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What is the Difference Between a Dynamic & Condenser Microphone?

From musical concerts to political debates, comedy clubs and even churches: microphones are an important component in all these places. The use of microphones these days have gone beyond the more obvious settings mentioned above; as thousands of internet users now also put the microphone to good use when they make YouTube videos, podcasts, audio recordings, podcasts, voiceovers and more.

With so many situations where microphones are not only applicable but also quintessential, your choice of microphone could potentially determine the success of your project.

This article is focused on the two main types of microphone used for performing – the dynamic microphone and the condenser microphone. Here is a quick look at each microphone as well as their differences.

Dynamic microphones

When most people say or think of “microphones”, it is usually the dynamic style microphones that are being referred to. Often big and bulky, dynamic microphones are designed in the traditional design with a hardball shape on top which is usually made of a metal mesh.

The interior design of a dynamic mic features a spring-like part that enables it to handle high-frequency sounds. Every microphone has what is called a polar pattern. This refers to the way the sound is captured and crucially which direction it is recording from. The cardioid polar pattern of the dynamic microphone makes it ideal for solo performances and individual instrument recordings.

A traditional dynamic microphone uses a cardioid polar pattern – this enables it to filter any background noise from the actual voice of the speaker (or performer) thus resulting in a sound recording with more clarity.

Dynamics are often selected as the best microphones for ASMR recordings due to their sensitivity.

Condenser microphones

Compared to the dynamic microphone, condenser microphones have a higher sensitivity to sound. This is due to its omnidirectional polar pattern, a condenser microphone would pick up every sound around the recording area which makes these mics perfect for bands or artists that prefer to record their music as a live collective.

Sounds projected when using a condenser microphone are less distorted and have more natural dynamics.

This is why they are often selected as the best microphones for podcasting.

The differences

Compared to dynamic microphones, the condenser microphones are a more complex option and often tend to cost a little more than dynamic microphones. Unlike dynamic microphones, which are quite durable and long-lasting, a condenser microphone is adversely affected by extreme temperature and humidity level, which cause them to either fail temporarily or become distorted.

Condenser microphones often have higher recording sensitivity thus being more suited to a smoother and more natural instrument like vocals, piano or an acoustic guitar.

Final thoughts

Both the condenser and dynamic microphones are essential tools for sound recording. Deciding which mic is most suitable for your recording is dependent on not just the sound source or sound reinforcement system but also on the physical setting where the mic is placed

A dynamic mic is more suitable for environments like clubs or for places requiring outdoor sound. A condenser mic, on the other hand, is best for a more controlled environment like a concert hall or theatre.

Most producers and artists who want the highest level of sound quality prefer a condenser microphone due to its response to natural acoustic instruments. They also make the best microphones for YouTube.

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