Tip #1:
Condenser vs. Dynamic Microphones

[Back]

"Condenser" and "dynamic" refer to two ways that a microphone can convert sound into an electrical signal.

In a condenser microphone, the diaphragm is a very thin plastic film, coated on one side with gold or nickel, and mounted very close to a conductive stationary back plate. A polarizing voltage is applied to the diaphragm by an external power supply (battery or phantom power) or by the charge on an electret material in the diaphragm or on the backplate charging it with a fixed static voltage. All Crown mics are the electret condenser type.

The diaphragm and back plate, separated by a small volume of air, form an electrical component called a capacitor (or condenser). The capacitance between these two plates varies as the freely suspended diaphragm is displaced by the sound wave. When the diaphragm vibrates in response to a sound, it moves closer to and farther away from the back plate. As it does so, the electrical charge that it induces in the back plate changes proportionally. The fluctuating voltage on the back plate is therefore an electrical representation of the diaphragm motion.

  The dynamic (moving-coil) microphone is like a miniature loudspeaker working in reverse. The diaphragm is attached to a coil of fine wire. The coil is mounted in the air gap of the magnet and is free to move back and forth within the gap. When the sound wave strikes the diaphragm, the diaphragm vibrates in response. The coil attached to the diaphragm moves back and forth in the field of the magnet. As the coil moves through the lines of magnetic force in the gap, a small electrical current is induced in the wire. The magnitude and direction of that current is directly related to the motion of the coil, and the current then is an electrical representation of the sound wave.

  Condenser microphones typically have a wide-range frequency response and excellent transient response, while dynamic microphones typically do not. There are exceptions.

  Condenser microphones' frequency response tends to be uniform, while dynamic microphones' typically is not. There are exceptions.

  Condenser microphones require an external power source (phantom power or battery) while dynamic microphones do not.

  Condenser microphones are easy to miniaturize, while dynamic microphones cannot be miniaturized.

  Condenser microphones are typically used on acoustic instruments and studio vocals. Dynamic microphones are typically used on guitar amps and drums, and for vocal sound reinforcement. However, Crown makes rugged condenser mics for vocal sound reinforcement.