Condenser Microphones

Condenser Microphones are a great addition to your recording studio because they can be used to record vocals or acoustic instruments.

There is a fundamental difference in the way they detect sound compared to a dynamic mic, which causes them to have far greater sensitivity.

Both condenser mic and dynamic mics have a diaphragm that vibrates with an incoming sound wave.

But instead of mechanically moving a magnet, the condenser microphone generates a signal based on the relative distance between two plates.

The diaphragm has an electric charge across it provided by an external source, either from a battery or more typically from a Phantom Power source.

Because it is much more sensitive to slight pressure variations it's best suited for vocals and acoustic instrument recording.

So its strength is that it's very sensitive... and its drawback is that it's very sensitive.

There are 2 types of Condenser Mic that you will see as you begin your search: Large and Small Diaphragm.

Large Diaphragm vs Small Diaphragm

At the risk of explaining the obvious... here are the things unique to each type.

The large diaphragm has (and this should be no surprise to you all keeping score at home) a larger detecting element.

See aren't you glad you came to this site?!?

The main strength of this type is its versatility.

It can be used to record acoustic instruments, vocals, electric amps, espionage, almost anything that you can put in front of it.

Almost every time I refer to a condenser style mic in this site I'm talking about the large diaphragm variety.

The small diaphragm style is very similar except that it has a smaller detecting element that is more agile and therefore more responsive to quick sounds.

Applications for this style might include percussive drum or instrument sounds.

This is clearly a bit more specialized and in my opinion, not as valuable if you are trying to stay on a minimalist budget.

In general for both styles, you will hear all the extraneous noise coming from your space. A good condenser will pick up everything... and I really mean everything so neighbors it's time to clean up your act.

In addition to requiring an external phantom power source, they tend to be more delicate and fragile.

All that being said, if you want to get maximum bang for your buck then add a large diaphragm condenser to you home studio and leave the small diaphragm and dynamic mics for their more specialized missions.

The human voice is one of the most expressive sounds that you'll encounter in your recording journey. A condenser mic is a must-have for capturing airy, light vocals in your studio.

If you can afford to get more than one, then I'd suggest a condenser for vocals and a Dynamic Mic for loud instruments (including miking of amps).

But, if you only have enough moolah for one... then a large diaphragm condenser microphone should be the mic you are looking for.

Its flexibility and usefulness will serve you well.

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