Condenser microphone vs dynamic: What’s the difference?

Many peope have a question about the difference between condenser microphone vs dynamic. In fact, the difference between dynamic and condenser microphones is all about the difference in transducer type which allows the microphone to convert energy from one form (acoustic or kinetic energy) to another (electrical energy).

What is the transducer type?

In general, there are three transducer types related to microphones: condenser, dynamic, and ribbon transducers. Under most circumstances, dynamic and condenser microphones are choices, while ribbon microphones which are also excellent in sound quality, are too expensive for daily use.

Condenser mics vs dynamic: How do they work?

Condenser Microphone

Condenser microphones run based on the vibration between a lightweight membrane (known as the diaphragm) and a charged backplate which then creates electrical output.

Features
Condenser microphones are most commonly found in studios. They pick up sounds with great details and high accuracy. With a smooth frequency response and a larger frequency range, they have the ability to reproduce clear, detailed sound with crisper highs. However, they are not well suited to extremely hot or humid conditions.

Applications
Condenser microphones are best used to capture vocals and high frequencies. They produce a clarity of voice and furthermore give the voice both warmth and presence.
They are also excellent for field recording. The sensitivity higher and the frequency response flatter than dynamic microphones make them suited to catching detailed audio.
SYNCO Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone V10Dynamic Microphone

Unlike condensers, dynamic mics use a wire coil inside the microphone to amplify signal picked up by the diaphragm. When sound vibrates the diaphragm, the coil vibrates and produces an electrical signal.

Features
Compared to condenser microphones, dynamic microphones are much more rugged. They're believed to stay resistant to heat and humidity. With limited frequency response, they are able to withstand high sound pressure levels and capture signal that is already very strong.

Applications
Dynamic microphones are well suited to recording general vocals that have no necessary needs of accurate and smooth reproduction, such as interviews, hosting, and live performance venues. They are also good for recording very loud items like drums and explosions.

Condenser vs dynamic: What really matters when choosing a microphone?

If the said information makes you confused, ignore it. Basically speaking, you really have no need to know how your mic is built. What you need to care about is how it sounds to you. This would be a result of the polar pattern, frequency response and more factors.

Polar pattern

Polar pattern simply defines a microphone’s inherent directionality. In more specific terms, polar pattern refers to the sensitivity of any given microphone to sounds arriving from different directions, to its central axis. There are several types of polar pattern.

  • Directional: It is a collection of three polar patterns, including the cardioid, hyper-cardioid, and super-cardioid polar patterns. The cardioid polar pattern is the most common type. It is best used when there is a need to focus on one sound source, simultaneously reducing the capture from the sides and rear. A simple example of this would be a vocalist on stage, giving a live performance with a handheld microphone.
  • Omnidirectional: Omnidirectional microphones pick up sound from all directions with equal volume and clarity, resulting in an incredibly natural and realistic audio recording. Typically, omnidirectional microphones include lavaliers and headsets, as they allow the talent to move their head naturally without lowering the overall quality of sound. Omni microphones are good for the recording situation where there is no need of sound isolation, such as the interviews when more than one sounds need to be caught and sound isolation is not a factor.

Frequency response

Frequency response is about the range of frequencies that a microphone can reproduce. It plays the most significant role in determining the sound signature of a microphone. Here are two most common types of response - flat response and shaped response. 

  • A flat response microphone has equal sensitivity to all frequency ranges. It is expected to reproduce the sound source accurately with little or no difference from the original sound. It is a good choice if you are recording musical instruments or sound effects.
  • A shaped response microphone is more sensitive to certain frequency ranges. Microphones that have a shaped response always show less sensitivity to low frequencies, which then would reduce the capture pf both handing noise and rumbles from the stage when the microphone is mounted on a stand.
In some microphones, frequency response is adjustable so that the microphones can get adapted to more applications. Usually, there would be a low-frequency filter to decrease pickup of room rumbles and a boost in the upper mid-range to enhance voice intelligently.


Other Factors

In addition to condenser vs dynamic, polar pattern, and frequency response, here are some other factors to consider when a microphone is the want.

Impedance
Impedance is a measure of a microphone's resistance. Generally speaking, microphones can be divided into low (50-1,000 ohms), medium (5,000-15,000 ohms), and high (20,000+ ohms) impedance. It is the indicator to see how the microphone responds to noise and frequency. For example, higher resistance in a microphone allows hum and reduces high frequencies, making the recording sound noisy, or thin.

Sound pressure level (SPL)
Sound pressure level, also known as acoustic pressure level, indicates the sound intensity a microphone can handle without distorting. It always comes in the form of Max. SPL to show the largest extent the mic can withstand. In general, a spec of 120dB or greater is preferable. For podcasters with an intention to mike loud instruments, such as brass or drums, microphones with a greater maximum SPL would be recommended.

Self-noise
Also known as equivalent noise level, the self-noise refers to the electrical noise or hiss a microphone produces itself. In general, a self-noise specification of 28dB and lower is acceptable for quality recording.

Signal to noise ratio (S/N)
This is the difference (in dB) between a microphone’s sensitivity and the equivalent noise level. 64dB and higher is good.

Some recommendations

Here are comparisons between the best-selling SYNCO microphones by the said main factors. Hope to help you to make a right decision.

Item

SYNCO G1(A2)

SYNCO D30

SYNCO TS Mini

SYNCO V10

Polar pattern

Omnidirectional

Supercardioid

Omnidirectional

Hypercardioid

Frequency response

50Hz-20KHz

20Hz- 20KHz

20Hz-20KHz

40Hz-18KHz

Impedance

N/A

16Ω 

N/A

600Ω±20%

Max. SPL

135dB

124dB

N/A

130dB

Self-noise

N/A

N/A

N/A

14dB(A)

S/N

N/A

82dB

88dB

82dB

Application

For dialogue, interviews, and speech with two people talking simultaneously

For video content creators, run-and-gun filmmakers, voiceover artists, and podcasters

To record dialogue, interviews, and speech with one person talking

To capture sounds of musical instruments (drums and guitars) and vocals (chorus)

Price

USD199

USD179

USD129

USD189