Microphone techniques (the selection and place-ment of microphones) have a major influence onthe audio quality of a sound reinforcement sys-tem. For reinforcement of musical instruments,there are several main objectives of microphonetechniques: to maximize pick-up of suitablesound from the desired instrument, to minimize pick-up of undesired sound from instruments or other sound sources, and to provide sufficient gain-before-feedback. “Suitable” sound from thedesired instrument may mean either the naturalsound of the instrument or some particular sound quality which is appropriate for the appli-cation. “Undesired” sound may mean the direct or ambient sound from other nearby instrumentsor just stage and background noise. “Sufficient”gain-before-feedback means that the desired instrument is reinforced at the required levelwithout ringing or feedback in the sound system.Obtaining the proper balance of these factorsmay involve a bit of give-and-take with each. Inthis guide, Shure application and development engineers suggest a variety of microphone tech-niques for musical instruments to achieve theseobjectives. In order to provide some background for these techniques it is useful to understand some of the important characteristics of micro- phones, musical instruments and acoustics.
The most important characteristics of micro-phones for live sound applications are their oper-ating principle, frequency response and direc-tionality. Secondary characteristics are theirelectrical output and actual physical design.
- The type of
inside the microphone, that is, how the micro-phone picks up sound and converts it into anelectrical signal.Atransducer is a device that changes energyfrom one form into another, in this case, acousticenergy into electrical energy. The operatingprinciple determines some of the basic capabili-ties of the microphone. The two most commontypes are Dynamic and Condenser.
employ a diaphragm/ voice coil/magnet assembly which forms aminiature sound-driven electrical generator.Sound waves strike a thin plastic membrane(diaphragm) which vibrates in response. Asmall coil of wire (voice coil) is attached to therear of the diaphragm and vibrates with it. Thevoice coil itself is surrounded by a magneticfield created by a small permanent magnet. It isthe motion of the voice coil in this magneticfield which generates the electrical signal corre-sponding to the sound picked up by a dynamicmicrophone.Dynamic microphones have relatively simpleconstruction and are therefore economical andrugged. They can provide excellent sound quali-ty and good specifications in all areas of micro-phone performance. In particular, they can han-dle extremely high sound levels: it is almostimpossible to overload a dynamic microphone.In addition, dynamic microphones are relativelyunaffected by extremes of temperature or humid-ity. Dynamics are the type most widely used ingeneral sound reinforcement.
are based on an electri-cally-charged diaphragm/backplate assemblywhich forms a sound-sensitive capacitor. Here,sound waves vibrate a very thin metal or metal-coated-plastic diaphragm. The diaphragm ismounted just in front of a rigid metal or metal-coated-ceramic backplate. In electrical terms thisassembly or element is known as a capacitor (his-
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