“the microphone is the most important element in any audio chain...” John Eargle
The orientation of music is uncertain though it has been present for thousands of years and is found in every country and culture. Ever since the birth of music there has been a desire to capture and manipulate it; however, It was only during the last century that advances in technology has shaped the sound of music
Microphone Technology is an important aspect to the sound of music. Originally used as a telephone voice transmitter it is now used today to capture sound. For years people always wanted to amplify, replay, edit, transmit, share sound; however we can’t do any of these things without capturing sound first.
The first concept of sound reproduction was demonstrated in 1856 by Leon Scot,a French inventor. The sound was captured by a diaphragm linked to a stylus which would vibrate and write to form a wavering line representing sound. This device was known as the Phono-autograph. This concept of converting the energy of sound to acoustic energy is the foundation of sound reproduction.
In 1876, Emile Berliner invented the first microphone which was originally used for a telephone. It followed the concept of Alexander Graham Bell original patent of a wire that conducted electrical direct current. This simply converted the acoustic energy to electrical energy. This technology is the foundation of a transducer. Since Emile Berliner’s first microphone, small steps of development of the microphone slowly advanced. From Hughes development of a slightly modified wood plate diaphragm in 1878 to Blake’s invention of the loose carbon granule transmitter. Though these microphones were used for telephone they formed a basis of the concept for microphones. These microphones were acceptable until the 1920s when radio broadcasting began and better microphones were needed. This sparked the development of the capacitor and ribbon microphones.
The capacitor microphone or condenser uses electrostatic principles. The diaphragm of a condenser consists of a fixed rear plate and a moveable front plate. As the front plate vibrates, the “capacitor” charge is constantly changing. This change in electrical charge is the conversion of acoustic energy to electrical energy (a transducer). The advantage of this type of conversion is that the diaphragm is not attached to anything and therefore it is extremely light allowing for a smooth frequency response (especially high frequencies). The disadvantage is that it needs an external power source to charge the plates. This is where dynamic microphones come in. It is the most common microphone used due to the fact that it is highly durable, versatile and uses its own power (permanent magnet). All these increases in microphone technology has improved the way we capture sound, manipulated it and overall the sound of the music we listen to.
Studios today to capture any sound with the closest fidelity. An audio engineer can now “tailor” a microphone to a kick drum, a clarinet, a violin... anything to a musician/performer to best capture its creativity. Now with the availability anyone can capture their own sound and creativity and share it with the world
The Microphone book 2nd edition by John Eargle
History of microphones pg 1-6
History of microphones: inventor Viewed 3rd of May
Recording History Viewed 3rd of May