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UGA Special Collections Library Online Exhibitions

The Condenser Microphone

Condenser Microphone Diagram

The condenser microphone, also called the capacitor microphone, is a type of pressure microphone, which is a microphone that responds to sound pressure. The condenser microphone was initially developed in the early 1920s, and is still widely used today in the music recording industry.

These microphones are particularly sensitive to louder noises, and sound distortion can occur when recording very loud sounds. They are often used to record vocals and acoustic instruments, and are known for their ability to capture very "natural" recordings.

Mr. Steele's collection includes condenser microphones from a wide variety of eras, ranging from the early 1920s to the early 1970s. The earliest microphones of this type in his collection are among the first of their kind. The galleries below contain almost all of the condenser microphones in his collection, and are arranged by both polar response type and date of manufacture, if known.

Cardioid Polar Response

The image below contains three of the four Cardioid Condensor Microphones in the collection. The fourth is a lavalier microphone, and can be seen on the Lavalier microphone page of the gallery. These microphones pick up sound primarily from one direction.

Altec 28A/195A Type M52

Altec 29B/175A Type M30, c. 1955 (second from left)

Altec 28A/195A Type M52, c. 1973 (second from right)

Altec 29B/195A Type M49, c. 1973 (right)

*note, the microphone at left is not a Cardioid Condensor Microphone

Unknown Polar Responses

The following gallery contains a number of Condenser Microphones which have an unknown polar response.