The Difference Between Dynamic Mics & Condenser Mics

Have you ever wondered what the differences are between a dynamic microphone and a condenser microphone?

Each microphone and microphone type is built with a specific end goal in mind, more or less. In other words, each type of microphone has a purpose and will work better in some scenarios versus others.

But these differences can make a huge impact on the quality of recording and it is thus very important to know how and when to use each microphone.

Today we will discuss the difference between dynamic microphones and condenser microphones.

Non-powered Dynamic Microphone

In general, dynamic microphones are a lot more sturdy than condensers but will pick up quite a lot less detail. They are more gain driven and are thus a great idea for live performance as they will usually result in less feedback issues. In other words you can get high gain before feedback happens.

Dynamic Microphone Traits

  • Sturdy but less detailed
  • High gain before feedback
  • Convert sound to electricity

Applications

  • Aggressive applications
  • Toms, snare, kick drum
  • Loud performances
  • Live performances
  • Vocal live performance
  • Shure SM57 (used frequently for recording drums)
  • Sennheiser MD421 (It sounds good on virtually any instrument including vocals, guitar and percussion)

Powered Condenser Microphone

Condenser microphones tend to have a larger body than dynamic mic. They have large side mounted diaphragm and are far more detailed. In general they are better for studio recordings where quality is of the essence but will often lead to feedback issues which is why they are shunned for most live settings.

Condenser Microphone Traits

  • More depth and more quality
  • Need power, also known as phantom power or 48 volts
  • Discover some other good mics

Applications

  • Less aggressive applications
  • Recording vocals in the studio

  • AKG c214
  • Neuman u87

The Difference between a Dynamic and Condenser Microphone

When it comes time to decide between which type of microphone to use, whether it is a condenser or a dynamic one, it largely depends on the sound source as well as the environment within which the sound is being recorded.

For example, if you are planning on recording in a harsh environment with a lot of sound such as a club or another live venue, a dynamic microphone would be the way to go.

For a more controlled scenario such as a concert hall, a theater, or more commonly a studio, a condenser microphone is preferred and will do the job better in these cases. This is especially true for any scenario where extreme detail in the recording is a requirement.