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The microphone is a device for the conversion of sound energy into electrical energy; and this is achieved by variations of resistance, voltage or capacitance in the electrical circuit. Microphones may be classified:(a) According to impedance:i) ii) (b) Low impedance High impedance

Mode of operation:i) ii) Pressure operated Velocity operated or pressure gradient operated.


Mode of application: i) ii) iii) iv) Telecommunications Broadcasting Public address Tape recording

Microphones are divided into two categories of velocity and pressure operation, Pressure operated microphones employ a diaphragm with only one surface exposed to the sound source. The displacement of the diaphragm is proportional to the instantaneous pressure of the sound wave. At lower frequencies such microphones generally cause a resonant response-giving rise to a peak that may reach 6 to 8 dB with reference to 1,000 Hz. This effect is reduced somewhat by changing the angle of the diaphragm relative to the direction of the sound source by 45 deg. to 90 deg. A velocity microphone is one in which the electrical output substantially corresponds to the instantaneous particle velocity in the addressed sound wave. A velocity microphone is also referred to as a gradient microphone. A gradient microphone is a microphone in which the output corresponds to the gradient of the sound pressure. The pressure operated microphones are carbon, crystal, dynamic and capacitor. The principle characteristics are frequency response, sensitivity, distortion, internal noise and the field pattern. The field pattern is basically the frequency and sensitivity response of a microphone for a field of 3600 . Fig.3 shows four basic field patterns for microphones in common use. Fig. 3A is the circular or non-directional field pattern for the crystal, dynamic (moving coil), capacitor (condenser), carbon, electronic frequency modulated, and inductor type microphone. In Fig. 3B, a semi-directional pattern obtained with an adjustable field pattern microphone is illustrated. The microphone is directional to the higher frequencies but non-directional at the low frequencies. The bi-directional pattern obtained with a ribbon microphone is shown in Fig.3C. The microphone is essentially dead to pick up at the sides. This pattern is generally referred to as a figure of 8 field pattern. The pattern for a directional microphone called a cardioid pattern is

shown in Fig.3D. There are also microphones, which will permit the field pattern to be varied to fit almost any situation and include all the foregoing patterns in some form or other.

A) Circular

B) Semi-Directional

C) Bi-Directional

D) Cardioid

Fig. 3 Basic Microphone Field Patterns CARBON MICROPHONE: In a carbon microphone several hundred small carbon granules are held in close contact in brass cup called a "button" which is attached to the centre of a metallic diaphragm. Sound waves, striking the surface of the diaphragm, disturb the carbon granules changing the contact resistance between their surfaces. The change in contact resistance causes a current from a battery connected in series with the carbon button and the primary of a transformer to vary in amplitude, resulting in a current waveform similar to the acoustic waveform striking the diaphragm. After leaving the secondary of the transformer, the minute changes of current through the transformer primary are amplified and reproduced in the conventional manner. The circuit diagram as well as construction of a single button carbon microphone is shown in Fig 4. The output voltage from a carbon or pressure microphone is proportional to the displacement of the diaphragm. The field pattern is circular.

Fig. 4. Constructions And Connection Of A Single-Button Carbon Microphone One of the principle disadvantages of the carbon microphone is that it has continuous high frequency hiss caused by the changing contact resistance between the carbon granules. In addition, the frequency response is limited and the distortion is rather high. A variation in the double button microphone, which employs two carbon buttons similar to those used in the single button type. One button is mounted on each side of the diaphragm. Pressure waves striking the surface of the stretched diaphragm, moves it causing a disturbance of the contact resistance of the carbon granules in the buttons. As the diaphragm moves inward the contact resistance of the granules in the button mounted on the pressure wave side is reduced, while the resistance of button on the opposite side is increased. When the pressure wave reverses itself, the reverse action takes place in the carbon buttons. Thus, the current through buttons correspondence to each half of the pressure wave at the diaphragm. This action is

somewhat similar to that of a push-pull amplifier stage. The circuit connections and construction are shown in Fig.5A. The disadvantages of the double button microphone are about the same as for the single button type, except the waveform distortion is less. The frequency responses for single and double button microphones are given in Fig.5B. The solid line is the single button and the dotted line the double button. It will be noted that the resonant peaks of the diaphragm have been reduced in the double button type by stretching the diaphragm.

