Understand the 7 common types of...

Microphones are a very personal item for musicians, and there are often many factors to consider when choosing one. Again, there is no such thing as "one microphone is the best" among a wide variety of microphones. Each microphone has its own unique properties and uses, and produces a different sound quality. Let's learn about the 7 types of microphones in common use.

Moving microphones.

The term "moving coil" means that the coil of wire, which is closely connected to the diaphragm, is kept in motion in a magnetic field in response to changes in sound pressure, producing a current that varies in equal proportion to the amplitude of the sound wave, by which the sound signal becomes an electrical signal.

The coil of a moving-coil microphone cuts the magnetic field to produce current directly, so no power supply is required for a moving-coil microphone. The advantage of a dynamic microphone is its simplicity and practicality. The disadvantage is that the "dragging" of the coil makes the diaphragm less responsive to rapidly changing sound waves than other types of microphones.

It is difficult to get a dynamic microphone to pick up the high frequency part of the energy of the rubbers, but for picking up the sound of a solid base drum or snare drum, a dynamic microphone can perform satisfactorily. Moving-coil microphones are also commonly used to record the sound from electric guitar amps.

Moving coil microphones are often used to record the human voice, and it is largely a "traditional habit". The original condenser microphones were bulky and fragile. However, while there are many condenser microphones available today specifically for live vocals, their higher average price also often leads one to choose a mobile microphone that is equally good at its job.

Small-diaphragm condenser microphones

A condenser microphone is designed according to the principle of electrostatics. The diaphragm and the back plate form a capacitive unit, and the vibration of the diaphragm with the sound waves causes the potential difference between it and the back plate to change, turning the sound signal into an electrical signal. Capacitive microphones generally have built-in amplifiers because the output of the condenser unit is weak. Condenser microphones require external 48V phantom power or batteries.

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The significance of choosing a small-diaphragm condenser microphone is that a small diaphragm of about 12 mm diameter is extremely sensitive to acoustic vibrations. The larger the vibrating diaphragm, the less sensitive it is to improper microphone sound, and the more pronounced the resonance will be.

If what you want is extremely accurate radio results, a small-diaphragm condenser microphone is the way to go. It's worth noting that a more accurate sound is not necessarily a more satisfying sound, and sometimes a more accurate sound sounds less dynamic and less powerful. However, if you want to record natural sounds realistically, a small-diaphragm condenser microphone should be your choice.

Diaphragm condenser microphones.

Before that, microphone manufacturers were not able to make the diaphragm so delicate, and all condenser microphones should be called "large-diaphragm condenser microphones". There was certainly no dividing line between what was a "large diaphragm" and what was a "small diaphragm". As mentioned earlier, a size of about 12mm can be called "small diaphragm", while a size of 24mm or more can be considered as "large diaphragm". When buying a microphone, we will find that some microphones that look very large have a surprisingly small internal diaphragm, so the size of the diaphragm is a parameter that needs special attention.

The advantage of this large-diaphragm condenser microphone is that it allows you to record a sound that you especially appreciate in the studio, but it is not the most natural, but its sound is thick and warm, no matter what sound is recorded is very comfortable.

The disadvantage is that the higher the sound frequency, the more obvious the directionality of the large-diaphragm condenser microphone becomes. There is no problem if the microphone is facing the radio, but if two microphones are used for stereo radio, the sound on the side may not work well.

Electronic tube microphones.

The design and production of this microphone can be traced back to the early days of condenser microphones. At that time, the built-in amplifiers of condenser microphones all used vacuum tubes because the application of transistors had not yet become popular on a large scale. Although there were some vacuum tube microphones used with small diaphragms before, most of the vacuum tube microphones we see today have large diaphragms inside.

The advantage of tube amplifiers is that they easily produce a pleasant distortion effect, or "warm sound". For sound, this warm distortion is often used as a panacea.

Unlike other types of microphones, tube microphones have become highly sought-after and often expensive due to the fact that the days of tubes are long gone.

Aluminum ribbon microphones.

An aluminum ribbon microphone is a special type of dynamic microphone. Usually, the diaphragm of a moving coil microphone is closely connected to the wire guide coil, and the microphone with aluminum piece is a combination of the diaphragm and the wire guide coil to form an aluminum ribbon (or metal ribbon). Because the aluminum ribbon is very thin, microphones with aluminum ribbons are sensitive to sound waves comparable to condenser microphones, although the sound of ordinary aluminum ribbon microphones is darker.

Aluminum ribbon microphones can record a clear and slightly darker sound in detail. In this way, they are often used in studios.

Aluminum ribbon microphones are generally fragile, and some brands have manuals that remind users to walk slower when holding an aluminum ribbon microphone on the radio so that the air doesn't pass over the microphone too fast and cause the ribbon to misalign.

Like mobile microphones, most aluminum microphones do not require an external power source (except for those with built-in amplifiers). However, the output of aluminum-banded microphones is generally smaller, so they work better with a preamp.

Electret microphones.

Electret microphone is a special kind of condenser microphone. It is well known that the principle of a condenser microphone is that the capacitor polarization charge changes, thus generating an electrical signal at both ends of the capacitor, which results in the conversion of sound signals. Electret material is a material that permanently preserves these charges after adding them. According to this principle, the electret material on the diaphragm or back plate can provide the constant voltage required by the condenser unit, thus eliminating the power supply portion of the microphone. However, the use of built-in microphone amplifiers still requires the use of battery or phantom power. It is important to note that electret microphones using batteries are less sensitive and less capable of handling maximum sound pressure.

Electret microphones are widely used in handheld devices due to their low cost and small size. Electret microphones with built-in FET preamplifiers can provide high quality performance. Many of the most accurate microphones in the world today are also electret microphones.

Piezoelectric Microphones

Piezoelectric microphones, also called crystal microphones, are based on the principle of using the piezoelectric effect of a certain material, i.e. sound causes deformation of the material and produces a change in voltage.

Currently piezoelectric microphones exist mainly in the form of contact microphones, of which guitar pickups are a typical example. A piezoelectric microphone receives physical vibrations directly from the source of the sound taken, rather than the sound wave vibrations in the air. This has the advantage of separating the sound of the instrument from the rest of the sound. However, the sound selected in this way will not be particularly realistic, so the application of piezoelectric microphones is also relatively limited.


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