Condenser Microphones – Everything You Need to Know
The first high quality wide range condenser microphone was developed by E.E Wente at Bell in the early 1900’s. Condenser means capacitor, an electronic component which stores energy in the form of an electrostatic field. The microphone uses a capacitor to convert acoustical energy into electrical energy. The condenser microphone is more commonly found in recording studios, due to its great vocal recording quality which isn’t usually found in any other type of microphone.
Due to the fact that they used to be the most expensive microphones on the market, condenser microphones weren’t often used for recording music in home recording studios, but now, due to companies like Editors Keys and Rode making affordable recording equipment, condenser microphones are a lot more accessible to everybody, no matter what budget or quality of recording studio you have, whether it be a professional studio or a home studio. Don’t be fooled into thinking that paying hundreds or even thousands of pounds is what you need to do to get the best quality condenser microphone. There are some excellent microphones out there, for example the Editors Keys SL600 which is under £150, gives you the same quality of recording as microphones worth well thousands of dollars.
The Present Day Home Recording
Up until recently, condensers were only available with an XLR connection, making recording more difficult for home users, with out use of additional sound cards and adapters. Condenser mics are now are available with a USB connection and built in sound card, allowing you to get perfect studio quality sound straight into your computer.
Many people are confused about the differences between condenser microphones and dynamic microphones. Condenser microphones have a flatter frequency than that of dynamic microphones, which makes them more suited to recording vocals and instruments as they are more sensitive, as opposed to dynamic microphones which are less sensitive and mainly used for live performances. Condenser microphones are quite fragile and accidents like dropping them or screaming into it can cause permanent damage (be gentle with it).
What Makes a Good Condenser?
There are many factors to look at when dealing with condensers to make sure you get the best for your budget. Look for a mic with a large diaphragm; anything above 20mm will help towards good vocals. A hyper cardioid pattern and gold diaphragm condenser are all things too look out for in addition to a good frequency response rate (between 20-18,000hz is perfect for home recording).