How A Dynamic Microphone Works 🎤

Choosing the right microphone is vital to getting the best audio experience. While there are multiple types of mics with different features, most people get stuck choosing between a dynamic and a condenser mic. So, let’s talk about a dynamic microphone. 

A dynamic microphone works by capturing sound and transforming it into corresponding electrical signals. The microphone has a diaphragm connected to a coil that’s suspended in a magnetic field. When the diaphragm receives sound, it causes the coil to move, inducing an electric signal. 

In this article, we’ll discuss how dynamic mics work and whether they’re the best choice for your in-home recording studio. 

How A Dynamic Microphone Works

Dynamic Microphones Explained

Sound travels through the air in the form of energy waves. When a sound first reaches a dynamic microphone, it hits the diaphragmOpens in a new tab., making it vibrate. Since the diaphragm is attached to a coil, the coil moves when the diaphragm vibrates. 

Most dynamic mics have a copper coil, but some have different materials. 

Dynamic microphones also have a magnet, which produces a magnetic field that surrounds the coil. 

When the coil moves through the magnetic field, an electric current is induced in the coil in accordance with the movement received from the diaphragm. So, the sound that enters a dynamic mic is transformed into an electrical signal, which can be explained by the theory of induction. 

Once the diaphragm and coil move and create the electrical current, the voltage moves through the wires of the microphone. These wires are direct current only. So, no current can pass back through them, which prevents feedback and potential issues with the mic. 

From there, the current is sent to whatever device you have connected to the microphone creating the recorded sound. If you have it attached to an amp, you’ll hear the playback almost instantly, though sometimes there is a slight delay depending on the devices used and your distance from the mic. 

If you prefer a visual representation of how the dynamic mic works, check out this video by Roswell Pro Audio on YouTube. It visually describes how the mic works. 

Ribbon Dynamic Microphone

While most dynamic microphones work with a coil, some work with a ribbon instead. Both microphones work the same, with the only difference being that one has a foil ribbon instead of a coil. This slight change in mechanics can make a big difference in what you hear. 

Many people consider ribbon dynamic mics a lot more clear and more natural than coil mics. This is because the foil that replaces the coil is more pliable and sensitive, and thus likely to pick up low vibrational sounds that a coil dynamic mic may miss or pick up incorrectly. As such, ribbon mics are more popular among those who need a cleaner, more natural sound. 

In fact, many people who prefer ribbon mics over coil mics state that this is because they read sounds almost as clearlyOpens in a new tab. as we can hear them. So, you get the best possible audio experience when using ribbon mics, though they are not in everyone’s price range. 

However, the foil ribbon can make ribbon mics more sensitive to damage than other microphones. Some people prefer something more durable, like a strong coil inside the mic. While this is a fair debate, ribbon mics are the best mic if you want a natural, raw sound. 

Musicians love ribbon mics for electric and acoustic guitarsOpens in a new tab. because they allow the natural sound of the strings to really come through, which is enough to convince some that a ribbon mic is better than a coil mic. 

In the end, your choice comes down to what you can afford and how comfortable you are with a more delicate mic. 

Dynamic vs. Condenser Microphones

Condenser mics work a little differently from dynamic mics. They have two metal plates inside. One is the back plate and the other is the diaphragm. 

The diaphragm works the same way that it does in dynamic mics. As sound waves reach the condenser mic, the diaphragm vibrates. 

The main difference between these mics is what happens when the diaphragm reacts to sound. As it reacts, the distance between the diaphragm and the back plate changes. This movement causes a change in the voltage between them. 

The voltage created in the condenser mic emits an electric signal that is sent through the wires of the mic to the device that connects to it. This is similar to how the dynamic mic works, but without a coil moving. The back plate does not move, rather the diaphragm is the only component that moves in condenser mics. 

How The Dynamic Microphone Compares to the Condenser Microphone

Now that we know how different these mics are, let’s discuss the scenarios each mic is best suited for.  

One of the most significant differences between these two types of mics is their price. Condenser mics tend to be more expensiveOpens in a new tab. than dynamic mics. 

But apart from price, there are other factors to consider when deciding which mic to choose, as we’ll discuss below. 

Sensitivity

Ultimately, condenser mics are more sensitive to sounds than dynamic mics — they can pick up more natural sounds that dynamic mics sometimes struggle with. This is because condenser mics only require the soundwaves to be strong enough to move the diaphragm. 

With dynamic mics, the sound waves must be strong to cause the diaphragm to move along with the coil. Even if the diaphragm moves slightly, the coil may not always respond. So, there may be low sounds that dynamic mics miss that a condenser mic can pick up. 

The flip side is that sound waves that are too strong can distort when they travel through condenser mics because they are so sensitive, which can distort what you hear in the playback. This is a lot less likely to happen with dynamic mics as they’re better equipped to handle intense sounds. 

Live Performance

When using your mic for a live performance, your needs are significantly different than recording in a studio. The goal of a live performance is to play for a group. To do that properly, you need a microphone that can better project soundsOpens in a new tab. and will not be negatively impacted by loud sounds. 

