The variety of different microphone polar pickup patterns may be confusing at times, but when it comes down to the facts, we can make sense of it all. To put it in perspective — If you take some time away from a conversation at a busy restaurant to take in the whole scene, you will realize that you ears are capable of absorbing a variety of sounds at the same time. For instance, you will be able to listen to the music while everyone else is busy talking. In fact, you can overhear what members of the next table are talking about while the music is playing and you say hello to a nearby friend. Frankly, it is amazing the variety of audio signals that human ears can take in and especially, the level of detail with which each of these signals is processed to ensure that you understand each and every bit. However, this is made possible by the powerful and intricate processor located between the ears — the brain!
Have you ever wondered how a microphone actually works? Understanding what goes into the construction of a microphone and what each component does can actually go a long way towards making sure that you are choosing the correct microphone. I’ve often struggled to wrap my head around how two microphones can have almost identical specifications yet differ in price by hundreds of dollars. It was not until I really understood what went into the construction of a microphone that this all made sense to me.
The debate between condenser mics and dynamic mics will always be a relevant debate. Anyone who owns a handful of microphones probably has at least one condenser microphone and one dynamic microphone. In my experience with both live and studio sound, I have seen countless applications of condenser mics and dynamic mics, sometimes even for the same instrument. Each time I ask the engineer why they chose that microphone for that application, the answer is almost always some manifesto about how that is the only way to do it. In this post, I’ll be explaining the differences between these two types of microphones and you can make your own decision as to how you’ll use these two common types of microphones.