I have gotten several questions recently from amateur performers about using a microphone when performing, and that’s a tricky question to answer! Often, a microphone is definitely needed to help amplify an instrument that can be very easily drowned out when playing as an accompaniment to an ensemble–for example, a church choir or a worship team–but how do you amplify the sound without distorting it? Read on!
Dynamic mics are the types of microphones you see on a live stage. Singers use them on stage, as do instruments that need to be mic’d. They are, for the most part, inexpensive, can take a beating, and don’t feedback as easily as Condenser mics. A decent, all purpose, dynamic mic can be purchased for $100 – $150. When playing a flute into a dynamic mic it is important to place the lip opening right up to the microphone. This is due to the fact that these mics don’t pick up sounds that are not right next to them (This is why they are harder to feed back). One of the reasons why these mics will not pick up sounds that are not close to them is because they are not as sensitive as condenser mics. This also applies to the range of frequencies they will and will not pick up. As a general rule dynamic microphones will not pick up sounds that are very low in pitch e.g. low frequencies, or ones that are very high in pitch, e.g. high frequencies. The range of the flute falls well within the range that the microphone can handle.
Condenser microphones are more common for studio recording. Their electronics work in a different way than dynamic mics and are therefore more sensitive. This means that they will pick up sounds from farther away, that are quieter and very low or high in frequencies. Unlike a dynamic mic, when playing into a condenser mic the sound source, in our case the flute, does not need to be right next to the microphone. In fact anything closer then 12″ – 18″ will over power the mic and cause distortion. It will also pick up noise from your lips and fingers moving. For that reason, these types of microphones are not generally recommended for live playing.
We do not currently carry microphones at the IFS, but I am always happy to help guide you in your search for appropriate sound equipment for your instrument!
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