What is the difference between a dynamic mic and a condenser mic?
Essentially, these 2 microphones use differing principles or ‘technology’ to capture sound but let’s start with a few practical points:
A dynamic microphone could be thought of as ‘plug and play’ in that it doesn’t need to be powered. Simply plug a dynamic mic such as the Red5 Audio RVD30 into an Active Speaker such as the Red5 Audio RV215A and the microphone will work. Comparatively, a condenser microphone such as the Red5 Audio RV8 needs to be powered. The industry standard term for this is ‘phantom power’. (You can’t connect a condenser microphone to a speaker for example without powering it first). For more information on Phantom Power see here.
For simplification, Condenser microphones can be split into 2 categories: large diaphragm condenser microphones and small diaphragm condenser microphones. Large diaphragm condenser mics often are very sensitive, capable of capturing extremely detailed sound. For this reason, they are often the microphone of choice for studio recording, especially for vocals. Small diaphragm condenser mics often work well on acoustic instruments and ensemble groups and can be found in live and studio use. As the name suggests, they tend to be smaller and more discreet. Think of the hanging condenser microphones for example that can be seen in the chamber in the Houses Of Parliament. (For a similar product, see our own RV85 Hanging Condenser Microphone).
Dynamic mics will often be used for live performance / sound reinforcement or in scenarios where there is a loud sound source. They also tend to be less susceptible to feedback and so they are mainly the mic type of choice for live vocals.
How they work
As previously mentioned, these microphones work in different ways:
- Dynamic Mics use a diaphragm, voice-coil and magnet to pick up and convert sound waves into an electrical signal.
- Condenser Mics use an electrically charged diaphragm which is caused to vibrate by soundwaves. As the diaphragm moves, an electrical signal is generated directly proportional to the sound.
Break the rules!
There is no law against using a particular mic for a particular application, there is merely tried and tested experience. We recommend you experiment to get the sound you like. For help and guidance, please contact us and we’ll be happy to assist.