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Choosing The Best Dynamic Microphone: An In-Depth Guide

Choosing The Best Dynamic Microphone: An In-Depth Guide

Podcasters can be very particular about choosing a microphone. If you’re on the market for a new one and have settled on buying a dynamic mic, you’ve already made the first decision. This article will outline everything you need to know about dynamic mics and our top dynamic mic picks for 2022. 

TL;DR

  • A dynamic mic is a microphone that converts sound to audio via electromagnetism. 
  • There are two types of dynamic mic: moving coil and ribbon mics 
  • Dynamic mics are better suited to loud environments, are highly durable, and don’t need phantom power 
  • When choosing a mic, consider your: budget, needs, XLR or USB, and the mic’s polar pattern 
  • For podcasters on a budget, we’d recommend the Rode PodMic Dynamic Podcasting Mic.
  • For a mid-range dynamic mic, try the Heil PR 40.
  • And for podcasters without a budget, the Sennheiser MD 441 U is a great choice.

What is a dynamic microphone?

A dynamic microphone is a type of microphone that converts sound waves into audio (so an electric signal) using electromagnetism. 

There are two main types of dynamic mic: moving coil mics and ribbon mics. 

Moving coil mics

Moving coil mics are the most popular and commonly used type of dynamic mic. A moving coil mic consists of a coil attached to a membrane. A magnet surrounds the coil and membrane. This kind of mic converts sound into audio in that when a sound wave hits the mic, the membrane (and therefore the coil) starts to move, creating voltage on the coil, which then becomes audio. 

Moving coil mics are generally quite sturdy and robust, and don’t require a power source to work. 

Ribbon mics 

Ribbon mics also use electromagnetism to convert sound into audio. But they’re different from moving coil mics because ribbon mics contain a piece of aluminum foil instead of the membrane and coil contraption. 

Because the aluminum foil is comparatively lighter and more delicate than the membrane and coil combination, ribbon mics are said to produce higher-fidelity audio, because they can replicate the sound waves with more precision. 

That said, ribbon mics also have a lower output. This is because it has only one conductor (the aluminum foil) versus the whole coil. To compensate, ribbon mics contain what’s known as a step-up-transformer. What this does is magnify or multiply the output. 

Ribbon mics are, by comparison, much more delicate and have to be handled carefully. 

What's the difference between dynamic and condenser mics?

Though both dynamic and condenser mics carry out the same function, there are striking differences in how they work and their best applications. 

Dynamic & Condenser mics convert sound differently

As we saw earlier, dynamic mics convert sound into audio using electromagnetism. While condenser mics work using a ‘capacitor’. A capacitor has two metal plates (a diaphragm and a backplate) suspended closely together with a voltage running through them. When a sound wave hits the mic, it causes the diaphragm to oscillate back and forth. This causes a change in the voltage, and this is how the mic mirrors the sound into audio. 

Dynamic mics are better for loud & live situations 

Dynamic mics are well-suited to live performances, especially with loud sound sources such as drums that you want to record. 

Condenser mics are more sensitive

On the other hand, Condenser mics are more sensitive and can pick up on small and nuanced sounds. Condenser mics are typically found in studio, sound-treated environments and are used a lot for vocal work. 

Remember that condenser mics may be too sensitive for some content creators. Because of their high sensitivity, audio recordings can be vulnerable to distortion, increased rate of popping, and more. 

Condenser mics need phantom power

While dynamic mics don’t need an external power source to work, condenser mics do. 

What are dynamic microphones best for?

Before getting too involved in the intricacies, one thing to note is that if you find a mic that works for you, you should stick with that mic. At the same time, it is worth doing your research and knowing your dynamic mics from your condenser mics. At the end of the day, if you find a mic that you like, stick with that. You’ll find both condenser and dynamic mics that produce high-quality audio, regardless of their internal technicalities. 

Generally speaking, dynamic mics are best for loud environments and live concerts. But don’t let that deceive you; they’re also an excellent option for recording vocals in a professional studio or home studio. 

