Everyone wants to be a live streamer or podcaster in this day and age. The problem is that most streamers have such inferior audio equipment that it sounds like they are broadcasting from their mom’s basement.
However, it doesn’t take much cash or audio know-how to sound like a pro. You just need to own one of the best streaming microphones and know how to use it. But should you choose a dynamic or a condenser? My in-depth look at what is the best – dynamic vs condenser mic for streaming – will help you to decide the best way forward for you.
If you want to sound like Joe Rogan instead of Joe Blow or a LazarBeam instead of a loser teen, you just need a helping hand and some honest advice to put you on the right track. Condenser mics are known to be better than dynamic mics regarding recording and streaming quality, but they cost way more. So the answer is not simple or straightforward.
So, let’s find out which one suits your needs and budget, starting with…
What Are Dynamic Microphones?
If you are on a budget, dynamic microphones are substantially cheaper than condenser ones, but that doesn’t mean they have inferior quality. Quite the contrary. Dynamic mics were constructed to block out as much background noise as humanly possible while honing in on the voice of the user.
They normally feature a cardioid polar pattern that focuses directly on the sound that’s right in front of it. Any sounds from the side or back will be ignored, making it great for simple podcasting but not so good for interviews or instances where there is more than one person talking unless you get a pair of mics, that is.
Dynamic microphones pick up audio from the front of the ball (if it has one, most do) using a simple induction coil that is surrounded by a magnetic field. The internal diaphragm vibrates when you speak directly into it via electrical currents that are amplified by a mixer or a preamp/audio interface.
If you are using a quality microphone, such as the legendary Shure SM7B Vocal Dynamic Microphone, the standard for radio presenters, the result is a very smooth vocal recording. However, as you reduce the costs, expect a drop in fidelity; the much cheaper Shure SM58 is a good buy if you can stretch to it; it is the most popular live vocal mic in the world, after all. But get much less than the $100 mark, and the results will get worse and worse.
Advantages of Using a Dynamic Mic
Dynamic microphones are usually not the first choice for podcasters and streamers, but if you are working on a limited budget, they are fantastic. And in this instance, you might not have many options. But that doesn’t mean that dynamic models are bad, far from it. There are loads of advantages to using a dynamic mic that I have listed below.
Eliminates Background Noise
There is nothing worse than listening to a podcast or a live stream on Twitch, and you can hear background noises such as tapping away at the keyboard, mouse clicks, or other unwanted sounds. They are really annoying to the listener. Background fans and air-conditioners can sound like you are washing clothes in the back as they rumple away.
Dynamic mics tend not to pick up these types of unwanted background noises, so you are left with a clear vocal sound. Streamers with noisy environments can eliminate background noise by using this MAONO USB/XRL Podcast Dynamic Mic.
No Phantom Power Needed
Microphones that need an extra power source to operate can be a real bind for online streamers who are seeking versatility. You don’t need any phantom power with dynamic mics. All you need are a preamp (or an audio interface that contains one) that amplifies the vocals.
When comparing dynamic mics with condenser mics, the key difference is price. And if this is your first soiree into live streaming or podcasting, you might not want to invest in a super-expensive condenser mic just yet. Dynamic mics are infinitely cheaper than condenser models like this Amazon Basics Dynamic Vocal Mic and are more sturdy and less delicate to boot. They don’t need a power source to use, and fewer parts will need replacing during the long haul.
Solid and Dependable
Sturdy and solid are good things; just ask my mother-in-law. Joking aside, dynamic mics are super-durable and can take some hard knocks, and they keep on working. There are fewer fiddly bits that can easily break, so that makes them very reliable, especially for first-time streamers who are trying to find their feet. They work consistently well in most streaming environments and will generally last longer than the average condenser microphone.
Disadvantages of Using a Dynamic Mic
The truth is that dynamic models are not the first choice of mics you would choose for streaming if you had a decent budget. You can buy better mics than these if you are willing to splash the cash. Here are some of the main disadvantages of using a dynamic mic.
Because a dynamic mic only picks up sound from the top part, it severely limits how and where you can use it. There are no polar patterns or additional features that take this mic to the next level. It is what it is, and that’s all you can expect from it.
Interviewing people or having two-way conversations is impossible with a single dynamic mic (unless you physically move it from person to person), so you need to think about what you need it for before you buy streaming mics.
Low Sensitivity and Frequency Ranges
A Dynamic mic will not pick up any sounds that are not right in front of it due to low sensitivity and the cardioid polar pattern. But in all fairness, this is about personal preferences because some streamers prefer their mic to pick up fewer ‘other’ sounds, i.e., less sensitivity. However, in the broader scheme of things, the low sensitivity is a major disadvantage in terms of overall quality.
Another major disadvantage when comparing dynamic mics with condenser mics is the audio quality. Most are not on the same level as condenser mics in terms of recording and vocal quality if you want a truly accurate reproduction of the sound source.
Because dynamic mics are less sensitive, they lack nuanced audio quality and don’t have so much depth. For sure, the lack of sensitivity is okay if you are recording live gaming streams, or if you need to mic a snare drum on a drum kit; they are superb, but if you want the highest quality reproduction of a human voice, condensers are the best option.