So, dynamic mics are the more popular choice for live performances. This is not a universal rule as some people enjoy using condenser mics no matter what. However, it’s common to see dynamic mics during a live performance. 

Live performances tend to be less about picking up ambient sounds and more about projecting to a large crowd. So, dynamic mics really shine in this environment compared to condenser mics. 

Recording Studio

Which mic you should use in a studio setting depends on what you’re recording and what you expect from your microphone. Many people favor condenser mics for studio recording if they want it to sound as natural as possible. However, different sounds respond differently to different mics. 

If you plan to record softer vocals and want to pick up as much of the natural sound of your voice as possible, a condenser mic can do that for you. As mentioned, if you get too loud or intense with the vocals, you can experience distortion in the sound during playback. 

Louder vocals may require a dynamic mic that can handle louder sounds without distorting them. So, the mic you choose for your vocals depends on the type of vocals you’re recording. 

When it comes to recording instruments, the sound level of the instrument should determine which mic you use. Acoustic guitars tend to sound better with condenser mics rather than dynamic, especially if you want to be able to hear the individual strings clearly. Electric guitars and other loud instruments will be safer to use with a dynamic mic. 

If you’re using your mic for a podcast or some sort of speaking media, a condenser mic is a great idea. Just make sure you avoid yelling into the mic too closely to help keep it from distorting. 

Which Microphone To Choose

Considering all the above factors, you may be hesitant to make a choice. The safest way to proceed is to consider everything you’ll be using the microphone for. Alternatively, if you can afford it, you can always get both types and use them to record different sounds. 

If you decide on a condenser mic, we have some quality choices for you. Check out our article “Best Condenser Mic Under $200” for some fantastic options that are reasonably priced. However, condenser mics may not be the best option for you. So, let’s review some of the best dynamic mics for your at-home studio. 

Check out: How Do Microphones and Speakers Work?

Best Dynamic Mics for At-Home Studios

Shure SM7B Dynamic Vocal Microphone Opens in a new tab.
  • ONE MICROPHONE FOR EVERYTHING - Studio Recording, Home Recording, Podcasting & Streaming. The SM7B...
  • STUDIO VOCAL RECORDING - The SM7B’s Dynamic Cartridge With Smooth, Flat, Wide-range Frequency...
  • PODCAST & BROADCAST - Found In The Top Podcasting Studios Around The World, The SM7B Air Suspension...

Last update on 2024-04-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This dynamic mic from Shure (available on Amazon.com) is a top choice for podcasters and at-home audio recorders. This is a professional quality mic that will last for as long as you need it or until you wear it out. 

The Shure SM7B has a pop filter in the mic. So, if you purchase it, you’ll not need additional protection to avoid breathy sounds. It gives a warm and realistic tone to your voice. 

This mic is expensive, but it is great for those who need the clearest dynamic mic they can get. It works well with up-close audio without distorting or changing your voice. Also, the windscreen is detachable. So, you can play with sounds without the windscreen or use them for conversational recordings. 

If you want professional quality, then this is the mic for you. The reviews speak for themselves, but the manufacturers thought of everything you may need for a great audio experience and put it all together in this mic. 

This mic has an electromagnetic shield that prevents it from picking up humming and other noises emitted by your nearby computer and other audio equipment. So, you won’t need to edit out any additional background noises when you record with this mic. Overall, the Shure SM7B is our favorite for an at-home studio. 

AKG D5 Vocal Dynamic Microphone Opens in a new tab.
  • Rugged construction
  • Handheld dynamic vocal microphone designed for lead and backing vocals
  • Patented AKG laminated varimotion diaphragm

Last update on 2024-04-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you need a cheaper alternative to the Shure SM7B that allows for louder vocal recordings, then the AKG D5 mic (available on Amazon.com) is perfect for you. This mic supports lead vocals with ease and without the distortion that can happen with some other mics. 

This mic does not have a stand with it. So, you will need to purchase a mic stand for more comfortable at-home recording sessions. However, the price and quality of this mic make it worth the trouble of finding a stand. 

This mic is versatile. You can use it for your home studio or on the road for a live performance. It can handle both. 

If you need to record audio for a podcast or very low vocals, you may not be as happy with this mic as the other option. That is because these mics are meant for two very different styles of recording. When you need a mic to pick up casual or conversational tones, the Shure SM7B is better than this mic. 

However, if you prefer to belt out your notes, this mic can record them without any issue. It can also pick up loud instruments with clarity that is difficult to find when using other microphones. So, consider this for recording louder vocals or instruments in your home studio rather than soft vocals or instruments. 

Final Thoughts

While the design of the dynamic mic makes it reliable and sturdy, it may struggle to pick up lower sounds. So, choose your mic type carefully for your at-home studio. 

You have to choose which quality to trade-off. Dynamic mics that are highly sensitive can easily break and cost more, while those that aren’t as sensitive are cheaper and more durable. 

If you have trouble choosing and have a little extra money to put toward your studio, we recommend getting a dynamic and a condenser mic. Then, you can choose between the two as you need them. 

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Vinnie

I'm Vinnie, and I'm here to support you to create your own studio at home, whether it’s for photography, recording audio, podcasts, or videos!

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