Condenser microphones are also known as electric condensers or capacitor mics. They work on the principle that governs a capacitor or electric condenser. They have an ultra-thin metal diaphragm stretching above a flat piece of ceramic or metal. For such mics, there is a power source that maintains electrical charge between elements. The sound waves hit the diaphragm, causing fluxes in the electrical charge. The pre-amplifier then amplifies the sound more.
Most pre-amps output an analog signal. But some new models can convert the output to digital immediately. The pre-amp is usually within an outboard electronic pack in the microphone housing. Unlike dynamic mics, because condenser mics need a preamp, they need a power source. The source can be from batteries or a standard Alternating Current (AC) power supply.
The condenser mics are capable of producing superior sound quality. They can be very small though they get more expensive the smaller they are. They may not be a good option for adverse weather conditions as they aren’t as rugged. Dynamic mics are better in such a case. The question is, ‘do you need condenser mics?’. ‘What are the pros and cons of these mics?’. We expound more on that in this article.
The benefits of condenser microphones include;
- Lightweight – condenser microphones are lighter in weight compared to dynamic microphones. This is because they have a lighter diaphragm assembly.
- Size – condenser mics are smaller in size as compared to dynamic mics.
- Frequencies – condenser mics support a high range of frequencies. This is because the diaphragm moves fast.
- Frequency response – they have a flat frequency response
- Cost-saving – condenser mics may be more convenient for your use. This is unlike the digital audio setup. It works as the digital one but with fewer components. For the digital one, you have to buy a pre-amp and other equipment to achieve quality sound. This makes it more costly.
The drawbacks of condenser mics include;
- Voltage – condenser microphones need power to operate, which may be expensive.
- Input signal level- the mics can only hold a certain level of the input signal.
- Complexity – compared to the dynamic mics, the condenser mic is more complex to operate.
- Weather conditions – a condenser mic cannot withstand adverse weather conditions as dynamic ones, and humid conditions or extreme temperatures are more likely to affect condenser mics.
- Flexibility – Whether going into the studio or playing a gig, you need a mic that works well for all options. You should be able also to process audio with live effects, and the condenser mic may not work as well. To achieve this, you might need external help, and some AV teams will have to tamper with it, while for a standard mic with XLR inputs, you do not need any professional setup.
- Cost – condenser mics are more expensive than dynamic mics, and they come in tiny sizes, and the smaller they are, the more expensive they get.
- Quality to cost – for condenser mics, you have no option but to buy expensive ones. If you opt for the cheaper one, you will not get the best quality sound. This is because cheap condenser mics produce a small amount of noise. Still, the condenser mic will not produce the same quality of sound as the dynamic one. This may not be noticeable to you, but you will get more value for your money. It is better to buy the real thing than opt for convenience in the all-in-one.
Now, since you understand the pros and cons of a condenser mic, let’s look at the top DPA Condenser Microphones features to help you choose a condenser microphone.
- Pickup pattern – condenser microphones come with different pickup patterns, and each pattern is ideal for a different setting. So, it’s essential to consider your intended use before choosing your preferred microphone.
- The proximity effect sensitivity – just like the pickup pattern, condenser microphones have different proximity sensitivity. So, a condenser microphone meant for studio use might not be ideal for on-stage live recording.
- The frequency response curve – before choosing a condenser microphone, make sure that you know how it responds to certain frequencies.
Compare the pros and cons of condenser mics with those of dynamic mics. For most people, the choice is usually dynamic mics. But you should consider your needs in regards to the same. Are you an aspiring musician hoping to produce an album? Are you a podcaster or vlogger in need of clear background and no hiss in the voice-over? Your needs will dictate your option. If you intend to go big, a condenser mic may restrict your growth in the future.