When you are choosing the best microphone for your needs, you have several options. Since the final choice you make may affect both the sound quality and your music plans, knowing all the details is highly important.
Many musicians try to make the choice between dynamic and condenser microphones. While they may look similar, their features are strikingly different. Before you go out to buy a new microphone, it’s worth doing some research.
In this article, you’ll learn about the key differences and similarities of dynamic and condenser microphones.
What are dynamic microphones?
“Dynamic” in dynamic microphone describes the way this particular type works. The dynamic microphone converts sound into an electric signal via electromagnetism. They use a wire coil to amplify the sound, which the diaphragm picks up.
These microphones are great for loud environments and booming sounds. They do an excellent job working with loud sounds because of their low sensitivity. That’s why dynamic microphones are great for live performances with a great variety of sounds in the background.
Dynamic microphones have impressive integrity. It means they can take a beating. If a performer drops the mic, it’s likely to stay intact. They also need very little maintenance. So for those who aren’t planning to spend too much time taking care of their mic, dynamic microphones can be an excellent choice.
Thanks to being low-maintenance and high-integrity, dynamic mics can easily last for decades.
There are two types of dynamic microphones:
- Moving coil – mic signal goes through the conductive element (coil), which is attached to a diaphragm.
- Ribbon – diaphragm acts at the conductor
According to Condenser Microphones manufacturer, DPA, moving coil mics are usually more durable and easier to use than ribbon mics are. They are also less expensive. Neither ribbon nor moving-coil dynamic microphones are too sensitive. They don’t give much amplification to the sound.
Overall, dynamic microphones are great for live performances with live sound and instruments. They are cheap, durable, and don’t need a power source. However, dynamic mics aren’t sensitive, which may be a downside for professional studio recording.
What are condenser microphones?
Condenser microphones are excellent at catching vocals and high sound frequencies. They tend to be the preferred type for studio applications. Condenser microphones are well known for their accuracy, which is achieved due to their construction.
A condenser mic has a light diaphragm that is suspended by a fixed plate. When sound waves apply pressure to the diaphragm, it moves. Since the diaphragm is highly sensitive, these microphones can pick up delicate sounds.
Unlike dynamic microphones, these mics need a power source. It can either be a battery of phantom power.
Condenser mics are excellent for capturing the singer’s voice and instruments like guitars. However, they can be virtually useless for live performers. Their high sensitivity makes it hard to work in a loud environment.
Condenser microphones usually come in two types:
- Large diaphragm – capture the depth of low-frequency sounds.
- Small diaphragm – capture pure and natural sounds and high frequencies.
High-quality small diaphragm condenser microphones can be used for almost any purpose. In some cases, they can even be suitable for live performances.
In short, condenser microphones capture quiet and complex sounds with a bigger range of frequencies. They are more expensive and delicate than dynamic microphones. Dropping such a mic is likely to damage it beyond repair
Which one is right for me?
Now that you know the key differences between these two types of microphones, it should be easier to make a choice. If you are planning to use a microphone with many background sounds in the picture, you need a dynamic type. For studio recording and deciphering natural sounds, you may need to choose a condenser mic.
Sometimes, the price of the microphone dictates your choice. That’s why many beginners choose dynamic mics. However, you need to keep in mind that It’s possible to find reasonably priced condenser microphones.
Ideally, you should try both types before making a purchase. If you can visit a brick-and-mortar mic store, you can give mics a test drive. If not, consider asking around. A friend or a coworker may have a microphone that you can check it out in action.