Last Updated on January 15, 2024 by Victor Estevez
Dynamic microphones are versatile and robust audio recording devices commonly used in various applications, from live performances to podcasting. They are known for their durability, ability to handle high sound pressure levels, and relatively simple design.
So let’s look into the basic principles and components of dynamic microphones to help you better understand their functioning and applications.
What is a Dynamic Microphone?
A dynamic microphone is a type of microphone that converts sound waves into electrical signals through electromagnetic induction. The basic principle behind a dynamic microphone is the movement of a diaphragm attached to a coil within a magnetic field, which creates an electrical current.
Components of a Dynamic Microphone
There are three main components in a dynamic microphone that work together to capture and convert sound:
Diaphragm: The diaphragm is a thin, flexible membrane that vibrates in response to incoming sound waves. Typically made of lightweight material like plastic or Mylar, the diaphragm’s responsiveness is crucial for accurate sound reproduction.
Voice Coil: Attached to the diaphragm is a coil of wire, called the voice coil. As the diaphragm vibrates, it causes the voice coil to move within a magnetic field, creating an electrical current.
Magnet: A permanent magnet surrounds the voice coil, providing the magnetic field necessary for electromagnetic induction. The interaction between the voice coil’s movement and the magnetic field generates an electrical signal that corresponds to the original sound wave.
The resulting electrical signal is then sent through the microphone’s output and can be further processed, amplified, or recorded by various audio equipment. The simple yet effective design of dynamic microphones makes them a popular choice for many audio applications.
What are Dynamic Microphones Best For?
Dynamic mics excel in a variety of applications due to their inherent characteristics and advantages.
Typical Uses of Dynamic Microphones
Live Performances: Dynamic mics are popular for live music events. Their ability to handle high sound pressure levels and their rugged construction ensures they can withstand rough handling and stage use.
Podcasting and Broadcasting: Podcasters and broadcasters often opt for dynamic microphones, as they provide a warm and natural sound, coupled with good off-axis noise rejection, which helps to minimize background noise during recordings.
Instrument Recording: Due to their ability to handle high sound pressure levels, dynamic mics are well-suited for capturing loud instruments, such as drums, electric guitars, and brass instruments.
Vocals: While condenser microphones are often preferred for studio vocal recordings, dynamic microphones can also be an excellent choice for certain vocal styles, particularly in live settings or when a more “raw” and natural sound is desired.
Advantages of Using Dynamic Microphones
Durability: Dynamic mics are known for their robust construction, making them less susceptible to damage from physical impacts, humidity, or temperature fluctuations. This makes them an ideal choice for live performances and on-the-road use.
High Sound Pressure Level Handling: Dynamic microphones can capture loud audio sources without distortion, making them suitable for recording loud instruments or live performances where sound levels can be unpredictable.
Natural Sound: Dynamic mics generally produce a warm and natural sound, which can be especially beneficial for capturing the nuances of vocals, podcasts, and radio broadcasts.
Off-Axis Noise Rejection: The design of dynamic microphones enables them to reject off-axis sounds effectively. This characteristic is beneficial for isolating the desired sound source in noisy environments or minimizing background noise during recordings.
Comparing Dynamic Mics with Condenser Mics
Understanding the differences between the two most common types: dynamic and condenser microphones can help you to find the perfect type of mic for you.
Durability: Dynamic mics are known for their rugged construction, making them suitable for rough handling and various environments, including live performances.
High Sound Pressure Level Handling: These microphones can handle loud audio sources without distortion, ideal for capturing loud instruments or vocals during live performances.
Natural Sound: Dynamic microphones generally produce a warm and natural sound, which can be particularly appealing for certain applications like podcasting and broadcasting.
Off-Axis Noise Rejection: The design of dynamic mics allows them to reject off-axis sounds effectively, minimizing background noise during recordings.
Limited Frequency Response: Dynamic microphones tend to have a more limited frequency response compared to condenser microphones, which may not capture the full range of certain instruments or vocals in studio recordings.
Lower Sensitivity: Dynamic mics are generally less sensitive than condenser microphones, requiring more gain to achieve the same recording level.
Extended Frequency Response: Condenser microphones have a broader frequency response, capturing a more extensive range of frequencies and providing more detail in recordings. This makes them ideal for studio work, where capturing every nuance is crucial.
Higher Sensitivity: Condenser microphones are more sensitive than dynamic microphones, allowing them to pick up quieter sounds and subtle details in recordings.
Fragility: Condenser microphones are more delicate than their dynamic counterparts, making them more susceptible to damage from physical impacts, humidity, and temperature fluctuations.
Requires External Power: Unlike dynamic microphones, condenser microphones require an external power source, such as phantom power, to operate. This may be a consideration if your audio setup has limited power options.
Less Off-Axis Noise Rejection: Condenser microphones generally have less off-axis noise rejection compared to dynamic mics, making them less ideal for use in noisy environments or when isolating a specific sound source is essential. However, different polar patterns can minimize this problem, like a supercardiod microphone.
Ultimately, the choice between dynamic and condenser microphones depends on your specific needs and application. While dynamic microphones excel in live performances and podcasting, condenser microphones are typically preferred for studio work and capturing detailed audio.
Do Singers Use Dynamic Mics?
Yes, singers frequently use dynamic microphones. In live performances, dynamic mics are often the go-to choice for singers because of their durability, natural sound, and off-axis noise rejection. These characteristics help to ensure that the voice is accurately captured and isolated from any background noise or other sound sources on stage.
However, in studio recordings, singers might prefer condenser microphones due to their extended frequency response and higher sensitivity. These qualities allow condenser microphones to capture more detail and nuance in a singer’s voice, making them more suitable for studio work where capturing every subtlety is crucial.
