Whether for streaming, a podcast, a video blog, or other audio track recordings, a microphone is essential for many tasks.
But which one is right for the project? And are there any good microphones that are inexpensive?
In our Microphone Buying Guide 2021, we answer these questions and present you with detailed background information on the microphones. It also introduces you to some microphones types and explains some criteria that can help you choose the right device for you.
Some Essential Info:
- Some Essential Info:
- Best Microphones: Overview
- Best Studio Microphone
- Best Classic Microphone
- Best Microphone for Smartphone
- Best Podcast/Mini Microphone
- Buying Guide: Questions to Consider Before Buying a Microphone
- Where can I buy a microphone?
- How much does a (good) microphone cost?
- An alternative is buying used microphone:
- Can I also rent a microphone?
- Directional characteristics: omnidirectional, cardioid and directional microphones
- Omnidirectional Microphone
- Cardioid Microphone
- Directional microphone
- Connection types: jacks, mini jacks and XLR connections
- Connect the microphone directly to the PC?
- Useful accessories
- Foam sleeves against wind noise
- Pop protection against pops
- Decision: What types of microphones are there and which one is right for you?
- How does a dynamic microphone work and what is it particularly suitable for?
- Moving coil microphone
- Ribbon microphone
- How does a condenser microphone work and what is it particularly suitable for?
- How does an electret microphone work and what is it particularly suitable for?
- Purchase criteria: Factors to compare and rate microphones
- Sound quality
- Did you know that you can easily check whether a manufacturer has flickered in the self-noise information and the signal-to-noise ratio?
- Transducer type
- The directional characteristic
- Connection type
- Need an additional power supply?
- Location and Purpose of Mic
- Facts worth knowing about microphones
- Useful technical terms
- Frequency response
- Useful signal
- Signal to noise ratio
- Impulse fidelity
- Distortion factor
- History of the microphone
- A good microphone is an essential tool for any audio recording. With an external microphone, you can also significantly improve your PC’s sound quality of communication applications.
- An essential difference between dynamic microphones and condenser microphones is that the former is more intended for stage use, the latter for studio recordings. The capacitor technology is also used in electret microphones for PC applications.
- The directional characteristic is also essential – this determines whether a microphone receives the sound from the front or evenly from all directions
Best Microphones: Overview
auna MIC-900B USB MicrophoneBest Studio Microphone
Best Classic Microphone
NASUM Recording MicrophoneBest Microphone for Smartphone
Razer Seiren Mini USB Streaming MicrophoneBest Podcast/Mini Microphone
Best Studio Microphone
auna MIC-900B USB Cardioid Condenser Microphone
- PLUG & PLAY: The Auna MIC-900B is a studio condenser microphone with a cardioid pattern.
- COMPATIBILITY: Thanks to the 5/8″ thread, the mount can easily be used with a commercially available microphone stand. A 3/8″ to 5/8″ adapter is included.
- QUALITY SOUND: With a sample rate of 16 bit/48kHz and a balanced cardioid pattern, vocal recordings are created in the highest sound quality.
- DURABILITY: The 16mm electret microphone capsule and steel basket guarantee durability and ruggedness, making the microphone suitable for on-the-road use, as well as in the studio.
- STYLE: The sturdy metal body is presented in a stylish matte black. It also features a green power LED.
The Auna MIC-900B is a higher quality USB microphone with an electret condenser.
It offers a very appealing sound quality at a fair price. The accessories include a microphone spider for noise reduction.
An electret capacitor has a significant advantage that you do not need an additional power supply. To operate the MIC-900B, neither a battery nor an additional adapter with a separate power connection is necessary – you can plug the microphone into the USB socket of your PC and get started.
Best Classic Microphone
- PC desk and handheld microphone with excellent recording quality for speech and vocals, ideal for brilliant voice recordings.
- Low weight and ergonomic shape, secure hold thanks to a comfortable tripod with adjustable inclination.
- Practical on / off switch for quick muting.
- Connection to PC or laptop via 3.5 mm jack plug, cable length 2 m, simple plug & play installation.
The SPEEDLINK Capo is a table microphone that offers you satisfactory sound quality for little money. It can be used well for speech applications – e.g. B. Skype, podcasting or in PC games.
The SPEEDLINK Capo is a dynamic microphone. Because of their robustness, such microphones are often used for live performances, especially for vocal performances.
