How Does a Condenser Microphone Work?

The word ‘condenser’ is an old terminology that means ‘capacitor.’ Condenser microphone has a robust capacitor that can convert sound energy into an electrical signal. This capacitor has two metal-surfaced plates held firmly together in a way that voltage can pass through them. The plates are made of solid brass and very lightweight metal. Even in many cases, they could be made of gold-sputtered Mylar. The one made of solid brass is called a backplate while the one with lightweight metal is referred to as diaphragm but how does a condenser microphone work?

How Condenser Microphone Work?

Condenser mics are renowned for their sensitivity to sounds, phantom power requirements, and broader response to frequency. However, various reactions and interactions are occurring in the device making it potent and dynamic as it is.  As we said earlier, condenser mics have a substantial built-in capacitor within an encasing regarded as microphone capsule. This membrane can be seen if you detach the microphone grille, which comes with most of these mics.

Now, the diaphragm can detect any subtlety in air pressure variations, which could be part of the sound of the room or the vocals, and including the instrument that is being used for recording. When the diaphragm receives vibrations from sound waves, the relative distance between backplate and diaphragm will cause a rapid variation in the current across the capacitor making it produce an electrical signal. Moreover, there are constant and quick fluctuations in the system just like that of the sound waves generating the voltage.

Meanwhile, before, you could hear the sound signal over the speaker; you must enhance and boost it since the electrical energy existing between the capacitor plates in that circuit is producing no current at all.  Therefore, to make a condenser microphone work properly, you must amplify the signal using an external source of power. For you to achieve this in your home studio or any other stage where you want to use the mic, you need to use 48V Phantom Power. It can release a 48-volt signal from an audio interface or a preamp directly through the XLR cable into the mic. Therefore, this external power source, Phantom Power is given that appellation and title because it can transmit electrical power supply through the same XLR cable carrying the audio signal needed to produce high-quality sound in a condenser microphone.

Another way to amplify acoustic energy in a condenser mic is by using a vacuum tube. This process involves boosting the signal from the microphone capsule using a vacuum tube to enhance mobile broadcasting and even recording. In other words, tube condenser microphones need power more than the regular 48V Phantom Power. In most cases, these tube mics come with their external power supply. Experts have stated that tube technology is one of the oldest ways of amplifying a microphone. Nevertheless, various artists are still hooked up to the warm and beautiful tones heated-up tubes are producing nowadays.

Furthermore, a condenser mic can work through an electret, which is a permanently charged dielectric substance capable of supplying consistent current to the capacitor of the condenser mic. This transmission of power functions through the onboard battery. There is an ultra-thin film attached to the diaphragm within the capsule or the back plate regarded as the electret material. Often, these electret condenser microphones could be found existing as smaller and portable mics such as laptop microphones, cell phones, and lavalier mics.

Examples of Top Quality Condenser Mics

Condenser Mics


We have a list of some of the condenser microphones reputed as being of high-quality, cost-effective, efficient, great sounding, and appropriate for recording such as Instrument Studio, USB Recording, Project Studio, Studio Accessories, Premium Studio, and many more. This collection of mics is known to have multi-pattern FET condensers with award-winning vintage tube models and ideal for recording and broadcasting accordingly.

The Father of Condenser Microphone

The Father of Condenser Microphone

We cannot conclude this treatise without mentioning the father and inventor of the condenser microphone known as Georg Neumann, who also founded the Neumann microphone company that made Neumann’s KM series of condenser mics. Condenser microphones can work in three ways like by using 48V Phantom Power that has the capacity of producing a 48-volt signal from an audio interface or a preamp directly through the XLR cable into the microphone. The second process is by using a vacuum tube, which involves boosting the signal from the mic capsule using a vacuum tube; thereby, increasing the quality of sounds produced during broadcasting and recording. The third way is through an electret that supplies current continuously to the capacitor of a condenser mic.

Leave a Comment