What are the disadvantages of a dynamic microphone?

Some creators might find that the frequency response of a dynamic mic compared to a condenser mic is limited. However, dynamic mics are a great option, mainly because they’re robust and can endure rough handling. 

How to use a Dynamic Mic

This will depend on the connectivity of your dynamic mic, so whether you’ve chosen a USB or XLR dynamic microphone. 

USB mics are pretty much ‘plug-and-play.’ Simply plug them into your computer and start recording. 

XLR mics require a little bit more setting up. You’ll need an audio interface to connect up to your mic and computer. An audio interface converts the analog signal from your dynamic mic into a digital signal for your computer. 

How to choose a dynamic mic

The Budget

Before you consider any other factors, you need to know how much you’re willing and able to spend on your mic. This will influence your range of choice and narrow down exactly what kind of dynamic mic you’re looking for. 

Microphone Applications

You need to be familiar with the needs of your particular podcasting setup and go from there. For example, if you tend to host in-person interview format podcasts, you may consider looking for a bi-directional cardioid pattern mic. 

Size of the diaphragm

The mic's diaphragm is the membrane, coil, magnet combination we encountered earlier. Mics with smaller diaphragms are better suited to picking up higher frequencies. Mics with larger diaphragms are more sensitive and, therefore, can handle loud sounds and noises. 

The Polar Patterns

Your mic's polar pattern tells you where, as in from which direction, your mic picks up sound. The right polar pattern for you will depend on your setup and needs. 

Cardioid 

Cardioid pickup pattern mics capture most sound from the front of the mic. It’s called a cardioid polar pattern because it looks a bit like a heart. These are some of the most common. 

Supercardioid

A supercardioid mic, like the cardioid, picks up sound from the front of the microphone. The only difference is that they tend to reject background noise better and might pick up a bit of sound from behind the mic. 

Bi-directional 

Bi-directional is exactly what it sounds like. They pick up sounds from the front and back of the microphone. These are especially great for an interview setup. 

Omni-directional 

An omnidirectional mic picks up sound from all directions. 

The Frequency Response

Frequency response tells you the range of frequencies that a mic can pick up. You’re looking for a minimum range of 20 - 20,000 Hz. This is measured in Hz. 

EMI Immunity / EMC 

EMI stands for electromagnetic field immunity. EMC stands for Electro-Magnetic Compatibility. EMI interference sounds like a humming noise and should be avoided at all costs to prevent distortion of your audio. Most dynamic mics are relatively immune, especially moving coil mics. 

Sensitivity

Sensitivity is all about how sensitive a mic is to quiet sounds. If you’re looking to record quiet and delicate sounds, this will be a significant consideration for you. 

You’ll also see references to SPL, which means ‘sound pressure level’; this is measured in dBs. The number of dBs tells you the maximum volume sound that a mic can handle. 

Ruggedness/Durability

Dynamic microphones are known to be durable, which is a great plus if you tend to be a little less delicate when handling your mics. You should take care to assess the build quality and durability of your mic when purchasing. 

Connection type: USB or XLR

This choice comes down to personal preference and is often dictated by budget. XLR mics tend to cost more and come with the additional cost of the audio interface and XLR cable you’ll need to hook it up to your computer. 

The Best Dynamic Mics 

Best Budget Dynamic Mics Under $100

Shure SM57 

  • Price: $99
  • Frequency response: 40 - 15,000 Hz 
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid 
  • Sensitivity:  56dBV 
  • Connection: XLR 
  • Durability: Designed with rough handling in mind 

Other features: 

  • Internal shock mount system to minimize the impact of vibrations and knocking 

Why we like it: 

Simple and straightforward, the Shure SM57 does everything it says on the packet for a great price. This tremendous entry-level mic has versatile applications to suit every podcaster. 

Rode PodMic 

  • Price: $99
  • Frequency response: 20 - 20,000 Hz 
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Sensitivity:  -57dB
  • Connection: XLR 
  • Durability: Solid metal construction designed to last 

Other features: 

  • Internal pop-filter 

Why we like it: 

The Rode PodMic is a mighty little microphone, explicitly designed for podcasters and broadcasters. Tailored to speech, it’s an excellent choice for all content creators with or without a budget. 