The current through the buttons should not exceed that recommended by the manufacturer. Otherwise the carbon granules may be fused. If the microphone is of the double button type, the currents through each button must be the same when the diaphragm is at rest. Carbon microphones should not be subjected to heavy jars when the current is flowing unless they are designed for such service. Excessive current through the buttons should be avoided and the microphones should not be moved when the current is flowing. However, carbon microphones used in communications i.e., telephone networks are designed to be moved, with the current flowing through them. CRYSTAL MICROPHONE: A crystal microphone employs one or more Rochelle salt crystals placed in such a manner that when their surfaces are struck by a pressure wave, they are bent or twisted out of shape. This action results in the generation of an electrical current because of the piezo-electric effect of such crystals. When a crystal is subjected to strain, electrical polarisation takes place. The polarization is proportional to the mechanical strain. The inverse effect is produced when electrical current is applied to the crystal. The mechanical movement in this case is proportional to the applied

current. Advantage is taken of these characteristics in the design of crystal microphones, pickup speakers and recording heads. Rochelle Salt Crystals are grown from a supersaturated solution of a Sodium Potassium tetrate tetra hydrate by cooling at a temp. of 40 0 C. Such crystals should not be operated or stored in temperatures exceeding 600 C. These crystals are distinct from quartz crystals used in radio transmitters. The crystal microphones are of two types, the direct actuated and the indirectly actuated. In the former type, the sound waves strike the surfaces of the crystals creating mechanical strain (see Fig.6A). In the latter, the sound waves impinging on a diaphragm attached mechanically to the crystal elements (See Fig.6B).

A) Directly Actuated Type

B) Indirectly Actuated Type

Fig. 6 Directly & Indirectly Actuated Crystal Element Another type is the sound-cell crystal, which is shown in the Fig 7. A number of crystal elements are stacked in a pile.

Fig. 7 Direct & Indirect Actuated Crystal Elements used in Microphone Construction. A fourth type is the Bimorph crystal. This is a type of construction, used in crystal microphones, to increase their sensitivity. The crystal consists of two stages, cut on axis, which determine whether they are to be benders or twisters. The two slabs are separated by a thin piece of coil, which connects to one side of the external circuit. The outer surfaces of the crystal slabs are covered with foil and connected to the other side of the external circuits. This is a directly actuated type and is similar to one shown in Fig 7. The Ceramic microphone is a type similar in characteristics to the crystal, except that it employs a barium titanate slab may be operated in higher temperatures and humidity.

DYNAMIC MICROPHONE: The dynamic or moving coil microphone is one, employing a voice coil attached to a diaphragm similar in construction to a dynamic loudspeaker. The sound pressure wave causes the diaphragm to move the coil in a strong magnetic field, which generates a voltage proportional to the sound pressure at the diaphragm. This microphone is also referred to as a pressure microphone. The basic parts are illustrated in the figure 8. Fig. 8 Part of Dynamic Microphone

Latest types are of more sophisticated construction and a typical one is shown in Fig 9. The diaphragm (A) is made of duraluminium approximately 0.5 mils in thickness and weighs 25 milligrams. Cemented to the rear side of the diaphragm is a voice coil (B) constructed of edgewound rural ribbon 1 mil thick and 8 mils wide. The body of the microphones consist of a moulded spherical housing (C) containing a permanent magnet (D) with a centre pole piece over which the voice coil (B) is centred. The diaphragm is designed with a hinged edge and is supported at the edges by the housing. The other surface of the diaphragm is protected from mechanical injury by a perforated grid (E). A two layer, 16 mesh circular screen baffle (F), with a layer of silk between screens is placed in front of the diaphragm. The perforated grill and screen baffle act as acoustical equalizer to improve the non-directional characteristics. At the lower left is a small metal tube (G) called an acoustical equalizer. Its function is to release the air pressure behind the diaphragm to prevent distortion of the diaphragm during its inward travel. Working in conjunction with this tube are two air release vents (H) under the voice coil, to provide acoustical resistance. External pins (I) provide connection to the voice coil leads (J).

