Do many large diaphragm condenser mics work well for live performances, or are they typically reserved for studio applications only? Great question. I’ll do my best to respond by comparing large-diaphragm condensers and the dynamic mics used on stage most frequently. I’ll briefly review the mics to understand better why dynamics are used on stage rather than LDCs.
Are many large diaphragm condenser microphones suitable for live use, or are they generally kept for studio use only? Condenser microphones are far more sensitive when picking up sound, even though they are generally considered delicate and more prone to shattering due to drops, hard handling, severe wind, etc. Many condenser microphones, especially antique ones like the Neumann U47 and versions powered by tubes, can be delicate in construction and are not recommended for live use.
Because some models, particularly solid-state models like the Rode NT1 or Neumann TLM 103, can be incredibly durable, one might be tempted to use one of these in place of a dynamic microphone because of the superior tonal quality that condensers generally offer and which is unmatched by many or most dynamic microphones. Nonetheless, it would be best to consider the environment in which you want to use the microphone. A condenser would be a better option if the performer will be in a small space (think MTV Unplugged), performing alone, and there won’t be much movement or handling required. (There are scenarios, like choir, symphony, etc., where SMALL diaphragm condensers will be excellent.)
Large-Diaphragm Condensers vs. Small-Diaphragm Condensers
Are many large diaphragm condenser microphones suitable for live use, or are they generally kept for studio use only? The size of the diaphragms of condenser microphones is the characteristic difference between them. Despite their comparable fundamental functions, different-size condensers often have exceptional performances and specializations.
A diaphragm in a large diaphragm condenser normally has a diameter of at least 1 inch (25.4 mm). The diaphragm diameter of a small-diaphragm condenser is 1/2 inch (12.7 mm) or even less. It’s crucial to remember that despite these diaphragms’ various sizes, they both employ the same basic capacitor system, including a static backplate, a mobile diaphragm, and an external power source requirement.
Are many large diaphragm condenser microphones suitable for live use, or are they generally kept for studio use only? Their diameters provide distinctive variations, including quick responsiveness, frequency response, and polar patterns, even though they share the same fundamental operation.
How accurately a microphone responds to transient sounds in its diaphragm is known as a transient response. Transients are brief, high-intensity sound bursts generally present at the start of an audio source. Transients can be heard in string instruments and horns, but percussion-based instruments produce the loudest and most noticeable ones.
Are many large diaphragm condenser microphones suitable for live use, or are they generally kept for studio use only? The transient responses of large-diaphragm condenser microphones are typically slow but extremely accurate. These microphones’ slower transient response speeds result from their larger size. They still do a fantastic job at producing accurate audio reproduction, though.
Small-diaphragm condenser microphones are made to react quickly to transients because of their fast transient responses. These are among the most precise microphones currently available because of their transient response level. Even though it’s rare, certain smaller ones can react too quickly to transients, which results in an incorrect capture.
Reaction to Frequency
The range of frequencies and tones a microphone can reproduce is called its frequency response. Improved frequency response translates to audio components that reproduce sound waves more accurately and with little distortion.
Flat frequency responses of both large- and small-diaphragm condenser microphones enable precise reproduction. Huge condensers typically exhibit a fall-off in output at higher ranges, producing a brighter or even harsher sound. Tiny condensers have a cleaner sound, even above the range of human hearing, because they avoid these resonant cancellations.
Are many large diaphragm condenser microphones suitable for live use, or are they generally kept for studio use only? Condenser microphones transform sound waves and vibrations into electrical signals like all other microphones. Condenser mics have a sensitive two-plate capacitor arrangement that enables them to capture a wider frequency range with higher-quality audio.
Although excellent at detecting subtleties in audio, these sensors are too delicate to record live, noisy instruments. Also, they depend on phantom power, which means they don’t generate their energy and need an external power source.