Sennheiser e 609 Silver 

  • Price: $99.95 
  • Frequency response: 40 - 15,000 Hz 
  • Polar pattern: Supercardioid
  • Sensitivity:  Not disclosed 
  • Connection: XLR 
  • Durability: Not specifically detailed 

Other features: 

  • Hum compensation coil reduces low-frequency humming
  • Internal shock mount 

Why we like it: 

The Sennheiser e 609 primarily aims to record instrumentals, such as guitar. But that said, it makes a great entry-level affordable mic. Its simple and sleek design, combined with the super-cardioid polar pattern, make it a strong choice for podcasting too. 

Best Dynamic Mics Under $300

Rode Procaster 

  • Price: $229.95 
  • Frequency response: 75 - 18,000 Hz 
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid 
  • Sensitivity: -56dB
  • Connection: XLR 
  • Durability: All metal construction 

Other features: 

  • Internal shock mounting 
  • Internal pop filter 
  • Microphone stand mount included 

Why we like it: 

The Rode Procaster is tailor-made to capture the best vocals possible. This mic packs a punch at a mid-range price point and delivers pristine audio quality. The styling is also sleek and minimalist. 

Best Dynamic Mics Under $500

Heil PR 40 

  • Price: $349.00 
  • Frequency response: 28 - 18,000 Hz 
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid 
  • Sensitivity: High SPL / -53.9dB 
  • Connection: XLR 
  • Durability: Steel housing for maximum durability 

Other features: 

  • Specialized screen system - 2 different mesh screens and in-built filter 
  • Internal shock mount 

Why we like it: 

This mic is perfect for vocal recording. It has a large diaphragm which means that it captures high-fidelity audio. The Heil PR40 particularly prides itself on the smooth frequency response. 

Sennheiser MD 421-11

  • Price: $399.95
  • Frequency response: 30 - 17,000 Hz 
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid 
  • Sensitivity: High SPL 
  • Connection: XLR 
  • Durability: Not detailed 

Other features: 

  • Flexible bass control 

Why we like it: 

The Sennheiser MD 421-11 is an incredibly versatile mic. Its bass control means that you can tailor it to handle several different recording environments. This gives the creator a great deal of freedom and flexibility and means that you can fine-tune your mic to pick up the best quality audio possible wherever and whatever you’re recording. 

Shure SM7B 

  • Price: $399.00
  • Frequency response: 30 - 17,000 Hz 
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid 
  • Sensitivity: High SPL 
  • Connection: XLR 
  • Durability: Not detailed 

Other features: 

  • Internal air suspension shock isolation 
  • Internal rejection of electromagnetic hum
  • Detachable pop-filter 

Why we like it: 

The Shure SM7B is an industry favorite. It has a mid-range emphasis and shields against broadband interference. And captures great-sounding audio. Its design also can’t be faulted. 

Best Dynamic Mics Under $1000

Neumann BCM 705 

  • Price: $699.00
  • Frequency response: 20 - 20,000 Hz 
  • Polar pattern: Hypercardioid  
  • Sensitivity: 1.7MV/Pa  
  • Connection: XLR 
  • Durability: Not specifically detailed 

Other features: 

  • In-built pop filter 
  • Integrated suspension

Why we like it: 

The hyper-cardioid polar pattern makes the Neumann BCM 705 a serious contender. It’s specifically designed to record speech, and it shows. Some podcasters may also be a big winner for more' retro' styling. 

Sennheiser MD 441- U 

  • Price: $999.00
  • Frequency response: 30 - 20,000 Hz 
  • Polar pattern: Supercardioid 
  • Sensitivity: 1.8MV/Pa  
  • Connection: XLR 
  • Durability: Not detailed

Other features: 

  • In-built pop filter 
  • 5-position bass roll-off. This means that you can toggle the bass to adapt to your recording situation 
  • 2 high-frequency position contour, which emphasizes high frequency sounds to make them as clear as possible
  • Built-in wind-screen 

Why we like it: 

The Sennheiser MD 441-U is celebrated as a highly versatile microphone that works well for recording applications. Its super-cardioid polar patterns mean that it very effectively rejects ambient noise, honing in on your desired audio source. 

