The Different Types Of Microphones

As we are diving further into the exciting world of recording music, you should know what the three types of microphones are.  In a previous article, we discussed the basic microphones to get started with for your recording studio.  If you missed that article about the basic microphones for the budget studio, it can be found here.  The three different types of microphones are Dynamic, Condenser, and Ribbon.  Here are the differences between dynamic, condenser, and ribbon microphones:

The Different Types Of Microphones And When To Use Them

Dynamic Microphones

Best Budget Microphones

Dynamic microphones have a moving coil magnetic diaphragm.

  • Great for loud sounds such as drums
  • Very durable
  • Used a lot in live sound due to loudness and durability
  • Works well with loud guitar cabinets.

Condenser Microphones

Condenser microphones have a conductive diaphragm.  The sound vibrates the diaphragm which is what creates the audio signal.  Condenser mics require power to them for them to work.  This can be done by the mixer, audio interface, direct box, or some have a battery in them.  Condenser microphones are the most popular mics used in recording studios due to high quality audio signal.  Condenser microphones fall into two subcategories called large diaphragm and small diaphragm.  You will occasionally see a third subcategory called medium diaphragm.  Medium diaphragm microphones are a combination of large and small diaphragms which is why I am not going to cover them in this article.

Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones

Neumann U87 Large Condenser microphone
  • picks up more sound vibrations due to large size
  • versatile to just about any instrument within reason of loudness.  These will distort if the volume is too loud
  • Most commonly used on guitars and vocals.

Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

AKG C451B Microphone
  • Cylinder shape design
  • Handles higher sound levels well
  • Low sensitivity due to small diaphragm
  • Great for acoustic guitar (as well as other acoustic instruments) and drum cymbals.

Ribbon Microphones

AEA R87 Microphone

Ribbon microphones have a ribbon that picks up on air velocity

  • Most fragile of the microphone categories though newer ones are more durable
  • Has a very warm sound for higher frequencies while not being harsh
  • Great for higher ranged female vocalist or higher frequency instruments
  • Do not use on loud instruments

If you have any confusion still about the different types of microphones or any questions about your recording rig, never hesitate to ask us!  We will be happy to help, and we can be reached on our contact us page found here.