New Media Vocabulary: Condenser Microphone

New media vocab logo

New Media Vocabulary: Condenser Microphone

“The condenser microphone, invented at Bell Labs in 1916 by E. C. Wente[2] is also called a capacitor microphone or electrostatic microphone—capacitors were historically called condensers. Here, the diaphragm acts as one plate of a capacitor, and the vibrations produce changes in the distance between the plates. ” –

When you see folks using those big, studio microphones, chances are they are condenser mics. What is a condenser mic? Since there are far better descriptions of condenser micrpohones available online, I am going to refer and link to them rather than create my own, poor, definition.

For me, in general, condenser mics are great for recording my voice as they tend to add bass and an overall richness to my somewhat high voice. The proximity effect kicks in when working close to these mics and, for spoken word podcasts, can really enhance your vocal sound.

You can hear an example in my own work using an MXL 2001 Condenser microphone on my my podcast, Career Opportunities.

More information on Condenser Microphone:


My own condenser microphones


MXL 2001 | Blue Snowball | MXL 990

Do you have questions, comments or clarifications to this New Media Vocabulary term? Add them to the comments!

Previously on New Media Vocabulary:

5 thoughts on “New Media Vocabulary: Condenser Microphone

  1. I use a condenser microphone for most of my recordings. It works well with my voice.

    The big caveat about condensers is that they’ve much more sensitive than dynamics. Not only are condensers more likely to just pick up noticeable background noises (cars driving by, etc.), they can also amplify signal/room noise, so it’s a good idea to try and use quality preamps with condensers, as well as an environment that’s acoustically stable.

  2. Man, you really need to upgrade your microphone selection. The MXL 990 (pictured at bottom of page) is considered amongst sound engineers to be a particularly awful microphone, and the 2001 isn’t much better. I’d suggest maybe looking into an Audio Technica 2035 at a minimum. You could always go up to an AKG Perception 220, or a Blue Spark and still keep it under $200.

    The Blue Snowball is passable, for a USB microphone.

  3. Yeah, I don’t have a lot of needs for a condenser mic, as I am just recording myself in a fairly quiet environment. Most of my clients outfit their own recording gear, so they often have much newer (and better) equipment than I do. I think it is a case of “The cobbler’s children have no shoes.” (LAUGH)

    If I had more of a need I have received a lot of great recommendations for mics and other gear, including those above, so I would never be wanting for advice and guidance, thank goodness.

  4. Pingback: New Media Vocabulary: Plugin « New Media Interchange

  5. Pingback: New Media Vocabulary: Widget/Web Widget | New Media Interchange

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *