A microphone is a device made to capture waves in air, water or hard material and translate them to an electrical signal. The most common method is via a thin membrane producing some proportional electrical signal. Most microphones in use today for audio use electromagnetic generation (dynamic microphones), capacitance change (condenser microphones) or piezoelectric generation to produce the signal from mechanical vibration. What are the differences between the types of microphones available? Well, that's what we'll be looking at in this article. There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to the sound you get from your microphone, not only in terms of price and quality, but also where you actually place the mic in relation to your amplifier. Whilst the chances of getting a great recording are consistently better with a high quality microphone, price and quality do not always match.
However, with that said, when it comes to high quality recording, the most important part of the entire process is the original sound source. If you're original sound from the microphone is good to begin with it will generally have fewer problems at later stages when you are mixing. Dynamic Microphones - Most people's first microphone is a dynamic one. They're simple, versatile and they generally sound quite good on everything from voices to guitar amps and brass instruments.
Also, dynamic microphones are usually cheaper than condenser microphones (which we will look at next¬) Dynamic mics are usually cardioid or hyper cardioid in their polar pattern, which means that they only pick up the sound that's coming at them from the direction in which they're pointing. Dynamic microphones can be great for use at home as they tend to reject a lot of background sounds like the noise of traffic outside your house. Once you start using a quality microphone, you won't believe how noisy your home studio room can be. Dynamic microphones also have a high SPL, which stand for sound pressure level, this means they are perfect for pointing at loud amplifiers. Condenser Microphones - Condenser mics are generally more expensive than dynamic microphones; however they do share a lot of the same characteristics.
You'll find that a lot of condenser microphones are used when recording vocals. Most artists record vocals through a large diaphragm condenser microphone because they are a little less harsh than a dynamic mic, can be smoother sounding and have a broader frequency range. Condenser microphones may not be entirely suitable for use in an ordinary house as they could well receive sound from televisions, neighbours or sounds from the streets. Some condenser mics have a cardioid polar response while others have an omni-directional pattern.
This means that they pick up sound equally from all directions. What's great about some condenser microphones is that they have switch-able polar patterns. This means they can be cardioid, hyper-cardioid or super cardioid like a dynamic microphone, but can also be figure 8, which means it'll accept sound from the front and back, or omni, meaning it will accept sound from all round.
You can find some great condenser mics for $150 - $250, which will serve most home recording needs. There are absolutely tons on the market, even at the lower end of the price range. Another factor to take into consideration is that condenser mics require power to operate.
Some will take an internal battery but others need to be powered remotely from the mixing desk. This is done through a power source called Phantom Power.
Ian Marples has been playing guitar for over 10 years, and now runs the website http://www.uncleslinky.co.uk to help other guitarists learn how to succesfully record music at home. For similar information to this article subscribe to his FREE Newsletter by sending a blank email to email@example.com