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What is a Condenser Microphone? Let’s Explain

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When choosing a microphone, it’s important to make sure that you choose the right microphone for the right purpose. Please note that choosing the wrong microphone is like using a toothbrush to polish your shoes. Yes, you will get the job done, and however, the results will be very shoddy. 

Like with all other tools, there’s no one-size-fits-all microphone to choose from. While there are lots of adaptable options that you can choose for different applications, you want a microphone that will deliver professional quality audio. With that said, you must have the right microphone. In this post, we shall discuss more details about a condenser microphone and its uses. Please read on for more information. 

Condenser microphone: Definition

Condenser microphones are the most common microphone options for studio applications—thanks to their high frequencies. Generally, condenser microphones have a wider range for frequency response compared to dynamic microphones. However, condenser microphones have a lower input sensitivity, and this, in turn, allows condenser microphones to pick up more input signals faster. 

The main reason why condenser microphones are used in studios is because of their high accuracy and detail. So, how do they achieve this? Condenser microphones have a thin, lightweight diaphragm, which is held in place by a fixed plate. Now, sound waves exert pressure against the diaphragm, and this makes it move. The increased sensitivity and thin diaphragm make condenser microphones the right choice for picking delicate sounds. 

Condenser microphones need a power source to work. The most common power source for these microphones is phantom power. However, a 9v battery can serve as an alternative power source. Although condenser microphones are ideal for capturing vocals, acoustic guitars, or drum overheads, they cannot capture louder sounds like bass or guitar amplifiers. In such cases, you should use dynamic microphones. 

The components of a condenser microphone

Condenser microphones have a very simple design; and however, these mics have a very complex component interaction and functionality. With that said, let’s look at the components of a condenser microphone, together with their functions. 

The backplate

This is a static metal piece, fixed behind the diaphragm. The backplate stays still as the diaphragm vibrates. Sound waves create air pressure differences between the diaphragm and backplate. This, in turn, creates capacitance, which is then interpreted into an audio signal. 

A capacitor stores electrical energy between the backplate and the diaphragm. The backplate of a condenser mic acts as one of the two components. 


The capsule in a condenser microphone is a collection of different components, including the backplate and diaphragm. Mostly, all the sound capture area of a condenser microphone is called the capsule. However, most people interchangeably use the “diaphragm” and “capsule” even though this is not technically correct. 


The diaphragm of a condenser microphone serves as the capsule’s membrane, and this is the thin and electrically-conductive component of the capsule. The diaphragm vibrates against the backplate to create capacitance. 

The diaphragm is coated to enable it to conduct electricity efficiently. The most preferred coating material for a mic’s diaphragm is gold. Also, the diaphragm can act as a capacitor, where it stores energy in an electrical field. 

Impedance converter

This is the part of a condenser microphone that increases the energy of the electrical signal created by the backplate and diaphragm vibrations. The impedance converter is a common feature in many mics since the low current generated by the mics is not adequate, even though enough voltage is created. 

Power supply

The power supply of a condenser microphone can either be from a USB or XLR cable or a dedicated power supply unit. A condenser microphone requires power for the impedance converter, which amplifies the current. 

How a condenser microphone works

A condenser microphone is essentially a highly-specialized capacitor. If you don’t know a capacitor, it’s a passive electrical component designed to store energy temporarily. For a capacitor to work, it uses two plates close to each other. The closer the plates are to each other, the higher the capacitance or, the higher the ability to store electrical charge. 

In the case of a condenser microphone, one of these plates—the diaphragm is made of very light and thin material. When soundwaves strike the diaphragm, they cause it to vibrate, thus changing the distance between these two plates, which changes the capacitance. This leads to capacitance fluctuation, which generates an electrical representation of the acoustic voltage from the source. 

Now, active circuitry is needed to convert the high impedance of the output of a DC-polarized capsule to a usable low impedance. As said earlier, phantom power (+48V) is used to supply power to this circuitry. Other power sources include dedicated power supplies, used mainly in tube condensers and batteries, commonly used in electret condensers. 

Bottom Line

So, what is a condenser microphone? It’s the best option for recording studio sounds that require a lot of detail and clarity. These microphones offer unmatched versatility when appropriately used and can deliver quality results very efficiently. The thing is, there are endless DPA Condenser Microphones benefits. So, take care of your condenser microphone, use it currently, and you will enjoy its benefits for years to come.