Condenser Microphones Vs Dynamic Microphones

by Saphia

There are three major different types of condenser microphone used for music recording (at major label studios, indie studios, & home studios alike) and they are as follows:

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(1) Dynamic microphones.

(2) Large diaphragm condenser microphones.

(3) Small diaphragm condenser microphones.

No Single “Best” Microphone

The first important thing to understand is that there is no “one mic fits all” solution. Each microphone is best suited to a certain type of recording. The first thing you need to know is what you are recording.

Once you know that then you can select the best type of microphone (and from there you can choose the specific brand of microphone that you can afford.)

Dynamic Microphones

These are generally the cheapest type of microphone and they are also the most durable. They don’t require “phantom power” like condenser mics do (more on that in the condenser mic section of this article.) What are they best suited for? They are used for recording amplified sounds such as an electric guitar’s amp.

You may think that you should record your electric guitar directly into your recording device but this is not true. You will never capture the same sort of sound by going directly in as you will when recording an amp. They are also used for recording drums (bass drums, snares, & toms.)

Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones

These are used for recording vocals and “deep” sounding acoustic instruments such as a cello or an upright bass. These tend to be more expensive and in fact they can get to be extremely expensive in some cases (like the famous Neumann U87 which retails for over $4000.)

Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones

These are used for recording most acoustic instruments (acoustic guitars, violins, etc) and for recording cymbals and hi-hats on a live drum set.

Which Brand?

Now that you know which type of microphone to use, the next decision is which brand should you buy? For the most part the more expensive the microphone, the higher quality it is. This isn’t simply a situation where the same products are being stamped with different brands (see: clothing) it’s a situation where there are vast differences in the quality.

You will notice a significant improvement in sound quality when using a more expensive mic. Thus the answer to this question is: Buy the most expensive microphones you can afford.

Most professional microphones pick up sound waves and convert those waves into an electrical signal to be used by audio equipment in one of two ways.

Dynamic Microphones

A dynamic (or moving coil) microphone operates by using a wire coil and a magnet to create the audio signal. The interaction of the wire coil and magnet is called electromagnetic induction and is responsible for generating an output signal voltage. A diaphragm is attached to the coil, and is mounted within the mic so that it can move in response to a sound wave.

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When the diaphragm vibrates, the attached coil moves back and forth within the magnetic field. This motion within the field generates an electric current (induction), which can be converted by audio equipment into sound waves. The strength of the electrical current is directly related to the motion of the coil.


Dynamic mics are great general-purpose microphones. They have less moving parts than condenser mics, and as a result they’re typically more rugged and durable. In addition, since they generate their own current, no external power source is required.


The physics behind the moving coil can contribute to limitations in frequency response. Generally speaking, dynamic microphones are less sensitive than condenser mics.

Condenser Microphones

In a condenser microphone a voltage charge is applied to the diaphragm by either a battery or phantom power. The diaphragm is mounted very close to a stationary back plate. Sound waves hitting the diaphragm causes it to move closer and farther away from the back plate which causes electrical charge fluctuations to occur.

The interaction between the diaphragm and back plate creates an electrical component called a capacitor (or condenser), and the resulting variations in voltage can be reinterpreted as sound waves by the receiving audio equipment.


Condenser microphones are very responsive and create a much stronger signal than dynamic mics. This makes them an ideal choice for professional settings such as studio work, where it’s important to pick up vocal subtleties.


Typically condenser mics have more moving parts than their dynamic counterparts and are less durable. Also, since they do not generate their own current they require an external power supply. (Battery or phantom power)

What is phantom power? Phantom power is a direct current (typically between 12 and 48 volts) that supplies condenser microphone with power through audio cables. 48 volt phantom power is the most common and is often supplied by microphone preamps and audio mixers.

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Ningbo Tongxin Microphones offers the best variety of quality Condenser Microphone for Studio, Podcast, USB, Instrumen, Conference, Broadcast and Field Recording.

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