If you’re looking to start a career in the music industry, it’s important to know what type of microphone will best suit your needs. Condenser microphones are used for recording vocals and instruments. They capture sound by picking up vibrations through a small metal diaphragm that is mounted on a thin frame or plate inside the housing. The condenser mic then converts these vibrations into an electrical signal which can be amplified electronically before being recorded onto tape, disk, or computer hard drive.
Let us look into detail about what a condenser mic is and what it is used for.
What is Condenser Mic?
A condenser microphone works by transducing sound waves into an electrical signal which can be captured and processed afterward. The only problem with this method of recording audio is that there’s a limit to how much sound can be captured in the microphone due to the diaphragm’s physical properties inside it. The diaphragm is made up of a thin metal sheet that vibrates when sound waves hit it, which allows the sound waves to be collected by the microphone.
For a condenser mic to work effectively and produce accurate audio recordings, it needs to be placed in an acoustic environment that is free from external noise and other interferences. This means that they are ideal for studio environments where the microphone is placed close to the recording subject (vocalist, for example).
Condenser Microphones Are Used For Recording Acoustic Instruments
Recording acoustic instruments such as guitar, piano, and others using condenser microphones is common in the music industry. This is because such microphones possess excellent frequency response and transient response, which allows them to capture every subtle nuance of the instrument being recorded. However, recording an instrument using a condenser microphone needs to be done in a free-acoustic environment — or studio space — so as to eliminate the risk of external noise interference that may affect the recording process.
Condenser Microphones Are Used For Live Performances
Condenser microphones are also used in live performances, such as for capturing the subtleties of vocals and instruments. As a rule, “live” recording is the hardest to produce because different acoustics are present in different live performances that can affect the microphone’s sound quality and frequency response. With a condenser mic, it is possible to isolate or isolate different acoustic environments using a physical barrier (for example). In doing so, the mic can capture and record a plurality of acoustic environments without interference from external noise.
To effectively use condenser microphones in live performances, it is important to use them with a sound amplification system that can cater to the kind of acoustic environment you are working in, and that can provide enough amplification power for the mic’s signal. This will ensure quality recordings as well as reliable playback.
Condenser Microphones Are Used For Recording Vocal Tracks
The best way to record a singer is by using a condenser microphone. As we’ve said previously, condenser microphones are suited to recording vocals because they capture every nuance of a voice and have excellent frequency response and transient response. Condenser microphones are also ideal for recording acoustic instrument tracks live because they can reject interference in live performances by using physical barriers such as baffles, which isolate the mic from outside noise (this is done with the help of acoustic panels).
Condenser microphones are also versatile enough to simultaneously record multiple voices, whether in different languages or from local or foreign performers. This is because, with condenser microphones, there’s no need to amplify individual instruments separately during live recordings — you only need a simple sound amplification system to bring out the full potential of a microphone.
Specially designed acoustic panels can also be used for isolating the microphone so that it records more details when recording multiple vocalists.
Condenser Microphones Are Used For Voice-overs
Condenser mics are also used for voiceovers. In this case, they are used by announcers and radio broadcasters who need a mic to record voiceovers for broadcasting. This is because condenser mics have an excellent transient response, which means that the sound wave’s info will be captured easily.
Advantages And Disadvantages of a Condenser Microphone
There are many advantages and disadvantages of condenser microphones as compared to other microphones like a dynamic microphone which are:
- Better recording capabilities. Because the software can have greater precision, recording a voice for a radio broadcast or television narration will be less likely to have an off-air distortion. Because there is greater control over a recording’s dynamics, it is easier to change the voice’s pitch, speed, tone, and pitch.
- High-quality sound reproduction. There are no problems with hums or buzzes in condenser microphones caused by noisy cables or poor audio mains (power supplies). Condenser microphones can work with low-level mains and do not require special power supplies.
- Wide frequency range. Condenser microphones will have a very wide frequency response, from 30Hz to 20,000 Hz, and a large dynamic range at the top of its range (usually over +10dB). This means they can cope with almost any sound source.
- Low noise level. Condenser microphones produce little noise because the element is so efficient that it acts as a miniature microphone.
- Very good transient response. The transient response of a condenser microphone is very good (over 100 microseconds), which can capture fast transients such as those on cymbals.
- High sensitivity. Condenser microphones tend to have very high sensitivity (up to 150-250 V / mV) in their working range, which means that they can work with low-level signals without having to amplify them by an active preamp.
- High price. Condenser mics are relatively more expensive than dynamic microphones because they are made with better technical specifications and materials.
- High self-noise level. Condenser mics have a very high self-noise level (usually more than 20dB), which means that it is challenging to record quiet sounds like a person’s voice in a room without affecting the recording’s quality.
- Sensitive to humidity and temperature. If the humidity or the temperature is too high, the condenser mic may be damaged, so it is not suitable for outdoor use.
- High impedance output. Condenser mics have an output resistance of between 600Ω and 50kΩ, which makes it difficult to drive them from typical line input on an audio mixer or preamplifier.
- High cost of repairs. Condenser mics are more likely to have problems because the materials used to build them are so sensitive to high temperatures. Condenser microphones usually have a 3- or 4-conductor cable, and mechanical, heat, and moisture damage may occur when the cables are damaged.
Final Thought: What is Condenser Microphone Used for? (Sensitivity)
By reading this article, I hope you have learned about what a condenser mic can really do and why they are commonly used in certain scenarios and not others. I hope you can better understand the reasons for using and things you can do to maximize its abilities (like isolating it from external sound).
I am aware that there are many other microphones models on the market, and they may have different characteristics than what I have just mentioned here. There are also many other factors to consider when choosing a microphone: build quality, durability, frequency response, feedback rejection ability, etc. You can also check the article where I compare condenser and dynamic microphone.