condensor vs. dynamic (analysis+confusion)

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sysrqer
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Re: condensor vs. dynamic (analysis+confusion)

Postby sysrqer » Thu Sep 28, 2017 2:50 pm

But still, frequency response is not generally what makes these two mics different.

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Re: condensor vs. dynamic (analysis+confusion)

Postby CrocoDuck » Thu Sep 28, 2017 4:16 pm

I think the reason why many people think about condenser as "better" is just a sort of misconception.

Condenser microphone is a kind of technology that makes easier to produce very linear microphones, so microphones that have very low distortion. This is why most scientific measurement microphones are either condenser or pre-polarized (which is like condenser, but the charge is pre-polarized on the membrane instead of being created by a bias voltage). You can have a look at here for example.

Most often people reason in this way: I want to record musicians. I want to introduce the least amount of artifacts, so that I capture their performance unaltered. Then I want the highest linearity. Then I choose a condenser mic.

It does make sense if that is the goal indeed, but:

1) There are dynamic mics (or other kind of mics) with excellent linearity as well
2) Not everybody wants highest linearity. Many Soul and Neo Soul recordings are made with very dirty vintage mics (for the vocals), with tons of distortion. It is a matter of style, it sounds cool.

So, as long as science is concerned, condenser mics do have the huge pro of higher linearity (lower distortion) (usually). But when we make music we might not be interested, or not even able to appreciate the higher linearity of another mic due to the recording conditions or music style.

Now, I would be very careful about the frequency response argument. The choice of transducer technology does influence what it is possible to achieve, but it is not the only factor. It is just like with speakers: a speaker alone does not define the frequency response of a cabinet. The cabinet size and construction can be designed to achieve a desired frequency response. Bass reflex, wave-guide, etc... are all techniques to design the frequency response of a cabinet. It is the same with microphones: by designing the volumes of air in iteration with the membrane one can more or less "impede" the membrane movement, thus ending up designing the frequency response of the whole microphone with great flexibility. This is especially true for the low end of the frequency response. So, I would recommend against inferring general rules from the few frequency responses you were comparing: they are not just due to the mics being condenser or dynamic, but they are also due to the rest of the microphone design. Given any kind of "transducing element", let it be a dynamic membrane or a condenser or anything else, it is possible to design a very wide range of different frequency responses. For example, look how flat is the response of this condenser microphone.

I would also be careful in stating that your initial tests were already good to drive a conclusion. The latest plots you shown clearly point out the limitations of spectral measurements. They look really different from your tests. They really suggest not to trust spectral measurements easily. Also look at the dB scales. You measured drops in the low end of even 30 dB, while in your latest plots the drop is 15 dB at most. It might be that your speakers were not actually delivering a lot of low frequency sound the begin with...

I all suddenly remembered about Japa, a very nice utility created by Fons Adriansen. I think it will make testing relative frequency response of different microphones much easier and reliable. Let us know whether you would like to try that. I think it could be interesting...
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Re: condensor vs. dynamic (analysis+confusion)

Postby sadko4u » Thu Sep 28, 2017 9:59 pm

42low wrote:Don't get me wrong. I am NOT speaking of bad quality for condensors or whatever. A condensor mosly has a bigger membrame so to me it's clear that catches some more and most likely clearer sound.

That's wrong. Instrument condenser microphones have smaller membrane than dynamic ones. The larger membrane is, the better low frequencies can be captured.

42low wrote:I doubt the advices that condensor always should be better than dynamics.

That's wrong. It's application-dependent. I wouldn't prefer to record extreme vocal with condenser microphone. Also I wouldn't prefer to record toms/kick/snare with condenser microphones.

42low wrote: "condensor is what you must have"

That's true. But only partially. You should have at least condenser, dynamic and (probably) ribbon microphone. The more different microphones you have the more abilities you have. And that's silly to have only condensers or only dynamic microphones.

42low wrote:so "waste your money on that without any questions as i'm telling the only truth".

I've never seen sound engineers that could said so. Different problems - different solutions and different microphones used for the result.

42low wrote:It's what all the advisers all over the internet state that and those on forums linking it.

Really? You still rely on advices from people that didn't held more than two studio microphones in their hands? I've noticed that I'm currently having already about 20 microphones and... just want more because they all are different and sound different.

