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3.4 Large and Small Diaphragm Microphones

Everyone wants to record with one of those large, fancy studio mics, but great recordings can be made with a small diaphragm condenser too. In this lesson you will learn about the differences, and hear some examples of how good, inexpensive condensers can sound.

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3.4 Large and Small Diaphragm Microphones

Everyone wants to use one of those large, fancy studio microphones to record with, but great recordings can be made with a small diaphragm condenser, too. In this lesson, you will learn about the differences and hear some examples of how good inexpensive condensers can sound. If you're not familiar with microphones, you might be wondering what the difference is between a large diaphragm condenser and a small diaphragm condenser. Essentially it comes down to how the mass of the microphone element affects the frequency response of the microphone. Because a large diaphragm is larger, it can have a higher signal output, a lower frequency response, and sound beefier when you are trying to take advantage of proximity effect. They also tend to have more off access coloration compared to a small diaphragm condenser. This means that the high frequency response rolls off, as you move away from the center access of the microphone. This roll off can actually be useful for taming sibilance and mouth noises as you will learn in an upcoming lesson. Small diaphragm mics are more accurate, and have less of that off access coloration because of the smaller mass, they can respond faster to changes. So they're said to capture transience better than large diaphragm mics. With all of that said, these differences are subtle. And what looks like a big difference on paper, can be almost imperceivable to the ear. Also, microphone design can change the way a microphone behaves. The main thing to take away here is that there are differences in microphones, but they can be very subtle. The best way to get a feel for what works is to try out a few microphones. Let's check out an example of what a large and small diaphragm condenser sound like. In this first example, you are hearing the AKG C-3000 B Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone. Audio recording is simply the capturing of a sound source, the conversion from analog to digital information, and the storage of that information. In this example you are hearing a MXL 991 Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone. Audio recording is simply the capturing of a sound source, the conversion of analog to digital information, and the storage of that information. In this example, you're hearing a Sennheiser K6/ME66 Shotgun Microphone. For this example, I'm positioned about 12 inches away, where previously, I was positioned about 8 inches away from the microphone. Audio recording is simply the capturing of a sound source. The conversion from analog to digital information, and the storage of that information. In this example, I am using the Shure SM58 Dynamic Hand Held Microphone. Because this microphone is a dynamic microphone, it has considerable less output then all of the other microphones that you've heard. Because of the lower output I've had to turn the gain on my preamp almost all the way up. Audio recording is simply the capturing of a sound source. The conversion from analogue to digital information in a storage of that information. It's hard to make specific recommendations because some voices will sound better with a particular microphone. If I were to buy another microphone, I would look for a large diaphragm condenser, with a high output, low self noise and a flatter frequency response. I probably wouldn't spend more than a few hundred bucks on it as there are a lot of great microphones in this price range. I also would not hesitate to get a small diaphragm condenser if there was a good deal on one. We've covered a lot of ground with microphones. And in the next lesson, you're going to learn about some of the accessories you're gonna need to set up these microphones properly.

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