Three distinct types of microphones

Because not all conditions encountered in the area of music are identical, and because diverse acoustic contexts require distinct treatments, there are not one, but three technological systems that underpin microphone operation on the market. While it is not necessary to be familiar with them as an artist, it may be beneficial to understand what is going on within the most significant instrument you employ.


Which is better: a condenser, a dynamic, or a ribbon? Which functional system is most appropriate for the microphone you want to use? From the rows below, determine the distinctions, benefits and drawbacks, and situations in which each is appropriate.


Operational principle

When we speak about a microphone’s operating principle, we are actually talking to the sort of transducer it includes. A transducer is an electromechanical device that transfers one kind of energy to another.

In this example, we are discussing the technological process by which the microphone catches sound waves and converts them to an electrical signal, a characteristic that defines several of the device’s fundamental capabilities.


Three distinct types of microphones
Microphones that are dynamic

Dynamic goods comprise a diaphragm, coil, and magnetic assembly that when combined produce a tiny electric generator driven by sound vibrations. When acoustic waves strike the thin surface of the membrane, which is most frequently composed of plastic, it vibrates.

A tiny coil is connected to the diaphragm’s edge and begins vibrating in unison with it, surrounded by a magnetic field created by a small permanent magnet. The coil’s movement in the magnetic field is what generates the electric current that corresponds to the noises that formed the original sound waves.

These microphone types are among the most inexpensive due to their very basic design. Additionally, they are extremely resistant to wear, outlasting condenser-type units. It provides excellent sound quality over the whole frequency range and responds effectively to extremely loud sounds, as it is theoretically impossible to overload such a microphone.

It is the most often used type of product, particularly in the home or amateur sector; it conforms well to the voice and instrument and is less affected by dampness and high temperatures, proving to be extremely durable over time.


Microphones condenser

These microphone variations are based on the diaphragm and an electrically charged metal plate forming a capacitive element responsive to sound waves. In this scenario, the sound generates vibrations with a membrane composed of either a thin layer of metal or a plastic layer coated in metal.

The diaphragm is positioned directly in front of a stiff metal or ceramic plate that is covered with metal, producing the capacitor or capacitor, which has the ability to store electricity.

When the latter element becomes electrically charged, an electric field between the diaphragm and the plate is generated, the intensity of which is proportional to the physical distance between the two components. Membrane vibrations alter this area, generating the electrical signal that corresponds to the noises that create the movement as a whole.

In comparison to dynamic microphones, condenser microphones must have a component that constantly maintains the electric field between the diaphragm and the metal plate. From this vantage point, the items on the market are classified as electret or non-electret.

The first incorporates a specific substance applied to the membrane or plate that permanently maintains the required voltage. The ones that are not electret are charged outside.Three distinct types of microphones

All condenser microphone types have active circuitry that enables the output to be used in conjunction with the normal microphone input, which requires a constant power supply (battery or phantom power). Some of the device’s limitations stem from this requirement, including the additional circuits that generate irritating background noise and restrict the signal that these devices can handle.

This is why, for items in the condenser category, the noise level and maximum sound signal carried by the product are always included in the technical specifications. Therefore, we propose that you pick only high-quality microphone types (here and in our comparison table) that have the lowest possible noise level and the greatest possible dynamic range in this scenario.

Condenser variants are likewise more expensive due to their complexity and are considerably more susceptible to dampness and high temperatures. However, individuals with a high sensitivity can produce a more realistic sound, particularly in the high frequency range. Additionally, they may be produced in extremely small sizes without sacrificing performance.


Microphones with ribbons

Although ribbon mics are less common nowadays than condenser and dynamic microphones, they nevertheless provide unsurpassed sound quality. It is based on an extremely thin aluminum band (0.6 – 4 microns thick, compared to 100 microns for human hair) hung between two magnets, the vibrations of which generate the electric current corresponding to the sound waves that cause it to move.

Modern versions, which amplify the volume using phantom power, use carbon nanotubes, which are far more resistant to air currents and mechanical shocks.

Due to the way the tape reacts to wavelengths, this sort of microphone produces a deeper and lower sound. In brief, low frequencies have a greater effect on the vibrating band than high frequencies, which results in a final sound that is richer in low tones and less noticeable in high tones.

Among the advantages of this operating system is the microphones’ ability to reproduce precise sounds without being overly sensitive. This translates into the ability to capture all the subtleties in the speaker’s speech without picking up on background noise in the environment.

All ribbon microphones are inherently bidirectional, with type 8 polarity, because pressure applied from the sides has no effect on the metal strip’s movement, which is equal on both sides. Additionally, it provides the most realistic sound, according to experts, comparable to that experienced with your own ears. These versions are highly suggested for drums, saxophone, clarinet, and violins, as well as for classical music in general.

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