From Standard Handbook of Audio and Radio Engineering, Second Edition

Chapter List

Chapter 4.1: Microphones
Chapter 4.2: Stereophonic Techniques
Chapter 4.3: Low Power Amplifiers

Part Overview

Every electronic system has a starting point, and in the case of audio, that point is usually a microphone. The source origination equipment available for a well-equipped audio studio range from traditional mics to special-purpose devices intended to capture sounds in difficult environments. Microphones are transducers nothing more, nothing less. No matter how large or small, elaborate or simple, expensive or economical a microphone might be, it has only one basic function: to convert acoustical energy to electrical energy.

With this fundamental point clearly established, you might wonder why microphones exist in such a mind-boggling array of sizes, shapes, frequency response characteristics, and element types. The answer is simple. Although the basic function of all microphones is the same, they have to work in many different applications and under various conditions.

Choosing the right microphone for a particular application might seem as easy as falling off a log, but it is a decision that deserves considerable thought. Just as no two production sessions are alike, the microphone requirements are varied also.

Microphone manufacturers offer a selection of units to match almost any application. With a good working knowledge of the various microphone designs, choosing the right mic for the job becomes a much simpler task. The education process begins with a look at some of the microphones commonly in use today.

Reference Documents for this Section:

"A Phased Array," Hi Fi News Record Rev.,


Products & Services
Audio Microphones
Audio microphones are designed for sound reception and recording applications (speech and music).
Measurement Microphones
Measurement microphones are most commonly condenser microphones, which convert sound pressure to an output that is then converted into a reading such as sound pressure level (SPL).
Microphone Chips
Microphone Chips are integrated circuits (IC) microphones.
Audio Mixers and Consoles
Audio mixers and audio consoles are units that combine signals from microphones and/or line level sources to produce a combined signal or signals.
Broadcasting, Studio, and Theatrical Services
Broadcasting, studio and theatrical services specialize in the planning and production of television shows, radio programs, movies, films, plays, concerts, and other audio or video recordings.

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We're often asked what is the difference between free field microphones, diffuse field microphones and pressure microphones. For a run-of-the-mill 1/2" inch microphone the short answer is nothing.