Best Microphone for Smartphone
NASUM Recording Microphone
- Plug and Play – Simply plug it into any available USB port. Compatible with Windows and Mac
- Distinctive Dual Layer Filter – Tabletop microphone mount comes with professional dual-layer acoustic filter to prevent from popping and improve vocal recording quality.
- Practical accessories – Folding Tripod Stand and wind screen shield has Ultra-compact design for maximum portability, you can fix the microphone on the desk with the mini flexible head which is 270 degree rotatable.
- Perfect for Vocals – Great for Skype, Recordings for YouTube, Google Voice Search, Messenger and Gameswork and PC.
- Satisfactory Service – NASUM service 2 years, 30 days unconditional return.
This NASUM microphone offers optimum sound isolation and background noise is faded out thanks to its special surface. The microphone is ideal for your cell phone or PC because it can be plugged in with a 3.5 mm jack.
This makes it well suited for podcasts and studio recordings, but especially apps like YouTube or Skype. An accessory is also supplied in the form of a stand and a pop shield.
Best Podcast/Mini Microphone
Razer Seiren Mini USB Streaming Microphone
- Ultra-Precise Super cardioid Pickup Pattern: The Razer Seiren Mini is tuned with a tighter pickup angle, so it can focus on your voice while ensuring that background noises like typing and mouse clicks don’t get picked up.
- Professional Recording Quality: With its 14mm condenser capsule and flat frequency response, the mic broadcasts your voice with stellar clarity that’s filled with crisp highs and deep lows.
- Ultra-Compact Build: Made for minimalist or smaller setups, it barely takes up any desk space and is discreet on-camera, putting more focus on you. Easy to bring along if you need take your streaming elsewhere.
- Heavy-Duty Tilting Stand: Sitting on a sturdy support, the mic can be angled to find the perfect sweetspot for your voice. It can also be detached and mounted on a boom arm or mic stand that uses a standard 5/8-inch thread.
The Razer Seiren Mini microphone is extremely easy to operate via USB and delivers excellent recording quality at a low price. You can use it well for streaming, podcasting, Skype, but also simple music recordings.
The advantage of the electret version over the classic capacitor is that you don’t need any external power supply for your microphone – connect it to the USB and off you go. The sound quality is very good for Skype, Discord, etc. You can also record music with it if you don’t have too high demands.
Buying Guide: Questions to Consider Before Buying a Microphone
Where can I buy a microphone?
It also depends on what kind of mic you want. Simple microphones (e.g. for video cameras, for Skype) are available in every electronics store.
But if you are a musician and value high recording quality, you can visit a music store of your choice. There you can test the microphones and then decide on the product of your choice. Alternatively, you can order the items from an online supplier
How much does a (good) microphone cost?
You can get very simple microphones – for example, accessories for your smartphone – for under $15, (on Amazon).
It is similar with dynamic microphones, which you can buy online or at music stores. For condenser microphones for vocal recordings, the lowest price is around $50.
But if you value good sound quality, you should spend more:
It starts at around $100 for dynamic microphones, for a condenser microphone you should pay $200 or more.
|Simple microphone||from approx $15|
|Good dynamic microphone||from approx $100|
|Good condenser microphone||from approx $200|
An alternative is buying used microphone:
The popular Shure SM57 live microphone (new price over 100 euros) is available on eBay for around $60. One disadvantage is that you cannot test a used microphone before sending it online – unless you live near the provider. So you can also look around for regional offers.
Can I also rent a microphone?
Yes, suppose you only need a microphone occasionally, regardless of whether it is a condenser microphone or a dynamic microphone. In that case, you can rent it cheaply from a music retailer of your choice. You can get the already mentioned SM57 on loan for about $5 per day.
Directional characteristics: omnidirectional, cardioid and directional microphones
The directional characteristic is also important for microphones – this refers to the area in which a microphone picks up sounds, e.g. B. all around from all sides or primarily “from the front”.
An omnidirectional microphone is the right choice for the “all-around sound”.
For example, if you don’t record your voice, ambient noise (waves, bird calls, station hall atmosphere …), this directional characteristic is popular. Voice recording also works if you, the speaker or singer, are close enough to the microphone – then your voice dominates over the environment, similar to when you say something directly into another person’s ear.
Another advantage of omnidirectional microphones is their insensitivity to noise such as wind or finger movements on the microphone holder.
The pick-up range of a cardioid microphone, on the other hand, can be compared to a funnel.
A cardioid microphone reacts primarily to sound “from the front”, whereby the recording area widens with increasing distance. This type of microphone is widely used for music recording and live amplification.