Fig. 9 Cross-Section View of the Western Electric Model 630A Dynamic Moving Coil Microphone Microphones of this type do not employ output transformers. The output voltage is taken directly from the voice coil. The output impedance is approximately 20 Ohms. A low impedance of this nature permits the microphone to be placed at a considerable distance from the preamplifier without affecting the microphones characteristics. This microphone like other pressure operated microphones has a circular field pattern. The frequency response for various angles of incidence for the above microphone is shown in Fig 10.

Fig. 10 Frequency response of the Western Electric 630A Dynamic Moving Coil Microphone for different angles of Incident A characteristic of pressure microphones is their lack of discrimination to low-frequency sounds arriving from random directions. Sounds, which originate at the rear of the microphone housing and actuate the diaphragm as if they had arrived from the front. This is especially true of sounds whose wavelengths approach the dimensions of the microphone housing. At the higher frequencies, for sounds originating at its rear, the frequency response will drop off due to diffraction. When recording dialogue with this type of microphone, it may be desirable to increase the directional qualities by the use of larger baffle on the front of the microphone is in place of the small screen baffle normally employed. The centre hole of the substitute baffle is covered with a single layer of thin silk. The use of a baffle with this type of microphone not only increases the directional properties but also increases the response at the lower frequencies. The increase in low-frequency response may be desirable for certain types of pickups, but not for dialogue. Therefore, the low frequency attenuation normally used for dialogue recording may have to be increased. When microphones of pressure tube are suspended from a boom the diaphragm is tilted downward with the diaphragm almost parallel to the floor. One reason for this suspension is that pressure type microphones are highly efficient at the higher frequencies and any small loss of high frequency response is not detrimental to the pick up. A second reason is, that for larger angles of incidence, the directional response changes less rapidly than for small angles of incidence. Thus, a more uniform quality of pick up may be maintained. CAPACITOR MICROPHONE: This is based on the principle of variable capacitor. polarised by a battery. The basic functioning is shown in the circuit below :It is

Fig. 11. Capacitor Microphone The diaphragm of this microphone is a thin membrane of nickel which is spaced about 0.001 inch (25 meter) from the fixed back plate keeping air as the insulating medium. As long as the diaphragm is not exposed to the sound pressure the capacitance remains constant and the a.c. output voltage will be Nil. Whenever the sound waves strike the diaphragm undergoes compressions and ratification with that the capacitance across the microphone varies. The capacitance is inversely proportional to the distance or space between the two plates. Q = CV. Since the voltage remains constant the variations in capacitance varies the charge. The current in the circuit varies making a variable voltage drop across 'R', ac output voltage is taken through a capacitor and immediately fed to a pre-amplifier. The function of a polarising voltage or its

equivalent is to translate the diaphragms motion into a linearly related audio output voltage, which is amplified by a very high impedance FET which must be located close to the capacitor. Special measures must be taken to prevent the space or distance between the capacitor plates from changing because of temperature and humidity. The polarisation field strength for most condenser microphones, independent of the polarisation principle, is on the order of 100,000 V/em. So, the slightest bit of contamination between diaphragm and back plate will cause impulsive noise due to arcing. Microphones used in corrosive environments may develop pinholes in the diaphragm and the resulting corrosion behind the diaphragm may eventually short circuit the transducer. Normally impulsive noise is due to humidity; it can be eliminated by desiccation. Use of foam windscreens for protection in damp or corrosive environments is recommended. Frequency response is fair over the entire audio spectrum. It requires a Polarising battery and a preamplifier. It is basically an omni directional microphone, can be made to unite, it is best used in indoor and outdoor. RIBBON MICROPHONE: The ribbon (velocity) microphone is a microphone in which a very light metallic ribbon is suspended in a strong magnetic field. Pressure waves cause the ribbon to vibrate in the magnetic field generating voltage corresponding to the particle velocity of the pressure wave. Velocity microphones may be designed to have a wide frequency range, good sensitivity, low distortion, and low internal noise. The microphones are generally mounted on stands, and the common types are :i) ii) iii) Table Type Floor Type Gun Type.

