Although all microphones fulfill the same basic function of converting sounds into audio signals, they do so in different ways and for different purposes. Good audio requires that you know how to choose the right microphone for a specific sound pickup - not an easy task when faced with the number of microphones available. This presentation will help you make sense of the different microphones by classifying them by how well they hear, how they are made, and how they are generally used.
Not all microphones hear sounds in the same way. Some are built to hear sounds from all directions equally well; others favor sounds that come from a specific direction. The directional characteristic - the zone within which a microphone can hear well - is specified by its pickup pattern. The omnidirectional microphone hears equally well from all directions. The unidirectional microphone favors sounds that are in front of it. Its pickup pattern is heart-shaped, hence the term cardioid. The hypercardioid pickup pattern is narrower than the cardioid and has a longer reach. Hypercardioid microphones can also hear sounds coming from behind them.
The dynamic microphone is the most rugged. It can withstand occasional rough handling, extreme temperatures and all kinds of weather. You can work with the dynamic microphone close to extremely loud sounds without damaging it or distorting the sound too much. The dynamic microphone is the best option for field interviews.
The condenser microphone is much more sensitive to physical shock and temperature. Condenser microphones produce higher-quality sounds. Condenser microphones are generally used for critical sound pickup indoors, but they are also used in the field. They are especially prominent in music recording. Condenser microphones need a power supply to activate the sound-generating device inside the microphones and to amplify the electrical signal before it leaves the microphones.
The ribbon microphone is ideal for recording voice-over narration, piano, and a variety of brass, woodwind, and string instruments. Ribbon microphones are used for critical music pickup for television and are normally used for recording acoustic string instruments. For normal video work, however, ribbon microphones are just too sensitive. A loud sound burst close to the microphones can put it out of commission.
Now that you know the basic types of microphones, you need to know how to use them effectively. Microphones placement is extremely important. Even the most sophisticated and expensive microphones will not guarantee good sound unless they are placed in optimal pickup positions. In video production, microphones are identified by the way they are used. The lavalier microphone, or “lav” for short, is usually clipped to clothing, such as the lapel of a jacket or the front of a shirt, 6 to 8 inches below the chin. The lav is a very small, rugged, usually omnidirectional microphone (dynamic or condenser) that is used principally for voice pickup. The quality of even the smallest lav, which is about the size of a fingernail, is amazingly good. Although it is primarily intended for voice pickup, you can also use the lavalier for music. Sound technicians have used the lav successfully taped to violins and string basses. The combination of small size, ruggedness, and high quality has made the lavalier indispensable in video production.
As the name implies, hand microphones are handled by the talent. You select a hand microphone for situations in which the talent needs to exercise some control over the sound pickup. Hand microphones are handled by the talent and are used in situations when the talent needs to exercise some control over the sound pickup. A reporter can move a hand microphone closer to his or her mouth and can also point it toward the person he or she is interviewing. A singer can control the intimacy or emphasize the richness of the sound (its presence) of his/her voice by holding the unidirectional hand microphones very close to his or her mouth during an especially soft passage and pulling it farther away when the song gets louder and more external.
Whenever the microphone is to be kept out of the picture, it is usually suspended from a fishpole or big boom. Whatever microphone is suspended from such a device is called a boom microphone. Because the boom microphone is usually farther away from its sound source, hypercardioid or supercardioid shotgun microphones are used. As you recall, such highly directional microphones can pick up sounds over a fairly great distance and make them seem to come from close by. You can aim the microphone toward the principal sound source while eliminating or greatly reducing all other sounds that lie outside its narrow pickup pattern.
This presentation covered the directional characteristics of microphones, how microphones are made and how they are used. Using the right kind of microphone comes down to the type of production and what kind of audio needs to be recorded. I hope this presentation gave you some insight on audio recording and what microphones to use and when.
The images used for this presentation came from Cengage Learning and Flickr. For whatever reason, when viewing on SlideShare, only one link is active. If you download this presentation, all the links should work properly.
By: Andrew KurillaBy: Andrew Kurilla
How Well TheyHow Well They HearHear
How They AreHow They Are MadeMade
How They AreHow They Are UsedUsed
equally well from all directions.
UnidirectionalUnidirectional favors sounds
in front of it. They have a heart-shaped
pickup pattern, hence the term cardioidcardioid.
HypercardioidHypercardioid have a narrow, longer
reach. They also hear sounds coming from behind.
How MicrophonesHow Microphones HearHear
How Microphones AreHow Microphones Are MadeMade:: DynamicDynamic MicrophonesMicrophones
• the most rugged
• can withstand rough handling and extreme temperatures
• extremely loud sounds won’t damage it or distort the sound too much
• best option for field interviews
How Microphones AreHow Microphones Are MadeMade:: CondenserCondenser MicrophonesMicrophones
• more sensitive to physical shock and temperature
• produce higher-quality sounds
• prominent in music recording
• need a power supply
How Microphones AreHow Microphones Are MadeMade:: RibbonRibbon MicrophonesMicrophones
• ideal for recording voice-over narration, piano,
and a variety of brass, woodwind, and string
• critical music pickup for television
• normally used for recording acoustic string
• too sensitive for normal video work
• usually clipped to clothing
• very small and rugged
• used principally for voice pickup
• can be the size of a fingernail
• can be taped to musical instruments
• indispensable in video production
UsingUsing aa Lavalier “Lav”Lavalier “Lav” MicrophoneMicrophone
UsingUsing aa Hand “Handheld”Hand “Handheld” MicrophoneMicrophone
• are handled by the talent
• used to have some extra control over the
• a reporter can move a hand microphone
closer to his or her mouth and can also
point it toward the person he or she is
• a singer can control the intimacy or
emphasize the richness of the sound (its
presence) of his/her voice
UsingUsing aa BoomBoom MicrophoneMicrophone
• Usually a hypercardioid mic
• pick up sounds from fairly great
• Makes sounds to seem to come from
• Eliminate or reduce all sounds that lie
outside its narrow pickup pattern.
are madeare made
ribbon are usedare used
You Just Learned How Microphones:
Flickr. (2013). Ribbon Microphone. [Image]. Retrieved from http://farm1.staticflickr.com/126/365558376_64a22c1971_z.jpg
Flickr. (2013). Lavalier Microphone. [Image]. Retrieved from http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5489/9189633393_cbb679915d_c.jpg
Flickr. (2013). Hand Microphone. [Image]. Retrieved from http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8035/7933247542_c1ee56e4f0_z.jpg
Flickr. (2013). Dynamic Microphone. [Image]. Retrieved from http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2300/1587931470_602488decb_z.jpg
Flickr. (2013). Condenser Microphone. [Image]. Retrieved from http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3152/3015180806_13fcfda6d2_z.jpg
Flickr. (2013). Boom Microphone. [Image]. Retrieved from http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1351/5177635128_bedffdc8de_z.jpg
Cengage Learning. (2011). Hypercardioid Pick Up Pattern. [Image]. Image courtesy of Cengage Learning
Cengage Learning. (2011). Omnidirectional Pick Up Pattern. [Image]. Image courtesy of Cengage Learning
Cengage Learning. (2011). Unidirectional Pick Up Pattern. [Image]. Image courtesy of Cengage Learning