Related to the cardioid is the super-cardioid, which also picks up the sound a little more from behind.
The pick-up range of a directional microphone is even narrower.
This primarily picks up the sound directly from the front, i.e. everything that is directly “in the line of fire” of this tubular microphone. This is particularly useful if you want to record a speaker or musician who is some distance away from you without the recording being disturbed too much by ambient noise.
Because of this property, you have to point a directional microphone very precisely at the sound source, otherwise, the sound quality will be greatly reduced. Such a microphone is also very susceptible to wind noise, so it is particularly suitable for indoor shots. A windbreak can help.
When taking close-ups, directional microphones tend to overemphasize low frequencies – the result is a dull sound. This is known as the proximity effect.
Connection types: jacks, mini jacks and XLR connections
There are very different types of connections for microphones. XLR sockets have established themselves in the professional sector. In contrast, cheap microphones (e.g. for laptops or camcorders) use the small mini-jacks that fit into PC sound cards’ sockets. Large jack plugs are also used in the hi-fi sector.
Connect the microphone directly to the PC?
- There are three options for connecting a microphone directly to the PC: The connection to the sound card (XLR)
- Use of a USB microphone
- A wireless microphone with Bluetooth transmission
If you want to connect your microphone to your computer’s sound card, the microphone must have a mini-jack plug. If there is a different type of connection, an adapter cable can help (e.g. an XLR mini-jack cable).
An alternative option is a microphone with a USB port. With this, the sound card is built into the microphone itself. USB microphones are also available in high quality, which is sufficient for good podcasting or karaoke, for example. For the latter, wireless microphones are also recommended – they send their data to the PC via Bluetooth. They are also available to clip on; then they are called lavalier microphones.
Foam sleeves against wind noise
When recording outdoors, the wind often causes noise in the microphone – a kind of deep thunder.
The same applies to breathing noises when a singer or speaker is close to the microphone. In order to mitigate this effect, microphones have a foam insert inside that dampens air movements. If this is not sufficient, an external windscreen is necessary: Here you use a foam cover attached to the microphone.
You can buy such a windshield relatively cheaply – it is often included with the microphone as an accessory. When recording, however, it also attenuates the highs. Wind protection baskets that enclose the entire microphone have less height attenuation – but they cost a lot!
Pop protection against pops
A variant of the wind protection is pop protection (also “pop protection”).
This is a circular membrane that is placed in front of the microphone. It protects against the blast of air that occurs with explosive sounds such as “p”, “t” or “k”. A pop screen is mainly used in recording studios, where protection against wind noise is otherwise unnecessary. A pop screen is also available quite cheaply.
They are available with both single and double covers. The pop screen is usually attached to the microphone stand with a gooseneck and placed in front of the microphone at a distance of 5 to 20 cm. You also need a pop screen if you want to prevent or intercept wet pronunciation.
In the following video, you can hear and see which background noises produce pops in the microphone and how a pop screen can help:
Decision: What types of microphones are there and which one is right for you?
There are different designs of microphones, each with varying characteristics of sound. It’s not just about “better” or “worse” – it depends on the purpose.
However, all microphones work in the same way. Sound causes a membrane to vibrate, which converts the mechanical energy of the sound into electrical energy. This creates electrical impulses which are then transported to the recording device via a microphone cable. In short, a microphone is a sound transducer.
Depending on whether you want to record a song with your band, need reliable amplification when singing at a live event, or simply want to enhance your camera’s sound with an external microphone, you may be interested in very different microphones.
The most common microphone types are:
- The dynamic microphone
- The condenser microphone
- The electret microphone
All of these microphone types have unique characteristics and are particularly suitable for specific applications. We will show you these below. You can also find out more about this topic in the following video:
How does a dynamic microphone work and what is it particularly suitable for?
In this microphone, a membrane is attached within a magnetic field, which is caused to vibrate by sound.
This creates different voltages. This microphone is available in two designs: the moving coil microphone and the less frequently used ribbon microphone.
Moving coil microphone
This type of microphone is popular at live events and is by far the most popular dynamic microphone. Moving coil microphones can withstand high sound pressures and are also quite robust. Therefore these are ideal as vocal microphones and also for rapping.
A moving coil microphone is not particularly sensitive – it can fall down once without being damaged. That and the insensitivity to high volume make this microphone type ideal for live use.
