Dynamic vs. Condenser.

Updated: Dec 12, 2019

The difference between dynamic and condenser mics are important to know. If you are choosing which mic to get for your first podcast, or are looking to upgrade from your current mic, it’s always better to know a little bit about what you’re buying, and why you want it.


Dynamic and condenser microphones are the most popular when it comes to capturing dialogue, however, they both capture audio much differently. Let’s talk about how they are built differently, why that affects the sound being recorded, and which microphone is best for you!


Dynamic

  • How It’s Made

  • Made with a simple copper coil around a magnet, the audio is captured when the coil vibrates, and the distance between the coil and the magnet changes, creating an electrical signal.

  • Simple construction/Reliable

  • Much simpler design than condensers. Much more reliable. Isn’t quite as sensitive as condensers.

  • Less background noise

  • Really picks up a much more narrow field, which means less unwanted noise can get in.

  • More of a broadcast sound

  • No phantom power

Dynamic microphones are really great at what they do. They are quite a bit simpler, which is good and bad. Dynamics are less sensitive, which means they can’t record as many frequencies as condensers. Although it does give your audio more of a “broadcaster” sound to it (think, how NPR sounds). Because they are less sensitive, that means they don’t pick up as much sound as condensers, so you get less background noise! They also don’t need any outside power source, because the capsule is electromagnetic, which is what makes them so durable!


Condenser

  • Diaphragm

  • Essentially a capacitor forms between a solid back-plate, and a thin metal membrane. The sound waves vibrate the metal which translates to an electrical current.

  • More fragile

  • The membrane (also known as the diaphragm) is much thinner and more fragile than a dynamic. But because of the construction it picks up a wider range of frequencies.

  • More background noise

  • Picks up a wide field of audio, which means it’s more sensitive to background noise.

  • More natural sound

  • Needs phantom power

Condensers are a little more complicated than dynamics, which also lends itself to positives and negatives. They record a higher frequency range, so you can get more natural audio out of your voice. On the flip side, you also get more background noise because of the higher sensitivity. Condensers all need some sort of power source, that can be solved with using P48 phantom power, which almost all the modern made condensers support, or with a film called ‘electret’ which gives a permanent static charge to the membrane. You’ll find electret condensers on mostly smaller microphones, like your phone, or computer’s microphone.


Thoughts


If you are just starting out and don’t really have a good recording space, I think a dynamic mic would be perfect for you! It offers really high quality audio, but cuts down on some of the background noise as well. If you have a much more controlled environment, and don’t have to worry about moving the microphone all the time, I would look into getting a condenser mic. I have a condenser mic and have really enjoyed the sound I get!

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