Studio Recording Techniques – Microphones

A microphone is a transducer or sensor that transforms sound into an electrical signal. Microphones are used in many applications within live and recorded sound engineering. Most microphones today use electromagnet induction (dynamic microphone) or capacitance change (condenser microphone). In this post I will explain the features of each as well as the differences of a Dynamic microphone, a condenser microphone and a ribbon microphone.

Dynamic

  • Rugged and reliable. Meaning they are suitable for most conditions and can withstand heat and moisture making a very handy microphone for general use
  • Provides coloured sound/recording. This suggests that the sound given from the microphone will be crisp and clear, making recording session as well as performances have quality sound from the dynamic microphone.
  • Dynamics are usually cheaper making it easily available for many. Creating great versatility with its uses.
  • Prone to proximity effect. This means that the quality of the sound depends on the microphones proximity to the sound source giving a higher or lower velocity rate.
  • Can handle high volume levels which backs up its general use purpose. So it can be used to record drums, vocals or even be used in live performance where the microphone will pick up many signals around it.
  • Has a tailored frequency response, meaning it will pick up certain frequencies at different decibels, making the microphone produce a unique sound.
  • The diaphragm is attached to the coil. When the diaphragm vibrates in response to incoming sound waves, the coil moves backwards and forwards past the magnet. This creates a current in the coil which is channelled from the microphone along wires. A configuration is shown below.
  • Dynamic Microphone

Condenser 

  • Very sensitive and responsive, meaning it will pick up very faint sounds. This suggests its not capable for general purpose use
  • very good for acoustics due to it being sensitive and responsive.
  • Gives off a more flatter sound that a full sound like the dynamics.
  • Requires power from a battery or external source like “Phantom Power”
  • has a wide smooth frequency response suggesting it can pick up many frequencies at a a smooth rate.
  • Includes a pad switch that allows the control of the volume within the microphone making it easier to master volume on the desk so the sound does not clip.
  • Filter cut off switch allowing the control of which frequencies get cut off and which frequencies get recorded.
  • Not suited for high volume work due to it being so responsive to the faintest of sounds, therefore it would not be suited for live performances.
  • The sound gives off very detailed and extended highs giving it a more high sound rather than a low bass like sound.
  • Transient attacks sound sharp and clear, this is related to drums, the initial hit is referred to the transient.
  • Has SPL – the higher the sound source the higher the velocity.

A Picture of the make up of a Condenser Microphone is shown below.

Ribbon

  • Give off a great warm, smooth sound
  • They are less sensitive than dynamics
  • Very Delicate so they need to be handled with great care
  • Construction: metal foil/ Ribbon is suspended in a magnetic field. Sound waves vibrate the ribbon in the field and generate electrical signal.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s