Page 1 of 1

Microphones - and common scams with these

Posted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 3:29 pm
by superphool
A Good microphone is possibly the single most critical part of a good audio recording system.

There are a number of basic types, functioning in different ways - dynamic, ribbon, condenser and electret to name some of the most common ones.

However unscrupulous sellers often deliberately mislead non-technical buyers by listing electret microphones as "condenser" types. This is not technically wrong as the full name for an electret mic is "electret condenser" - but to an audio professional a Condenser microphone is a very different thing.

Even some big name companies deliberately avoid using the word "electret" even though that's obviously what the microphone is - eg. saying it is "permanently polarised" - which is what an electret material is.

This is a typical electret microphone capsule - costing from a few pence to a few pounds or dollars, depending on size and quality:

This, for comparison, is a true condenser microphone capsule - costing typically from tens to hundreds of pounds/dollars:

True condenser microphones are in general rather higher quality than electret types, with better frequency response and, with higher end ones, much lower noise levels.

A true "Studio condenser" type microphone is a high quality instrument with excellent frequency response and very low inherent noise level. Examples are the Neumann U87, one of the classic professional studio mics, or the almost as good MXL V87 at a fraction the price.

In contrast, the commonest scam microphones sold as "studio condenser" consist of an average and rather variable quality small electret capsule in a large casing to make them look more like high-end mics.
These are sold under such names as NW700, NW800, BM700, BM800 and likey many other names.

For more information on these and how to make them work properly, see the article relating to these specific microphones in the Home Studio > Microphones category.

Some example microphones in the photo below - the second from the left is an NW700 as mentioned above, then an MXL V87 in the centre and a Shure SM58 next to that.
There is not a massive visible difference between the NW700 and V87 - but there is no comparison in quality and background noise levels.