- Ideal for live
- Tolerates high sound pressures
- Is very robust
- Relatively inexpensive
- Not as good a sound quality as condenser microphones
- No high impulse fidelity
From a technical point of view, a moving coil microphone has a straightforward structure: a wire coil is attached to the back of the membrane, which resonates with the membrane when exposed to sound. An annular magnet is installed around the coil.
The coil’s movement in the magnetic field generates electricity – similar to a bicycle dynamo, but at a much lower level.
The ribbon microphone is more likely to be found in the studio and is the specialist for a particularly warm sound.
The ribbon microphone has a very thin ribbon made of aluminium as a membrane. Since aluminium is an electrical conductor, there is no need for an additional wire coil to convert the vibrations into electricity. Due to its low mass, the aluminium ribbon reacts much more sensitively to sound waves than the membrane in a moving coil microphone and responds faster.
- Has a particularly warm sound
- Good responsiveness
- Attenuated treble reproduction
- Is extremely sensitive to shock
The voltage generated in this way is very low, which is why you need a good preamplifier.
Also, such a ribbon microphone is very sensitive to shock. Therefore, ribbon microphones are mainly used in recording studios for recordings and not on stage, and there – because of their low sensitivity to height – especially when a particularly warm sound is required.
How does a condenser microphone work and what is it particularly suitable for?
Condenser microphones are the standard for studio recording and have a particularly high sound quality.
Condenser microphones are preferred in recording studios because of their good sound quality, thanks to their very thin membrane. Large diaphragm microphones are suitable for rap and vocal recordings as well as for instruments, whereas small diaphragm models are more suitable for instrumental recordings. At high sound levels, however, they distort more easily than dynamic microphones. They are also significantly more expensive.
This microphone is built on the electric plate capacitor principle: The membrane of a capacitor microphone is electrically conductive – at least on the surface.
- Excellent sound
- Very little noise
- Not that robust
- High price
A gold-coated plastic membrane is often used. This is a few thousandths of a millimeter across from a perforated metal disc. The membrane and metal disc form the two electrodes of the capacitor, the voltage of which is changed by the vibrations of the membrane.
In contrast to the dynamic microphone, a condenser microphone needs external voltage in order to operate. Mixers or audio interfaces with microphone inputs can provide this voltage; this is called phantom power. But there are also capacitor microphones with a built-in battery compartment.
How does an electret microphone work and what is it particularly suitable for?
The electret microphone is by far the most widespread microphone and is mainly used in communication devices such as cell phones.
The design of the electret microphone is very similar to the condenser microphone. An electret film is attached to the capacitor plate in this micro, which is permanently under voltage. This voltage is provided either internally using a battery or externally using phantom power.
As with the capacitor micro, the vibrating membrane is opposite the plate, whereby the capacitor converts the vibrations into voltage fluctuations.
- Very cheap to have
- Very small construction possible
- Low sound quality with simple consumer microphones
This microphone is very inexpensive to manufacture – especially in a too small-scale design – and requires less power to operate than a condenser microphone. It is therefore often used in smartphones or headsets and is usually found in the lower price range.
However, there are also some excellent electret mics from well-known manufacturers.
Purchase criteria: Factors to compare and rate microphones
Do you want to buy a microphone? In the following, we would like to show you the criteria you can use to compare and rate microphones. This makes it easier for you to decide whether a particular product is suitable for you or not.
In summary, these are:
- The sound quality
- The converter type
- The directional characteristic
- The connection type
- The need for an additional power supply
- The installation site (for plugging in, for the desk, for the stage)
- The design of the microphone
- Price-performance ratio
In the following paragraphs, you can find out what the individual purchase criteria are and classify them.
Depending on whether you use a microphone for video recordings, podcasting, documentaries, karaoke or professional-sounding music recordings, the sound quality will play a more or less important role in your purchase decision.
The sound quality of a microphone depends, among other things, on the signal-to-noise ratio, the frequency response, the impulse fidelity and the distortion factor (the latter, however, as mentioned above, does not play such a big role these days).
If you want a (semi) professional microphone for music recordings, you can test it directly in many music stores and compare different products.
Did you know that you can easily check whether a manufacturer has flickered in the self-noise information and the signal-to-noise ratio?
If both values are given, all you have to do is add them up and the result should be 94dB. If you get a different value, something is wrong with the manufacturer’s information.
Apart from that, there are also many specialist journals (e.g. “Sound & Recording”) in which detailed microphone tests can be read, including the technical specifics measured by independent testers, such as frequency response and signal to noise ratio.
