Tech Tip:For the Love o' Mics: Understanding Microphones Part 5: Glossary Terms



 

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Glossary Terms

 

Capacitance
The measure of a capacitor's ability to store charge.

 

Capacitor
An electronic component that stores charge temporarily, not unlike a battery, but with better high-frequency characteristics.

 

Mylar
A strong resilient plastic that can be formed into incredibly tough, thin sheets, and widely used for microphone diaphragms. It resists aging well, even in the presence of cigarette smoke and ultra-violet light.

 

Phantom power
A voltage, usually -48 Volts, sent through mic cables to power condenser microphones and some direct boxes. It is direct-current (DC) and as such does not affect the alternating-current (AC) signals that are sent through the same wires of the mic cable. Note that phantom power can be FATAL to some ribbon microphones, and a bad cable can cause it to eat even Shure SM57 or 58's, so be careful.

 

Schematic
A symbolic drawing of an electronic circuit.

 

Sensitivity (microphone sensitivity)
The ability of a mic to translate sounds over a wide dynamic range into electrical signals. Higher sensitivity means the mic can pick up quieter sounds and deliver them effectively; mics with low sensitivity are poor at picking up quiet sounds.

 

Rejection
The extent to which a microphone is "deaf" to sounds coming from certain directions.

 

Copyright ©2000 Douglas B. Henderson

 

 

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