It is the microphone that collects the source sound and converts it to an electrical signal. There are two broad categories of microphone for stage use - dynamic microphones, and condenser microphones. (See also our Online Guide to stage vocal microphones.)
Dynamic microphones are equipped with moving coils that vibrate in response to sound waves, creating a pulse that is converted to an electrical signal. They are usually pretty robust and are widely used for vocals, acoustic instruments and general stage work.
Condenser microphones employ electrostatic technology, with a diaphragm that forms one plate of a capacitor. The sound waves move the diaphragm and a signal is created. Condenser microphones require a source of power to make the capacitor work, and to deliver a strong signal to the mixer. Mixers are usually equipped with channels that provide the necessary phantom power, and sometimes the microphones themselves can run on batteries. Condenser microphones are generally highly sensitive and can deliver superb sound, making them particularly suitable for studios, but they must be used with care in stage settings as they are fundamentally more delicate, and also tend to be more prone to feedback.
Most microphones in popular use are based on condenser or dynamic technology, whether they are handheld, stand-mounted, wired or wireless, or mounted on headsets. In our online store, youll find them organised according to their preferred use - vocals, instrument amplification, wireless, headsets, ambient microphones and large diaphragm microphones. Large diaphragm models are most often found in studios, but many sound professionals now use them for miking up instruments on stage too.