Copies of 12 MS Powerpoint slides from a previous KC5YR presentation to the Murray, KY Amateur Radio Club.


Microphone Types


Condenser microphones generally capture sound with excellent fidelity and are among the most popular microphone choices for studio recording and, increasingly, for Amateur Radio as well. Condenser microphones require a power source, which can be provided by a small battery, an external power supply, or phantom power, which is usually provided by a mixer, preamplifier, or direct (DI) box.  Phantom power is sent over the same microphone cable that carries the audio signal; the term derives from the fact that there is no visible power cord, and the voltage is not perceptible in the audio path.


Dynamic microphones are possibly the most widely used microphone type, especially in Amateur Radio. They are relatively inexpensive, resistant to physical damage, and typically handle high sound-pressure levels (SPL) very well. Unlike condenser microphones, most dynamic microphones do not require a power source. Dynamic microphones, especially ribbon microphones, tend to generate low output voltages, so they typically need more preamp gain than condenser microphones.

Note:  Ribbon microphones are a special type of dynamic microphone and get their name from the thin metal ribbon used in their design. Ribbon microphones capture sound with very high fidelity—especially higher frequencies. However, they often are very fragile (many newer models are less so) and typically cannot handle high sound-pressure levels. Most ribbon microphones do not require phantom power.


This includes a range of USB microphones which can connect to any computer via a USB cable, enabling the user with a desktop computer or laptop to record without the need for microphone preamps, regular microphone cables or other hardware. The concept itself is simple enough: put the preamp and analog to digital (A-D) converter inside the microphone and power the whole thing from the USB bus.

USB microphones do open up possibilities for portable amateur radio operations.  They make it possible for those not into studio recording to get good-quality results without having to buy any extra gear such as audio interfaces, mixers or microphone preamps