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Thomann's Cool Online Guides: Large Diaphragm Microphones

11. FAQ

On this page you can find frequently asked questions on large diaphragm microphones.

 


Which is better for miking acoustic guitar – a large diaphragm or a small diaphragm condenser?

It depends. A small diaphragm condenser is more likely to capture the natural sound of your guitar, a large diaphragm condenser will give a more voluminous and „bigger“ sound. Not every large diaphragm condenser works well on any acoustic guitar. LD condensers are mostly geared toward vocal recording. Small diaphragm condensers are usually more linear and work well on many sources.

Which is more important for noisefree recordings – high output/sensitivity or low self-noise?

A low self-noise figure is more important than high sensitivity. High sensitivity only improves actual noise performance when you use a noisy mic preamp. Sensitivity on condenser mics is almost always high enough to be a non-issue. High sensitivity is desirable for dynamic mics, though.

Yesterday my new LD condenser worked fine, but today my voice sounds dull and distant. What’s wrong?

Most probably you just used it the wrong way (don’t worry, that happens all the time). LD condensers are side addressed, but that doesn’t mean that both sides are equal! Most mics have a cardioid pattern, which means they are sensitive to sound from the front and reject sound coming from the rear. The front side of the mic is usually where the manufacturer logo is. If you reverse it and the backside faces the singer, what the mic pics up is mostly room reflections, hence the dull and distant sound. Just turn the mic around so the front faces the singer, and everything’s fine again :-)

My large diaphragm mic makes strange “crumbling” noises.

That’s probably due to high humidity. Place the mic below a desk lamp for a few hours; the warmth of the light bulb will evaporate the humidity and the noises will disappear.

When I blow into the mic, it goes silent for several minutes.

Please, never ever blow into a mic! Condenser mics are very sensitive to both air blasts and humidity and can be damaged permanently. Studio microphones are not as rugged as stage microphones.

People always talk about LD condensers – what about dynamic large diaphragm microphones?

Many dynamic moving coil microphones do in fact have a large diaphragm. However, people hardy ever talk about diaphragm size when it comes to dynamic microphones, probably because the actual diaphragm is often hard to see. Usually there’s a lot of protective foam and other stuff in front of the actual diaphragm. Plus, many moving coil microphones use diaphragms that are somewhere between large and small diaphragm size.
If you’re looking for a dynamic mic as a sound alternative to a LD condenser, take a look at announcer microphones for broadcast use. Mics like the EV RE20, RE27 or Shure SM7 are often used for typical large diaphragm applications such as rock or rap vocals. Some ribbon microphones, too, give a “large diaphragm sound”.

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Large Diaphragm Microphones overview

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