What Is A Condenser Microphone And How Does It Work?

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If you want to be heard loud, a microphone plays an essential role in achieving this. A microphone helps you to conduct meetings and engage with a larger audience without any hassle. It helps you convert your voice and makes it into electronic signals. These signals can connect to amplifiers, mixers, recorders, and more. Through these items, you can create music, speeches, and more. One major usage of a good microphone is clarity. There are two forms of microphones present in the market. The most popular ones include dynamic and condenser microphones.

Dynamic microphones have magnetized devices in them. These help you in changing sound waves into voltage. These are microphones that essentially operate as a reverse speaker. If you are familiar with the speaker, you know how it operates. Electricity vibrates in the diaphragm of the speaker and sound waves are produced outside. When you use a transformer, you can increase this electricity. As a result, the sound is being taken from the microphone is outputted at a higher frequency. 

On the contrary, there are condenser mics, which are much more mechanical. The condenser microphones provide you with a power system within them. This power system facilitates in boosting the voltage intensity that is being produced.

In both types of microphones, the diaphragm plays an important role. They help you to amplify the acoustic energy of the sound waves being created. Dynamic microphone serves you when playing loud vocals, keyboards, brass instruments. However, if you are still confused about what is a condenser microphone, then in this article, we’ll offer you multiple insights. We will walk you through all its facets so that you can explain the same to even a five-year-old as well.

What Is a Condenser Microphone?

Condenser microphones are highly sensitive mics. These are ideal for you if you are looking for studio-quality recordings. Besides, they provide you with impeccable fidelity. This means that the accuracy of the sound being reproduced is amazingly high. If you have a soft voice this is what you are looking for. It is perfect for those situations where you need to amplify your voice to a large crowd. You can take advantage of this online and in larger event gatherings as well. The downside is the amount of distortion these mics bring you. This happens when you are in a noisy environment and the signals are too hot for the microphone to simplify. However, in a professional environment, this is the tool that can help you produce the most natural tone.

Now, condenser mics come in two forms that include large diaphragm and small diaphragm:

large diaphragm 

Large Diaphragm:

  • These are diaphragms that are either 1 inch or bigger. This gives you the chance to produce more sound in a shorter time without disruption.
  • They are well-rounded and have an even frequency. As a result, you get better pitch and more evenness in the output.
  • These are best for recording voices where dialogues are required. If you are dubbing, creating movies, or producing music then this is perfect for you.

Small Diaphragm:

  • These pencil-like microphones have a diaphragm that is smaller than 1 inch. The refinement that you get from these types of microphones is limited.
  • They are front-facing and the audio energy output from them is just one direction. If you are expecting sound output to be attained from all directions, this isn’t the best choice.
  • Being small and hand-held, this is the best piece only if you’re using them at home or mounting them permanently in a studio.

How Does It Work?

In contrast to dynamic, condenser mics work on the mechanism of variable capacitance. You can understand this through conceptualizing a battery. You can think of the microphone’s diaphragm reverberating sound waves with a magnetic plate behind it. It is when this happens that a boost of voltage is offered. This is provided to you through a phantom power supply that enables the microphone to produce sounds. If you don’t have a power supply, the boosted sound signals won’t take place. As can be understood you need multiple components that are present in the condenser microphone. We can help you with the same through a guided list below:

  • Diaphragm: The diaphragm is a membrane-like barrier within a capsule of the microphone. It can conduct electricity effectively and helps you in providing better vibrations.
  • Backplate: This is a metallic static layer that sits behind the diaphragm. The backplate is essential as it helps in maintaining air pressure. It gives you a structure in which why the diaphragm’s vibrations resonate.
  • Capsule: A capsule is having all the collective elements in the microphone. It includes the diaphragm, backplate, and more. It helps you put all the essential parts together.
  • Impedance Converter: The impedance is a converter that helps in increasing the voltage being attained by the diaphragm. This helps you when there are not enough currents being produced by the device. It facilitates the to create sufficient voltage for audio clarity.
  • Power Supply: This handles the output from the impedance converter. It handles the current application and provides you with a stutter-free mic.

All these components work systematically with one another to provide you with a free-flowing focused sound. Each condenser microphone has a polar pattern. Polar patterns are three-dimensional spaces on the microphone capsule which are most sensitive to the sound you make. Multiple types of patterns are present that includes:

  • Cardioidsare heart patterns best for individual use. If you’re recording videos nothing beats this.
  • Omnidirectionalhave 360° patterns best for recording in outdoor environments. If you’re filming outside, this is your best choice.
  • Bidirectionalis best for interview recordings. This enables you to attain a dual sound capture enabling a better interaction.

In addition, more patterns are present that help you achieve a different outcome. However, these different patterns rely upon all the mechanisms illustrated above. Collectively these help your condenser microphone perform better.

Difference Between Dynamic and Condenser Microphone

A dynamic and condenser microphone can be differentiated through their intended uses. If you want to use a microphone for everyday rugged use, a dynamic microphone is the way to go. However, if you want good audio quality, if you want refinement then a condenser microphone is the way to go. In addition to these basic aspects, there are further refined areas that differentiate them. Both aspects will be highlighted here:

  • Robustness: Dynamic microphones are more robust than condenser mics. Since dynamic microphones are created for day-to-day usage. If you’re a musician who’s on the road this is the pick for you. However, if you’re recording inside you would like more refinements. In order to get those deeper sounds then condenser microphones are the way. Solid-state condenser microphones are equipped with specialized tubes. These help you to produce delicate sounds with several instruments.
  • Power Supply Requirement: Dynamic microphones can manage without direct power. However, condenser microphones force you to have some type of power supply. You need the power supply to help the impedance converter within the condenser microphone. Through this, non-electret condensers can charge electrodes. This enables you to have better functioning in the various parts that are internally present in a condenser microphone.
  • Price: Dynamic microphones are much cheaper than condenser microphones. Since you’re getting much more sophisticated sound through multiple layers of mechanisms in the condenser microphone, the prices go up. Dynamic microphones come to you at a cheaper rate however you must compromise with a flattened sound scope.
  • Different Signals: If you study the waveforms of a condenser microphone it is directly related to sound pressure. However, if you observe dynamic microphones and their sound waves, it is related to velocity. The signals of the condenser microphone provide you with a narrower sound scope which enhances vividness. Though, dynamic microphones have a wider spread decreasing vividity but giving you loader sound.

Now that you know what is a condenser microphone, you can quite easily buy one. Just make sure you take a look at features and specifications before investing in one.

More to read:

Best Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones

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