So, choosing the right microphone for studio recordings will depend on the specific requirements, circumstances, and desired sound quality for the recording project.
Do Dynamic Mics Need 48V Phantom Power?
Dynamic mics unlike condenser mics do not require 48V phantom power to operate. They are passive devices, so unlike condenser microphones, which need an external power source to function, dynamic microphones generate their own electrical signal.
Their internal components, such as the diaphragm and coil assembly, generate an electrical signal when sound waves cause the diaphragm to vibrate. This motion induces an electrical current in the coil, which is then sent to the recording device or sound system.
As a result, dynamic microphones do not have any specific power requirements, making them compatible with a wide range of audio interfaces, mixers, and other recording equipment. However, it’s essential to ensure that your audio equipment can provide enough gain to amplify the audio signal from a dynamic microphone, as they typically have a lower output level compared to condenser mics.
Should I Buy a Dynamic Microphone?
When deciding whether to purchase a dynamic microphone, it’s essential to consider various factors such as your budget, recording environment, and intended usage.
Dynamic microphones are generally more affordable than condenser microphones, making them an attractive option for those on a tight budget. With a wide range of dynamic mics available at different price points, you can find a suitable option that fits your financial constraints.
The recording environment plays a crucial role in determining the best type of microphone for your needs. Dynamic mics excel in situations where background noise is an issue, as they offer excellent off-axis noise rejection. If you’re recording in a less-than-ideal environment with ambient noise, a dynamic microphone may be a better choice than a condenser microphone.
The intended usage of the microphone should also be a significant factor in your decision-making process. Consider the following scenarios:
Live Performances: If you’re a singer or musician who frequently performs live, a dynamic microphone would be a reliable and durable option. Their rugged design and natural sound reproduction make them well-suited for live performances.
Podcasting and Broadcasting: For podcasting and broadcasting, a dynamic microphone can provide a natural and warm sound that’s suitable for spoken word. They also excel at rejecting background noise, which is crucial for maintaining audio quality in these applications.
Studio Recordings: For studio recordings, the choice between dynamic and condenser microphones will depend on the specific requirements of your project. While a condenser microphone may offer a more detailed sound, dynamic microphones can still be a viable option for certain recording situations, especially when capturing louder instruments or focusing on the midrange frequencies.
So, whether you should buy a dynamic microphone depends on your situation and factors such as budget, recording environment, and intended usage.
Are Dynamic Microphones Expensive?
Dynamic mics are available at a wide range of prices, making them accessible to users with varying budgets. You can find entry-level dynamic microphones for as low as $20, while professional-grade options can cost several hundred dollars or more. The price difference is typically influenced by factors such as build quality, brand reputation, and overall performance.
A dynamic mic is generally less expensive than other types of microphones, such as condenser or ribbon mics. Their affordability, combined with their durable construction and versatile performance, make them a popular choice for a wide range of applications.
Comparing the Cost of Dynamic Mics to Other Types of Microphones
Condenser Microphones: Condenser mics are generally more expensive than dynamic optioneses, with prices starting at around $50 for entry-level options and reaching well over $1,000 for high-end models. The higher cost is often attributed to their more complex design, which includes an external power source and sensitive electronic components.
Ribbon Microphones: Ribbon mics are another type of microphone that can be quite expensive, with prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. While ribbon microphones offer a unique and smooth sound, their delicate nature and specialized construction contribute to their higher price.
USB Microphones: USB microphones are an all-in-one solution that combines a microphone, preamp, and analog-to-digital converter in a single device. The cost of USB microphones can vary greatly, with some models priced similarly to entry-level dynamic mics and others comparable to a mid-range condenser microphone.
What is the Best Distance for a Dynamic Mic?
When using a dynamic microphone, it’s essential to find the optimal distance between the microphone and the sound source to ensure high-quality audio capture.
Tips on the Optimal Distance
Close-miking: Dynamic mics are often used for close-miking, which means positioning the microphone within a few inches of the sound source. This technique helps to capture the direct sound while minimizing room reflections and background noise. Close-miking is particularly effective for live performances or when recording loud instruments, such as drums and electric guitars.
Proximity effect: When placing a dynamic microphone close to the sound source, be aware of the proximity effect. The proximity effect is a natural increase in bass frequencies that occurs when the microphone is positioned close to the sound source. To avoid excessive bass buildup, experiment with different distances and angles until you find the best balance between bass response and clarity.
Distance for vocals: For vocal recordings, a good starting point is to position the dynamic microphone 4 to 6 inches away from the singer’s mouth. This distance usually provides a balanced sound while minimizing plosives and sibilance. However, it’s essential to adjust the distance based on the specific microphone and the singer’s vocal characteristics.
How Distance Affects Sound Quality and Pickup Pattern
The distance between the microphone and the sound source influences the sound quality and the pickup pattern’s effectiveness. As the microphone is placed closer to the sound source, it captures more direct sound, resulting in a more focused and isolated recording. However, placing the microphone too close may lead to issues such as excessive bass buildup, plosives, or an unnatural sound.
Conversely, increasing the distance between the microphone and the sound source will capture more room reflections, ambiance, and background noise. This can be desirable in some recording situations, such as when capturing a natural room sound or when recording vocals in a choir or instruments in an ensemble.
Dynamic microphones are versatile and cost-effective, making them an excellent option for various applications, from live performances to studio recordings.
When looking for a dynamic microphone, consider your specific needs, budget, and recording environment to find the very best dynamic microphone option for you. I’m sure you know now everything you need about a dynamic mic to capture high-quality audio for your projects.