Dynamic mics are essentially live performance mics. Sure, any mic type can be used under any circumstances, but dynamics are the most hardy and robust out of the pack. They're more likely to survive high sound pressure levels and have fewer requirements than their sensitive condenser microphone cousins. They are also usually less expensive than condenser microphones and are suitable for the loudness of excited guests and bleeding guitar cabinets alike. Let's take a look at why and how they're used by podcasters to record episodes.
What's the difference between a condenser and dynamic mic?
A dynamic microphone is more suitable for capturing loud and strong sounds like drum kits or loud vocals. They're better for live settings, where you don't really want to amplify the background room noise. Condenser mics, on the other hand, are designed to capture more delicate sounds and higher frequencies, particularly in studio settings like spoken vocals.
Podcasters typically use condenser mics to record their shows, but a dynamic mic can also do the job just fine. Furthermore, dynamic mics are better for field recordings, so if you're recording on the road like the kid from Ghostbusters, you'll want a dynamic mic (and a windscreen, of course).
How exactly does a dynamic microphone work?
Dynamic mics (aka "moving coil microphones"), are fairly simple to understand. The mic consists of a coil of wire glued to the back of a membrane that sits inside a strong magnet. When sound waves hit the membrane, it moves in sync with the waves. This motion moves the coil within its surrounding magnetic field and that induces a small signal voltage in the coil which is then translated into an electrical signal.
Which dynamic mic should I choose?
Short answer: basically any. Dynamic mics are considered more of an entry-level way of recording a podcast, better suited to those who lack access to professional recording environments. Until you're serious enough about podcasting to invest in creating a quiet recording space with acoustic treatment, any dynamic mic will do the job of picking up your voice while deadening the unwanted room echo.
As with other microphone types, your choice will rely on these factors:
Price: There's a wide range of quality across different models. Rather than agonize over the 'right' mic, focus on your show planning and guest relations.
Volume: Loud guests will fare better with a dynamic mic than a condenser. Again, the model of the microphone matters less than the right amount of input gain (ie loudness "allowance") on your recording device.
Longevity: Is buying a $100 mic a pretty big once-off purchase for you? If so, get a tried-and-tested model that lasts forever rather than a newer design. The indomitable Shure SM58 is your best bet.
Polar patterns: Dynamic mics generally have cardioid polar patterns. If recording directionality is a factor for you, you'll need to shop around.
Other types of microphones
If dynamic mics are designed for mobile and live use, what are some of the other purpose-built microphone types?
Condenser microphones are commonly used in music and podcast studios. Some people prefer the sound quality and warmth of condenser microphones compared to dynamics. However, condensers are designed for quiet studio recording and do not perform well in living rooms or public places with background noise. They are sensitive and not very good at reducing room noise. They also require a 48V phantom power source, a common feature on mixers and audio interfaces. Shopping for gear? Find out more about condenser microphones [LINK: What is a Condenser Microphone].
Ribbon microphones are a type of extremely thin aluminium ribbon as the electrical conductor instead of a membrane and coil. This design produces sound with greater accuracy because the ribbon can follow the sound waves more precisely. In addition, since it involves only one conductor in the magnetic gap, ribbon mics generate much lower level output than traditional moving coil capsules.
A noise-cancelling microphone is designed to reject background noise and focus on close sounds. It uses a pressure-gradient design and acoustic labyrinths (whatever that means) to cancel out ambient noises and unwanted audio signals. Pretty amazingly, these microphones basically make a mini-recording of the ambient room noise signal in real time and then cancel it while preserving your voice!
Good news, everyone! Dynamic microphones are less expensive than almost any other type of microphone, and they last for ages. Typically, budget-friendly dynamic mics start around $50, while higher-end models can range up to a few hundred dollars. If you're looking for an all-rounder mic, then something in the middle would be a great choice.
Choosing a microphone as a podcaster isn't a huge deal. You're probably not a sound engineer recording musical masterpieces, just voices! Mics don't have superpowers that make your stories or guests amazing. So, if you don't know exactly what a cardioid pattern is, don't dive into the overwhelming world of options. Just buy something decent within your budget that has good reviews. Then, focus on creating an awesome show. Less stress!
Pros and cons of dynamic mics
Cost: less expensive than condenser mics.
Build: lighter and more durable than condenser mics.
Ease of use: dynamic mics don't require phantom power.
Mobile: more trustworthy when recording on the road or in public.
Loudness: good for loud voices, a kick drum or field recordings
Size: smaller and less obstructive on video.
Sound quality: less sensitive than condenser mics and not ideal for capturing vocal subtlety.
Best in terms of quality? Not necessarily. More like the best in terms of value for money. Here are the Saspod staff picks ranked high to low by price.
The Shure SM7B is probably most famous for being a reissue of the exact same vocal microphone that was used by Michael Jackson on Thriller. But it could just as easily be famous for being a 5-star workhorse with decades-long staying power. In terms of sound quality, the SM7B gives the 'upper class' of condenser mics a run for their money. It provides a warm, midrange-rich sound and is a reliable option in the studio, despite being more expensive than other condenser microphones. These features have made it the dynamic podcasting microphone in recent years.
Podcasters and YouTubers want a quality broadcast with minimal setup. Size matters, especially when you're on video, and smaller is better. The PodMic is primarily designed to get out of the way. Be aware that this mic is the companion to the uber-popular Rodecaster Pro Podcast Production Studio. According to Rode, that is. The reality is that it works well with any audio interface or mixing desk. If you're looking for an affordable alternative to the oft-mentioned Blue Yeti, this is it.
SM58 With this ubiquitous dynamic microphone, Shure has done a great favour to humanity. No jokes! The Shure SM58 cardioid microphone reigns supreme as the ultimate live performance microphone, capturing the essence of iconic moments from historic speeches to the kick drum of the world's most famous bands. Perpetually affordable and as robust as a Nokia 3310, the SM58 has given a leg-up to countless musicians and podcasters in the world. Absolutely recommended for entry-level podcasters!
Invest wisely in a microphone and it will sing sweetly for your entire recording journey. Check out these magical tips for unlocking the secret to a microphone's eternal life.
Leave a few silica packets in your mic case to prevent moisture damage.
Pack it away or cover it with a cloth when not in use.
Don't leave it in a hot car or anywhere hot. Heat damages the sensitive soldering.
Get a proper case to protect it during transportation.
Dynamic microphones are a great option for anyone looking for versatility in their vocal applications. They provide good sound quality, have a variety of uses, and often last longer than other types of mics. When choosing a dynamic microphone, it's important to consider the application it will be used for and budget accordingly. With proper care and maintenance, dynamic microphones can provide years of reliable use. Already podcasting? Saspod is shaking up the podcast space with novel pricing structures and easy-to-switch hosting. Check out what we're offering and consider switching to Saspod hosting today.