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2. How does a condenser microphone work?

A condenser microphone is actually a pretty complex device. An ultra-thin gold sputtered foil is mounted in front of a solid metal disk, so close they – almost – touch. The metallized foil is the diaphragm, the solid metal disk is what is called the back electrode; together they form a capacitor. Condenser is another word for capacitor; sometimes condenser mics are called “capacitor microphones.” As you may remember from physics class, a capacitor is nothing but two metal surfaces facing each other. A capacitor can store a small amount of electrical energy. The amount of this “capacitance” is proportional not only to the size of the capacitor but also to the proximity of the two plates. The closer they are, the higher the capacitance. This leads us back to the condenser capsule: When sound hits the thin gold sputtered diaphragm, it moves to the rhythm of the soundwaves. The solid back electrode, however, does not move. What we have, therefore, is a relative movement between diaphragm and back electrode. Which means the capsule/capacitor changes its capacitance as a result of the soundwaves that hit the diaphragm. Acoustic energy is transformed into an electrical signal! The really cool thing about condenser microphones is that the diaphragm has very low mass. The ultra-thin metallized foil weighs much less and thus moves more quickly than the thicker diaphragm of a dynamic microphone with its heavy moving coil affixed to it.

A condenser mic can follow the rhythm of the soundwaves more accurately than dynamic mics. As a result, condensers sound more natural and transparent.

But the capsule signal is not yet ready for a microphone preamp. The capsule’s rhythmically changing capacitance must be translated into a rhythmically changing voltage, and this voltage signal must be amplified and transformed into a low 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 preamp or mixer via the normal 3-pin XLR cables you would use for dynamic mics, too. Almost all 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 microphone inputs; most external preamps have separate switches for each input. For sonic reasons, some condenser mics use tubes as amplifying devices. Tubes require very high voltages that normal phantom power cannot supply. These tube condenser microphones, therefore, must be powered by a dedicated power supply (which usually is included in the purchase).

By the way: The condenser microphone was invented by Georg Neumann, the founder of the 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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Large Diaphragm Microphones översikt

Alesis Vortex Wireless 2 Alesis Surge Mesh Kit Adam T5V Subpac M2X Roland R-07 black Yamaha Stagepas 600BT Arturia Minibrute 2 Focal Listen Professional Heritage Audio HA-73 EQ Elite Focal Shape Twin Sound Devices MixPre-3 Yamaha Stagepas 400BT
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Alesis Vortex Wireless 2

Alesis Vortex Wireless 2; USB/MIDI Keytar Controller with Accelerometer; Portable Performance Keyboard with Shoulder Strap, 37 touch sensitive keys with aftertouch; Eight touch sensitive RGB illuminated Performance Pads, Eight illuminated faders for volume or parameter control; Programmable tilt sensor with...

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Alesis Surge Mesh Kit

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Adam T5V

Active Nearfield Monitor Equipped with: 5" woofer and 1.9" U-ART ribbon tweeter, 2x Class-D amplifiers: 50W RMS woofer, 20W RMS tweeter, Frequency range: 45 - 25000 Hz, Crossover frequency: 3 kHz, Maximum input level: 106 dB (1m/pair), Rear bass...

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Subpac M2X

Subpac M2X, Mobile tactile bass system, SubPac adds real depth, connection and enjoyment to whatever you play through it - your music and media comes to life with the added dimension of physical bass. Frequency Response: 1hz-200hz, Wired Input: 3.5mm...

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Roland R-07 black

Portable MP3 / WAV Recorder with Bluetooth Functionality Stereo recordings up to 24 Bit / 96 kHz in WAV format or up to 396 kbps in MP3 format on microSD / SDHC card, Built-in stereo microphone, Integrated hybrid limiter,...

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Yamaha Stagepas 600BT

Mini-PA System with Bluetooth Function Consisting of 2x passive 2-way boxes and 10-channel power mixers, Power mixers and speaker cables can be stored in the boxes for transportation, Successor of the Stagepas 600i, Including 2 speaker cables, each 6...

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Arturia Minibrute 2

Arturia Minibrute 2; analog semi-modular Synthesizer; Combination of classic and modular Synthesizer; 25 note Keyboard with Aftertouch; Brute-Oscillator; Steiner-Parker-Filter; additional Loop-Envelope; linear FM; Hardsync; two free assignable LFOs; integrated Step Sequencer; Arpeggiator; 48 point Patchbay; Pitch- and Modulation Wheel; Connections:...

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Focal Listen Professional

Headphones Closed, Circumaural, Conversion technology for acoustic transparency and dynamics, Impedance: 32 ohms, Sensitivity (@ 1 kHz - / 1 Vrms): 122 dB SPL, THD (THD, @ 1 kHz / 100 dB SPL): 0.3%, Frequency range: 5 Hz to...

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Heritage Audio HA-73 EQ Elite

Heritage Audio HA-73 EQ Elite; 1-Channel Mic-Preamp wit EQ; based on the 1073; hand wound Carnhill Transformers; 3 stage fully discrete class A mic preamp; max. Gain: 80 dB Mic and 50 dB Line; -20 dB Pad; LO-Z switches the...

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Focal Shape Twin

Active Near Field Monitor Tweeter with low directivity for flexible listening position, Closed design with two passive membranes for easy installation near the wall, 2.5-Way concept for optimal control of the bass and lower mids, Optimal integration through extensive...

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Sound Devices MixPre-3

Sound Devices MixPre-3; portable audio recorder with USB audio interface; 5 tracks: stereo mix + 3 isolated tracks; Kashmir microphone preamp with 76db gain; equivalent Input Noise: 128dBu max (A-weighting, gain=76dB, 150 Ohm source impedance); limiter per channel; low cut...

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Yamaha Stagepas 400BT

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