Carbon Microphones



carbon microphone

Through the years up until the 1930s, most microphones that were used for what ever reason were made out of a capsule which is compressed carbon powder. Hence how the carbon microphone got its name. The way carbon microphones work is simple. The sound energy vibrates the carbon particles which in turn pushes the particles together to make what is known as the capsule, either a better or worse conductor of electricity.

By forcing a tiny amount of current through the actual carbon, it forces the electric flow to break up because of the effect the sound has on the carbon. These types of microphones were popular through the 1930s because they were durable and inexpensive. They were also well known because they were used in all of the early phones that were created. The biggest problem that was faced when using carbon microphones was they did not produce a quality frequency response.


These microphones did not especially respond well to higher frequencies, and it was determined that the low notes had a hard time producing enough energy to be able to compress particles in order to make a good clear sound. To this day they produce a sound that we are accustomed to as a “telephone” sound. There isn’t much depth to it, and the quality is not impressive. Carbon mics are definitely not satisfactory for recording music. These days, most microphones are not carbon as we have found ways to make more stable, reliable, and durable products.

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