Another possibility are recording forums, in which you can browse through the contributions and ask your questions about the sound of certain microphones. There are sometimes very knowledgeable people taking notes.
You can often not listen to inexpensive microphones beforehand.
Also, manufacturers often do not specify technical specifications in this price range. But you can find numerous customer ratings on the Internet, for example on Amazon. You will find a lot of customer statements there, especially about popular low-cost mics, so that you can assess whether a mic is sound or not.
We have already discussed above on the converter type – condenser microphone or dynamic microphone. It is essential if you want a higher quality microphone, as you will be more interested in the sound properties here.
The condenser microphone is ideal for recording in the home studio because it has the highest sound quality. If, on the other hand, you want to perform live (e.g. with a band or to rap), then use the more robust dynamic microphone, as condenser mics can break quickly if they are hit or dropped.
Virtually all electret converters have inexpensive microphones for cell phones, cameras or laptops.
The directional characteristic
We have also already explained the directional characteristic in detail above. The decisive factor is whether you want to record the all-round sound in the room or rather dampen it.
For the latter, cardioid microphones and especially directional microphones are more recommended, i.e. those with an omnidirectional pattern. With the omnidirectional characteristic, it should be noted that such a micro usually only produces a mono recording of the spatial environment. For stereo recordings, you need either 2 microphones or a special stereo microphone.
Here, too, it is best to first test microphones with different directional characteristics in a music store and get advice from an expert dealer.
The type of connection will also be important to you. Depending on whether you only have a PC with a sound card or a mixer or a professional audio interface, other connection types come into consideration:
A normal PC sound card usually has connections for mini-jack plugs. The socket for microphones is usually coloured pink. If you use a microphone on your PC for tweeting or podcasts, you can use a microphone with a mini-jack cable.
Or you can use a microphone with a USB port.
Your PC doesn’t even have to have a sound card for this, as the converter is already integrated in the microphone itself.
With a good-sounding USB microphone, you have the advantage that you can connect it to various devices (e.g. in addition to your PC also to a tablet with a USB port) and you will always have good sound – even if these devices have a bad one Have onboard sound card.
Until you are an ambitious singer or musician and want to amplify your vocals live or make recordings in your home studio, you will want a microphone in the higher price range. These almost always have an XLR connection.
Such a connection cannot be connected to a PC sound card, so you need a mixer or a special audio interface for this. These are already very cheaper than Behringer.
If necessary, you can also use an XLR mini-jack adapter, but onboard sound cards on PCs usually only have inferior sound quality. In a nutshell: If you already buy a good microphone, the audio interface shouldn’t destroy the sound again.
|Home use on the PC||Mini jack, USB|
|For good music recordings||XLR socket|
|If you want to move freely||Wireless micro, bluetooth micro|
If you want to move freely while recording, e.g. B. for a video recording or a live report, you should test a wireless microphone.
There are such as conventional radio microphones – the microphone is connected to a receiving station by radio. For some years now, there has also been the option of connecting to a PC via Bluetooth.
There are two types of wireless systems: those with a handheld transmitter and a bodypack transmitter.
For microphones with handheld transmitters, the transmitter is built directly into the microphone. As the name suggests, you have to hold these microphones in your hand or attach them to a stand in a conventional way. The alternative is the bodypack transmitter: A small clip-on microphone is connected to the transmitter via a microphone cable. You can carry the latter with you in a jacket pocket, for example.
The quality and range of wireless microphones depend on the price range. Good Bluetooth microphones are quite expensive. With the Bluetooth version, you also have to consider that other digital transmission devices such as cell phones or WLAN modems can cause microphone interference.
However, a clear advantage of Bluetooth microphones is that they can be easily connected to almost all modern devices and therefore, no additional equipment is required.
Need an additional power supply?
The dependence on a separate power supply could also be important in your purchase decision.
This is especially true if you want to record something quickly and easily via your sound card without to be dependent on a charged battery.
As mentioned above, condenser microphones can only be operated with an additional power source, the so-called phantom power. This is not made available by regular PC sound cards. If you don’t have a mixer or audio interface that can deliver this, make sure that your microphone does not need phantom power.
However, some microphones also cover their power requirements with a conventional battery. If you don’t want to risk the microphone suddenly failing when the battery is empty, buy a microphone powered solely by the sound card. This is the case with most inexpensive consumer microphones.
|Microphone type||Power supply|
|Condenser microphone||Yes (via power or battery)|
Location and Purpose of Mic
Depending on how you want to use your microphone, how the microphone is set up or attached will also play a major role in your purchase decision. Do you want to move freely – for example during a performance or a report – and not constantly “in front of the Micro”, a clip-on microphone is a right thing for you.
