Microphones are very useful pieces of equipment when it comes to audio work i.e. audio engineering and music production.
With that said, One thing is always for sure. Microphones like any other equipment can get damaged and its always good to know when this happens especially for sensitive equipment that would take a trained ear to spot its faults.
This post will dive into how you can know if your condenser microphone is damaged because this question has been brought up over and over in most music producer Facebook groups as well as other online forums.
With that said, below are some ways you can actually know that your condenser microphone is damaged:
Poor frequency pick up
Condenser microphones are known for their ability to have a great varied frequency pick up than can capture sound to almost perfection.
One sign that your condenser microphone is damaged will be poor frequency pick up meaning it will not be able to pick up all frequencies. It will certainly pick up some but others will simply not be picked up.
This is something that is quite common and most people report this problem as the microphone either sounding to bright or not so bright.
Once you notice this with your condenser microphone, you certainly should have an idea that it’s damaged and needs repair or replacement.
Another great way of figuring out whether your microphone is damaged is by doing the flap test.
This essentially involves grabbing your microphone and rocking it back and fourth, when you hear something Flapping inside while you rock it, then you know your condenser microphone is probably damaged.
Of course you’ll need to carry out further investigation to figure out whether your microphone is actually damaged and the extent of the damage.
When we first buy our condenser microphones we are used to them sounding a certain way and most of the times, the easiest way of identifying a damaged microphone is simply comparing it to how it sounded when you first bought it compared to how it sounds now.
This can be easier if you’d used your microphone to record because you can essentially get those recordings, assess them and then compare them to recordings that you record now.
If your microphone sounds different than it used to, then its more than likely your microphone has become damaged.
Damage is not always something that can be easily notable, sometimes the damage is so subtle that it usually takes an experienced ear to notice it.
When a condenser microphone becomes damaged one thing that you’ll notice with it is, it will lose the pick up of certain frequencies.
The more common frequencies being the high end. Most people that i have worked with have noticed that condensers microphones lose their top end when they get damaged which leads to all recordings done with them sounding dull.
This also takes an experienced ear to catch because you can easily be mislead into thinking its something to do with your settings or positioning or any other thing.
But most of the times when your condenser microphone loses its brightness you have to entertain the possibly of it being damaged.
Another common symptom that a damaged condenser microphone will exhibit is excessive echoing that makes it more than impossible to record.
If you do notice this you should try examining your microphone and figure out why it’s acting in such a manner.
Better yet, send it to a technician so they can assess it and give you feedback as well as provide solutions as to how you could go about getting it fixed or simply finding a replacement.
When you start noticing some distortion that you can’t seem to get rid of with your microphone then it is more than likely that your condenser microphone is damaged.
The vocals you end up recording with your microphone will have Distortion on them.
However, with Distortion you have to be careful because not all Distortion means that your microphone is damaged.
Sometimes you need to check and inspect the signal chain from the power source leading up to the microphone.
At times distortion can be a result of other faulty equipment like a bad pre-amp or simply bad cable connections in the signal chain.
The best way to figure out if your microphone is the producer of distortion is to use a different microphone and test it with your signal chain then see where the problem is.
If your signal chain is alright then you can conclude that your microphone has a problem.
A technician can also help you in determining whether your microphone is faulty or not.
Diminished sound quality
Another likely signal that can alert you to a damaged microphone is generally diminished sound quality.
If you’ve used a microphone long enough then you’ll basically get a sense of the sound quality to expect from it.
Therefore, When you start to notice a drop in sound quality you can be rest assured that your condenser microphone is faulty and likely damaged.