Connecticut Shoreline Studio for Music Lessons
in Voice, Piano, & the Fundamentals of Music

All Skill Levels Welcome, Ages 4 -104

Connecticut Shoreline Studio for Music Lessons
in Voice, Piano, & the Fundamentals of Music

Clef Notes

The Three Kinds of Microphone Transducers

Three Types of Transducers

I have broken the topic of stage microphones into three parts. I hope you will read all three parts before your next purchase.

Microphones Are Categorized in Three Ways

Mics are categorized by transducer type, application and pickup pattern. There are too many choices when it comes to microphones. The best thing is that nobody can tell the difference between a mid-priced mic and an exotic, wallet-emptying microphone at a live show. If you watch videos of live concerts as much as I do, you see top artists using common, affordable mics. To make mixing and EQ’ing easier, especially for monitors, I recommend using the same mic for all vocals and only a few different mics made for specific instruments.

What Is a Transducer?

A transducer is a device that converts energy from one form to another. In a microphone, the transducer’s job is to detect and convert sound waves into  an electrical signal so it can be amplified, recorded, or transmitted. 

Three Types of Transducers Used In Microphones

Ribbon

Ribbon TransducerThese are too expensive and too delicate for live performance. Save them for studio use.

Condenser

Condenser TransducerThese are still a little more expensive but are great for high end, low handling noise and have less tendency to feedback. Condenser microphones require a DC voltage, labeled PHANTOM POWER on your mixer (if mixer has only one button for all channels, dynamic mics still work unaffected). If your mixer doesn’t have PHANTOM POWER an accessory power supply is required. From 9 volts to 52 volts, it is connected to two pieces of metal foil separated by an insulator like wax paper. When sound vibrates this sandwich of material, it allows electrical current to flow thru the insulator proportional to the vibration. This sandwich is much smaller and lower in mass than a coil in a dynamic mic giving it these characteristics.

Dynamic

Dynamic Transducer These are affordable and rugged and all around the most common and versatile type of mic. A dynamic microphone is a speaker used in reverse:  a coil of wire surrounded by a magnet, mounted on a flexible diaphragm. When sound vibrates the diaphragm, the coil moves thru the magnetic field producing the electrical signal of the sound. Many dynamic mic designs from over fifty years ago haven’t changed. CAD (computer aided design) has improved tolerances and materials but the physics of sound were understood long ago.

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