Condenser vs Dynamic

Condenser vs Dynamic

Whether you need a podcast microphone, guitar microphone, or YouTube microphone for videos: If you have a budget for only one microphone you MUST buy a condenser mic. A condenser mic with multiple polar patterns gives you the ability to record a FULL band with one mic or host a podcast with interviews and round-table discussions WITH ONE MIC ONLY. Do read on…

Audio-Technica AT2020

AT2020 – Wide diaphragm condenser mic


SM 57 – Small diaphragm dynamic mic





  1. Range – Condenser mics often times have a broader frequency range than small diaphragm cardioid mics, which allows for a broad range of applications….
    • ….For example, the famous SM57 has a frequency response of 40Hz to 15,000Hz, compared to the Audio-Technica AT2020 (same price as SM 57) with a frequency response of 20Hz – 20,000Hz.
  2. Record High Volume Instruments – Today, alot of condenser mics have a higher sound pressure level (SPL) than cardioid mics, which allows you to record higher volume instruments such as guitar amplifiers and drums.
    • As a point of reference the famous cardioid mic SM 57 has an SPL of 149 dB, and the AKG P430 condenser mic has an SPL of 155 dB. This means the AKG P430 condenser mic has the ability to not only record in more detail than the SM 57, but it can also record louder instruments as well.
  3. Detail Oriented – Large diaphragm condenser mics pick up much more detail than small diaphragm cardioid mics.
  4. More Directional Options (Polar Patterns) –  Condenser mics have the ability to record sound from many different angles, while dynamic microphones generally have the ability to only record sound that whatever is in front of it (Cardioid). See images below of the 7 most common polar patterns that condenser mics posses. The dark black circular outline in the graphics below represent the areas at which the mic will pick up sound.


Omnidirectional Polar Pattern

Omnidirectional Polar Pattern

  • Group of singers/instrumentalists – This polar pattern is perfect if you are trying to record a group of singers or instrumentalists – just surround the mic with the musicians and record!
    • Podcast Interview – This is also a great polar patter to have if you are interviewing multiple people for a podcast. This mic will pick up everyone in the room!
  • Drums: Overhead – Works magic as an overhead room mic for a drum set.
  • Full band – No matter what type of music you play, this is a great polar pattern for recording a full live band, simply place the mic right in the middle of the action!

Bi-directional/Figure 8

Figure 8 Polar Pattern

Figure 8 Polar Pattern

  • Podcast Interview – The figure 8 is the perfect polar patter for recording an interview with 2 people using one mic. As you can see this polar pattern picks up sound from the front and the back of the mic, while neglecting noise from the sides.
  • Vocal Harmonies – The figure 8 pattern is perfect for recording 2 singers at the same time with one mic: one on either side.
  • Instrumental Duets – This polar pattern is great for recording 2 instruments at the same time, just line each instrumentalist on opposite sides of the mic and play away!



Subcardioid Polar Pattern

Subcardioid Polar Pattern

  • Drums: Front Overhead – The subcardioid polar pattern works wonders when positioned at the front of a drum kit. If the condenser mic has a broad frequency range (20hz – 20 khz – See my Condenser Mic review) then you can easily attain a well rounded recording of a drumset with crisp lows from the kick and smooth highs from the cymbals.




  • Cardioid Polar Pattern

    Cardioid Polar Pattern

    Vocals – Perfect polar pattern to record vocals, recods olny what is in front of the mic and mutes sound from back and sides of the mic. When recording vocals be sure to use a wide diaphragm condenser mic for a rich and full vocal sound.

    • Podcast: Single Speaker – THE polar position for any podcast-er out there! Will bring clarity and depth to your voice.
    • Guitar Amplifier – Some people like to use narrow diaphragmed mics and others prefer to use wide diaphragmed mics to record guitar it is really  a personal preference. Generally a wide diaphragmed cardioid mic will have a more airy and full sound and a narrow diaphragmed cardioid mic will have a more focused sound – Let your ears be the judge!
    • ANY Single Instrumentalist – If you are recording a single instrument then the Cardioid setting is perfect for a focused and clear sound.


Hypercardioid Polar Pattern

Hypercardioid Polar Pattern

  • Drums: Front with air – The hypercardioid setting is a very good polar pattern to use if you want an airy sound to your drums. As you can see in the photo, the hypercardioid pattern picks up a little sound from the back of the mic. If you put a condenser mic with a hypercardioid pattern at the front of a drum set you will get more of an “airy” sound. The hypercardioid pattern is a very fun pattern to experiment with!



==>Read my Condenser Mic Review – I review the top rated and best condenser mics from every price range.