One of the best microphones used for recording in terms of considering complex sounds, sharp vocals, and with acoustic accompaniments, the condenser microphone were always the number one choice among sound engineers. They are used inside recording studios and radio stations as they deliver a clear crisper sound than dynamic microphones. They have a better response in terms of frequency and a higher output range.
The Condenser microphone were designed that its diaphragm is like one plate inside the capacitor and the vibrations that produces sound shifts distance in between the plates thus creating an electrical current. A power supply needs to charge the plate with a charge of 48V from a battery or a mixing desk. It uses the capacitor to convert acoustic energy to electrical energy thus resulting to a sound output.
The audio signal produced by a condenser microphone is much stronger than the dynamic type of microphone. In this case, condenser microphones are more sensitive in capturing subtle sounds, but on the other hand, they are not advisable to be used for high volume work as its sensitivity makes it more prone to distortion. But for instruments, such as drums, the number one choice are the dynamic microphones compared to the condenser microphones.
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There are some problems that occur due to humidity or water vapor with this type of microphones especially when you transfer from a cold environment to a warm environment. Vocalist who speak or sing very near this mic can cause a condensation because of the warm breath which in turn produces a noise. As a solution, they place a pop shield right between the mouth of the vocalist and the microphone.
These condenser microphones have different designs that provide different patterns to pick up sound which may be controlled with a switch. These patterns are the omni, figure of eight, and cardioid. This microphone that have patterns are made with 2 diaphragms. If you start changing the level and polarity of the voltage on one of the diaphragms, every kind of pick up patter that you can think of can be made.
Another way of picking up is to change the heads with different patterns that you can attach to the condenser microphone body. The patters for this type are the cardioid, hyper-cardioid, figure of 8 and an omni. The size of the diaphragm can be shifted from a small size to a bigger size wherein a smaller size will be used for picking up instruments and the bigger size is used for picking up vocals.
Types of Condenser Microphones
1. Audio Technica ATR 3350 Condenser Microphone
Noted for their professional microphones, both wired and wireless, magnetic cartridges, headphones and some more audio equipment, Audio Technica breaks through once again with their newest design, the Audio Technica ATR-3350.
This condenser microphone is omni-directional and has a polar pattern. Highly recommended for video use, Audio Technica ATR-3350 is a newscaster-styled microphone, specially created for accurate and intelligible voice reproduction. Because of its low-profile design, Audio Technica ATR-3350 does have a minimum visibility, making it much loved by sports, dance and aerobics instructors.
Audio Technica aims to create microphones that can render multiple functions and Audio Technica ATR-3350 is one of them. This lavalier, with its Omni pickup pattern, can easily give a full coverage of 360 degrees. Assuring a worry-free video or audio, all you should do is to clip it on, giving you no bother as to where it is pointing.
It works perfectly well with almost all cameras, with its 20 feet cable that has a 3.5 mm plug that can be directly connected to several cameras.
The specifics of Audio Technica ATR-3350 will surely be an additional reason for you to grab one for yourself. It also fully furnished with accessories such as battery, tie clip, foam windscreen and an adapter.
If you are looking for a lightweight microphone but with remarkable sounds, not to mention its minimum visibility, this is undoubtedly the perfectly designed microphone for you. Use it for videos, and surely, you will be the envy of the town in no time.
2. Shure KSM32 Condenser Mic
A certified Class A microphone, Shure KSM32 Condenser Microphone is perfect for both studio and live applications usage. Light enough at its 1.1 pounds, it has a cardioid polar pattern and a filter with low frequency which virtually eliminates all the background noises.
It also makes use of an ultra-thin, high-compliance and embossed Mylar diaphragm. These features are specially created for instrument recording and vocal tracking. It also has the pop protection and quality construction, making it a real Shure design.
Shure KSM32 Condenser Microphone has an incorporated three-stage pop security grille which reduces pop and breath noises. Its internal shock mount, on the other hand, lessens the transmission of noises created by handling.
With remarkable specifications, some of the usual applications for Shure KSM32 Condenser Microphone are during voice recording such as broadcasting and voice over, acoustic instruments like guitar, piano and percussions, wind instruments like woodwind and brass, low frequency instruments like electric bass and kick drum, overhead making for percussion or drums, ensembles and room ambiance pickup.
As for performance characteristics, Shure KSM32 Condenser Microphone has an extended frequency response, relatively low self-noise, outstanding low-frequency reproduction, high output level and input SPL capacity. It also boasts of a zero-crossover distortion, uniform polar response and better-quality common mode elimination and control of radio frequency intrusion.
This is no doubt the microphone that will allow give you the utmost satisfaction in your recording, may it be inside a studio or live. Shure KSM32 Condenser Microphone is one gadget you must have if you are looking for a condenser microphone to aptly handle your instrument recording and vocal tracking.
3. MXL 990 Condenser Microphone
From the leading producer of audio products for love sound markets, broadcast, post production and music recording, MXL, is considered the most boundary-breaking in the industry of microphones.
Being known for their creation of best microphone varieties, from condenser to dynamic and ribbon microphone solutions, it is not a surprise that the very first impressive featured condenser microphone carries the MXL name.
The company is being considered as one of the industry’s forerunners, giving sounds of high quality that makes them almost at the same level with producers of more expensive microphones.
MXL 990 Condenser Microphone is regarded as the very first condenser microphone with high quality that became a common device for working musicians. The said microphone has a huge diaphragm and FET preamp, allowing the production of proficient sound quality, both in analog and digital recordings.
It never fails to amaze artists with its high end, silky, solid and tight mid and low range reproduction. This is not really a big surprise for microphones from MXL are specially created and engineered as signal processors, music accessories and recording tools for musicians, consumers, audio professional and hobbyists.