Besides in studios, microphones booms are used. The details of the various types are shown in Figs.12 A to D. Generally the straight types are telescopic so that the heights are adjustable.

T a b l e - I. Mechanical Control required for various types microphones. TYPE Actuating Form of Position of Force Control Fundamental Resonance 1 2 3 4 Capacitor Sound Wave Stiffness Above crystal and high Pressure transmission quality carbon band microphone.

Remark on OUTPUT 5 Induced Voltage proportional to diaphragm displacement. Output must be independent of frequency. Output voltage

Moving coil

- do-


Middle of


transmission band but highly damped.

Ribbon Microphone

proportional to pressure times frequency.


Below transmission band.

proportional to velocity of diaphragm. Output must be independent of frequency. Induced voltage proportional to velocity of ribbon. Output voltage must be independent of frequency.

Fig. 12 Microphone Stand A general comparison on performance of Microphones: Microphone performance is basically on the type of Microphone. It is not to say that which one type of microphone is better than the other, but which one is better suited for a particular application. Moving Coil Microphone: These are well suited for high sound pressure level applications. They are rugged, robust and generate low self noise. There will not be any problem with humidity and temperature variations. Comparatively less expensive and wide variety of models are available. It has got a good frequency response. Only disadvantage is that they are slower to respond to transients (i.e., Sounds that begin with quick attack and then quickly decay. (e.g., Drum Hit). In Railways most of P.A.Systems are installed for the purpose of speeches and do not require considerable details of the entire sound spectrum. So, moving coil microphones are ideal in Railway applications. Ribbon Microphones: These are not used in Railways because they are very costly and careful handling is required. It is best suited for recording music and broadcast applications. Capacitor Microphones: These are considered to be high performance instruments. They produce clear detailed sound. It has got excellent transient response and very sensitive making

suitable for distant miking. It has got a wide signal to noise ratio. However, these microphones are expensive when compared to dynamic microphones. In Railways these are used as lapel mics especially for the class rooms and lectures in Conference Halls application where a person has to make any explanation with demonstration (hands free). SPECIAL TYPES OF MICROPHONES. Special types of Microphones are required for certain applications. One such type is the hand microtelephones with dynamic insets just like carbon insets to form part of telephones handset. A typical type is shown in the figure 13.

Fig. 13 Cut way section shows the Microphone housing affording full view of moving coil Microphone inset Another model is the chest harness type, where the hands are free for movement. The details are shown in the Fig 14.

Fig. 14 High fidelity speech Microphone providing complete A recent trend in precision microphone design is revealed in lapel microphone, which is 1/2" in diameter, with the main housing out of sight. The details are shown in the figure 15.

Fig. 15 Electro-Magnetic Model The lavalier microphone is a small dynamic microphone worn around the neck as a lavalier. This microphone has been especially designed for correct speech balance when used informally in television, broadcasting, interviews and public address applications. The frequency response and directional qualities are engineered to complement human speech so that a correct frequency balance is maintained when the speaker is talking off mike. The field pattern is shown in Fig.16 A and the frequency response is shown in Fig.16 B.

Fig. 16 Characteristic of Typical Lavalier Microphone Another special type is the Wireless Microphone. It is a very small microphone mounted in a housing or worn on the coat lapel and connected to a small frequency modulated radio transmitter. The antenna is sewn into the clothes of the user. The transmitted signal is received by a crystal controlled receiver located at a remote point. The maximum transmitting distance under normal conditions is about 200 feet. When several wireless microphones must be used on the same set, each microphone transmitter is operated on a different frequency. A typical example of a wireless microphone system consists of a lapel microphone concealed in the clothing of the user and connected to a small FM radio transmitter. The transmitted voice signal is received by an FM receiver. A typical unit consists of a radio frequency amplifier stage, automatic frequency control, three stages of intermediate amplification, two limiter stages, and the adjustable squelch circuit for reducing the background noise of the receiver. A carrier level and discrimination meter are provided with adjustable controls for each. The receiver unit is voltages regulated for stability. The frequency checking circuit employs a quartz crystal accurate to 0.02 per cent at a frequency of 27.51 MHz. A 6 foot collapsible antenna may be plugged in at the top of the receiver case. The receiver sensitivity is

