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Microphone Types: 3 Different Mics and How To Use Them

Updated: Feb 7


dynamic, condenser and ribbon microphone

Microphones are essential devices as input sources for capturing various types of sounds, including vocals, instruments, and ambient noise. There are three main types of microphones: Dynamic, Condenser, and Ribbon. Let's discuss these three microphone types, each of which has its own way of translating mechanical energy into audio signals. As a result, each type of microphone has a unique sound characteristic.


1. Condenser Mic


Condenser microphones use a metal-layered diaphragm capable of generating electrical currents. This diaphragm vibrates near a metal plate (backplate) and produces changes in capacitance, which are then converted into audio signals. The working principle is similar to a capacitor, hence the term "condenser mic."


Condenser microphones require electronic circuits to transform changes in capacitance into electrical currents. Consequently, they need electrical power, often referred to as phantom power.

Large Diaphragm Condencer Microphone

Typically, condenser microphones are used for recording vocals, acoustic guitars, and even for miking guitar or bass amplifiers. For instance, the SEM-01 and SEM-02 microphone series are types of condenser microphones, more precisely electret condenser microphones. To operate, these microphones require a 48V phantom power supply.


SERUNIAUDIO SEM-02 Microphone

However, the SEM-02 is a unique condenser microphone as it can operate without the need for 48Volt phantom power!


How is this possible?


The SEM-02 is the result of development from its predecessor, the SEM-01. The SEM-02 no longer uses a fixed XLR connector but instead employs a microdot connector, enabling it to be used with various available adapters. The SEM-02 can be used in various wireless systems, recorders, and even your smartphone!

Modular Microdot System SEM-02

This convenience is a feature of the SEM-02 that isn't present in large diaphragm microphones. Additionally, the SEM-02's durability makes it reliable in tropical climates with high humidity, unlike large diaphragm microphones that are susceptible to high humidity issues.


The SEM-02 microphone can also be referred to as a lavalier microphone. For more details about lavalier microphones, you can read the article "What is a Lavalier Microphone?".


2. Dynamic Mic


Dynamic microphones use a "moving coil," which is situated in the middle of a diaphragm (usually a thin membrane) suspended above a magnet. When it receives mechanical energy or sound, this coil moves back and forth (vibrates) within the magnetic field, generating electrical energy in millivolts. This electrical energy is then amplified to produce sound.


Dynamic Microphone Coil

The working principle is similar to a conventional speaker, but the process is reversed: electricity flows through the coil, creating a magnetic field that causes the voice coil to move back and forth, producing sound.


This type of microphone generally exhibits a thick midrange tone but tends to be "grainy" at high frequencies. Dynamic microphones are commonly used for miking drums, guitar amplifiers, or instruments with explosive sound characteristics and high Sound Pressure Levels (SPL).


3. Ribbon Mic


The basic principle is almost the same as for dynamic microphones, with the difference being that the coil is replaced by a thin metal ribbon (such as aluminum foil) that vibrates between two magnetic fields. Changes in the magnetic field result in electrical energy.


Aluminium Ribbon Magnet

Ribbon microphones are typically used for distant miking to achieve a more natural high-frequency sound. Additionally, they're employed to minimize the risk of damage to the ribbon, which is highly sensitive to excessive mechanical energy.


Hopefully, this writing can be of assistance. Wishing you continued success and creative endeavors!

*Have questions about this topic? Please send an email to support@seruniaudio.com

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