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Microphone Research Document

Before we go recording on location its good to look at the microphones that we are going to
use and study the specifications to learn the advantages and disadvantages of microphone.
Here I’m going to explain each specification of the microphones, to help understand them and
use them at the full potential

There are three types of microphones; Dynamic, Condensers, and Ribbons. Here’s a
descriptions of each.

Dynamic
A dynamic microphones works by using a magnet surrounded by a coil of wire that’s
suspended in a magnetic field, if disrupted it causes an analogue electrical signal. A thin
diaphragm is attacked to the coil, so when a change in air pressure hits it at its certain
frequency it then disrupts the magnet field as the coil moves, then that air pressure becomes
changes in voltage. (David Miles, 116-117)

In the diagram above you can see the coil, magnet and the diaphragm. You can see the sound
wave hitting the diaphragm which the moves the coil. It’s a good example of what I was
explaining.

Ribbon
A ribbon microphone works similar to the dynamic, but instead of a coil it has two magnets
around an extremely thin piece of aluminium that is suspended between the two magnets. If
the aluminium moves, it disrupts the magnetic field which creates an electrical signal, but its
so weak a transformer is used in the microphone to boost it. Here is a diagram of ribbon
microphone. (David Miles,117)
Condensers
Condensers use electrostatic rather than electromagnet like the dynamic and the ribbon
microphones. A condenser has a movable diaphragm which is one of two small plates. The
plates have an electrical charge going through them from a battery inside the microphone.
When acoustic energy hits the front plate it moves it and the distance between the front and
back plate moves too and creates a charge that it’s then turned to electrical signal. The
condenser needs phantom power to power (48volts). (David Miles,119)

Polar Patterns
A polar pattern is when a microphone detects changes in air pressure. With polar patterns you
determine the response of the microphone by its sensitive it of the polar pattern. (David Miles,
123)

Omni Directional polar pattern is a 360 degree pick up, as in any sound made anywhere will
be picked up by the microphone. Omni makes a more natural sounding pick up as will also
pick up reflections made by the sound. (Homerecording.about.com)

Cardioid is pattern that picks up from the front, also picks up a narrower side compared to
Omni directional, and the from the rear of the microphone there is no pick up, so the pattern is
a heart shaped. The cardioid pattern is very commonly used, used for live, vocals and many
other applications. Because of its front pick up and no rear pick up its good for picking up
sounds from the front. (Homerecording.about.com)
Cardioid microphones use a rear port, paced at the right distance away from the diaphragm to
create a delay or a acoustic labyrinth. This puts sounds from the rear out phase and for when it
hits the front of that diaphragm. (David Miles,125)

Hypercardioid is similar to cardioid polar pattern, except that the sides of the pattern are much
narrower and doesn’t pick up around 120 degrees from the back. This pattern is commonly
used in live performances because they help preventing feedback.
(Homerecording.about.com)

Figure of eight or bio directional, this polar pattern picks up from the front and from
the back equally. The polar pattern has a no pick up from the sides; it’s just front and
back. Ribbon microphones commonly use figure of eight for their pick up, and the
figure of eight is commonly used for stereo techniques and micing up acoustic
instruments. (Homerecording.about.com)

Pressure gradient is a term used for pickups of a microphones that show directional properties.
This is happens when different pressures effect the front, sides and back of the diaphragm.
Figure of eight is pressure gradient, the pressure hitting at 180 degrees at the rear will be out
phase with an equal on axis signal. Phase cancelation will take effect if sounds hit off axis and
are opposite pressures at the front and rear of the pressure gradient polar pattern. (David Mile
124)

Frequency response
Frequency response is essentially what the microphone can hear. Frequency response is
different for each model of microphone but is always plotted in a graph from 20hz to 20KHz.
A flat response is what is expected from microphones this is so all frequencies are all
balanced but microphones have different frequency responses which could mean there better
at picking up bass or high frequencies.
You can see in this frequency response that the microphone has a drop at 0-20hz, and drops
and sudden boosts between 1kHz to 20kHz. Now you can determine where and how to use
this microphone because you know what frequencies it can pick up.

Decibels
Decibels are used as units to describe a the maximum or the minimum volume of sound. As
sound increases in density the louder it becomes, we measure between 0dB to 140dB, 140dB
being the peak of humans pain tolerance. Calculate decibels we have to use a non-linear scale,
or the logarithm scale. The two units are involved the decibel which uses units of ten and
Pascal's which will be the reference number. (Francis Rumsey, 15)

dB= 20*log (Pa1/Pa2)

reference = 0.00002 (1dB)


Pascal = 6

6/0.00002 = 30 000
* Logarithmic
= 5.5
* 20
= 109dB
This sum show the calculation for working out decibels and the increase of decibels. it is
relevant because if volume is doubled it isn't twice as loud because 60dB + 60dB = 66dB not
120dB because of the dB uses non-linear scale.
AKG C414

Specifications of the AKG C414, form AKG.com

The Polar Patterns the AKG C414 has are Omnidirectional, cardioid, wide cardioid,
hypercardioid, and figure of eight, see above for information these polar patterns

MAX SPL, is essential how much this microphone can take before distortion starts to take
effect.

Pre-attenuation pad is used when a sound source is loud

Stereo Microphone techniques


Reference

Fig.1. http://www.totalvenue.com.au/articles/microphones/mic-dynamic.gif
Fig.2.http://www.acoustics.salford.ac.uk/acoustics_info/microphones/microphones_fil
es/image030.jpg
Fig.3. http://www.totalvenue.com.au/articles/microphones/mic-condenser.gif
Fig.4.http://soundslive.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/polar_pattern_omnidirectional.pn
g?w=300&h=300
Fig.5.http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6d/Polar_pattern_cardioid.p
ng
Fig.6.http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/80/Polar_pattern_hypercardi
oid.png
Fig.7.http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/archive/8/8f/20070425174735!
Polar_pattern_figure_eight_thumb.png
Fig.8. http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_7_3/images/perpetual-technologies-
frequency-response-apex.jpg
Fig.9. http://www.glossopdale.net/images/akgc414.jpg

http://www.akg.com/site/products/powerslave,id,781,pid,781,nodeid,2,_language,EN,
view,specs.html

http://homerecording.about.com/od/microphones101/bb/Mic_Patterns.htm