You can attach this to your clothing with a clip or a clamp. Such microphones are usually tiny so that they do not interfere visually (e.g. during a lecture). Due to the attachment at chest level and the associated small distance to the mouth, white clip-on microphones also have a good voice quality.
There are also models that you can hang around your neck with a hanger. Neck microphones are very flexible because they can be attached independently of the speaker’s clothing and have no annoying cables. Microphones that can be plugged in or worn around the neck are often also Bluetooth or radio microphones.
If you make voice recordings on your PC at home – for podcasting, for example – or if you want to have better sound quality while skyping, opt for a microphone stand. This is also available with a small tripod so that you can conveniently place it on your desk in front of you. Many models also have a so-called gooseneck, with which you can bend the microphone in any direction you want.
If you buy a table stand for a more expensive microphone, make sure that it is sufficiently stable. Table microphones are particularly useful for PC applications such as YouTube videos, gaming or podcasts, as you have your hands free. The sound quality is not impaired even if the microphone is a little further away and therefore does not have to be placed directly in front of the mouth. Most table microphones have a USB port.
One advantage is a tripod with a relatively massive base plate. Such tripods are available from Samson or König & Meyer, for example. When performing on stage there is usually no table, so you need a large tripod to place the microphone on the floor. A tripod is usually not included with stage mics; you have to buy it separately. Pay particular attention to stability here.
A microphone’s appearance may not be that important to many users, but you may want a microphone that sounds not only good but also looks cool.
To pimp up the mics, which are usually made in black or silver, various design forges on the Internet can refine your microphone optically as desired.
Facts worth knowing about microphones
Useful technical terms
The frequency response indicates to what extent a microphone amplifies or attenuates certain frequencies. Ribbon microphones take e.g. – as mentioned above – high sound components are somewhat attenuated, some other microphones do not perceive bass as well.
A microphone type can also respond particularly strongly in certain frequency ranges. The frequency response is also heavily dependent on the direction from which the recorded sound is coming.
This means the signal that you “actually” want to record, e.g. B. your voice, but not unwanted rumbling or hissing. The latter is known as an interfering signal.
Signal to noise ratio
This refers to the ratio of the volume of a disturbing noise to that of the useful signal: the more your voice is disturbed by noise, the lower the signal-to-noise ratio.
This not only decreases with louder noise, but also when – conversely – your voice can be heard quieter, but the noise remains the same.
The impulse fidelity states how exactly a sound arriving at the microphone is “translated” into electrical vibrations. The sensitivity of the membrane strongly influences impulse fidelity.
If a microphone’s membrane takes longer to settle in, the original impulse is weakened and a drum beat sounds, for example. B. not as crisp on the recording as in the original.
The distortion factor describes the strength of unwanted distortion of the audio signal, i.e. how much is the waveform deformed during recording? At least in the case of microphones used in the music sector, the distortion factor is shallow these days, so you should look at other factors when buying.
History of the microphone
The microphone was originally invented in 1860 as part of a telephone system. The inventor was the Italian Antonio Meucci, who emigrated to the USA.
The microphone was then continuously developed – a big step was the invention of the carbon microphone in 1877. This consisted of an electrically conductive capsule behind a metal membrane. In the capsule there were conductive carbon rods that served as transducers. The rods were later replaced by carbon granules.
The carbon microphone remained the standard in this form for a long time – in recording studios until the 1940s. It was used in telephones even in the 1970s.
The microphone acquired a new meaning as a result of the broadcasting that established itself in the 1920s.
In the 1930s, Georg Neumann invented the condenser microphone. These microphones were of a much higher quality than carbon microphones – surviving models from this period can still be used for recordings today. The condenser microphone replaced the carbon microphone as the studio standard in the 1940s. The company founded by Neumann is still one of the most renowned microphone manufacturers.
The electret microphone was added in 1962. Its functional principle was known since the 1920s, but the implementation failed for a long time due to a lack of suitable materials. Today’s electret microphones work on the basis of Teflon foil.
Mention should also be made of the recently developed laser microphone, which should be of particular interest for espionage purposes. The “membrane” forms here a window on which the laser beam is directed. If conversations are held in the room behind, it creates very weak vibrations in the glass. These can be scanned with the laser light and so the conversations can be heard.