In this article, we’ll break down the characteristics of a dynamic microphone.
In audio recording, there are two main types of microphone. They are: ‘dynamic’ and ‘condenser‘ microphones. Whilst there are other types of microphone that exist, such as ‘ribbon‘ mics for instance, dynamic and condenser microphones are by far the most common.
Whilst dynamic microphones are the go-to option in live sound, they also play an important role in the recording studio.
The sound characteristics of dynamic microphones:
Dynamic microphones don’t capture the high-end of the frequency spectrum as well as condenser microphones do. Nor do they have as quick of a transient response. As such, a dynamic microphone will not capture a signal as transparently or accurately as a condenser mic. Instead, dynamic microphones are considered to have an aggressive and gritty sound. Whilst describing a microphone as being less accurate may seem like a negative description, it really isn’t. There are plenty of applications where using a mic which is less transparent will not leave the sound that you capture lacking. In fact, on some sound sources, you may even find the aggressive quality of a dynamic microphone preferable to the highly accurate sound of a condenser mic.
In addition to having a roll off in the high-end, many dynamic microphones have a roll off in the low-end as well. However, there are dynamic mics which are specifically manufactured to be used on bassy sounds (such as the AKG D112). These mics are designed for recording things like kick drums and bass amps. As such, these mics have less or no low-end roll off. In fact, many examples of this type of mic actually have a boost in the low-end alongside other boosts and dips in their frequency response which are complementary when capturing sound sources which produce a lot of low-end frequency content.
Dynamic microphones can handle high sound pressure levels:
Where a dynamic microphone really excels, is in its ability to cope with very high sound pressure levels. This makes them perfect when recording very loud instruments such as guitar amps, kick drums, snare drums and even some very loud singers. The output level of a dynamic microphone is typically lower than that of a condenser mic.
Dynamic microphones are tough and durable:
The final characteristic which differentiates dynamic microphones from condenser microphones, is the fact that they’re incredibly tough and durable. A drummer accidentally hitting a dynamic microphone with a stick is not likely to cause damage. We cannot say the same about condenser mics.
Do you use a dynamic microphone in your home studio? If so, what do you use it for? Leave your feedback in the comment section below.