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Online Guide Large Diaphragm Microphones
How does a condenser microphone work?

 

A condenser
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphone
is actually a pretty complex device. An ultra-thin gold
SputteredUsually denotes a component with a molecular metal coating such as a microphone diaphragm with a gold coating just a few molecules thick, which improves its electromagnetic properties.
sputtered
foil is mounted in front of a solid metal disk, so close they – almost – touch. The metallized foil is the
DiaphragmIn a microphone the diaphragm is a thin membrane up to 1" in diameter that converts sound waves into electrical current. A loudspeaker diaphragm does exactly the reverse.
diaphragm
, the solid metal disk is what is called the back electrode; together they form a
CapacitorAn electrical component that stores charge, also known as a condenser. A capacitor/condenser microphone uses two conducting plates, one fixed and one in the form of a moving diaphragm. When a polarising voltage is applied the electrical signal produced by the vibrating diaphragm (in response to sound) is very faithful to its movement, resulting in accurate reproduction.
capacitor
. Condenser is another word for capacitor; sometimes condenser mics are called “capacitor
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphones
.” As you may remember from physics class, a
CapacitorAn electrical component that stores charge, also known as a condenser. A capacitor/condenser microphone uses two conducting plates, one fixed and one in the form of a moving diaphragm. When a polarising voltage is applied the electrical signal produced by the vibrating diaphragm (in response to sound) is very faithful to its movement, resulting in accurate reproduction.
capacitor
is nothing but two metal surfaces facing each other. A
CapacitorAn electrical component that stores charge, also known as a condenser. A capacitor/condenser microphone uses two conducting plates, one fixed and one in the form of a moving diaphragm. When a polarising voltage is applied the electrical signal produced by the vibrating diaphragm (in response to sound) is very faithful to its movement, resulting in accurate reproduction.
capacitor
can store a small amount of electrical energy. The amount of this “capacitance” is proportional not only to the size of the
CapacitorAn electrical component that stores charge, also known as a condenser. A capacitor/condenser microphone uses two conducting plates, one fixed and one in the form of a moving diaphragm. When a polarising voltage is applied the electrical signal produced by the vibrating diaphragm (in response to sound) is very faithful to its movement, resulting in accurate reproduction.
capacitor
but also to the proximity of the two
PlateType of reverb originally associated with pop/rock recording from the 50s to the 70s. A plate reverb comprises a large metal sheet with transmitting and receiving transducers on each side. The complex signal from the receiver is mixed with the dry signal in order to create a reverb effect. Plate reverb emulations are now common to most electronic/software reverbs, where it is thought to be particularly flattering to vocals.
plates
. The closer they are, the higher the
CapacitanceThe ability of a conductor to store electric charge. Measured in Farads where capacitance (C) equals amount of charge (Q) divided by voltage (V).
capacitance
. This leads us back to the condenser
CapsuleThe part of a microphone containing the diaphragm which moves or vibrates in response to sound waves.
capsule
: When sound
Hit1) A successful recording. 2) A single sampled percussive sound, as opposed to a loop.
hits
the thin gold
SputteredUsually denotes a component with a molecular metal coating such as a microphone diaphragm with a gold coating just a few molecules thick, which improves its electromagnetic properties.
sputtered
DiaphragmIn a microphone the diaphragm is a thin membrane up to 1" in diameter that converts sound waves into electrical current. A loudspeaker diaphragm does exactly the reverse.
diaphragm
, it moves to the rhythm of the soundwaves. The solid back
ElectrodeAn electric conductor used as either of the two terminals of an electrically conducting medium such as a battery or valve/tube.
electrode
, however, does not move. What we have, therefore, is a relative movement between
DiaphragmIn a microphone the diaphragm is a thin membrane up to 1" in diameter that converts sound waves into electrical current. A loudspeaker diaphragm does exactly the reverse.
diaphragm
and back
ElectrodeAn electric conductor used as either of the two terminals of an electrically conducting medium such as a battery or valve/tube.
electrode
. Which means the capsule/capacitor changes its
CapacitanceThe ability of a conductor to store electric charge. Measured in Farads where capacitance (C) equals amount of charge (Q) divided by voltage (V).
capacitance
as a result of the soundwaves that
Hit1) A successful recording. 2) A single sampled percussive sound, as opposed to a loop.
hit
the
DiaphragmIn a microphone the diaphragm is a thin membrane up to 1" in diameter that converts sound waves into electrical current. A loudspeaker diaphragm does exactly the reverse.
diaphragm
. Acoustic energy is transformed into an electrical signal! The really
CoolRelaxed and groovy
cool
thing about condenser
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphones
is that the
DiaphragmIn a microphone the diaphragm is a thin membrane up to 1" in diameter that converts sound waves into electrical current. A loudspeaker diaphragm does exactly the reverse.
diaphragm
has very low mass. The ultra-thin metallized foil weighs much less and thus moves more quickly than the thicker
DiaphragmIn a microphone the diaphragm is a thin membrane up to 1" in diameter that converts sound waves into electrical current. A loudspeaker diaphragm does exactly the reverse.
diaphragm
of a dynamic
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphone
with its heavy moving
CoilA length of wire wound around a core to create an inductor or electromagnet. Used in electric guitar pickups where fine enamelled copper wire is wound a few thousand times around a magnetic core. Vibrating strings induce an alternating current in the coil as they modulate the magnetic flux.
coil
affixed to it.

