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Online Guide Stage Vocal Mics
Microphone Designs

 

There are three main
Contact MicA microphone designed to be in physical contact with the object producing sound. Vibrations are picked up through direct contact rather than from sound waves in air.
transducer
types used by
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphones
to convert sound waves into electrical signals, commonly known as ‘dynamic’, ‘condenser’ and ‘ribbon’:


Dynamic

Dynamic

The dynamic
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphone
is the most basic type, and usually the least expensive, and this is one of the reasons that it is often the most popular choice of singers on stage. Inside the
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
mic
is a small, thin plastic
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.
membrane
or ‘diaphragm’ that moves in response to
AudioGenerally used to mean "sound"; technically it describes periodic fluctuations of air pressure or electrical energy at frequencies and amplitudes within the human range of hearing; sound, or electrical energy that represents sound; acoustic, mechanical, or electrical frequencies corresponding to normally audible sound waves.
audio
waves. When 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
moves back and forth, an attached
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
moves within a magnetic field, which in turn generates an electrical
CurrentThe flow of electrons or charge in an electrical device, measured in amperes (amps); defined as the voltage applied divided by the resistance in the circuit.
current
in the wire of the
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
. Since the mass of 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
and the voice
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
is actually quite large compared to the energy that’s contained in the acoustic signal, it takes time for 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
to respond to the signal, restricting how fast it can move – this is ‘inertia’ at work if you remember your school physics lessons! For this reason, dynamic mics tend to respond poorly to high frequencies by comparison with other
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphone
types, however this is not usually too much of a problem with stage vocals, where detail of sound is not as important as in the studio, and its less sensitive design is also less prone to picking up handling
DistortionIn most cases distortion is an undesirable alteration to a signal which occurs when a piece of equipment is driven with a input level that is too high for its operating level. Sometimes, as in the case of guitar distortion, this can be an intentional and desirable effect.
noise
. It also suits the need for reliability and ruggedness, as dynamics tend to be substantially more robust than other
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphones
types, and they have the added benefit of not requiring a source of electrical power.


Condenser

The heart of a condenser or ‘capacitor’
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphone
is a pair of metal
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
placed in parallel to each other, spaced at a distance of about two hundredths of a millimetre. One
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.
plate
is fixed, and the other is a
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
which is free to move in sympathy with incoming sound waves. When the spacing between the
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
changes, 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
varies - remember those physics classes again! If a polarising voltage is placed across the
CapsuleThe part of a microphone containing the diaphragm which moves or vibrates in response to sound waves.
capsule
, a small electrical signal is then produced which describes the sound wave.

Condenser

The electrical signal produced is much smaller than that of a dynamic
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
mic
, which is why a built-in pre-amplifier is required to bring the signal up to
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
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphone
level – this should not be confused with external
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
mic
pre-amps, which are used to bring
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
mic
level signals up to line level. Because of the built-in pre-amp, and also the requirement for a polarising voltage, condenser mics need a source of electrical power – this normally comes in the form of ‘phantom’ power, which is a back voltage supplied up the cable by the (external)
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
mic
pre-amp, although some cheaper models with pre-polarised
CapsuleThe part of a microphone containing the diaphragm which moves or vibrates in response to sound waves.
capsules
(see ‘Electret’) can also run on batteries. Condenser mics that use valves for their internal pre-amps need a separate power supply, as phantom power can’t supply the necessary
CurrentThe flow of electrons or charge in an electrical device, measured in amperes (amps); defined as the voltage applied divided by the resistance in the circuit.
current
.

Although the condenser has an extended frequency response and should therefore generally sound better than a dynamic, it’s not necessarily the best choice for singing on stage where the difference in quality may not be all that noticeable, but the difference in price might! Extended frequency response can also make condensers more prone to
FeedbackThe phenomenon whereby audio picked up by a microphone or guitar pickup that is then played from a speaker close or loud enough for it to be captured again by the same source. If left the signal will continuously loop, with any resonant frequency causing the undesirable 'howling' sound often heard at concerts.
feedback
. A number of manufacturers do design condensers specifically for stage use though, and these typically have the ruggedness and handling capability of their dynamic counterparts. So for more intimate venues, and when the style of music is more suited to benefiting from the sound quality of a condenser, this might be the best
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphone
type for the job. Condensers are particularly flattering to more delicate female vocals.