42low wrote:They hear something, and immediately copy it without thinking, and spread it like that's the only true option.

Fuck them man. Some years ago I've done a mix. I've used pretty cheap basswood-body guitar and crappy Hughes&Kettner WARP-T amplifier. If you want to record modern metal - I never will advice to use this crappy amplifier. I fought with the captured result for the long time while another medium-priced alder-body guitar was sounding just fine with Peavey 5150. Anyway, I've completed with the mix. And one guitarist that was listening this mix found my basswood guitar sounding like a mahogany-body guitar :)))). What's the conclusion? The regular myth about how the wood is affecting electric guitar's sound was not broken but seriously shaked up.
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Re: condensor vs. dynamic (analysis+confusion)

Postby lykwydchykyn » Thu Sep 28, 2017 10:13 pm

42low wrote:First. I'm not discussing to pick a fight or whatever.
I discus for a good discussion with argumented reasons were we can all (re) shape our oppionions and we all can become better. :wink:
I have no problem at all with a good teaching discussion as long as it's not made personal and kept with the subject.

No problem, I'm not getting hot under the collar or anything, I just feel the need to clarify what I am an am not saying, since discussions tend to get polarized and we all get pushed into a "side".
IMHO within the world off homerecording there are many 'believes' which are adored too much as the only good option.
I too think it can be done with good quallity without the always adviced 'only good condensor mic' and the 'studio must be fully sound proof'. Those ultimate beliefs are highly overestimated and te opposite options are highly underestimated.


I agree completely. Music, recording, and the music business can get very cargo-cult. I think we all rankle a bit when we hear those things and they contradict our experiences and knowledge. So while I would argue against someone who says "Condensers are required for a good sound", I'd also argue against saying "Condensers are useless and dynamics are good enough".

And the most importend argument here.
We have to keep in perspective that we are homerecorders who most likely never will have that perfect professional setting.
So at the end it's our goal to get the best results out of less.
And then i also remind that less many times is more, were we most likely must be more creativ and will not fall back on 'how they all do'. IMO a huge benefit.


I agree; I'm a big proponent of using the simplest/cheapest tool that gets the job done until you understand why a more complex/expensive tool is required. Acquiring gear one doesn't understand or gain an appreciable benefit from is silly and wasteful.

Many worldwide hitsongs are made otherwise. Like in simple basements and so. Many artists grabed a dynamic mic. And their wonderfull song were greatest hits.
Many older first albums weren't made in professional studio's.


See, I'm less interested in how hit songs are made, and more about how I get the sound I want to hear, and I assume that others are as well. If someone says, "What's the best mic under $XXX for recording (thing)", then either I have to ask more clarifications or just assume the person wants "thing" to sound like most "things" sound in the average professional recording. We can give examples of professional vocals recorded on dynamics, but I'd be willing to bet these are exceptions to the rule or only popular within certain genres.

So our average cargo-cult musician/engineer is just as likely to say "Since MJ recorded Thriller on an SM57, that's the only vocal mic anyone ever needs." as he is to say "Vocals should only be recorded with a condenser".

Now, if you can only afford an SM57, then maybe it's encouraging to know that hits like that were recorded on the same mic. But if someone is shopping for a new mic, then the ears are the only decision maker there.

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Re: condensor vs. dynamic (analysis+confusion)

Postby sadko4u » Fri Sep 29, 2017 9:57 am

42low wrote:
sadko4u wrote:
42low wrote:so "waste your money on that without any questions as i'm telling the only truth".

I've never seen sound engineers that could said so. Different problems - different solutions and different microphones used for the result.

No sound engineers indeed.
But how many do you guess wasted their budget because the must have a condenser blindly following the advice that it's "always the best", and ended up with a $100 lacking shitty thing?

Why do you think that $100 condenser microphones are shitty? I don't think so. Current technologies allow to easily produce pretty good microphones for this price.
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Re: condensor vs. dynamic (analysis+confusion)

Postby CrocoDuck » Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:09 am

sadko4u wrote:Why do you think that $100 condenser microphones are shitty? I don't think so. Current technologies allow to easily produce pretty good microphones for this price.


I agree. Good microphones can be found for actually even half of that price.
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