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The Four Basic Types of Microphones Found in the Recording Studio

Singer uses microphone in recording studio

The microphone is a vital part of every recording studio, from modest home setups to state-of-the-art professional studios. However, not every mic has their own qualities and best uses. There are four basic types that audio engineers rely on that ensures the right sound is delivered for any audio project.

#1 The Condenser Microphone

Condenser and dynamic microphones are the two main microphone types in a recording studio. The reason why an audio engineer uses these types is due to the type of microphone determines their basic capabilities. For example, this includes with how the microphone picks up sound and converts it into an electrical signal.

Inside Condenser Microphones

A condenser mic consists of a backplate, which is electrically charged and fixed to a metal backplate. These two are then enclosed in a case, and when sound comes through it enters the field between the two plates. As a result, the variational space creates the electrical signal.  This allows the sound to transmit with a higher quality more naturally.

Condenser microphones are powered by an external power supply or through the mixing board. Their main use is in controlled studio environments, which is because of their fragility and sensitivity.

#2 The Dynamic Microphone

Dynamic microphones are used in recording studios, but are also the microphone of choice for venues. This is because they are not only sturdy, but are also resistant to moisture. This versatility allows dynamic microphones to sustain wear and tear, and also unique situations. They can also provide great sound quality and specs even with higher sound levels.

Inside Dynamic Microphones

A dynamic microphones consists of a diaphragm, voice coil, and magnet. The sound wave enters and strikes the diaphragm, which are picked up by the voice coil. From this, the motion generates the electrical signal. In comparison, a dynamic microphone has fewer components than condenser microphones.

#3 The USB Microphone

USB microphones are now a major part of the audio equipment in recording studios. This is thanks in part to the popularity of podcasts. A USB mic processes and digitizes the audio within the mic itself. In contrast, it passes through to an analog-to-digital converter. This is known as digital signal processing, or DSP.

They also have knobs built that helps to control the gain levels of the audio. Many high-end models come with pop filters, which limits the amount of external noise and hiss. In addition, most USB microphones are “plug and play”, which offers convenience for audio engineers.

#4 The Ribbon Microphone

Ribbon microphones is a standard piece of gear that an audio engineer uses. Not only does an audio engineer use these in studio, but they can also be used with condenser microphones. This is mainly because condenser microphones have a brighter sound with a high and resonant frequency.

Inside Ribbon Microphones

These microphones have a simple design. First of all, there is a ribbon of aluminum inside that is loosely suspended between two magnets. These also connect to a transformer. Ribbon microphones are versatile because they can handle harsher sounds. For example, this includes instruments like brass cymbals and string instruments.

Conclusion

When it comes to the different sound qualities, it’s important to understand the differences in microphones. An audio recording professional takes the time to learn about every microphone and their best uses. Because of this, the audio engineer ensures they that they’ll get the desired tone and quality for their projects.

Want to Learn More?

Having the knowledge of the different types of microphones is an important part of being a successful audio engineer. If you want to learn more about microphone technology and in working in the music industry as a producer or engineer, check out IPR’s Audio Production Program.

Contact us today to learn more about the Audio Production and Engineering program and starting a rewarding career in the music industry.