Everything You Need to Know About Microphones

Whether you’re recording the vocals for your tracks or launching a new podcast, having decent audio to work with will be crucial. While any content you’re trying to create can be made with just a smartphone’s microphone, a high-quality sound is essential for bringing your project to the next level. The world of mics can be pretty complex and determining which microphone is ‘the one’ can be a tough challenge. As a result, you need at the very least to educate yourself on the fundamentals of microphones.

What are the Types of Microphones?

There are several varieties of microphones to choose from, mics for recording music, podcast microphones, and gaming microphones. Not to mention microphones incorporated into headphones, cameras, and speakers. To select the best microphone for the job, it’s important to grasp the properties and behaviour of the many types of microphones. Microphones pick up sound waves from the environment and convert them into electrical signals. You may also transfer the signals from the mic’s output to a mixer or audio interface for recording, or to a speaker, which converts them back into sound waves.

Whether you need condenser, dynamic or ribbon mic, buy rode microphone and get great value items at every price point from the outstanding collection online. Each of these has a unique way of translating sound into electrical impulses. All three, though, have the same basic architecture. The capsule, also known as a baffle, detects sound and transforms it into electrical energy. A diaphragm, a thin membrane within the capsule that vibrates when it comes into touch with sound waves, triggers the conversion process.


The most common type of mic on stage is a dynamic mic, which directs the sound down the front of the mic. These can manage louder noises since they are less sensitive to both loudness and damage in general.

The diaphragm is a component that vibrates in response to sound pressures, and in dynamic microphones, it pushes a magnet through the magnetic field of a wire coil. This allows electricity to flow. This entire mechanism is known as a transducer, and it functions differently in a condenser mic, which is what distinguishes them.

dynamic microphone
source: joeysturgistones.com


Condenser microphones are the type that are commonly seen in recording studios. The sound is targeted into the side of these mics, which is why some of them are pointed to the ceiling while others are hanging upside down, it doesn’t matter which side is aimed towards the sound source.

They are more highly sensitive to small variations in volume and may pick up on subtle differences, which is why they are used in the studio when the acoustic environment is strictly regulated. However, recording a loud source or dropping it might harm the bigger diaphragm or tube. The transducer operates by letting the diaphragm to vibrate closer and farther away from a charged metal plate, which is why condenser microphones require Phantom power or another power source such as a battery or its own power supply.


Ribbon microphones are less prevalent. The element that gives ribbon microphones their name is also the reason they are susceptible to break: a ribbon. A conductive ribbon is sandwiched between two electromagnetic poles, detecting your sound source. These mics are technically a sub-category of dynamic microphones. When you think of early crooners in the studio, you generally picture them with a ribbon mike in front of them. Newer ribbon microphones have tougher construction than older ones, generally utilizing stronger nanomaterials, but you should still avoid putting one in front of a guitar amp unless the manufacturer says it’s okay. Most of these microphones feature a bidirectional polar pattern, which works well for recording two sources at the same time on either side of the mic, such as two individuals conversing, if loudness difference is controlled in a pinch. Ribbon microphones are also excellent vocal microphones. After all, many early broadcast microphones were ribbon, so if properly placed, they work great for podcasters.

ribbon microphones
source: eastwoodsoundandvision.com

Type of Microphone Cables: USB or XLR Microphones

USB microphones are not only handy and easy to use but are also cheaper than XLR microphones. Most USB microphones have a cardioid polar pattern, which means they pick up sound from the front making them perfect for podcasts and voiceovers. However, if you want to record voice or instrumental music, or if you want a higher quality sound for your podcast, you should use an XLR microphone.

XLR microphones are usually high-budget and require an audio interface, but they generally provide significantly higher quality audio than their counterparts. This is because, in addition to the microphone capsule, USB microphones contain a built-in analog to digital convertor (ADC), which may not be optimized for the sound volume you’re putting into it, plus, the entire package is designed to meet a specified price point. XLR microphones, on the other hand, lack the ADC and instead contain an analog output stage that is often balanced on pins 2 and 3 of the XLR connection to reject noise created in the wire connecting the microphone to the recording equipment.

Consider the Polar Patterns of the Mic

Once you’ve determined what you want to use the microphone for and where you want to use it, you should decide what you want the microphone to capture. Do you want your microphone to simply capture what is directly in front of it, or do you want it to pick up sound from all around you? These charts of directivity are known as polar patterns, and they are easier to understand than they appear. The names for the various types of patterns might be confusing, but they don’t get much more difficult. They’re all different ways of hinting at the shape and pattern of how the microphone records.

One relatively common polar pattern is the cardioid, which means “heart-shaped” in Latin, therefore these microphones take up sound in the shape of a heart. Another type of polar pattern that is rather common is the omnidirectional polar pattern, which picks up sound from all directions. There are a few more, such as the unidirectional and bidirectional polar patterns.

polar patterns of microphone
source: azden.com

The Frequency Response of the Mic

The term “frequency response” is regularly used in the world of microphones, yet not everyone understands what it implies. The practical aspect you should be aware of is that frequency response relates to how effectively the components of a microphone can reproduce the sounds it is picking up. In an ideal world, it would be a one-to-one reproduction. The microphone “hears” a sound and flawlessly converts it into an electrical signal, which is then perfectly sent into the recorder, but, in real life, some information is lost before it reaches the final recording.

There isn’t much you can do about a microphone’s frequency response other than study the charts provided by the manufacturers. You won’t be able to adjust it until you start mixing with an equalizer. When you read frequency response charts, you’re going to notice that some are ‘transparent,’ spitting out a relatively neutral version of what they hear, whilst others have ‘colouration,’ which means they change the sound in some manner. Typically, ‘coloured mics’ come in two varieties: bright and dark.

All of this is about frequency response and if the upper frequencies have a slight boost or whether the lows do. Before you buy rode microphone you should base your choice on the instruments you plan to record and whether you’re a vocalist with a deep or high voice. Some perform better on different sound sources, which is why studios have a mic locker stocked with several microphones so that they may set the most appropriate mic in front of the present voice or instrument. If you’re on a tight budget, a neutral or bright mic would suffice, and it should sound good on any source you use it with. You’ll do the rest during the mixing process anyhow.

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