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What Are Electret Condenser Microphones?

We see many very cheap microphones listed as condenser microphones. Sometime the description includes the term "electret". What does that mean?

Studio microphones are often advertised as “true condensers”. What does that mean, and is there such a thing as “false” condenser microphones?

microphone electronics can only sense this capacitance change, if the condenser capsule is charged or “polarized” with a voltage. For good sensitivity, this polarization voltage must be fairly high.

There are two ways to apply this electric charge. The traditional way is to polarize the capsule with an external voltage. In studio applications, that’s no problem. The standard powering system is P48 Phantom power, which delivers 48 volts – enough to polarize the capsule, although many modern condenser mics contain voltage converters for even higher voltages (usually 60-80 volts)

Another polarization method is to “freeze” an electric charge permanently in the capsule. This is done by applying a special substance called “electret”. The term “electret” was coined, because it is the electrostatic equivalent of a permanent magnet. Usually, the electret film is applied to the capsule’s backplat
The fact that electret condenser capsules are more likely to be found in lower end products gave this technology a questionable reputation. Also, some early electret condensers went dead after a few years, because they lost their electric charge.

As a reaction, the term “true condenser” was coined for externally polarized capsules to differentiate them from presumably lower quality electret condensers. But that’s a marketing term. Technically, there is no such thing as a “false” or “untrue” condenser capsule
Electret condenser capsules don’t have to sound bad; nor do modern specimens lose their electric charge like some of their ancestors of the 1970s did. A number of reputable manufacturers are convinced enough of electret condenser technology to employ it in their top-of-the-line microphones, some of which costing more than $ 2000
Good sound is not simply the result of a particular polarization scheme. Superior sound quality comes with great engineering and high attention to detail in manufacture.
Just in case you’re wondering: All Neumann condenser microphones use externally polarized “true condenser” capsules.

APEX 205 Ribbon Microphone $99

 Our Price:  $99.99
APEX 205 Ribbon Microphone

The Apex 205 has been designed with today's direct-to-drive digital recording systems in mind. Its classic ribbon element delivers a warm tone and the most natural sound reproduction available from virtually any style of studio microphone.

APEX 205 Ribbon Microphone Details

The microphone is the first, and arguably the most important link the signal chain. In the world where digital recording is now the most common recording media, it is more important than ever that you choose a microphone that is able to capture every subtle nuance of your source material.

The compact Apex 205 has been designed with today's direct-to-drive digital recording systems in mind. Its classic ribbon element delivers a warm tone and the most natural sound reproduction available from virtually any style of studio microphone.

The active element of a ribbon microphone is a very thin corrugated aluminum ribbon mounted under low tension between the poles of a strong magnet. The low-tension 2-inch long, 2-micron thick aluminum ribbon used in the Apex205 offers audio reproduction with smooth, natural extended low and high frequency response, yet handles extremely fast transients accurately. Although ribbon microphones are by their nature extremely fragile, the Apex205 can handle high sound pressure levels approaching 165dB range.

The asymmetrical figure-8 pickup pattern has an extended sweet spot on the rear face of the microphone allowing the recording to accurately reproduce the natural space and ambient reverberation of a good sounding live room.

The integrated yoke mic stand mount and internal shock mount assembly protects the fragile ribbon element during use. Includes a padded carry bag for storage.

APEX 205 Ribbon Microphone Specifications
•Type : Large Element Ribbon Microphone
•Ribbon Type : Pure aluminum
•Dimensions : 2 microns thick, 50mm (L) x 5mm (W)
•Polar Pattern : Asymmetrical Figure-8
•Sensitivity : -55dB
•Frequency Response : 40 to 18,000Hz (+/- 3dB)
•Impedance : < 200 Ohms
•Recommended Load Impedance : < 1000 Ohms
•Max SPL (1% THD @1kHz) : 160dB
•Equivalent noise level : 17dB
•S/N ratio : 70dB
•Diameter : 2inches / 50.5mm
•Length : 6.5 inches / 170mm
•Net Weight : 31 oz / 870g
•Warranty : 1 Year Limited

Ribbon Microphone For Voiceover?

MXL R144 Ribbon Microphone
While for many years ribbon mics fell into disfavor for voiceover, although they were widely used in broadcasting. The first thing to know is that ribbon microphones can be damaged by phantom power, turn off phantom power in your preamp. They tend to have a bit of a light signal, so a pre with robust signal gain will be worth while in the long run,
The element in a ribbon mic is really a ribbon: a tiny ribbon of corrugated metal that floats in a magnetic field.ribbons are figure-8 mics.  The sound of a ribbon mic is mellow and rounded, warm, with a gently rolled off top end that contrasts dramatically with the forward sound of most dynamics and the crystalline, trebly sound of condensers.
 Nothing sounds quite like a ribbon,anything directly behind the mic will be just as loud as  the front. Use these mics either in a booth where reflections into the rear of the mic will be minimal, or even better, in a nice-sounding room where reflections from the rear walls can add character to the vocal signal.remember that figure-8 mics display the strongest proximity effect of any polar pattern. You’ll be able to widely vary the bass content of your recording by having him adjust his distance from the mic. Experiment with turning the mic slightly, too: as off-axis response changes, the tone of the recorded vocal will change possibly in a way you can use.

MXL R150 Ribbon Microphone

Audacity To Record Your PC Speakers

 Audacity’s WASAPI Loopback

Don’t have a Stereo Mix option? Many newer PC's don't. Audacity has a useful feature that will can record the audio coming out of your computer. This takes advantage of something Microsoft added in Windows Vista, and it’ll also function in Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10. It helps make up for the lack of a Stereo Mix option on modern Windows PCs.

In Audacity, choose the “Windows WASAPI” audio host and then an appropriate loopback device — for example, “Speakers (loopback)” or “Headphones (loopback).”
Click the Record button to start recording the audio in Audacity, and click Stop when you’re done. Because you’re using Audacity, you can easily trim and edit the sound file when you’re done.

WASAPI loopback has an advantage over stereo mix or similar inputs provided by the soundcard because the capture is entirely digital

Condenser Microphone Definition

The condenser microphone

 is a very simple mechanical system, simply a thin, stretched conductive diaphragm held close to a metal disk called the back plate. This arrangement creates a capacitor, with the back plate receiving its electric charge from an external power source (phantom power). When sound strikes the diaphragm, it vibrates slightly in response to the waveform or whose capacitance changes to the rhythm of the soundwaves that hit the diaphragm. This causes the capacitance to change, which causes the output voltage to vary. This voltage variation is the signal output of the microphone. Phantom power is needed to operate the condenser microphone, either 24 or 48 volts which means that a condenser mic requires at least one additional piece of equipment, a " pre" or preamp.
Most common are large disk studio condenser microphones, which are side address(speak into the side of the mic) and cardioid (directional). The directional nature of condenser microphones makes them popular for studio and voice over work because ambient noise from the back is reduced. Such noise might be street noise or the voice actors voice being reflected from a wall.
There are preamps that provide phantom power and at the same time convert the microphones analog signal to digital for direct connection to a computer by USB or IOS firewire connection. A condenser microphone definition has to mention some cheaper microphones that are sold as condenser microphones but are of a different type known as eletret. They use a permanently charged plate and do not reproduce sound with the quality of top condensers.

RODE NT1-A Condenser Microphone With USB Interface Kit - Scarlett 2i2 + Tripod Mic Stand    

Audio-Technica AT2020USB PLUS Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone


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