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skilsaw

Condenser vs dynamic mics?

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This question has very little to do with amps, but since mics plug into amps, I put the question here.

 

 

What is the low tech description of the difference between condenser and dynamic mics?

 

Can either be used (one at a time)in the same jack on an amplifier?

 

What is the difference between XLR and TRS microphone input on an amplifier?

 

I understand condenser mics run on "Phantom Power" from the amp. Do all amps have phantom power?

 

I'm new to this so please try not to get too technical.

Thanks.

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Generally spoken, a condenser mic creates a voltage difference from a capacitor of which one plate is moving with sound. The capacitor must be charged, and the signal must be amped up within the mic. Dynamic mics generate a signal using a coil or a ribbon moving with sound in a magnetic field. Due to less moving mass, condenser mics will transduce the upper treble range better.

 

Condenser mics cannot be used into a TRS input. For the reason see the following.

 

Depending on the specific unit, XLR and TRS inputs may have same input signal sensitivity and amplification range or differ with these. The XLR input usually has the lower input impedance and can be designed to provide phantom power. Except for some units with XLR/TRS combo inputs feeding it against all standards to TRS sockets as well, TRS inputs do not supply phantom power. Always refer to the specifications in the manual of the related unit.

 

Phantom power is provided by many vocal amps or mixers. Some do this switchable per input, some per pair of inputs, some switch even more inputs together. One switch per input is best for flexibility.

 

Please also refer to the replies there: http://forum.gibson.com/index.php?/topic/116496-what-is-a-condenser-vs-dynamic-mic/page__p__1581457#entry1581457

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Hi Skilsaw

 

The reply by capmaster is correct, but since you asked for a 'non technical' answer, it might appear a bit complicated....

 

What are your requirements? Generally microphones don't go direct to an amplifier, they normally go to a mixing desk first.

 

If you're thinking of using an amplifier that handles guitar and vocals, then yes the mic will go straight to the amp.

 

Condenser mics are normally more expensive and fragile than dynamic mics. The best known mic that you will see on just about any live concert at Wembley stadium or your local pub is the Shure SM58, which is a dynamic mic costing less than £100..!!

 

You don't have to spend mega bucks for a decent sound. The SM58 is typical of dynamic mics. It will survive just about anything you can throw at it or drop on it.

 

So to answer you questions, as a general rule......

 

....Dynamic mics are robust, cheap, sound pretty good for live use and don't need phantom power.

 

....Condenser mics need more care when handling, are more expensive and need phantom power.

 

....Most mics and amps will use an XLR cable which is the three pin plug/ socket. Some amplifiers accept the TRS, which is the large plug that you normally see on a pair of headphones.

 

....Not all amps will supply phantom power, but a lot of mixing desks will.

 

Are you playing in a band or at home? Will you be using a PA?

 

Are you wanting to use the same amp for both guitar and vocals?

 

If you can tell us what your plans are, some more specific advice will follow.

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Thanks Capmaster and the saint.

I'm just learning this electric stuff as my grown son moves up in his music hobby.

For his birthday this year he received an electric acoustic guitar and a 2 channel amp that supplied phantom power.

He got a condenser mic to go along with it. He had a similar set up in high school, but I don't know if he had a condenser or dynamic mic to go with it.

 

For Christmas I'm getting him a Roland JC 120 amp to pair with a Gibson L5 CES hollowbody archtop guitar. The Roland amp is 2 channel but from what I can understand reading off the Web, it will only take 2 guitars. Not a guitar and a mic. A couple days ago, I wondered if the Roland amp would take a dynamic mic since I could not find Phantom power in the specifications.

 

He uses the first guitar and amp for folk music. Thus the need for vocals. The second set up is for Jazz. No need for vocals going through the Roland amp.

 

I don't know what the friends he plays with have for sound equipment. I can just back off and let them cobble together what they need. Nothing wrong with them renting or buying their own equipment. I should just sit back and let them take flight.

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Thanks Capmaster and the saint.

I'm just learning this electric stuff as my grown son moves up in his music hobby.

For his birthday this year he received an electric acoustic guitar and a 2 channel amp that supplied phantom power.

He got a condenser mic to go along with it. He had a similar set up in high school, but I don't know if he had a condenser or dynamic mic to go with it.

 

For Christmas I'm getting him a Roland JC 120 amp to pair with a Gibson L5 CES hollowbody archtop guitar. The Roland amp is 2 channel but from what I can understand reading off the Web, it will only take 2 guitars. Not a guitar and a mic. A couple days ago, I wondered if the Roland amp would take a dynamic mic since I could not find Phantom power in the specifications.

 

He uses the first guitar and amp for folk music. Thus the need for vocals. The second set up is for Jazz. No need for vocals going through the Roland amp.

 

I don't know what the friends he plays with have for sound equipment. I can just back off and let them cobble together what they need. Nothing wrong with them renting or buying their own equipment. I should just sit back and let them take flight.

 

Are you looking to adopt? Cos I'm looking to shift into your son's life. My parents struggled to buy me a pushbike! [rolleyes]

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Are you looking to adopt? Cos I'm looking to shift into your son's life. My parents struggled to buy me a pushbike! [rolleyes]

You're a nasty sort of joker, SP. I think I remember you wanted me to adopt you for possibly inheriting a certain limited guitar of mine. [rolleyes]

 

Go on playing your kazoo. [biggrin]

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