A BROAD OVERVIEW OF MICROPHONE TYPES, FREQUENCY RESPONSE &
My name is Angela Terace Trippe.
I am a singer/songwriter from New York.
I hope you enjoy my presentation
I thank you in advance for your thoughtful review.
This lesson is for week 1 of Introduction To Music
Production at Coursera.org. I will discuss
•Microphone Basics: Types, Frequency Response,
Polar Pattern and Placement tips.
THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF MICROPHONES. FOR THIS LESSON WE
WILL DISCUSS THE FOLLOWING- AS THEY ARE MOST COMMONLY USED FOR
MICROPHONES WILL PROVIDE SPECIFIC AUDIO SIGNALS DEPENDING
UPON HOW IT PICKS UP OR REJECTS CERTAIN FREQUENCIES.
CONSIDER THE SPECIFIC APPLICATION BEFORE CHOOSING A MIC
Dynamic microphones are often used on stage due to
their ruggedness and their ability to provide high gain
without feedback or distortion.
They do not pick up sound coming from other sound
sources such as monitors or other instruments.
Typically hand held, they work well for a focused area
and are used by vocalists or loud instruments in live
Dynamic Microphones are usually low cost, simple to
use. They do not require an additional power source
such as phantom power
They do not have the sensitivity capability that
condenser or ribbon mics have.
Condenser microphones generally have excellent
sonic abilities and are superior at capturing sound
They are an excellent choice for studio recording of
vocals, acoustic instruments and overhead on
They are not typically a good choice for live
performances because they can pick up monitor or
other instrument sound – causing feedback
A medium-large size diaphragm condenser is a good
first choice for any home studio.
They will require a source of power, either phantom
power, 48V or battery power.
When recording vocals a pop filter is necessary.
They are not as durable as dynamic mics and should
have a shock protector to minimize damage and
reduce vibration noise.
Ribbon microphones are the most sensitive of all
microphones. They feature a very thin aluminum
diaphragm that is placed between two magnets,
which causes them to be fragile.
Ribbons do not require Phantom power and will
blow if phantom power is added, unlike a dynamic
They have a good sensitivity to smooth and warm
They are mainly used for guitar amps, strings, and
drum room mics. There is some discussion that
they are great for recording acoustic piano when
Every microphone has a frequency response
and polar pattern. Specifics are included for
each microphone. A chart will be included with
the mic to show where its limitations are
regarding it’s sensitivity to different
Chart will show which frequencies it is
designed to pick up well and which it will
The horizontal line shows frequency in
Hz, the vertical shows response in DB’s.
A higher value means that frequency will
be exaggerated, a lower value means the
frequency is reduced
An ideal "flat" frequency response means
that the microphone is equally sensitive
to all frequencies
A flat frequency response is not always
the best option. In many cases a tailored
frequency response is more useful. Avoid
response patterns which emphasize the
wrong frequencies. For example, a vocal
mic is a poor choice for picking up the
low frequencies of a bass drum.
Polar Patterns will determine what area of the
microphone picks up sound the best and
what areas it rejects.
Directional, Cardiod- heart shaped pattern
will produce focused sound. It doesn’t pick
up behind it. This is a good choice for
specifically capturing one instrument
Omni-Directional- round pattern, picks up
from all areas equally.
Bi-Directional- figure 8 pattern picks up front
and back of mic
Super and Hyper Cardiod- mushroom pattern,
has multiple areas of pick up. This helps you
get more of the sound of the recording
Some microphones allow you to change polar
patterns with a switch.
Proper placement will be determined upon the instrument
you are capturing as well as the acoustics of the
environment you are recording in.
The best tip is to try different placements and let your
ears be the judge. Each instrument and environment will
take on different acoustic colors. Trial and error is the
In regard to what direction to mount the mic- A rule of
thumb is to point the logo of the mic at what you are
This was a great lesson for me because as a
singer/songwriter, keyboardist it is so important to
know everything I can about microphones.
After learning about the frequency response and
polar patterns of microphones, I can clearly see how
I have made mistakes in the past.
Thanks for your review! See you on the forums,