Dynamic Mics are the workhorses of the microphone world. They’re cheap, durable and sound fantastic on some of the most common sources in recording. Using a movable induction coil suspended in the vfield of a magnet, dynamic mics work like a speaker in reverse! Dynamic mics are responsive to transients and handle high SPL very well. This makes them a natural choice for loud sources like drum kit close mics and guitar and bass cabs. Given how affordable and versatile they are, there should definitely be a dynamic mic or two in your collection.
Large diaphragm condenser microphones are probably the fvirst thing that comes to mind when you think of studio recording mics. They’re the large, stylish and serious looking mics that you see in most professional recording studio situations. Condenser mics work by using a capacitor (or condenser) to convert acoustic vibrations into an electrical current. That means they need a power source like 48V phantom power to operate. It also means that they’re much more sensitive than dynamic mics or ribbon mics and output a louder signal. Their sensitivity makes them ideal for quiet or extremely dynamic sources—like vocals! Large diaphragm condensers exhibit a number of sonically pleasing qualities for voices. They help create that “larger than life” sound that we associate with pro studio vocals.
Small Diaphragm Condensers (sometimes called pencil condensers) are the smaller, less flashy cousin of the LDC. But they’re just as useful, despite their small stature. Small diaphragm condensers have great transient response, extended top end, and consistent pickup patterns. This makes them great for realistic stereo techniques as well as acoustic instruments. If you sat in on classical music recording session, chances are you would see mostly SDCs. They often come in pairs for stereo recording, so they’re particularly effective for creating accurate stereo images of real acoustic spaces.
Ribbon technology dates back to the earliest days of microphones. Photos from the golden age of broadcasting are filled with presenters speaking into classic ribbon mics.
Ribbon microphones use an ultra-thin (wait for it) ribbon of electro-conductive material suspended between the poles of a magnet to generate their signal.
Early ribbon designs were incredibly fragile. Moving them improperly, or even subjecting them to high SPL could cause the ribbon to break.
But their sound was worth the trade off in durability. Ribbon mics are prized for their warm, vintage tone.