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How do you tell if a condenser microphone is damaged?

Asked 1807 day 8 h | Viewed 12774 times | Updated 1805 day 14 h |

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Gravatar photo Community

Hey all,

First off, please bear with my minimal microphone knowledge...

I'm using a very low-end CAD U37 mic.

How can I tell if my large diaphragm condenser microphone was damaged during a recent session. After the session I'm thinking that I had a guitar cab up a little too loud for my mic.Afterwards I started recording a vocal track and noticed that the microphone seemed to lose much of it's brightness and clarity.I really can't tell if I'm just hearing things or what.Does any know what can happen when you manage to exceed the SPL rating of a condenser microphone?

Anyone else have any problems like this?

5 Answers

  1. Answered: 1805 day 14 h (0) | Permalink

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    Gravatar photoRecording Questions

    I just got off the phone with C.P. Pores from Equation Audio in Nashville, TN who was kind enough to give me a bit of his time and explain to me a bit about the signs of microphone damage.

    According to CP, there are typically two major signs that your microphone most likely has damaged:


    • Something has happened to cause the diaphragm of the mic to bottom out as sounds waves pass through the capsule.  This will cause serious pops and distortion as the diaphragm reaches it's physical limit.
    • The diaphragm becomes stuck due to certain circumstances again the backplate causing an electrical short. The result is no sound output at all.


    The results of both scenarios above are immediate and unmistakable nasty effects on your output that should be easily identifiable by anyone.

    He also mentioned that microphone diaphragms can become covered in an array of particles over time that may cause a dulling of the original sound, but typically, it takes a lot of time and a fairly harsh environment like smoking or an extremely moist environment.  It is typically fairly rare to see this, and usually takes quite a long time until it's effects may show up.

    I hope I've done his great information some justice!

  2. Answered: 1807 day 8 h (0) | Permalink

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    Gravatar photoguest

    Yep you can damage a condensor with a high SPL...The diaphram may be buckled out of other words its as good as fucked... LogicLover@twitter

  3. Answered: 1807 day 8 h (0) | Permalink

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    Gravatar photoJustin Vencel

    I know it might be a bit late, but the CAD U37 has a 10db pad switch located on the front of it.

    In situations where you are jamming it in front of a really loud sound source you will want to flip it over to the -10 position.  This will effectively give you an extra 10 decibels before you hit the SPL limit.

    According to George Massenburg, Linda Ronstadt has taken out a least a couple Neumann microphone diaphragm's in her time.  So it is quite possible to damage some microphones, even with a voice as the sound source.

    I would try finding a familiar sound file of something familiar that you have already recorded with your U37 and re-record that same source again.  Then take the two files and A/B them against each other.  This should help you decide if any real damage has been done to the microphone.

    On the bright side, if it is damaged and the high end is rolled-off a bit now.  Don't chuck it, you now have another 'custom' mic in your arsenal to use on excessively bright sources (like guitar).

  4. Answered: 1807 day 8 h (0) | Permalink

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    Gravatar photoGear Guy

    Don't forget to use a pop-shield people!

    One of the most common causes of long-term microphone damage comes as a result of moisture damage.  Spitting into a mic day after day will not help.  A pop shield will help quite a bit in this area.

    Storing your mic in the case it came in will also help keep it out of harms way.

  5. Answered: 1804 day 14 h (0) | Permalink

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    Gravatar photoguest

    I dont know the answer

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