rated at 30 db quieting for an input of 2 microvolts. A typical microphone transmitter unit consists of an oscillator, doubler, final amplifier modulator and microphone amplifier. The output power is rated, 200 milli watts and is designed to cover an area of 30,000 square feet. The transmitter operates on a frequency of 27.51 MHz. The audio frequency response covers a frequency range of 30 to 10,000 Hz. plus or minus 2 db. Wireless microphones are used on large motion picture and television sets where the use of a microphone boom would be impractical. Specifications of Microphones: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Type Sensitivity Frequency Response Max. Sound Pressure level. Impedance Minimum load impedance Cable and Connectors Front to Back Ratio Polar Response.

1. Type: This specifies the microphone whether it is a Dynamic, Ribbon, Capacitor or Crystal and also specifies whether it is a Pressure gradient or Pressure Operated. 2. Sensitivity: It is the amount of voltage developed or generated by the microphone for an applied sound pressure at a test frequency of 1000 Hz. It is generally specified as mV/Microbar. One microbar sound pressure is equal to 1 dyne/cm 2. It is also specified as mV/Pa where Pa is Pascal which is equal to 10 micro bars. 3. Frequency Response: It is the ability of a microphone to produce a proportionate output to the sound pressure applied for the specified range of frequencies. It is the maximum sound pressure level that can produce a proportional output with a total harmonic distortion less than 1%. 4. Maximum Sound Pressure Level : It is the maximum Sound Pressure level that can produce a proportional output with a total harmonic distortion limited to 1%. The frequency response is distorted when the microphone is kept too close to the mouth. It generates spherical sound waves with very high impact pressure when the distance from the mouth increases the spherical sound waves flatten and become plane waves. So the distortion diminishes with distance. 5. Impedance: It is the impedance offered by the microphone at 1000 c/s. There are low impedance and high impedance microphones. Low Impedance means less than 600 ohms High Impedance means more than 10K ohms. 6. Minimum Load Impedance: It is the minimum input impedance of the amplifier which is used to utilise the microphone. The amplifier input impedance should not be less than the minimum load impedance of the microphone specified.

7. Cables and Connectors: It specifies the type and length of the cable with a particular connector. 8. Front to Back Ratio: It is specified in the case of unidirectional microphone which gives the response of front sound and back sound. Generally it is 20 db. 9. Polar response: It specifies the type of directivity pattern that microphone responds it is a graph of the microphones directional sensitivity. It specifies whether it is an omni directional, Bidirectional or Uni directional. INSTALLATION PRACTICE : Some of the important precautions to be observed in the operation of microphones are given below: I. All microphones are delicate instruments, they must be carefully handled and never dropped, nor placed where there may be metal dust.

II. To avoid hum pick-up and especially in case of high impedance microphones, locate as far as possible from electrical apparatus. Do not run lead together with mains cable. III. For public address locate well away from the preferably to rear of loudspeakers to prevent acoustic feedback 'howl'. IV. Ribbon microphones should be atleast 10" from the speaker. One should not speak into the microphone and on no account it should be tested by blowing into the microphone. V. When using microphone with long twin core lead (i.e., in low impedance condition) in association with equipment having high impedance input, a step up transformer/matching transformer is required to be interposed in the lead near the equipment input socket. Microphones should not be mounted on vibrating surface, e.g., piano, amplifiers, radio, recorders, etc. VI. Microphones must be protected from strong winds, otherwise 'roaring' noises will result. In extreme cases, the moving element viz., ribbon in ribbon type microphones, will be damaged. It is common practice to provide wind screens in such cases. A typical windscreen is shown in Fig.17. It consists of a wire frame work covered with silk and designed to fit over the outside of a microphone to reduce the effects of wind noise. With a proper design, wind noise may be reduced by 20-30 dB without appreciable effect over a frequency range of 30 to 8000 Hz. A wire frame is clamped over the end of the microphone housing. The microphone projects up to the centre of the screen, which contains a smaller screen shown by the dotted lines at the centre of the drawing. The larger frame is covered with a single layer of black silk. a wind screen is also called a "Wind Gag".

