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A few questions on microphones from an RP visitor...

An RP visitor has a few questions on microphones. Apparently he wants to be adventurous and go for the dull cymbal sound...


Dynamic mics: isn't it possible to use dynamic mics for acoustic instruments like the acoustic guitar and cymbals? I know that condenser mics are commonly used but I'm sure I've heard of dynamic mics for it as well (especially if you are after a very specific sound). It would be a great help if you could give any examples if that's the case.

If you want your cymbals to sound dull, use a dynamic mic. They do dull down the extreme high frequencies. If that is the effect you want, then that's fine, just as long as you know what you'll be getting. Don't take my word for it though, try it out!

Dynamic mics can work well for acoustic guitars. Sometimes the sound of a capacitor microphone gives a sound that is too 'big' to sit well in the mix. A dynamic mic may pick up a sound that will blend in better.

If you want a bright sounding dynamic mic, try the Electrovoice RE20.

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Electret mics: does a good electret mic have a better frequency response than a good condenser mic? Is there any difference in quality between the phantom and the battery operated electrets?

Conventional capacitor microphones have always had the edge over electrets. No matter how far electrets advance, they will never get better than conventional capacitor mics since the construction of the diaphragm and back plate of the conventional capacitor microphone is simpler. Powering the internal amplifier of an electret mic from a battery is likely to limit how high a sound level they can cope with. Loud sounds might clip the amplifier causing distortion. This is unlikely to damage the mic. Since phantom power offers 48 volts, then the dynamic range can be greater.

Condenser: are there any disadvantages in using tube and valve condenser mics?

They are more variable in sound quality, more noisy and they often display an uneven noise level. Also, the heat from the tube can affect the response of the diaphragm, which is a good reason for mounting the mic upside down (because the heat rises).

Figure of eight mics: Which frequencies are cancelled because of the phase difference? if I were to record two singers for example and there was one on each side of the mic would that cause phase problems?

All frequencies are affected equally. The signal from the rear of the diaphragm is inverted (180 degrees out of phase) with respect to the signal from the front. There will be no problem in using the signal from the rear of the diaphragm. There are few instances where the inversion of a signal is even slightly audible. (Hifi buffs may disagree!)

More questions are welcome. We love questions...

By David Mellor Friday September 23, 2005