Classifying Professional Microphones Used in Audio Recording

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Whether you're a beginner in the world of sound or a seasoned professional, understanding microphones can be a challenging process. There are thousands of options in the market designed for many different applications.

To determine the best-suited professional microphones for recording voices and musical instruments, you first need to gain an understanding of how mics are classified. The broad categories that encompass microphones group them according to how they work and what they're best suited for. There are 3 main categories of professional microphones.

1. Dynamic Microphones

Dynamic microphones are most often used in studios and other places that utilise mics on a regular basis. Live bands also often use these mics. They are popular due to their versatility. From the high-pitched sounds of a singer's voice to the deep levels of a bass guitar, dynamic microphones are built with the ability to capture multiple sounds across the spectrum without causing distortion.

Dynamic mics are built with a moving coil diaphragm that responds to wider and deeper tones. The diaphragm of dynamic mics is also larger and heavier than other types of professional microphones. As a result, it generates a sufficient amount of voltage when sound waves pass by, eliminating the need for an external power supply. The heavier diaphragm is also more durable.

If you play live music or record on guitars, drums and other heavier toned instruments, dynamic mics are an excellent choice.

2. Condenser Microphones

If you require a more precise professional microphone that records sound with finesse, condenser microphones are the best choice available. They are designed to capture high frequency sounds in human voices, acoustic guitars and pianos.

Condenser mics are defined by their relatively smaller diaphragms that use capacitance to produce an audio signal. The working model of these microphones requires an external power supply to produce the sound signal because the diaphragm is not large enough to result in actual moving coils.

Condenser mics tend to be more sensitive in their audio capture and outward durability than dynamic microphones. They should, therefore, be used to capture precise sounds that are softer, subtler and with a higher gain.

3. Ribbon Microphones

Traditionally used in radio stations, ribbon microphones were known for their ability to handle high frequencies and to pick up a wide variety of sounds. Modern types of ribbon microphones are now used to capture complete live recordings of both voices and instruments. The newer models are sturdier and more durable to use while capturing both high frequencies and ambient sounds with more clarity.