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Best Large-diaphragm Condenser Microphone

A large-diaphragm condenser microphone (LDC), also known as a large-diaphragm condenser, is an electronic device that uses charged capacitor plates and electromagnets to produce a sound waveform by modulating the movement of the plates.

The diaphragm vibrates to create the mechanical wave that eventually generates an electrical signal.

Large-diaphragm microphones are most often used for vocals, acoustic instruments, orchestral instruments, drum overheads, and horn sections.

The best large-diaphragm condenser microphones on the market is based heavily on what type of sound quality and recording application you need.

How does a large-diaphragm Mic work?

A large-diaphragm condenser microphone is an electronic device that uses charged capacitor plates and electromagnets to produce a sound waveform by modulating the movement of the plates.

The diaphragm vibrates to create the mechanical wave that eventually generates an electrical signal.

The diaphragm is made of two plates – made of metal, ceramic, or plastic – which are held together and charged by a static voltage.

This plate vibrates when something causes the diaphragm to move, creating a mechanical wave.

When you plug this mechanical wave into an audio amplifier, it produces an electrical signal that you can record and playback electronically.

Large-diaphragm condenser microphones cost more, but they are more durable than small-diaphragm microphones & provide greater sound quality in the studio recording (Source: audiomentor.com).

How to Choose a Large-diaphragm Condenser Microphone

1. Size

The size of the microphone should be larger as compared to the other condenser microphones in order to maintain internal isolation and minimize noises or hiss emitted from the metal diaphragm. Moreover, a large-diaphragm condenser microphone captures more sound because it is capable of rejecting more external sounds like electrical disturbances that are unessential to recording instruments.

2. Price

The price of the microphone should be evaluated on how long it would last and if it is enough for your needs. It would need to surpass your budget but a high-end microphone could be a better buy because of longer lifespan and exceptional quality.

3. Frequency Response

The frequency response of the microphone should include ranges from 20 Hz to 20 kHz or 24 dB/octave at 1 kHz as recommended by the producer or owner of the recording studio. For live recordings, a microphone can have a frequency response of 20 Hz to 25 kHz.

4. Low Self-Noise

If the microphone has a high sensitivity, it can be used in high SPL (Sound Pressure Level) and low self-noise. The self-noise should not be audible when the microphone is set for a gain that is higher than 80 dB SPL.

5. High Sensitivity

The sensitivity of the microphone should be high enough to allow it to record delicate instruments to heavy instruments at zero dB gain and still provide a good quality recording.

6. Dimensional and Construction

The construction of the microphone should be strong and durable because it would be used for a long period of time. The microphone should have a good look and feel so that it will not look out of place in any recording studio or situation.

5 Best large-diaphragm Condenser Microphones

1. Audio-Technica AT4033/CL 

Best large-diaphragm Condenser Microphones

The Audio-Technica AT4033 is a large-diaphragm low-impedance microphone with a cardioid polar pattern. The microphone itself has three switchable high-frequency boost settings and may be used with phantom power. Besides the sensitivity switch, there are bass roll-off and pad switches located on the backside of the microphone. The 4033 also features an integrated stand adapter that allows for use on a variety of mic stands.

2. RODE NT1-A 

The Rode NT1-A is a condenser microphone that offers the benefits of an omnidirectional mic, but with the added capability of a cardioid polar pattern. The NT1-A is designed to be used primarily with computers and laptops, although it can also be used with many other recording equipment. It has three sensitivity settings; standard, high-sensitivity and grunge. The standard setting uses a 3.5mV/Pa sensitivity, the high-sensitivity setting uses a 1.2mV/Pa sensitivity, and the grunge setting uses a -10dB pad which will produce more bass by moving the low cutoff down slightly.

3. AKG C214 

The AKG C214 is a side-address large diaphragm condenser microphone, that is both sturdy and powerful. The AKG C214 features a switchable bass rolloff and high frequency boost, as well as switchable pad. This microphone features an onboard mute switch, which can halt the audio signal output from the microphone. Unlike many the microphones in its category, it uses a 20dB pad instead of a 10dB pad for maximum protection against clipping and distortion.

4. Shure KSM32/CG 

The KSM32/CG is a large-diaphragm condenser microphone with an integral suspension mount and a gold-plated hypercardioid polar pattern. It is the second version of the original KSM32, which was reviewed in Sound On Sound Issue 64. The KSM32/CG features the same capsule, electronics and signal path as its predecessor, but has an all-new enclosure and suspension system built around a Shure ball-and-socket arm and Shockmount for greater isolation against mechanical noise.

5. Blue Microphones Bluebird SL

The Shure KSM7 is a large-diaphragm condenser microphone that has an omnidirectional polar pattern. It has a switchable high frequency boost, and a 10dB pad that can be moved in the signal chain to prevent distortion from occurring by drastically reducing the amplitude of peaks inside the audio band. It also has an internal mute switch. In addition, its capsule is of the K67 type, which is a special type of capsule that has been designed in such a way that it is almost impossible for air to leak into the microphone.

6. MXL 2003A 

The MXL 2003A is a large-diaphragm condenser microphone with a cardioid polar pattern. This condenser microphone features four sensitivity settings: standard, low-sensitivity, high-sensitivity and grunge. The power switch for the three sensitivity settings differs by color: red for low sensitivity, blue for high sensitivity and green for grunge. The third setting is, by far, more sensitive of all three settings. Furthermore, the low-sensitivity and high-sensitivity settings use the proximity effect to produce bass frequencies that are missing from the standard-setting.

7. Neumann TLM 102 

First things first, the TLM 102 is a great bang for the buck mic. I have one and I really like the sound it delivers (for those of you wondering, I use it for vocals). The build quality is top-notch and the design is attractive. It has excellent noise-reduction properties, especially when used on stands that isolate it from vibrations. The best part about this microphone is the way it can be used. It is best for vocals and acoustic instruments, although it should be mentioned that vocalists should consider using a solid-state preamp before plugging in the mic. It sounds better and has a higher output gain on vocals than most other mics.

I love the versatility of the TLM 102, but I would prefer to have an additional switch to change between low and high frequencies bandpass filtering.

Conclusion

The Audio Technica AT 4050 and the Neumann TLM 103/103 E are the largest diaphragm mikes. We compared the two in this article. Both are awesome mikes, with advantages and disadvantages for each. In many situations either of them will work great. You’ll have to listen yourself to know what works best for you and your situation.

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