Best USB Dynamic Mics

Samson Technologies Q2U USB/XLR Mic 

  • Price: $69.99
  • Frequency response: 50 - 15kHz 
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid 
  • Sensitivity:  -54dBV 
  • Connection: USB or XLR 
  • Durability: Not specifically detailed

Why we like it: 

The Samson Technologies Q2U offers both XLR and USB connectivity. This flexibility is perfect for podcasters looking for an affordable USB mic who might later think about investing in an audio interface. 

Rode Podcaster USB Broadcast Microphone 

  • Price: $218.00
  • Frequency response: 40 to 14kHZ 
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid 
  • Sensitivity:  - 51dB 
  • Connection: USB 
  • Durability: Not specifically detailed

Other features: 

  • Internal pop-filter 
  • Headphone output 

Why we like it: 

The Rode Podcaster USB Broadcast mic is plug & play without sacrificing audio quality. The cardioid polar pattern helps the Rode podcaster capture audio with clarity, clear of background noise. 

Best Dynamic Microphone For Vocals

If all you’re looking for is audio quality specifically for vocals, you can’t go wrong with the Neumann BCM 705. That said, every voice is different, and you might find that different microphones suit you better or worse. 

Best Dynamic Microphone For Podcasting

There’s no single best dynamic microphone for podcasting because it all depends on what you need out of your mic. If you’re looking for a budget option that’s quick and easy to use, we’d recommend a USB mic such as the Rode Podcaster USB mic. If you’ve got more of a budget, then we’d recommend the Shure SM7B.

Best Dynamic Microphone For Vlogging

Vlogging usually means you’re on the go a lot. This means you’re looking for a compact microphone that sits tight to your camera. If you need some guidance, we’ve compiled a whole list of microphones specific to filmmakers and vloggers in our guide to the Best DSLR Microphones. 

Best Dynamic Microphone For Streaming 

Streamers on a budget will want to go for a USB mic like the Rode Podcaster USB mic. They’re super easy to set up and plug straight into your computer. If you’ve got more of a budget, you could consider trying one of our more expensive recommendations. Bear in mind, however, that you’ll also have to invest in an audio interface. 

Best Dynamic Microphone For Professionals

Again, this all comes down to the professional in question’s needs and desires. All of the mics we’ve recommended in this article produce high-quality audio and satisfy most professional podcasters' needs. 

Dynamic Microphone FAQs

Do dynamic microphones need power?

Unlike condenser microphones, dynamic mics don’t need phantom power to work. 

Does a dynamic mic need a preamp?

Yes, but you don’t necessarily need to purchase one separately. Dynamic mics usually come with one built-in. 

Is a dynamic mic good for recording vocals?

Yes. As we’ve said throughout this article, dynamic mics are a great option for recording vocals. 

Are dynamic microphones good for streaming?

Absolutely. At the end of the day, if you’ve found a mic that works for you, that’s the most important thing. 

Can you use a dynamic mic with phantom power?

Yes, you can. You shouldn’t run into any trouble if your mics are properly balanced. 

What is the difference between a dynamic mic and a condenser mic?

The most significant difference between a dynamic and condenser mic is how they convert sound into audio. Beyond that, condenser mics also tend to be a little more sensitive than dynamic mics but also more susceptible to damage from rough handling. 

What do you need for a dynamic mic?

If you’ve got an XLR dynamic mic, you’ll also need an audio interface to connect your mic up to your computer. In addition, it’s always good practice (if you’ve got the budget) to invest in a mic stand or boom arm and pop filter to ensure you record the best quality audio possible. 

Do dynamic mics have self-noise?

No, your dynamic mic shouldn't have any problems with self-noise. 

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