Are you in the market searching for the microphone suited for a specific need of yours. Here in this article, we have tried explaining the basic characteristics and differences between the condenser and dynamic microphones and the best microphone available currently. We hope this article will help you to choose the best microphone for vocals, singing, YouTubers or for podcasting.
First, let’s understand the basics of a microphone – How does a microphone work?
Microphone in principle is a transducer which converts the acoustic energy (sound wave) into electrical energy (audio signal).
The converted voice/sound signal into an electrical signal can be passed through an amplifier (to boost the sound/signal) to the loudspeaker, which will convert this electrical signal into an acoustic signal/sound wave.
What is a dynamic microphone?
The principle of working with a dynamic microphone is very simple and is listed below:
- The sound waves produced, hits the diaphragm built inside the microphone causes it to move back and forth or vibrate
- Which in turns leads the coil attached to the diaphragm to vibrate
- As the coil moves through the permanent magnet (used to produce the magnetic field), an electric current starts to flow through it
- This electric current is then passed towards the loudspeaker and the same process occurs in reverse
- It doesn’t necessarily require an external power source but using an audio interface would greatly enhance the sound capturing and output quality
- Cardioid pattern, mostly pick up the sound from the front and is least sensitive at the back
Fig: Internal structure of a dynamic microphone
- Mostly affordable
- Suitable for use in the outdoor/stage or not so quiet places due to the cardioid pattern of sound capturing
- Does not require external power
- Sturdy and durable
- Less sensitive than condenser microphones, not suitable for multi-person podcasting
- Requires an additional audio interface/amplifier for best results
- Voice recording at home where ambient noise is present (Condenser mics are most suitable for recording studios or very quiet places due to their high sensitivity and omnidirectional pattern)
What is a Condenser microphone?
So, what is the basic working principle of a condenser microphone, let us dive in:
- In condenser microphones, there are two plates, namely front and back plate which are electrically charged
- The front plate is made of a very thin material and works as a diaphragm and along with back plate it forms a capacitor
- The two plates have voltage between them, which is provided by an external power source (namely Phantom Power)
- When sound wave struck the diaphragm, it vibrates, causing the distance between the diaphragm and backplate to change. This, in turn, changes the capacitance
- When the two plates are close to each other, the capacitance increases and similarly when they are far apart, the capacitance decreases causing the electrical signal/current to flow
Fig: Internal structure of a condenser microphone
- Very sensitive and picks up discrete noise/sounds
- Multi-person recording, podcasting due to (mostly) omnidirectional lobe patterns
- Good frequency response
- No need of preamps
- Expensive in comparison to the dynamic microphones
- Not Suitable for use in the outdoor/stage or noisy places
- They are subject to distortion while using them for recording loud instrument/sounds
- Requires external phantom power to work properly
- They are fragile
- Indoors, soundproof areas or areas where there is no ambient noise is present
- Indoor recording, podcasting/interviews
There is a separate use case of each of the types of microphones. You must first keep in mind your area of usage before buying a microphone. The usage area/case could be an outdoor interview session, studio recording, loud stage environment, live performance, acoustic instrument recording, vocals etc.
Defining the use case will help you get the better and expected results out of your purchase. As per our testing, we are very sure to suggest that:
Pick up a dynamic microphone if:
- There is ambient noise present in your surroundings
Pick up a condenser microphone if:
- If you have a soundproof room or extremely quiet neighborhood
You can have a look at our suggestions below for the best inexpensive microphones available:
Best Dynamic Microphone:
- Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone
- Shure SM48-LC Vocal Dynamic Microphone, Cardioid
Best Condenser Microphone:
- Blue YETI USB Microphone
- MXL 770 Cardoid Condenser Microphone