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What Is a Dynamic Microphone? How do they work? (Answered)

I often get asked what a dynamic microphone is. In this post, I will answer this question and explain more about their type and how they work.

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A dynamic microphone is an excellent option if you need something that can be used for various purposes, is easy to maintain, and is built to last. The best dynamic microphones capture clear recordings of drums, electric guitars, and acoustic guitars, making them popular with singers, podcasters, and voiceover artists. But what is a dynamic microphone, and how do they work?

In this article, we’ll talk about dynamic microphones, their benefits, and what they can do to improve your audio recordings.

Image of a black colored dynamic microphone. Source: pixabay
Image of a black colored dynamic microphone. Source: Pixabay

What is a dynamic microphone? A dynamic microphone is an audio transducer that changes mechanical wave energy from sound into electrical energy. It does this by using an electrically conductive moving diaphragm and a magnet.

What is a dynamic microphone?

Dynamic microphones use electromagnetism to transform sound waves into electrical impulses. A dynamic microphone may either be a moving-coil mic or a ribbon mic. They both have permanent magnets and use electromagnetic induction, but their designs are different. Most dynamic microphones are plug-and-play and can be used without external power.

Types of dynamic microphones

Depending on your needs, you may choose between two different kinds of dynamic microphones: 

  • Moving coil
  • Moving ribbon

Moving coil

Dynamic microphones with a moving coil are the most common. A coil of wire connected to a diaphragm is used with a magnetic field. A voice or other sound source that causes the diaphragm to vibrate will also cause the coil to vibrate, producing an electrical signal.

Moving ribbon

Dynamic microphones with a moving ribbon are among the most sensitive types available. When recording jazz, folk, blues, or more subdued vocals, a ribbon microphone is a way to go because it captures the music’s ambiance. A thin aluminum foil ribbon is sandwiched between two magnets in a ribbon microphone. When sound waves strike the ribbon, the resulting vibrations will be translated into audible tones.

How do dynamic microphones work?

A dynamic microphone has a diaphragm that is connected to a wire coil. The microphone itself works based on electromagnetic principles. A thin metal plate called a diaphragm is connected to a coil of wire in a dynamic microphone. This is how the microphone picks up sound waves. 

When a sound wave hits the diaphragm, it causes it to vibrate, which in turn causes the coil to shake. The magnetic field is created by a magnet housed within the coil. When the coil moves in the magnetic field, the electrical signal representing the picked-up sound is made.

A dynamic microphone works on the same electromagnetic induction principles as an electric generator. When the microphone’s diaphragm vibrates, an electrical current is generated. The magnitude of the electric current is proportional to the velocity of the motion.

A dynamic microphone’s output is smooth and well-rounded, with a pleasant, natural tone. The cardioid polar pattern is standard in almost all dynamic microphones. The cardioid polar pattern the microphone uses helps to eliminate background noise when recording.

Image of a gray and black dynamic microphone on a stand. Source: pixabay
Image of a gray and black dynamic microphone on a stand. Source: Pixabay

Benefits of dynamic microphones 

Dynamic microphones, like any other tool, come with advantages and disadvantages. Let’s examine the pros and cons of utilizing a dynamic microphone now that we know how they work.

Advantages (pros) of dynamic microphones

Here are some of the benefits of dynamic microphones.

  • The pleasant tone they provide is ideal for uses like voiceovers.
  • They can function without any external power supply.
  • They have a high tolerance for volume.
  • They are hardy and able to withstand a lot of punishment.
  • They’re multipurpose and have a wide range of uses.
  • They are skilled at handling plosive sounds.
  • They tend to be rather inexpensive.

Disadvantages (cons) of dynamic microphones

Here are some disadvantages of using a dynamic microphone.

  • They could be better when it comes to capturing subtle noises.
  • There is some loss of high-frequency information.
  • Harmonics in recordings are too much for them.
  • You may lose some sonic detail.
  • You’ll need to go close to the diaphragm to get a good read.

If you want even more tips and insights, watch this video called “How a Dynamic Microphone Works | Mics Explained – Part 1 of 2” from the Sonic Electronix YouTube channel.

A video called “How a Dynamic Microphone Works | Mics Explained – Part 1 of 2” from the Sonic Electronix YouTube channel.
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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about dynamic microphones.

What’s the difference between condenser and dynamic mics?

Condenser microphones have a diaphragm charged with electricity that moves when sound waves hit it. When the diaphragm moves in response to an acoustic stimulus, it sends an electrical signal. Additionally, in condenser microphones, you often choose between having a small diaphragm or a large diaphragm. And Dynamic mics can handle sound pressures better than condenser mics.

Do I need a preamp for a dynamic microphone?

A preamp is always needed to boost the weak signal that a dynamic microphone sends out. It’s the same for in-studio and on-stage use. But depending on the mixer or audio interface, you plan to use, you might not need to buy a separate preamplifier.

Do dynamic mics need phantom power?

Since dynamic microphones don’t have any active electronics inside, they don’t need phantom voltage to power them. However, using phantom power will not damage the microphones.

Why do streamers use dynamic mics?

Although not as sensitive as condenser microphones, dynamic microphones create high-quality sound. Many streamers use them because they’re cheaper, more resilient, and more long-lasting than the alternatives.

Conclusion

As you can see, the benefits of using a dynamic microphone are numerous. However, remember that it works best if you have good audio recordings and also invest in some recording software. After all, this will help you eliminate background noise for a more crisp sound!

This article covered dynamic microphones, the types of dynamic microphones, and how they work. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • Dynamic microphones use electromagnetism to transform sound waves into electrical impulses.
  • Depending on your needs, you may choose between ribbon and coil microphones.
  • Most dynamic microphones are plug-and-play and can manage without power.
  • The diaphragm of a dynamic microphone is coupled to a wire coil, and the microphone operates based on electromagnetic principles.
  • Small diaphragm microphones are good at picking up higher frequencies and are great at keeping a consistent polar pattern due to their size and weight.
  • Dynamic microphones are optimal for use with guitar amplifiers, brass instruments, heavy vocals, and drum kits.

So, do you prefer to use a dynamic microphone? And did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below (I read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, share it with a friend, and check out my full blog for more tips and tricks on music production. Thanks for reading, and never stop making music.

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Audio Apartment Author
Written By Andrew Ash
Hey there! My name is Andrew, and I've been making music since I was a kid. I now run this blog all about home studios and music production. If you want to improve your home studio setup, this is the place for you!

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