Microphones translate the mechanical energy of sound into an electric signal. Watch this brief video which explains the basics of how microphones work:

mic.jpgTwo Types of Microphones
Basically, two types of microphones will be used: Dynamic and Condenser.

Dynamic mics are generally less expensive, more sturdy/rigorous, don’t require any additional voltage, good for close-up work, but aren’t as good at reproducing high frequencies. Condenser mics are generally more expensive, more fragile, require “phantom power” (a 48v pre-amp usually sent from the mixer), better for capturing sounds farther away, and handle high frequencies better.

Condenser mics are less affected by “proximity effect” – the low frequency punch as the singer gets closer to the mic – than dynamic mics, but that’s neither good nor bad. Some performers use “proximity effect” to good effect!

Finally, condenser mics are better at directional pattern control (i.e. capture choir in front of mic while filtering out drum set to the side). For these reasons, as a rule, dynamic mics should be used for soloists, but condenser mics for choir.


3-to-1 Rule for Mic Placement
Difference Between Dynamic & Condenser Mics
Top 9 Mic Mistakes

Most microphones use XLR cables. Find out why.
SPEAKERS work on the same principles as microphones, although microphones are better at converting sound (mechanical energy) to an electrical signal, whereas a speaker is better at converting an electrical signal to sound.