Microphones and Their Role in Radio Production

Microphones and Their Role in Radio Production
Microphones and Their Role
in Radio Production
Microphones as Transducers
• Transducers change one form
of energy into another.
• Before it goes into the
microphone, it’s “sound.”
• When microphone converts
it to electrical energy, it’s
• Two distinct types: dynamic
and electrostatic (condenser).
Dynamic Microphones
• Two main types: moving
coil (dynamic) and ribbon.
Dynamic microphone explained
Dynamic microphones
• Parts: diaphragm, moving
coil, magnet (see 3.1).
• Voice moves the diaphragm (like
your eardrum), and causes the coil to
move through the magnetic field, creating a
low-voltage electrical signal.
Dynamic microphone applications
• Rugged, can
withstand adverse
high-sound pressure.
(EV 635 & EV RE20)
• Generate little electrical
noise or “hiss.”
• Announcers like to work close for
“proximity effect.”
Ribbon microphones
• Popular, “old-fashioned.”
• Metal ribbon is suspended
vertically between two poles of
a magnet. Ribbon vibrates with
sound (like diaphragm on a
dynamic microphone, see 3.3.).
• Wider frequency range than
dynamic mikes; “warm,” natural
Ribbon microphone characteristics
• Ribbons in old ribbon
mikes are very fragile. Never
blow into any mike, but
especially ribbon mikes.
• Do not take ribbon mikes
outside unless in a case.
• Ribbons make great voice
microphones; they greatly emphasize
the “proximity effect” (return to p. 47).
Ribbon mic compared to condenser mic (next in outline)
Electrostatic Microphones
• Better known as “condenser”
How a condenser microphone works
Parts: very thin diaphragm and rigid back
plate separated by small air space
(condenser). Voltage in the air space
changed by movement of diaphragm.
Preamplifier required to amplify signal. Power required
for the preamplifier, usually from battery or “phantom
power” supply, which comes from the control board
or mixer (see 3.5).
Electret-Condenser Microphones
• Best known examples are
lavalier microphones.
• Slightly different in design
from other condenser
mikes, but still require a
battery to operate the
• Also known as “body
Condenser microphone
• Very sensitive, accurate
sound reproduction.
• Announcers usually back
off at least one foot.
• May pick up the sound of
air conditioning, control
board switches, floor
Dynnamic vs. condenser mics Dynamic vs. condenser 2
Microphone Pickup or Directional
Five Basic Microphone
Directional Patterns:
Microphone patterns
• Omindirectional: 360 degree
sensitivity (see 3.8). Often
used by radio-news people.
• Bidirectional (Figure 8): Most sensitive in
front and rear; least sensitive to the sides
(see 3.9) .
Microphone Directional Patterns
• Cardioid: shaped like a heart.
Also called “Unidirectonal.”
Most sensitive in front, least
to the rear (see 3.10).
Strongly directional patterns blocks
unwanted sound.
• Super-cardioid: narrower side sensitivity (see
• Hyper-cardioid: highly directional, “shotgun”
mike (see 3.13).
Microphone Placement
Microphone Myths and the Science
Behind Microphone Placement
• Microphones do not “reach out” to capture
sound; no working distance in feet
and inches; depends on sound-pressure
of source and background sound.
• Directional (cardioid) microphones
do not enhance sound waves from in front of
the mike. They reject sound from sides.
• Hyper-cardioid (shotgun) mikes do not
“zoom in” on sounds; extreme rejection
of sound from the sides.
Microphone Connectors
• XLR (cannon) connectors.
Have three metal pins inside
a cylindrical housing (See
• Quarter-inch (TRS -- tip,
ring, and sleeve)
connectors. Not as often
used in radio.
Microphone cable care
• Use natural looping of the
• Never wrap cable around
your bent arm or in a tight
figure eight pattern.
• Avoid twists and kinks that damage the
cable or keep it from laying flat.
Rolling cable 1 Rolling cable 2
Pro Speak
• Audio – sound converted to electric
• Cardioid – heart-shaped microphone
pattern. Directional.
• Condenser mic – requires power to
generate voltage and for preamplifier.
• Critical distance – ideal area for
microphone pickup.
• Dynamic (moving-coil) microphone –
common in radio. Requires no power
Pro Speak (cont.)
• Omindirectional – picks up in 360 degree
• Proximity effect – working close to a
cardioid microphone emphasizes
resonance (bass) of announcer’s voice.
• Ribbon mic – uses thin metal ribbon for sound
pickup. Classic “old-fashioned” style.
• XLR connector – common microphone connector
in radio. Three metal pins in a cylindrical housing.
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