Broadcasters have used dynamic microphones as their primary on-air mics for several decades (SM7, RE20, MD421, and more recently the PR40 and PROCASTER). Is it time to consider changing to condensor mics? After all, they’ve become very afforable in the last several years.

For most of you… no. Here’s why:

– Dynamic mics can take more physical abuse. Most of the mics listed above were designed for use with drums. They get knocked around, but they keep working. Most condensors are delicate and fragile by comparison.

– Dynamic mics are less sensitive to surrounding noises. Sensitivity drops off quickly beyond about 12 inches. This works out well for the average radio studio, with the computer fans, air conditioning, and other room noises. And the room itself is seldom ideal… a sensitive condensor mic will highlight all of the flaws of the surroundings. Dynamics just don’t pick up the noises so much.

Here’s a quick way to determine if the room sounds good, and the machinery is quiet: Do you use the expander/gate on your voice processor? If so, it’s because you are trying to minimize hearing the sounds in the room. ‘Nuff said.

– Dynamic mics aren’t affected by high humidity. All that warm breath at close range, day and night, exposes the diaphragm to a lot of moisture. (and if you use a foam pop filter, the moisture gets trapped inside). Over time, high humidity will deteriorate the flexibility and performance of most condensor mics.

A condensor mic may be appropriate in a well-treated Production Room, but not in most On-Air studios.

There’s always a new “flavor of the month” mic to look at. But the fundamentals haven’t changed. Imperfect environments are better served with dynamic mics (and some assistance from a good mic processor).

No, we’re not just hanging on to old technology… we’re using the right tool for the job.

One thought

  1. Condensors for the studio? Yeah, sure, when you pry the Electro-Voice RE20 from my cold, dead hands.

    I think they’re almost the perfect mic for on-air talent. The only downside is that with their supercardioid pattern, the DJs need to be trained to speak directly into the microphone, or it sounds like they’re mumbling at it from across the room. Otherwise, they’re great, and they’ll even passably reject the noise from a desk fan! (Yes, we had an HVAC failure one day…)

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