What’s the difference between dynamic and condenser microphones?


A microphone is much more than just a means of amplifying the voice through a speaker. If you are looking for a microphone, you will quickly realize that there are different types of microphones, each with unique characteristics depending on the use of the microphone. That said, all microphones are designed with the same purpose in mind: to convert sound pressure variations into electrical signals.

In this article, we will explain the difference between two main types of microphones: dynamic and condenser.

How does a dynamic microphone work?

A dynamic microphone, as its name suggests, works on the same principle as a bicycle dynamo.

Like this dynamo, a dynamic microphone has a moving copper coil that is located in a magnetic field around a magnet. The movement of the coil in response to the sound wave produces a current. Instead of a bicycle wheel, a dynamic microphone has a membrane that moves according to the acoustic pressure produced by a sound wave.

Sound waves – 2. Membrane – 3. Coil – 4. Magnet – 5. Signal

Shure MV7 dynamic microphone exemple

The advantages of a dynamic microphone

The technology in dynamic microphones is relatively simple, which means that production costs are low. Compared to condenser microphones, their price is much lower. Due to their simple building, they are perfectly resistant to temperature variations (stage lighting) and humidity (saliva, liquids). Moreover, they tolerate quite high sound volumes (drums, guitar amps).

As dynamic microphones don’t incorporate active electronics, they don’t require a power supply. It should be noted that these mics are less faithful to the sound source, but this need not be a problem. Dynamic microphones owe their popularity to their colorful tone and practicality. They are often used to pick up vocals, drums or electric guitars.

How does a condenser microphone work?

Inside a condenser microphone there is a small, thin membrane and a back plate. Between these two components, an electric field is created with the help of a battery or phantom power (supplied by a mixer, for example, via the microphone cable).

This building is called a capacitor. It is an electronic component capable of storing energy in the form of an electrostatic field. The voltage level depends on the distance between the membrane and the back plate. As the membrane is very thin, it moves easily. If the air vibration moves it in the direction of the back plate, the output level of the microphone is positive. If the diaphragm moves in the opposite direction, the polarity is negative.

Sound waves – 2. Diaphragm – 3. Back plate – 4. Battery – 5. Resistor – 6. Signal

Rode NT-1 condenser microphone exemple

The advantages of a condenser microphone

The diaphragm of a condenser microphone is much thinner than that of a dynamic microphone. In addition, it’ s not connected to a coil, which allows it to move more easily. As a result, the frequency response of a condenser microphone is wider than that of a dynamic microphone.

It delivers a very detailed and natural sound, which makes it perfectly suited for acoustic instruments and jazz-oriented singing. Condenser microphones come in a variety of versions and there are some very compact models. Most tie microphones and headset microphones (also with a very discreet design) belong to the condenser family.

Is a condenser microphone better than a dynamic microphone?

No, both types of mics have their advantages and disadvantages.

Condenser mics are often used to record acoustic guitars or drums and produce a natural, bright sound. In addition, they are suitable for recording choirs and orchestras.

Dynamic mics, on the other hand, can handle high volumes of sound and are ideal for recording guitar amps, wind instruments, toms or snare drums. In addition, they are often used for close miking.

Which one is the best microphone for singing?

Generally, dynamic microphones are used to record the voice on stage and condenser microphones for the studio.

Compared to condenser microphones, dynamic microphones are less fragile and less susceptible to feedback and are therefore better suited for stage performances.

cheap capacitor that is sensitive to high frequencies seems at first sight to be a good choice but is in fact difficult or impossible to mix.

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Mic & Mod is specialized in DIY Vintage Microphone Kits since 2013. Why buy expensive vintage microphones in poor condition when you can build them yourself?

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