Identify mic types

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Jerm
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Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2018 8:13 am

Identify mic types

Post by Jerm » Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:06 am

Can someone tell me how to look at a mic and tell if it is a condenser or dynamic? I understand the difference in operation, but I can't identify them just by appearance. Any tips?

TPT
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Re: Identify mic types

Post by TPT » Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:56 am

On some of the condensers you can see the element behind the screen==has a more "open" look than the dynamics. Wind screens on many dynamic mike are a much finer mesh.

Of course, many are marked as condenser mikes. Then there is always Google--make and model number look-up.

Nathaniel Steele
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Location: Tennessee

Re: Identify mic types

Post by Nathaniel Steele » Mon Apr 30, 2018 12:33 pm

You'd generally need to look at the element, so remove the "grille" a dynamic will look like a speaker, acondenser will look like a piezo disk.

But yeah, just google the model number....

Nathaniel Steele
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Re: Identify mic types

Post by Nathaniel Steele » Mon Apr 30, 2018 12:34 pm

And then there are ribbons......and lasers, and carbon mics......

Jerm
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Re: Identify mic types

Post by Jerm » Mon Apr 30, 2018 12:47 pm

Thanks, that helps.

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PID_Stop
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Re: Identify mic types

Post by PID_Stop » Mon Apr 30, 2018 3:33 pm

Here's a way to tell empirically without taking the mic apart:

1) Some condenser mics have built-in battery compartments; not so for other types. If you find a battery, it's definitely a condenser.

2) You will need a mic preamp... make absolutely certain that phantom power is turned off, as it will damage a ribbon-type microphone.

3) Plug the mic into the preamp; if you get audio, it's either dynamic or a ribbon.

4) I can't think of a ribbon microphone that isn't pretty easy to identify: older ones (RCA 44BX, 77DX) are rather large, newer ones tend to be well labeled for manufacturer and model, so an internet search should settle the question of whether it's a ribbon or a dynamic.

5) Are we talking about an antique? If not, you can pretty much discount it being a carbon mic (unless it's from a 30+ year old phone!).

6) At this point, it's very likely to be a condenser mic that requires phantom power. If you do not hear audio and have checked to make sure that it isn't a ribbon type, turn on phantom power, and the mic will start working.


I'll stress it again: if there is a suspicion that it might be a ribbon type, don't turn on phantom power, or try anything like using an ohmmeter.

Jeff

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