For its physical features, the MXL 990 Condenser Microphone has a vintage body design with a noticeable champagne finish. This durable microphone comes with a custom shock-mount, carrying case and microphone stand adapter.
A real step up in the microphone industry, it will not be a question that MXL 990 will remain to be glorious in its days.
4. Studio Projects C1 Condenser Microphones
The Studio Projects C1 condenser microphone seems to be one of the front runners for affordable and high quality sound. For a little while now Studio Projects have been running up the rear very quietly while producing microphones that are offering rival quality to the musicians in the industry, and at a good price.
The C1 microphone quite clearly surpasses its price tag with the quality of recordings it produces. The Studio Projects C1 microphone has been produced and created for many different users within the studio.
If you are looking for top quality vocal recordings for many vocal styles without the wallet bursting price, then the Studio Projects C1 condenser microphone is a must when it comes to consideration!
5. Rode S1 Condenser Microphone
Since rode gained international recognition as a company that can make a quality microphone, they have generally always focused on the studio microphone, and have in most cases, done it well.
However, the Rode S1 condenser microphone steps out of these boundaries and into the sphere of LIVE performance. The S1 is a special microphone and encompasses everything you want out of a microphone for touring and recording.
As Rode, have been working on producing great studio microphones they decided to come up with a microphone that wasn’t just great for studio recordings, but also had the durability and ruggedness needed for a handheld performance/touring microphone, and the Rode S1 was created!
The specifics of the Rode S1 microphone are pretty enticing too, with it having studio recording quality specifications, rugged metal construction and the ability to handle low noise, making it fit for most occasions.
The microphone is perfect for vocals both in and out of the studio and is made to bring out the vocals and drown out the added outside noise. It is also powered via Phantom power.
Since the launch, the Rode S1 is fast becoming popular and if you are searching for something to handle both studio recordings and live sets without having to spend on two different microphones, the Rode S1 Condenser Microphone could well be the one for you.
The Differences Between a Small-Diaphragm and a Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
If you’re new to music recording, you may think that a microphone is just a microphone. You would be wrong if you do. Choosing the right kind of microphone is critical, especially if you’re planning to record vocals. And if you’re working in a home recording studio, most likely that’s what you will be doing.
There are three main types of microphones:
- Dynamic microphones
- Condenser microphones
- Ribbon microphones
Each one has its own strengths and weakness, but I won’t be discussing that here. However, condenser microphones will be suitable for most situations.
What is a Condenser Microphone?
Sometimes called a “capacitor microphone” or an “electrostatic microphone,” a condenser microphone picks up sounds through a capacitor with a small “diaphragm” that looks like a plate. An electrical charge is sent to the capacitor, which amplifies the diaphragm’s vibration.
Condensers are more sensitive than other types of microphones, but they can pick up a broader frequency spectrum and dynamic range. That’s why they’re used in many recording studios.
The diaphragm’s size will vary with each microphone, and they will fit in one of two categories:
There are, of course, pros and cons for each one.
Does Size Matter?
In terms of diaphragm size, it can make a difference, but bigger isn’t always better. Large diaphragm condensers (LDC’s) are more sensitive than small-diaphragm condensers (SDC’s), and they have more amplification as well.
The reason for this increased sensitivity is because of the diaphragm’s larger surface area. The signal moving through the capacitor will vary with the sound level, so a larger diaphragm will allow it to pick up more frequency variations. They also have more room to handle stronger signals, so they have more room for amplification.
Large-diaphragm microphones are good for recording quieter instruments, and they work well for recording a large ensemble from a distance. LDC’s can also be used for picking up room ambience and natural reverb.
Large-diaphragm condensers are better at picking up lower frequencies than small-diaphragm condensers. The reason why is because of the larger surface area, which gives it a lower frequency resonance. So, these types of microphones are good for picking up toms or deep vocals.
Small-diaphragm condensers tend to be more directional, so they will work better if they’re used in close proximity to the instrument being recorded. However, they won’t pick up as much of the lower frequency spectrum, but they will often accentuate the low-mid’s.
Small-diaphragm condensers are better at picking up transient frequencies more cleanly and at a quicker pace, so they’re more suitable for recording acoustic guitar or any metallic percussion instruments (like cymbals).
Off-Axis Frequency Response
Another thing you have consider when you’re choosing a microphone is how well they will pick up frequencies that are moving off-axis. What do I mean by this?
Think of a “basic cardioid design”, which looks like this.
Notice that there’s a stronger frequency pickup toward the center than on the sides. This is a common configuration for many microphones, but there is an optimal point through which sound should travel.
Also notice that some sounds are picked up along the sides of the microphone. These “off-axis” frequencies are important, because they will add more color to the sound going through it. That’s why you should never put your hands on the microphone’s grill (also called “cupping the mic”). Doing so will distort this effect, which will make everything sound thinner.
Large-diaphragm condensers are better at picking up these off-axis frequencies, because there is more of a phase-shift in sounds that move across the diaphragm. Small-diaphragm condensers don’t have as much of a phase-shift, which is why they work better as directional microphones.
There is another reason why large-diaphragm condensers have more of an off-axis frequency response. The capacitor sits inside a cylindrical-shaped housing or grill, which allows it to pick up any reflections going on inside the microphone. Small-diaphragm condensers sit on the end of a pencil-shaped housing unit with no grill. This design doesn’t allow for the ability to pick up off-axis frequencies (or any sounds coming from far away). So, small-diaphragm condensers work better if they’re in close proximity to the sound being recorded.
Which One is Better?
There is no one true answer, because one isn’t better than the other. In fact, it will depend on your specific situation, and on what you’re recording. Remember that there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution, and be sure to experiment to see what works for you.