Microphone Diaphragm Sizes

Microphone diaphragm sizes

Large Diaphragm
Any microphone with a diaphragm larger than (and potentially including) 3/4″ is considered to be a Large Diaphragm microphone. In general, Large Diaphragm microphones tend to have a “big” sound that engineers find especially pleasing where a little more character might be advantageous, such as is the case with most vocals. Large diaphragms are generally more sensitive than small diaphragm or medium diaphragm mics because of the increased surface area. A common myth is that large diaphragm mics capture more low frequencies than small diaphragm mics. Sometimes their colouration may make it sound like this is the case, but a properly designed small diaphragm mic is more likely to be accurate throughout a wide range of frequencies, whereas the coloration of a large diaphragm mic can tend to enhance certain desirable characteristics in a sound, which sometimes amounts to more apparent bass or low end.

Medium Diaphragm
The definition of Medium Diaphragm is a potentially controversial subject. Historically there have been large diaphragm and small diaphragm mics, but more recently the medium size has begun carving out its own category, though not everyone agrees on the precise upper and lower limits. Most professionals and manufacturers agree that any microphone with a diaphragm near 5/8″ to 3/4″ can be characterized as a Medium Diaphragm microphone. Generally speaking, Medium Diaphragm microphones tend to do a good job of accurately catching transients and high frequency content (as a small diaphragm would) while delivering a slightly fuller, round and potentially warmer sound (as a large diaphragm might).

Small Diaphragm
While there are no final standards regarding a diaphragm size that defines Small Diaphragm, most professionals and manufacturers agree that any diaphragm smaller than 5/8″ would be considered a Small Diaphragm. Generally speaking, Small Diaphragm microphones tend to do a good job of capturing high frequency content and transients. They will tend to have a bit more “air” to their sound and often have less coloration than medium or large diaphragm microphones. Most of this is due to the reduced mass of the smaller diaphragm, which allows it to more closely follow any air disturbances it is subjected to.

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