Condenser vs Dynamic: Which Microphone Is Which?

When it comes to microphones you need to make sure it’s the perfect one for your recording sessions. Whether it’s live performances or you’re recording vocals, a great microphone can make all the difference.

It’s like having the right tool for the right job. If you use the wrong mic you’re trying to hammer your plumbing in. The most common debate musicians come across is whether to use condenser microphones or dynamic microphones.

condenser vs dynamic

If you’re in a fix yourself you’ve come to the right place. Let’s settle the battle once and for all, condenser vs dynamic. May the best microphone win.

The Function of Microphones

Ribbon microphones, capacitor microphones, or any other microphone you can think of. All serve the same purpose. They will convert sound waves.

Whether you use your voice or your acoustic guitars all these noises will be converted to soundwaves for the computer to process. Some of these are delicate sounds and others are produced over rather high frequencies.

Your final goal is to process them over the computer to play them later. Microphones serve precisely this purpose.

The Two Different Microphones

The key differences between the two microphones come from their assembly. And before we go on to figure out which one’s better let’s go over the assembly of both microphones.

TASCAM Compact 8-Track Digital Pocketstudio Multitrack Recorder (DP-008EX)
  • Two tracks simultaneous recording/ eight tracks simultaneous playback
  • CD-quality recording (44.1kHz/16-bit)
  • Dedicated stereo master track available
  • 2 Built-in omni-directional condenser microphones
  • Microphone sensitivity can be selected from 2-positions (Low/High)

Construction of Dynamic Mics

The dynamic mic uses a diaphragm, moving coil, and magnet assembly. When you speak the microphone the diaphragm moves closer to the wire coil. The coil will vibrate in response to this disturbance. Finally, a magnetic field will form around a permanent magnet.

This is a basic assembly and won’t cost you too much as well.

Construction of Condenser Mics

A condenser mic is a sound-sensitive capacitor system. There’s a little bit of mechanics behind this capacitor.

A thin plastic diaphragm coated with a layer of thin metal over it is the basic machinery of the condenser microphones. This plate is right in front of the backplate.

After going over the general assembly there are a few things that set these mics apart.

Dynamic and Condenser Microphones, Which is Reliable?

Generally, dynamic microphones and condenser microphones are both pretty delicate. Since they’re built for use in studios they won’t be able to survive the wear and tear of a road trip.

However, between the two, condenser microphones are slightly more durable than dynamic microphones. Since dynamic microphones are heavier, you might want to watch the bass.

Whereas, the lightweight condenser system will let you enjoy all those intense beat drops with a durability guaranteed.

Do Dynamic Microphones Need a Power Supply?

Believe it or not, most dynamic microphones can work without a power source. There are a few exceptions to this rule, however.

But with condenser microphones, you’ll always need to find a power supply. These always come with inlets labeled 4V or 8V for example.

The Case of Phantom Power

This is phantom power which allows DC supply without having to carry an external source. To put it simply, this is the amount your diaphragm needs to move. It’s going to vary depending on whether you use a condenser microphone or a dynamic microphone.

Which One’s Louder? Dynamic Mic Vs. Condenser Mic

This one’s a total myth. Not one mic produces louder sounds than the other. Both these mics are built to handle loud sounds. The only thing that varies is sensitivity.

Condenser microphones have higher sensitivity, while dynamic microphones have somewhat low sensitivity.

The difference with increased sensitivity comes into play depending upon the nature of use.

TASCAM Compact 8-Track Digital Pocketstudio Multitrack Recorder (DP-008EX)
  • Two tracks simultaneous recording/ eight tracks simultaneous playback
  • CD-quality recording (44.1kHz/16-bit)
  • Dedicated stereo master track available
  • 2 Built-in omni-directional condenser microphones
  • Microphone sensitivity can be selected from 2-positions (Low/High)

High Sound Pressure Levels

Generally, a condenser microphone is a superior choice for people looking for a microphone that can handle high SPL. What matters is whether the mic preamp will be able to take the intensity your microphone produces.

Depending upon the magnitude of sound being produced, the real question here is, do the signals need to be altered for your preamp or will it survive?

Which One’s Cheaper? Dynamic Vs Condenser

You’ll find cheap versions for both types of microphones. But why do you want a cheap microphone?

A cheap microphone will not last as long as a good quality mic would. If you want to reduce the equipment cost for dynamic mics or condenser mics, we recommend you don’t go for a cheaper version.

The trade-off of sound quality to price is not worth it.

Dynamic Microphones are Cheaper. Myth

The word on the street is that a dynamic microphone will cost a lot less than most condenser mics. This claim is completely untrue.

When it comes to getting the best value the choice boils down to a few things. If you do your research right you can get a mic that meets all your needs without costing you a fortune.

Other Microphones

Ribbon Microphones

Ribbon mics are extremely fragile. This is because their diaphragm is made of aluminum. Other than that they’re pretty much the same as dynamic mics.

Boundary Microphones

These kinds of microphones are a variation of condenser mics. The major difference is that they also transmit sound bouncing off other surfaces like walls.

They are ideal for use when you’re recording with multiple instruments.

Large and Small Diaphragm

The choice of diaphragm size is common with most dynamic microphones. A dynamic microphone with a larger diaphragm will catch sounds of lower frequencies. Dynamics with smaller diaphragms accurately capture higher frequencies.

The final decision will depend on how you want to use your mic.

Final Thoughts

All things considered, deciding on the best mic for you depends on your needs. Do you want to record group sessions or have a solo session to record vocals?

Answer these questions first. The second order of business is doing all your research. That’s the rule of shopping. Before you make any sort of purchase make sure you know all there is to know about it. The same thing applies to microphones.

Condenser Microphone or Dynamic Microphone: Final Verdict

Our final verdict is that one isn’t superior to the other. Each has its perks and its downsides as well. But all things considered, the only thing you’ll want to ask yourself is why are you buying a microphone.