A condenser microphone is a type of electrical device that can convert soundwaves into electricity. It consists of two plates separated by an insulator calleddiaphragm.
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.
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?
Condenser microphones offer several benefits over other types of microphones, including:
- High sensitivity: Condenser microphones are highly sensitive, meaning they can pick up even the slightest sounds and nuances in a recording. This makes them ideal for capturing high-quality audio in studio and live sound environments.
- Wide frequency response: Condenser microphones have a wider frequency response than other types of microphones, which means they can capture a broader range of sounds. This makes them ideal for recording a variety of instruments and vocal styles.
- Low self-noise: Condenser microphones have low self-noise, which means they produce less noise and interference than other types of microphones. This makes them ideal for recording in quiet environments or for capturing subtle sounds that may be lost with other microphones.
- High transient response: Condenser microphones have a high transient response, which means they can accurately capture fast, transient sounds like drum hits or cymbal crashes. This makes them ideal for recording drums, percussion, and other fast-paced instruments.
- Versatility: Condenser microphones come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from small diaphragm microphones for recording acoustic instruments to large diaphragm microphones for recording vocals and other sources. This makes them a versatile option for a range of recording applications.
What are the drawbacks of a condenser microphone?
While condenser microphones have many benefits, they also have some drawbacks to consider:
- Cost: Condenser microphones can be more expensive than other types of microphones, particularly high-end models designed for professional recording applications.
- Fragility: Condenser microphones are more delicate than dynamic microphones and can be easily damaged if dropped or mishandled.
- Phantom power requirement: Most condenser microphones require an external power source, typically through phantom power supplied by a mixer or preamp. This can be a drawback for portable recording setups or in situations where phantom power is not available.
- Sensitivity to environmental noise: Condenser microphones are highly sensitive and can pick up background noise, which can be a problem in noisy recording environments. They may require additional noise-reduction measures, such as acoustic treatment or noise gates, to achieve high-quality recordings.
- Pop and sibilance issues: Condenser microphones can be sensitive to plosives and sibilants, which can create unwanted popping and hissing sounds in recordings. This can be addressed with the use of pop filters and proper microphone placement techniques.
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 thinlayer of plastic, while forward-facing capsules use two pieces of plasticwith 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.