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Acoustics: Capturing Sound

Reverberation is caused by the direct signal reflecting off


Dynamic Vs Condenser

The two main types of microphones are Dynamic and Condenser.

They are both used for studio applications but have different
characteristics studio engineers should be aware of before

Dynamic Microphones
- Robust
- Used for live applications
- Low Frequency response
- Usually Cardioid Polar Pattern
- Does not require external power
- Less sensitive to low level sound
- Handles high sound pressure levels

AKG D112

Condenser Microphones
- Used for studio applications
- Sensitive to high
- Requires external power
source: Phantom Power
- Sensitive to low level
- Easily damaged if dropped

Cross-Section of a Condenser

Condenser microphones
use a pair of charged metal
plates, one fixed and one
movable (diaphragm),
forming a capacitor.
When a sound wave hits the
diaphragm, the distance
between the two plates
This produces a change in
an electrical characteristic
called capacitance.
It is the variation of the
spacing, due to the motion
of the diaphragm relative to
the back plate, which
produces the electrical
signal corresponding to the
sound picked up.

In a dynamic microphone,
sound waves hit a thin
metallic diaphragm that is
attached to a coil of wire.
The diaphragm vibrates the
coil in response to the sound
wave. A magnet that is
positioned inside the coil
produces a magnetic field.
It is the motion of the coil in
the magnetic field which
generates the electrical
signal. The principles are the
same as those used to
generate electricity.

Part of a microphones specification includes its Polar Pattern

Polar patterns indicate the area around
the diaphragm where sound is most

Some frequencies within

the diaphragms range are
more sensitive than

Studio engineers should

also be aware of the Proximity
Effect whereby there is an
increase of low frequency the
closer the sound source.

Another technical specification of a microphone will be its frequency

response. Some microphones will be more sensitive to certain
frequencies than others and it is this factor that determines which
microphone to use for certain applications.

The frequency response of the in-built microphone of different

makes of iPhones. The iPhone 3G has the best low frequency

Frequency response for the AKG D112. This microphone is commonly used for kick drums
and low frequency instruments.

Frequency response for the Neumann U47. This microphone is

commonly used for recording vocals.