Condenser microphone

A condenser
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
mic
can follow the rhythm of the soundwaves more accurately than dynamic mics. As a result, condensers sound more natural and transparent.

But the
CapsuleThe part of a microphone containing the diaphragm which moves or vibrates in response to sound waves.
capsule
signal is not yet ready for a
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphone
PreampAn amplifier device or circuit that provides initial amplification of a weak electronic signal, usually to 'line' level, in order for it to be processed or passed between other devices, as opposed to a power amp which amplifies a signal in order to drive loudspeakers. Examples include microphone preamps (as dedicated hardware and in mixing desks/recording interfaces) and guitar preamps. Most guitar amps combine the preamp and power amp in the same unit.
preamp
. The capsule’s rhythmically changing
CapacitanceThe ability of a conductor to store electric charge. Measured in Farads where capacitance (C) equals amount of charge (Q) divided by voltage (V).
capacitance
must be translated into a rhythmically changing voltage, and this voltage signal must be amplified and transformed into a low
ImpedanceThe term for electrical resistance when applied to AC current.
impedance
signal. This requires some (active) electronics, and hence a power supply is needed. Condenser mics usually are “phantom powered.” Phantom power is a voltage supplied by the
PreampAn amplifier device or circuit that provides initial amplification of a weak electronic signal, usually to 'line' level, in order for it to be processed or passed between other devices, as opposed to a power amp which amplifies a signal in order to drive loudspeakers. Examples include microphone preamps (as dedicated hardware and in mixing desks/recording interfaces) and guitar preamps. Most guitar amps combine the preamp and power amp in the same unit.
preamp
or
ConsoleA device through which audio signals are routed for mixing, monitoring, processing and re-routed for either recording, amplification or both. A console contains a number of channel strips and a selection of auxiliary, monitoring and main outputs.
mixer
via the
NormalType of patchbay configuration in which a top row socket is internally connected by default to the corresponding bottom row socket; the connection may be broken by inserting a plug into one or both front panel sockets, depending on the type of normalling in use.
normal
3-pin
XLRA 3-pin audio connector usually used for balanced audio connections and the standard connector for microphones requiring phantom power.
XLR
cables you would use for dynamic mics, too. Almost all
PreampAn amplifier device or circuit that provides initial amplification of a weak electronic signal, usually to 'line' level, in order for it to be processed or passed between other devices, as opposed to a power amp which amplifies a signal in order to drive loudspeakers. Examples include microphone preamps (as dedicated hardware and in mixing desks/recording interfaces) and guitar preamps. Most guitar amps combine the preamp and power amp in the same unit.
preamps
and mixers within the past 10 or so years have phantom power capability. Most mixers have only one button to engage phantom power on all
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphone
inputs; most external
PreampAn amplifier device or circuit that provides initial amplification of a weak electronic signal, usually to 'line' level, in order for it to be processed or passed between other devices, as opposed to a power amp which amplifies a signal in order to drive loudspeakers. Examples include microphone preamps (as dedicated hardware and in mixing desks/recording interfaces) and guitar preamps. Most guitar amps combine the preamp and power amp in the same unit.
preamps
have separate switches for each input. For sonic reasons, some condenser mics use tubes as amplifying devices. Tubes require very high voltages that
NormalType of patchbay configuration in which a top row socket is internally connected by default to the corresponding bottom row socket; the connection may be broken by inserting a plug into one or both front panel sockets, depending on the type of normalling in use.
normal
phantom power cannot supply. These tube condenser
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphones
, therefore, must be powered by a dedicated power supply (which usually is included in the purchase).

By the way: The condenser
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphone
was invented by Georg Neumann, the founder of the
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphone
company of the same name. Interestingly enough, some of the earliest models from the 1930s were good enough to be used in recording studios today. Imagine how great today’s models must be!

 

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Contents:

[Contents] [How does a condenser microphone work?] [Electret Condenser Mics] [Large and Small Diaphragms] [Solid State or Tube?] [Transformer Balanced or Transformerless?] [Directional Patterns] [Extras & Accesories] [Technical Specifications] [What’s Important?] [FAQ] [Bottom Line] [Hotdeals] [Feedback]
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