Next, in my look at Dynamic vs Condenser Mic for Streaming, let’s find out…
What Are Condenser Microphones?
If you have an unlimited budget and don’t need to worry about live streaming mic costs, you should buy a condenser mic without even thinking. Condenser microphones are the mic of choice for live streamers on YouTube and Twitch or even for those who want to record vocals for a song.
This is largely down to the improved audio quality you get with a condenser microphone due to the design, which I don’t really need to get into in detail in this article. However, one drawback is that the design requires a +48v input from an external power source, an audio interface, or a mixer. Although we are starting to see an evolution in the technology that uses internal batteries instead.
Condenser mics usually do not feature a fixed polar pattern, so they pick up sound from all around, as opposed to the limitations of the dynamic mic.
Advantages of Using a Condenser Mic
Now that you understand more about condenser microphones, we need to take a look at the main advantages of using one for live streaming.
Perfect for Vocal Recording
There is no contest when it comes to recording vocals for a YouTube vid or a live stream. Condenser mics are known for their audio accuracy that perfectly captures sound signals, resulting in a very clear, clean, and concise vocal playback. This is because of the aforementioned movable front plate that is perfect for picking up sensitive audio signals.
Broader Frequency Ranges
A wider and broader frequency range is the cornerstone of condenser mic audio quality. These mics have frequency ranges of 20hz to 20,000hz, and that ensures the vocal gets boosted to create a better sound with more depth and quality. This is one of the main reasons to buy condenser mics like this Audio-Technica USB Mic for streaming online.
Lots of Additional Features
Where the dynamic mic has almost no additional features and loads of limitations, the condenser mics are the exact opposite in the best possible way. Highly recommended condenser mics like this Blue Yeti have four polar patterns, which means you can record from numerous positions around the mic depending on the polar setting you use.
Each individual polar setting blocks out background noise from different positions depending on how you want to use it. These additional features are what make the condenser model so appealing to streamers and podcasters alike.
Disadvantages of Using a Condenser Mic
Not everything is a bed of roses with condenser mics. There are a few minor disadvantages of using one for streaming; let’s find out what they are…
Not Good in Hectic Audio Environments
Because these types of mics are so sensitive, they are not so great in uncertain and hectic recording climates. They are ideally suited for a very controlled studio environment for podcasting and live streaming. If you have total control of your recording environment, they are fine, but otherwise, they can be too sensitive and pick up too much unwanted background noise, although you might be able to counterbalance the environment by using one of the polar pattern options that suit your specific needs.
Condenser mics are generally quite a bit more expensive than dynamic mics in every conceivable way. If you are on a tight budget, you might not be able to afford one. Using delicate features is great in some ways, but not in terms of durability. They usually don’t last as long as dynamic mics and cannot take the same amount of knocks and bumps. They are more prone to getting damaged and can cost you lots more money in the long run.
Phantom Power is a Must
You’ll need an additional source of power to run a condenser mic. This mic needs an external power source to run, such as a mains power supply or from a mixer or preamp. And because of this, they are less versatile than a dynamic mic and have limitations as to when and where you can use them.
Should I Buy a Condenser Mic or a Dynamic Mic for Streaming?
Now you’ve had the chance to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of using a condenser and/or dynamic mics for podcasting or live-streaming purposes, you need to start making some purchase decisions. And if you are still unsure, you might be better off buying a cheaper dynamic mic to see how you get on. It’s obvious that condenser mics are the best option in terms of audio quality and clarity, but that doesn’t always tell the true picture.
The vast majority of modern-day podcasters, live gaming streamers, and video makers prefer the sensitivity and polar pattern options of condenser mics. You can flick through the polar patterns to find one that suits your needs or your recording environment. However, if you are recording in hectic environments that you can’t control, or you don’t have a phantom power source, you can do far worse than buying a high-quality dynamic mic.
Need more recommendations for top-quality Microphones?
Then check out our in-depth guides to the Best Condenser Microphones, the Best Dynamic Microphones, the Best Condenser Microphones under 200 Dollars, the Best USB Microphones, as well as the Best Microphones for Youtube.
You may also be interested in our reviews of the Best Vocal Mics, the very Best Microphones for Recording Rap Vocals, the Best Microphones for Discord, the Best Microphones Recording Electric Guitar, and the Best XLR Microphones you can buy in 2023.
Dynamic vs Condenser Mic for Streaming – Conclusion
If you are serious about your live streaming and want to put out the best content quality across the board, shell out the extra cash for a condenser mic. For sure, they are not as durable and are much more expensive than dynamic mics, but you pay for what you get. As the YouTube audience gets smarter and knows what they are listening to, they will immediately judge your channel by its audio quality.
In the grand scheme of things, condenser varieties are not ridiculously expensive, so it only makes sense to fork out the cash for undoubted audio quality. They are sensitive and pick up more than dynamic mics, but if you have the right editing software, you can counterbalance the extra background noise in the editing phase, although that might not be possible if you are live streaming. Choose the mic that suits your budget and what you are trying to achieve.