How Does it Work? Episode 12: The Microphone

The Microphone originally started out as someone’s idea to make a tiny phone. That’s true. Here’s what else: In 2007, the smallest phone (or, CELL PHONE, because they’re small like living skin cells) was actually smaller than the smallest microphone. So that’s interesting, because the language is all backwards now.  The microphone takes in noise, through the meshy end, and makes it small enough to fit through a wire. That part is pretty easy, it’s like a funnel. Think of how a funnel works, and that’s what’s going on in a microphone. Here’s where it gets interesting though. For a microphone to work, there needs to be something at the other end to make the sound big again. This is called a macrophone, although nobody calls it by its scientific name any more, they just call them amplifiers now, because it “amps” up the sound. The first microphone was surprisingly large, as if nobody knew how to use Latin very well. It was invented so people could announce things like wrestling matches, which were the first large gatherings of people in the 17th century of Britain. Microphones come in “condenser” and “dynamic” and “hidden”, each of which have their advantages. A condenser microphone makes things “dense” when they get small, whereas a “dynamic” microphone, or “dynamicrophone” makes things really flamboyant. Hidden microphones are what you’d expect, so that’s a no-brainer.  Some microphones use “phantom power”, but eeesh, that’s scary stuff.

Comments (2)

  1. 2:05 pm, January 9, 2010taylor  / Reply

    These are my favourite! I’m actually using microphones to record a band this weekend (for real) but until now I had no idea what was going on in there. This information is going to be a huge help!

  2. 4:41 pm, January 10, 2010Admin  / Reply

    Yeah, don’t forget, garbage in, garbage out. So don’t put garbage in your microphone, it won’t work real good.

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