Which Microphone is Best: Dynamic or Condenser

There is a wide range of choices available when you are looking to get a microphone. The basics of all microphones will convert sound energy into electrical energy so that a sound can be amplified. There are several different technologies for microphones to achieve this including carbon granules, electrostatics, piezo electric effects and even electro magnetism. The 2 most commonly used microphones are dynamic microphones and condenser microphones.

Dynamic Microphones

Dynamic microphones are electromagnetic microphones. This type of microphone resembles a mesh ball that is attached to a stick. When recording live sound, almost all the mics will be dynamic. Normally for studio recordings, the bass, electric guitars and drums will use dynamic mics. The mics do not need a battery or power supply to work and are durable and fairly inexpensive. Basically a diaphragm made of plastic film is attached to a small wire coil. This wire coil is normally suspended in a permanent magnet field. When the diaphragm vibrates due to a sound the assembly will produce an electric current. Since the electric output is very small it is necessary to use a mic preamp.

Condenser Microphones

The condenser microphone is normally known as a capacitor microphone. These microphones have been used for many years. The technology uses conducting plates. One plate is a moving diaphragm and the other is fixed. When the space between these 2 plates changes, due to the diaphragm vibrating, the capacitance will change which produces electricity. This microphone is very sensitive and can record harmonics beyond the range of human hearing. The size can vary as larger diameter capacitor mics are preferred for vocal recording and smaller diameter capacitor mics are best when you need very accurate recording. These mics tend to be more expensive though they are the more sensitive than other types of mics.

Which to Choose

The type of microphone you need will depend on what type of recording you are using. Each microphone will have its own advantages and disadvantages. Normally having one of each microphone is a good idea if you are doing a lot of recording. The condenser microphone is best for vocal work while dynamic mics can be used for other instruments. For the drums, dynamic mics are normally used as close mics on the individual drums while condenser mics are used for the hi hat and overhead mics. Normally for the drums you only need a dynamic mic.

Other Things to Consider

You want to think about the type of response you want. Normally a flat response pattern is best but you can create a tailored response. Generally it is also better to have low impedance rather than a microphone with high impedance. To get the best sound recording you will need protection for the microphone as it will not differentiate between the sound you want and other vibrations. Most high quality microphones will use foam padding or suspension to isolate the diaphragm form the undesirable vibrations.

Sound completely depends on the listener so make sure you use controlled tests when trying out different microphones. It is always best to have a range of microphones to work with. When comparing each mic make sure each is positioned optimally.