A microphone is a device that records audio by converting sound waves into an electrical signal. It is the first stage in the intricate and expanded technical chain between live performance and sound reproduction in the home or motion picture theater(Eargle, 2004). While all microphones perform the same fundamental function, they can capture audio in various different ways. Therefore, different types of microphones exist. The three most common types are dynamic, condenser and ribbon microphones. Dynamic microphones are designed to be used close to the musical instruments or voice. They are rugged, strong, and capable of handling loud sounds such as drum, brass, and vocals. Dynamic microphones are not suitable for capturing sounds with an extensive dynamic range. They have limited frequency response because of its heaviness. The most favored dynamic microphones are the classic Shure SM57 and Shure SM58(Rudolph, 2004).
Condenser microphones are more sensitive to higher sound pressure levels as compared to dynamic microphones and have good frequency response. They are fragile and require phantom power in order for it to work. They are used in recording studios, concert halls, radio station booths and are naturally more expensive than the dynamic microphones(Kyker & Curchy, 2006). Condenser microphones have ruled the studio recording in the late 1940’s when the first German and Austrian condenser microphones came into place(Rayburn, 2011).
Ribbon microphones are very fragile and contain a thin ribbon made of an aluminum, duraluminum, or nanofilm, which is suspended in a magnetic field. Phantom power can damage the ribbons but some modern ribbon microphones are reliable and will not usually be damaged by phantom power(Corbett, 2014). Condenser and Ribbon microphones are more suited for recording acoustic instruments due to the high-frequency content, low-level details, and transient information important to its sound.
Eargle, J. (2004). Eargle’s the microphone book: From mono to stereo to surround – A guide to microphone design and application (2nd ed.). Amsterdam: Elsevier Science.
Kyker, K., & Curchy, C. (2006). Television production and video projects for elementary and middle schools. United States: Libraries Un.
Rayburn, R. A. (2011). Eargle’s the microphone book: From mono to stereo to surround – A guide to microphone design and application (3rd ed.). Waltham, MA: Focal Press/Elsevier.
Rudolph, T. E. (2004). Teaching music with technology (2nd ed.). Chicago: GIA Publications.