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Microphones Explained

Basic Components

All microphones have a diaphragm. This is what converts the sound waves into an electrical signal. The diaphragm is a very thin piece of metal that is connected to a coil. That coil is wrapped around a magnet.

Small diaphragms react faster than Large diaphragms. Large Diaphragms are typically used for vocals, as they don't detect certain annoying mouth sounds.

Dynamic vs Condenser

A moving coil, or a Dynamic microphone, are far more affordable and often easier to use. This is the greatest beginner microphone and has the potential to last you a lifetime. I recommend everyone should have a good Dynamic microphone before they got and get a Condenser.

A Capacitor microphone, or Condenser microphone, are more fragile and more expensive. They offer better clarity and finer detail. They are typically are used for vocals, such as a podcast or radio show. 

Polar Patterns

There is a directionality, or pickup pattern, to every microphone. Essentially, there are sensitive areas and rejection areas. Both can be used to your advantage. 

Cardioid microphone Cardioid polar patterns

The most common studio pattern is the Cardioid. It has an almost dome shape around the top of the microphone. It is designed to reject the back, while emphasizing the front. This is great for reducing reflections in a room.

 


Shotgun microphone shotgun polar pattern

One of the most aggressive patterns is the Shotgun pattern. This is your "boom" microphone. It typically acts like a laser; absorbing sound from a very precise direction. This is great for cinema; where the microphone shouldn't be seen. It's also used a lot in Vloging. The standard for an external camera microphone will have a shotgun pattern.


Bi-directional, or figure-8, is essentially a dual-cardioid. This has a cardioid pattern on the front and the back. It works well with lower budget interviews. If you can only afford 1 microphone, but you have two sources of sound, then a Bi-Driectional microphone may be the best choice for you.

 


 

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