Condenser Vs. Dynamic Mic

Condenser Vs. Dynamic Mic: The 3 Differentiating Features

The aim of this comparison is to clear out the prime differences between condenser and dynamic microphones.
Thanks to the development of microphone technology, clear recording of sound is possible today, which lets us treasure the work of ethereal voices and musicians, forever. A microphone is the primary transducer that converts sound into electrical signals for storage and retransmission. Of the many types, two of the most commonly used ones are condenser and dynamic microphones.

How are They Different?

Be it an onstage performance or a studio recording, you need good quality microphones to be able to capture the sound as clearly as possible, with least noise and disturbance. The quality of sound recorded varies, according to the kind of microphone used. Therefore, it's essential that you know what the underlying technology that makes sound recording possible in mics is and what types of mics are suitable for your application.

Basic Differences in Technology

Condenser is a synonym for 'capacitor' and condenser mics have a capacitor fitted in, which makes sound recording possible. When sound is received by such a microphone, it makes a small diaphragm vibrate, which is actually one of the two plates of a capacitor. A constant coulomb charge is maintained on the two capacitor plates, using an external power source.

As the vibrations cause the diaphragm to oscillate, the distance between the capacitor plates varies, resulting in a change of capacitance, which in turn, results into varying of voltage. This varying voltage is converted into a signal, that gets recorded to store the sound or retransmit it to a loudspeaker.

Inside a dynamic mic, you will find a larger diaphragm again, which is attached to a metal coil, that is embedded inside a magnet. As the diaphragm vibrates, the coil moves and a current is generated in it by the principle of magnetic induction. This electrical signal, is proportional to the vibration amplitude and frequency, which is then used to store and reproduce sound.

Difference in Power Requirements
One point of difference is the power requirement. Condenser mics require to be supplied with external power, but dynamic mics don't need them. These mics are known to be more sensitive to sound, but their small diaphragms make them delicate instruments. Though low in sensitivity, dynamic mics are much more rugged, compared to their condenser-based counterparts.

Sound Sensitivity, Usage, and Cost Differences
The usage of condenser mics is predominant where high mic sensitivity is essential. This includes studio recording and voice recording in particular. However, when it comes to recording high decibel levels and especially onstage concerts, dynamic mics are a better choice. Cost wise, dynamic mics are cheaper of the two and also the most commonly used.

As mentioned before, it is clear that if you are looking for a mic for stage performance, dynamic mic is the right choice, but if you are looking for a studio recording mic, the condenser mic is what you need.