A condenser microphone is an elctro-acoustic microphone that converts the sound into an electrical signal.
The electric signal is initiated by the change in capacitance.
That is the distance between the membrane and the counter electrode, which varies depending on the strength of the sound pressure.
Recommended condenser microphones
Best rated condenser microphone: Rode NT1-Kit
- Large 1″ (25mm) capsule with gold plated diaphragm
- Ultra low noise, transformerless surface mount circuitry
- Self noise of only 5db (a)
The name says it all! Our test winner in the category condenser mic, the Rode NT-1A truly scores A1 results. Its large 1″ capsule with a gold plated diaphragm has all but no self noise. It’s a high quality mic and comes with tons of gear like a schock mount, a pop screen, audio cable as well as a DVD with useful hints and tips. The Rode NT-1A is a true allrounder which can be used for voice recordings like podcasts or radio plays as well as vocals of a music tune.
Please note: in order to work with the ultimate sound quality the Rode NT-1A (as well as any other condenser microphone) needs to be operated with phantom power and therefore requires a mixer unit or an amplifier.
All things considered, the Rode NT-1A boasts excellent sound quality and comes with a lot of equipment for a reasonable price and therefore leaves nothing to be desired. The Rode NT-1A is our well deserved test winner of our condenser microphone test.
Alternative condenser microphone: Fluoreon BM800
Advanced users looking for a right-priced microphone that allows them to record excellent voice recordings, should take a look at our price-performance winner of our condenser microphone test: the Fluoreon BM800*.
- Shock Mount to reduce handling noise
- Provide vocal intelligibility
- 48V phantom power supply
- suitable for studios, recording studios, broadcasting stations, adage performance and computers
- gold coated metal housing
The Fluoreon BM800 Studio Microphone is a large-diaphragm microphone with a 1.25 ” membrane that produces a balanced and good sound quality. Its high quality, the classy gold coated housing and its low price (around 30 Dollars) make it a perfect fit for amateur users with professional amitions.
Best rated voal condenser microphone: Sennheiser e865
How a condenser microphone works
The term condenser (or capacitor) refers to the changes in the distance between the plates (the diaphragm acts as one plate of a capacitor), while sound is being converted into electric voltage. Since with a condenser microphone the change in capacity is being measured the term capacitive transducer is being used (or electrostatic transducer because of the minimal movement of the capacitor plates). Microphones that use a different transducer technology are dynamic microphones and ribbon microphones.
Condenser microphoes use an impendance converter, which automatically amplifies the sound and adjusts it to the connected cable. In order to have a built in amplifier you need voltage, which is supplied by either a battery or directly via the cable. The latter is referred to as phantom power.
Semi-professional microphones often have a battery included inside the handle for power supply. Usually these are 1.5 V battery blocks. The mics don’t need a lot of voltage/power so that the battery will last quite a while.
condenser microphone vs. dynamic microphone
One advantage of condenser microphones is that they have little intrinsic noise and are very sensitive even for low volume and high output levels (about 20 dB more than dynamic microphones). But they are also relatively expensive and not quite as robust as dynamic microphones. Due to their transducer technology condenser microphones are at a slight disadvantage when it comes to very low frequencies (below 100 Hz) and high frequencies (over 10,000 Hz).
Small vs. large diaphragm condenser microphones
A condenser microphone’s diaphragm has a low mass, which is why sound can be transferred very accurately. The result are very clear high frequencies. condenser microphones use both small and large membranes. If the membrane used has a diameter of 1/2 inch , 1/4 inch or less, you refer to it as a small-diaphragm microphone (the term applies to all microphones with a membrane diameter of less than 1 inch (2.54 cm )). The smaller the diameter of the diaphragm, the higher the frequencies that can be recorded with it. Plus the sound is more precise and very clear.
If you want to record or highlight a voice or an instrument, studios and movie productions usually use a large-diaphragm microphone. Due to the larger diaphragm, the large diaphragm microphone is more sensitive for quiet sounds. These types of mics also produce very little (to none) background noises. The frequency range and the dynamic range of a large diaphragm microphone are lower than those of a condenser microphone with smaller membranes.