A condenser microphone is a type of electrical device that can convert sound waves into electricity. It consists of two plates separated by an insulator called diaphragm. When sound hits one plate, it vibrates against the other causing electric current to flow between them which produces an output signal at its terminals. This signal can be used for recording or transmitting audio.
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How do condenser microphone work?
The sound waves hit the diaphragm which causes it to vibrate. This vibration creates a current that flows through the capacitor. The more voltage you put on the plates, the more current will flow and vice versa. This is how condenser microphones can be made to be either “cardioid” or “omnidirectional”.
What are the benefits of a condenser microphone?
Some benefits of using a condenser microphone include:
- Can handle high sound pressure levels without distortion making them ideal for use in live settings.
- Have a wide frequency response which means they can capture a greater range of audio frequencies.
- Relatively lightweight and small which makes them easy to transport and set up.
What are the drawbacks of a condenser microphone?
Some drawbacks of using a condenser microphone include:
- Require phantom power in order to operate which can limit their use in some situations.
- They can be sensitive to certain types of electronic interference.
- Relatively fragile and must be handled carefully to avoid damage.
What Is a condenser microphone capsule?
A condenser microphone capsule is a small, round piece of plastic that contains the microphone’s electronics and transducer. The capsule is located at the end of the microphone’s body and converts sound into an electrical signal.
There are two main types of condenser capsules: back-plate and forward-facing. Back-plate capsules contain two metal plates separated by a thin layer of plastic, while forward-facing capsules use two pieces of plastic with an air gap in between.
The most common type of condenser microphone is the electret design, which uses electrostatic charges to create movement and vibration within its capsule. Other types include variable capacitance designs such as the Neumann K47, and charge-coupled device (CCD) designs such as the Schoeps CMC641.
In addition to the capsule, a condenser microphone also contains electronics that convert its transduced signal into an electrical one. It may have additional components such as preamplifiers or filters (e.g., low-pass) for shaping the sound of your recordings.
A condenser capsule is sensitive enough to capture sounds at very low volumes, making it ideal for recording quiet instruments like pianos or vocalists. It also has a wider frequency response than dynamic microphones, allowing it to capture more high-frequency sounds like cymbals and bells (although this comes at the cost of increased noise).
A condenser capsule is often made from metal, while its electronics are usually housed in a plastic casing.
Polar patterns of condenser microphones
Condenser microphones come in a variety of polar patterns, which determine the area in front of the microphone that it will pick up sound from. The most common polar patterns are cardioid, omnidirectional, and bidirectional.
The cardioid pattern is shaped like a heart and picks up sound mainly from the front of the microphone. This is the most common pattern for interviews and solo musicians.
The omnidirectional pattern picks up sound equally from all directions, making it ideal for capturing a room’s ambiance.
The bidirectional pattern picks up sound mainly from the front and rear of the microphone, making it perfect for recording two people talking to each other.
Polar patterns of ribbon microphones are more limited, as they only come in a bidirectional pattern. This pattern picks up sound mainly from the front and rear of the microphone, making it perfect for recording two people talking to each other.
Ribbon microphones also have a figure-eight polar pattern, which picks up sound from the front and rear of the microphone, as well as from the sides. This pattern is perfect for recording a choir or a band.
When choosing a condenser microphone, it’s important to decide what type of polar pattern you need. If you’re doing interviews or solo performances, a cardioid pattern will work best. If you’re looking to capture the ambiance of a room, an omnidirectional microphone will do the trick. If you need to record two people talking to each other, a bidirectional microphone will be perfect. And if you’re recording a choir or band, a ribbon microphone with a figure-eight polar pattern will be your best bet.
What are the power requirements of condenser microphones?
Most condenser microphones require phantom power, a type of electrical power supply that provides 48 volts of DC power to the microphone. Some condenser microphones have an internal battery that can provide power for the microphone, but this is not common.