Condenser vs Dynamic Microphone: What Is The Difference?

When it comes to getting your sound right, choosing the right microphones is exceptionally essential.

If the microphones you are using are not able to capture your sound with detail and accuracy, then even the best post-production house will not be in a position to produce the best quality of music you want.

In simple terms, you just need to get the right microphones to do an excellent job for you.

This is why we want to look deeper into the discussion on the differences between condenser vs dynamic microphone.

Usually, microphones convert sounds into energy signals. However, different kind of microphones tends to do this action of sounds conversion in different ways.

Microphones usually convert sound waves that are created by anything ranging from the sounds created by humans or the loudest sounds produced by a booming saxophone into electrical waves that can be understood by a computer or other recording devices that you are using in a studio.

If you want to understand all the kinds of mics and their mode of working, then it is a task that would take you some years but trust me, some people do!

All the same, many of the microphones today are mostly grouped into two categories. These are- condenser vs dynamic microphones.

Below we look at the significant differences that distinguish these two types of microphones.

What Is A Condenser Microphone?

[amazon box=”B0006H92QK”]

This kind of microphone is mostly used in studios to pick up sounds. They are very efficient in picking up sound with detail and accuracy. The condenser microphone is best used for capturing high frequencies and delicate vocals in-studio use.

One of the essential factors that facilitate its efficiency is the presence of a lightweight membrane that is usually suspended by a fixed plate.

The light membrane present is traditionally referred to a diaphragm. The sound pressure produced against the diaphragm makes it to make movements. The movement in turn, creates and causes electrical output.

One of the essential things to note when it comes to condenser mics is, they are very delicate and are commonly used to pick up and in amplification of subtle sounds in a studio.

The widely used power by condenser mics is the phantom power or power from an external source. Phantom power facilitates in the creation of their characteristically high output.

This is an ideal characteristic because you will not need a lot of gain at the preamp to get a signal to a level that is usable. If by any chance you use a wrong mic at your recording, meaning with no enough output, you will therefore need significant gain at the preamp.

It is essential to note that, many preamps that are sold at lower prices cannot supply enough gain or else they will introduce a lot of noise when they get started up. With condenser microphones, all these challenges are solved once and for all.

You realize that with condenser microphones you need electricity for them to work, which is not the case with dynamic mics. The amount of power you need for their system to function effectively will range between 9-48 volts.

For this reason, you will need batteries for the mic to function or you will need the phantom power we have discussed above for the mic to do the job.

The functioning of condenser microphones can be highly characterized by the functioning of a magnifying glass. What it simply does is capture all the components of the sound in a detailed way and with high accuracy.

This is the best kind of mic to use when capturing delicate vocals of a songwriter in your studio but for loud, powerful vocals, dynamic mics will do a great job.

What Is A Dynamic Microphone?

[amazon box=”B00015H0X4″]

Dynamic microphones are the oldest types of microphones and therefore, no doubt they are the most elementary kind of microphones.

Dynamic microphones, functions in such a way that sound waves comes into contact with the diaphragm and causes it to move. The membrane is commonly created from a plastic material that enables it to sense a sound signal.

Usually, the diaphragm is fixed to a metal coil that is suspended between two magnets.

When the diaphragm makes any slight movement the coil also makes similar movements that are usually up and down to produce an AC current, that is commonly small mimicking that of the sound of the wave.

Condenser microphones usually can withstand sounds with high-pressure levels. That is the reason why they are the most ideal kind of microphones when it comes to recording of loud sounds or in a live setting.

Condenser microphones are the most affordable type of microphones in the market. Their prices are mostly reasonable because of their simple design, and they usually withstand all sorts of wear and tear.

That is the reason why most individuals will prefer condenser mics when it comes to live performances anytime.

Dynamic microphones are famous for their ruggedness and reliability. This kind of microphones does not require any batteries or external source of power to function as in the case of condenser microphones.

Their cost is just a fraction of what you would need to purchase condenser microphones and their excellence in functions is something amazing about them.

The output level of dynamic microphones is way much advanced and can work with most mic inputs that have an excellent signal to noise ratio directly. Additionally, if dynamic mics are handled correctly, they can last for many years without developing mechanical damages.

Sometimes, the durability of these dynamic mics can be their limitation; the coil that is usually placed inside the mic has some weight to it.

If you make a sound that can be termed as quiet or with a low frequency level, you could be sure that, the coil will not vibrate enough to make the exact representation of the sound.

For instance, the famous SM7 manufactured by Shure made its way to great popularity when Quincy Jones used it to record all Michael Jackson’s vocals for the album Thriller.

The microphone worked perfectly well especially with the presence of Michael Jackson’s strong vocals.

Since that magnificent recording, the mic has been a popular one in most studios, especially amongst famous artists.

In a scenario where you are not basically worried about sounds being particularly louder, or in a scenario where you want to record even the finest details of your sound, then dynamic types of microphones will not be the best at all.

[amazon table=”4650″]

Condenser vs Dynamic Microphone

The discussion about the differences between Condenser vs Dynamic Microphone will never end.

The difference between these two microphones is actually a matter of transducer principles.

From the discussion above, you realize that both the mics have a membrane that will vibrate depending on the air movement around it that is usually referred to as sound in this case scenario.

The particular microphone must therefore, turn the membrane movement from the energy that is acoustical to electrical energy.

This is the point where the transducer element comes in, and you now understand that each type of microphones has different transducers properties.

This concludes that their differences has nothing to do with the directional characteristics of the microphones.

Juan Stansbury
Juan Stansbury

I'm Juan Stansbury, author and owner of Homerecordio – your ultimate destination for everything about homerecording. With hands-on experience, courses, workshops, and industry research, I offer tips on selecting the best equipment, and mixing and mastering your recordings to achieve professional-quality results at home. Join me on this journey to explore the world of homerecording and music production.

Home Recordio