Ribbon

Ribbon mics are actually a special case of the dynamic
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
mic
– rather than a
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
attached to a separate
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
, they use a very thin metal ribbon as a
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
. This is suspended between two magnets, and its movement in sympathy with sound waves produces an electrical signal, in much the same way as a regular dynamic. Due to the ribbon’s very low mass however, their high frequency response is more comparable to that of a condenser.

Ribbon

Although they are loved for their warm sound, ribbon mics do have some disadvantages, and so are generally not the first choice for a live
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphone
due to the fragile nature of the design, though companies such as Beyer and Royer produce a number of ribbon
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphones
for stage use. As they are less popular and fewer models of this type of design are available, the cost tends to be higher than an equivalent condenser or dynamic, and they are generally more fragile still than a condenser. As such, they’re only recommended for live use if you absolutely must have that ribbon sound.


Electret

ElectretA capacitor microphone design using a permanently charged capsule to convert sound waves into electrical current, as opposed to a conventional capacitor/condenser microphone that uses an external power source to apply an electrical charge to the capsule.
Electret
mics work on a similar principle to the condenser, the main difference being that the electrical charge is not provided by an external power supply, but rather the
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
mic
itself.
ElectretA capacitor microphone design using a permanently charged capsule to convert sound waves into electrical current, as opposed to a conventional capacitor/condenser microphone that uses an external power source to apply an electrical charge to the capsule.
Electret
mics originally used a
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
made from an insulating material that had a permanent electrical charge. A pre-amplifier was still needed, but this could be built very cheaply and could run from phantom power, or in some cases a battery. Because 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.
diaphragms
had to be quite heavy in order to carry the permanent electrical charge, they offered no real advantage over a dynamic
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
mic
in terms of frequency response or dynamic range, and so the design was improved - the permanently charged material was fixed to the stationary back-plate rather than 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
, hence the term ‘back electret’. In this way, much thinner
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.
diaphragms
could be employed, made of the same metal-coated plastic material as with a true condenser model. This reduced the cost of manufacture and somewhat extended the freedom of
ApplicationSelf-contained program directly performing a specific function. This contrasts with the operating system, server processes and libraries which support application programs. Also used to distinguish programs that communicate via a graphical user interface from those which are executed from the command line.
application
, since
ElectretA capacitor microphone design using a permanently charged capsule to convert sound waves into electrical current, as opposed to a conventional capacitor/condenser microphone that uses an external power source to apply an electrical charge to the capsule.
electret
mics can be very light and small in size. A low voltage supply is still needed for the
AmplifierA device for increasing the power of a signal by taking power from a supply and shaping the output to match the input signal.
amplifier
, but the need for the high voltage polarising source is eliminated, and so
ElectretA capacitor microphone design using a permanently charged capsule to convert sound waves into electrical current, as opposed to a conventional capacitor/condenser microphone that uses an external power source to apply an electrical charge to the capsule.
electrets
usually run on batteries rather than phantom power.

Electret

This type of design is a good compromise, in that it can have the sound quality of a condenser, but is more rugged and cheaper to manufacture. The
ElectretA capacitor microphone design using a permanently charged capsule to convert sound waves into electrical current, as opposed to a conventional capacitor/condenser microphone that uses an external power source to apply an electrical charge to the capsule.
electret
design was originally responsible for making quality vocal
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphones
much cheaper to buy, before manufacturing in the Far East contributed to further price reductions. Their high
SensitivityThe input level (in dB) required by an audio device to drive it to its rated output level.
sensitivity
enables them to usefully capture sound at greater distance, and so they’re often chosen for choirs or orchestras, but they can be equally well used for vocalists on stage.

 

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[Innehåll] [Introduction] [Microphone Designs] [Directional Characteristics] [Understanding Specifications] [FAQ] [Hotdeals] [Conclusion and Feedback]
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