser in front of the microphone. The audio source will then direct its energy towards the top of the microphone.
Although a small diaphragm can be carried around, many of these units are used to record from a desk or a mounted position in the studio. A small-diaphragm condenser can be used to pick up high-end sounds and transients.
A condenser mics can also be used for field recording. The condenser microphone is more sensitive to sound pressure than the dynamic microphone, and they have a flatter response which is ideal for recording detailed audio, acoustic guitars drum overheads, and brass instruments. A large Diaphragm condenser is a common tool in today’s recording studios.
Above are some shares about condenser mics. Hooke Audio hopes that you have found all the information necessary to choose the right microphone for your needs.