Recently, I switched from a condenser mic to a dynamic mic: Is a dynamic mic better than a condenser mic in terms of outside noise?

The dynamic mic almost completely ignores car noise from outside.

Now, I wonder, how sensitive a lav mic is? Is it like as sensitive as a condenser mic or is it like a dynamic mic? How much outside noise does it pickup?

  • 1
    It's a microphone, it picks up sound; that's its job. It cannot differentiate between what it should be picking up & what it shouldn't.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 17:52
  • @Tetsujin Yes, of course! But I am more concerned about the sensitivity of the mic. Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 17:59
  • We'll need to make and model to give better answers
    – user9881
    Commented Mar 4, 2017 at 22:43

1 Answer 1


'Sensitivity' is a measure of 'how much electric it puts out for a given level of sonic input'
It has nothing whatsoever to do with its ability to separate wanted from unwanted sound.

Microphones cannot do that, they have no brain, only ears.

Some are designed to pick up everything around them, known as an omni pickup pattern - i.e. it hears equally from all directions.

Some are designed to pickup from only in front & reject from behind - these are known as cardioid [because the pattern actually looks a bit like a heart-shape].
There is a sub-set of cardioid, known as hyper-cardioid - which basically means they're even more tilted towards picking up from the front & rejecting from the rear [it's also a badly misused [advertising] term so it can be fairly safe to ignore it as a claim on a cheap mic]

for the purposes of this answer, I'm ignoring any finer gradation or other patterns, which I think would only serve to confuse rather than clarify.

Some mics are built to be highly resistant to body noise, the $100 Shure SM58 a fine example. At the other end of the scale we have such as the $2000 [B&K]DPA 4006. In no other respect are those 2 mics vaguely comparable.

The essential difference is the pickup & rejection pattern.

The 58 is a dynamic mic, designed for live hand-held vocals - that's why the good body-noise characteristics.
Its other main feature is it is a cardioid - it has high rejection of sound coming from anywhere other than right in front of it - it rejects sound from behind... that's the stuff that makes for feedback in a live scenario.

A side-effect of that is that if you use it as a vocal recording mic in the studio... or bedroom... that its good rejection of off-axis sound coincidentally is also good at ignoring the buses going past.

That difference has nothing to do with it being a dynamic mic rather than condenser - that is simply a result of the task for which it was designed.

I use condensers for such as vocals/voice over where clarity is paramount. Large diaphragm condensers, such as the Rode NT1 or the Neumann U87, for studio work tend to have switchable pickup patterns, so you can choose whether it should be omni or cardioid. They are rarely as 'tight' in cardioid as a live dynamic mic like the SM58, [either because they don't need to be in a studio,or maybe it's not possible to make them that way, I really don't know - either way, the end result is they're not]
Some back-rejection is nice if you don't want to hear too much of the room itself, but they tend to not be super-good at ignoring the passing traffic, that was never their job.

There are also small diaphragm condensers, the above-mentioned DPA 4006 & from an answer to your linked question, the Earthworks SR30. The former is an omni, the latter a cardioid. Neither have switchable pickup patterns.

Few condensers are good at body & handling noise - they were generally not designed to be hand-held.
Some are - that's why I compared to the 4006 earlier, as one of the few that can.

So, without rambling on too much further - the difference is
a) handling noise &
b) pickup pattern

The way the mic is powered [dynamic vs condenser] is not in the picture, it's a side-bar to the picture. Neither a direct result nor a direct comparison.

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