Microphone Basics
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Microphone Basics

Microphones are the starting point of a given sound source and just like the tools in the craftsman tool box you need the correct tool for the job. As Bob Heil said, it all starts with the microphone.

In its bare bones a a microphone is a speaker backwards. Most of you have seen the sub speaker in the back seat going bonkers pumping out that deep low end bass. The speaker is moving back and forth to reproduce the frequency your hearing.

This is done with electrical energy, and a microphone does that backwards. Instead of using electrical energy is is creating electrical energy. A mini generator of sorts.

If you have ever seen the little speaker inside of your old wore out headphones you have seen the inside of a microphone.

That little speaker looking thing vibrates back and forth at the same frequency of the sound source, the coil around the magnet creates a very small electrical signal.

Then that signal goes to the sound board, out to the amps and then to the speakers. There can be some other processes the signal goes through but that will be in another blog.

There are three basic types of microphones, the Dynamic Microphone, the Condenser, and the Ribbon Microphone. On a live stage the Dynamic Microphone is going to be the most common mic used. Most all vocals will use the Dynamic Mic, as will most of the drum kit, and on the guitar amplifiers. The Condenser Mic will be used on the overheads for the drum kit, on the Choir is there is one, small wireless mics for violins, Saxophones, Chello, Viotas.

Condenser Mics use electrical power to make them work and that is provided at the sound board via Phantom power. 48 volts direct current reverse polarity.

Dynamic Mics work on the moving coil principle as I described up above in very simple terms. These mics offer tremendous mechanical durability, have a lower cost, need no external power and have very high input SPL capability. SPL stands for ( Sound Pressure Level.)

Because they are so durable and are able to withstand High SPL and the punishment of touring Dynamic Mics are ideal for live sound. These are the mics you see the singer slinging around in circles via the mic cable. Little scary for the sound engineer for sure.

The next type of Microphones are the Condenser Mics. These are not little speakers like the Dynamics. There is and element made up of a film coated with a conductive material like silver or gold and it is suspended over a polarized ( powered ) backplate. This becomes part of the electrical circuit on one side and the changing voltage of the mic become the output of the Microphone.

Sensitivity, Transient responses, and wide frequency response have allowed the Condenser Microphone Performance advantages over the other types of Microphone out there.

Now there is much more to tell about microphones but I want to keep it simple here. I use both of these types of Microphones every week so they are easy for me to write about and brag about a little bit. Both have there place in the work I do and I am grateful I have them in my tool box.

Dave; KessAudio


Street Talk

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