What's the difference between Dynamic, Condenser, and Ribbon microphones?

What is it about the microphones that make them so different? Is it the construction? How they are wired? What is it. I need to buy a studio quality mic sometime so it would be helpful to understand everything I can about these mics.

I already know that I would need a piece of fabric in front of a condenser mic if I were to sing into it.

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  • 9 years ago
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    You probably want a condenser microphone for studio recording. As a general mic, I like the Shure KSM 44 (or 32, as they're very similar). It's clear, affordable, and durable.

    The basic differences in practice:

    - Dynamic mics are tough but not as sensitive. They don't require phantom power (i.e., power from the preamp). The venerable stage mic from Shure, the SM58, is a dynamic microphone.

    - Condenser mics are more sensitive, are less tough, and require phantom power.

    - Ribbon mics are not as commonly used and are fragile. I wouldn't recommend one as your main or first mic.

    Shure publishes excellent stuff about all things audio-related. Here's their "Microphone Techniques for Recording" booklet—read it:

    http://www.shure.com/idc/groups/public/documents/w...

    From the source link below:

    Dynamic:

    Principle: sound moves the cone and the attached coil of wire moves in the field of a magnet. The generator effect produces a voltage which "images" the sound pressure variation - characterized as a pressure microphone.

    Condenser:

    Principle: sound pressure changes the spacing between a thin metallic membrane and the stationary back plate. The plates are charged to a total charge.

    Ribbon:

    Principle: the air movement associated with the sound moves the metallic ribbon in the magnetic field, generating an imaging voltage between the ends of the ribbon which is proportional to the velocity of the ribbon - characterized as a "velocity" microphone.

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