Fig. 17 Wind screen for Microphone In buildings which are highly resonant, the polar diagram of microphone is barely perceptible, and apparent sensitivity is high. In such cases the microphone should be located 4-60 from sound source and not necessarily in line with the sound. The more does echo obscure words. The output is also lower and background noise is more noticeable. Avoidance of excessive audience noises may, therefore, require suspension of the microphone high above the floor from roof. In non-resonant buildings, the pillar diagram of microphone becomes much more noticeable and apparent sensitivity is lower. The microphone may be 3-30 feet from sound source and, close to "middle line". For wide fronted sound sources such as, stage or orchestra, optimum distance is that at which imaginary lines from outer corners of stage etc., subtend an angle of 90 0 at microphone. The more resonant or the smaller the room, the greater are the reflections and apparent sensitivity, the polar diagram is not strictly applicable. A microphone too close to sound gives 'hard' effect and exaggerates unnecessary minor effects e.g., singer's breathing etc., positions right in cornage over emphasize unsuspected room resonances. Cases also arise when microphone has to be kept in rain. Examples are filming rain or snow scenes for television or motion pictures. For such applications a rain screen is required. A typical rain screen is shown in Fig18. It placed over the microphone which is normally suspended from a boom. The screen is an inverted shell, approximately 18" in diameter. The exterior is covered with hair felt and metal fly screen, to break the rain drops in finding particles. The interior is covered with all cloth and a layer of fly screen. The microphone is suspended inside the screen on a flexible support.

Fig. 18 Microphone Rain screen A wooden parabolic reflector is used as line concentrator for directional microphone pick-up as shown in fig.19. An alternative to line concentrator is the rifle microphone. This is a pressure type microphone with a series of tubes of varied lengths mounted in front of the diaphragm. The figure 20 shows the details. This is highly directive and is even used by army to sense enemy movements at distant locations.

Fig. 19 Wooden Concentrator for Directional Microphone pick-up.

Fig. 20 Rifle Microphone for Directional Microphone pick-up

Phasing of microphones is important. When two or more microphones are used in the same channel and they are within ten feet of each other, they should be electrically in phase. Otherwise, distortion will result. The microphone channel potentiometer of, say Mic.1 is first adjusted for the required volume & the reading of potentiometer noted. Then the microphone 2 channel, is also adjusted for the same volume, with mic.1 potentiometer at zero is closed. The MIC 1 and MIC 2 adjusted for the required settings. If there is distortion, the microphones are out of phase. The leads of one microphone should be interchanged.

SUMMARY: 1. Microphones are transducers that convert sound energy into electric energy. 2. The three types of professionally used microphones are moving coil, ribbon and capacitor. 3. Microphones pick up sound from essentially three directions: all around omnidirectional, front rear - bidirectional, and front - unidirectional. 4. The unidirectional, or cardioid, design has even narrower pickup patterns: supercardioid, hypercardioid. 5. A microphones unidirectionality is facilitated by ports at the side and/or rear of the mic that cancel sound coming from unwanted directions. 6. Standard accessories used for professional microphones include the following: twin conductor cables called balanced lines, connectors, and various types of stands and clips for microphone mounting on a desk, floor, person, or musical instrument. 7. There are also multidirectional microphones - mics with more than one pickup pattern. ex. Column microphones. 8. To help protect against loudness distortion, many capacitor microphones are equipped with a pad to reduce overloading the mics electronics. 9. Pop filters and windscreens are used to reduce distortion caused by wind and transients. 10. Microphones have been developed for special purposes, the lavalier to be unobstructive; the shotgun and parabolic mics for long distance pickup; the wireless mic for greater mobility and flexibility in plotting sound pickup. ***