What are the Different Types of Microphones? [Choose the Right Microphone for Your Setup]

If you want your music to sound like it was made for the radio, you must record it with the appropriate microphone for the task. However, picking the right microphone might be difficult, particularly when it is your first attempt at making a recording.

The question now is, what exactly are these many kinds of recording microphones, and which one is the best fit for you? By the time you’ve finished reading this article, you’ll have a thorough understanding of the different microphones and the situations in which each one is most appropriate.

How Does a Microphone Work?

A microphone is an electrical device meant to catch and send sound waves to either an audio device or a recording device. It may also be used to communicate sound waves to other microphones.

A microphone works by passing sound waves through its diaphragm, which is a thin membrane. The diaphragm then turns the sound wave into an electrical signal, which may then be transmitted to a recording device (often via a mixer or audio interface), or it can be routed to a speaker.

There is a broad range of microphones, from recording singing to collecting audio for a podcast, and you can find microphones for all of these uses.

Types of Microphones [& Uses]

The particular application will have a role in an artist’s or engineer’s decision about the kind of microphone to employ. There are other use scenarios in which condenser and dynamic microphones are used interchangeably.

Hence, it is beneficial to have an understanding of the benefits and drawbacks associated with each type:

Type #1: Ribbon Mics

Ribbon Mics

Ribbon microphones are considered to be the outcast of the microphone family. Before dynamic and condenser microphones came into the market, these microphones had a great deal of success during the 1950s and 1960s.

As a result of this, they are very delicate and quite costly. However, few microphones can produce the same coziness and antique “feel” as these.

Ribbon Mics Usage

Because of their fragility and the fact that they must be positioned just the right way, ribbon microphones are not suitable for use in live or recording settings, where they run the risk of having their ribbons damaged if they are jostled or otherwise disturbed.

A high-quality ribbon mic can capture the most accurate representation of sounds such as voices and instruments.

Because they are the most sensitive microphones available, they are best suited for picking up softer sounds, such as the human voice or string instruments.

Ribbon microphones usually have a bidirectional polar pattern. To reduce the quantity of ambient noise that is picked up by the microphones, they should be utilized in a space that has been well treated.

Type #2: Condenser Mics

Condenser Mics

The lush and fluffy relatives of dynamic microphones are the condenser microphones. They are more intricate than their dynamic equivalents, making them more fragile and costly due to the increased complexity (though they have gotten much cheaper than they were in the past).

Condenser microphones provide superior clarity compared to dynamic microphones. They are better in terms of equilibrium, accuracy, and “sweetness” than their more powerful counterparts.

They are also much more sensitive, making them ideal for handling softer and brighter sounds. They are quite effective when used in a recording studio.

Condenser Mic Usage

Condenser microphones with broad diaphragms are preferable to dynamic microphones for portraying a range of characters in a single work of fiction.

For this reason, narrators of audiobooks, for example, opt for condenser mics. Using a microphone that retails for close to $300, the Rode NT2A, I have narrated almost 30 audiobooks that are classified as works of fiction.

However, professional narrators and recording studios shell out thousands of dollars to purchase high-quality large-diaphragm condenser microphones like the Neumann U87.

Due to this sensitivity, condenser mics are often particularly prone to feedback and mic rumble and bumps, making them less than ideal for use in live sound scenarios.

They typically have to be installed inside shock mounts, which resemble a cage made of rubber bands, to reduce the likelihood of knocks and bumps. They typically have to be used in a relatively quiet environment to prevent recording even low-volume background noise.

Filmmakers make use of specialized condenser microphones known as shotgun microphones. These microphones typically have a highly directional polar pattern, allowing them to record the sound immediately in front of the microphone while suppressing the sounds coming from the sides or behind it.

Type #3: Dynamic Mics

Dynamic Mics

The dynamics are a challenging mix. They can withstand being struck by drumsticks, having objects placed on them on stage, and even surviving a fall from a helicopter not once but twice. They can withstand the abuse that a home studio dishes out and then some.

Because of their lack of sensitivity, dynamic microphones are ideal for picking up sound from very loud sources. Because of this, you’ll often see them attached to snare drums and guitar amps.

They have a wide range of applications due to their lack of sensitivity. In the recording studio, dynamic microphones are used to record a wide variety of sounds.

Dynamic Mics Usage

This particular form of polar pattern works very well for home recording studios, which often have poor acoustics and are their own worst enemy.

You can plan the placement of your recording microphones so that they point away from reverberant areas of the space. It’s a fantastic method for making up for the fact that you’re in a bedroom or living room.

The use of dynamic microphones is common practice when recording low- to midrange-focused instruments. They can make up for this by having a presence increase in the higher mids.

Because most dynamics also have a roll-off in the bass, it is not recommended to utilize them on low-end instruments (such as the kick or bass). However, there are low-end dynamic microphones that include a bass boost that is designed specifically for use with low-end instruments.

If you are going to be making bass instruments, you must keep with them. Mics from Dynamics are excellent choices for almost any application.

However, you should be aware that the sound will not be as precise or “beautiful” as it would be with a condenser microphone. Instruments tend to sound warmer and more forceful when their dynamics are increased.

Type #4: Fiber-Optic Microphone

Fiber-Optic Microphone

In recent years, fiber-optic systems have been transforming the area of telecommunications, including the technology behind microphones.

These systems employ very thin strands of glass to carry information rather than the typical metal lines that have been used in the past.

Fiber-Optic Microphone Usage:

In contrast to traditional microphones, which are often very large and transmit an electrical signal, fiber optic microphones are capable of being incredibly compact, and they may be used in electrically sensitive settings.

They may also be manufactured without metal, making them particularly beneficial for applications involving magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and other contexts in which there is a risk of radio frequency interference.

Type #5: Electric Microphone

Electric Microphone

In this modern era, electric microphones are consistently ranked among the most popular types of microphones. Electret microphones are used in cellular phones, personal computers, and hands-free headsets due to their low cost and a high degree of simplicity.

An electret microphone is a condenser microphone in which the external charge is replaced by an electret material, which, by definition, is always in a state of electric polarization. This type of microphone is also known as an electret microphone.

·         Electric Microphone Usage:

They are particularly helpful in creating documentaries and news broadcasts since they may be used as hidden “lapel” microphones that can be attached to an interview subject’s clothes.

Which Kinds of Microphones Are Used in Filmmaking?

·        Lavalier Microphones

Lavalier microphones can perform their functions when directly connected to a mixer or camera. In most cases, a lengthy extension lead helps create some space between the camera and the subject being photographed.

·        Wireless Microphones

When the person being filmed moves about a lot or when the camera has to change its location with the subject, wireless microphones, also known as radio microphones, are incredibly helpful. Because there are no wires involved, working with it is much less risky.

·        Shotgun Microphones

A shotgun mic is a kind of elongated small-diaphragm condenser microphone that is often attached to the camera or kept close to the audio source using a boom pole or microphone stand.

Conclusion

The choice of a microphone in recording is second only to the quality of the instrument itself in terms of importance.

The finest microphone for your requirements may be found by learning how to choose the correct sorts of microphones. Take a break from your music and work on a recording session using a condenser microphone!

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