I picked these two microphones because they are both XLR instrument microphones and can be purchased for the exact same price. Let’s get started. A microphone is a device that converts sound or acoustic energy into electricity, this is called the microphones signal. A microphone that produces a strong signal is refer to as having a higher sensitivity than one that produces a weaker signal. The most important component in any microphone that affects its sensitivity is its diaphragm, its size, thickness, materials, and even how it is attached are all contributing factors to its sensitivity.
A microphone’s frequency response refers to its sensitivity over its operating range from lowest to highest frequencies. A microphone’s frequency response chart is a graphic representation of its sensitivity over its operating range, usually between 20Hz and 20,000Hz, this is the approximate range of human hearing. The vertical row on the left reads indescibles, this measures amplitude. The horizontal row on the bottom represents the frequency range from lowest on the left to highest on the right. A perfect microphone were register all frequencies across the zero dB level.
It would be a natural sounding microphone to us because this is how we hear. Microphones with graphs that look like these are refer to as having a flat frequency response. This is the AKG C1000S, my first condenser microphone. If we look at its graph, the red line starts well below, the zero dB level on the left side representing lower frequencies. This means, the lower frequencies will be recorded at a lower level than the middle and higher ones. This is because the C1000S has what is called a tailored frequency response. This microphone was designed to record an applications where this frequency response is preferred.
Just one more thing about microphone frequency charts. If you had two microphones from two different manufacturers with the exact same frequency response curves due to the differences in construction, you could probably tell the difference between the two. This is the legendary Shure SM57 dynamic instrument microphone. It was introduced in 1965 and is still in production. Dynamic microphones as their name implies make their signal as a result of motion inside the microphone. As I speak into it, it makes electricity, a signal. This signal travels down to my cable but it’s too weak to be used. It needs to be amplified first with what is called a preamplifier or preamp.
Preamps can be separate components or built-in to amplifiers and interfaces. The main advantage of dynamic microphones is they work best in high sound level applications such as vocals, drums, and guitar amps, and they are very durable which makes these microphones perfect for the road in stage applications. The main disadvantage of these microphones is they may have some sensitivity limitations, and they may miss some detail in recording applications. This is the AKG Perception 170 condenser instrument microphone. It was introduced in 2007.
As I speak into this microphone, no signal is being produced because condenser microphones as their name implies make their signal with electric components in the microphone, because of this, this kinds of microphones need a source of electricity to make their signal, this is called phantom power. As with dynamic microphones, the signal coming from a condenser microphone has to be preamped first. Preamps can have phantom power built-in as well as interfaces. The C1000S I’m recording this with can get its phantom power from a 9V battery, so it can be used on equipment that doesn’t have phantom power.
The main advantage of condenser microphones is their sensitivity. These microphones can be so sensitive that many of them have switches on them that decrease or attenuate their sensitivity for recording loud sources. These microphones are predominantly use in recording studios to make the best possible recordings. The disadvantages of condenser microphones is due to their construction. Since they are electronic, they are not as durable as dynamic microphones. This is what the Shure Sm57 ships in, and this is what the AKG Perception 170 ships in. As we can see the condenser microphone needs a lot more protection.
Another disadvantage to condenser microphones is that they need phantom power. If you don’t have phantom power, the microphone won’t work. This is a microphone comparison between the AKG Perception 170 and the Shure SM57 instrument microphones. This is microphone comparison between the AKG Perception 170 and the Shure Sm57 instrument microphones. That was a Shure SM57 versus the AKG Perception 170. To be honest, I was surprised at how well the Shure SM57 recorded the flutes, and I will keep that in mind for future projects.
Every microphone records differently. It is up to you, the artist to determine which microphones sound best to you. Thanks for watching. We’ll you see next time. From CaneMajor.