How to Tell if Mic is Broken

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Beginning to record a song or an audio conversation only to realize that your microphone is broken can be annoying and inconveniencing. It will lead to unnecessary frustrations.

Since microphones are complex systems, it can be difficult to determine the issues they have.

While they can last for many decades with good care, microphones can still break or wear out. So, how do you know whether your mic is broken?

This text explains to you the various ways in which you can tell if your mic is broken. Check it out!

Perform Some Mic Tests


Before you start performing the test, try your mic and check the connection to ensure that everything is in place. If the mic can’t produce the expected sound quality, it could be broken.

The most common signs of a broken mic are poor sound quality, echoing, low volume, and voice distortion.

You can also tell if your microphone is broken by performing various mic tests such as impulse response test, frequency response test, visual test, and shake test.

1)   Frequency Response Test

Frequency response is an important aspect in defining the sound signature of any microphone. If you want to tell if your mic is broken, you can test the frequency response.

For example, if your mic is Rode NT2, the frequency response should be 20Hz to 20kHz. So, when your mic does not range around this frequency response, it could be broken.

2)   Impulse Response Test

Impulse response shows the speed and precision of a mic to create fast transients.  A good mic will reproduce fast transients with accuracy.

If your mic has slow impulse response than expected, the chances are that the mic is damaged.

3)   Visual Test

It’s not always easy to tell whether a ribbon mic is broken because it may still sound great even when the ribbon is loose, especially when you are using low SPL.

So, you should try a visual test to identify if your mic is broken.

To do this test, you will need to use your phone’s flashlight and run it down behind the mic to see if the ribbon is still straight.

The ribbon should be straight and centred. If it seems to be loose or stretched, your mic is probably broken.  

4)   Shake Test

This is another excellent way to tell whether your ribbon mic is broken.

Take the microphone and plug it to the mic preamp, then put on some headphones. Rock the microphone back and forth. If you hear any flapping in the mic, there are higher chances that the mic is broken.

How Do Microphones Break?

It is necessary to understand that different types of mics will break differently. Let’s see how each type breaks:

  • Condenser Microphones

Condenser mics are very delicate, and this is what gives them a flat frequency response and high sensitivity.

A common issue with condenser mics is that they start performing unexpectedly when there is dust or humidity in the membrane. The main causes of moisture in the mic are saliva, smoke or even exposure to the environment.

Condenser microphones also tend to break with high sound pressure levels. Therefore, make sure you know the maximum SPL of your condenser mic before you start using it.

  • Ribbon Microphones

When it comes to ribbon microphones, they should be covered when not in use as they are very fragile. Ribbon mics are easily destroyed by smoke, salt-water spray, and humidity.

Ribbon mics can also break easily when you unplug them too roughly or blowing into them.

  • Dynamic Microphones

While dynamic microphones are not very sensitive as compared to other types, they are the most durable mics. You could drop them, and they won’t break easily (you should not do it though).

However, dynamic microphones will break easily when accidentally provided with phantom power. This power should never be supplied to dynamic microphones because they don’t need it. It’s for condenser microphones and a few ribbon mics.

Is it Possible to Fix a Broken Microphone?

Fixing a broken mic could be possible or impossible, depending on how broken it is. For instance, if it is a ribbon that is damaged in a ribbon microphone, it’s time to buy a new ribbon for your mic.

Sometimes you will have to take your mic to a technician if you can’t tell the problem it has. They will determine what’s going on with the mic and tell you if it can be fixed.

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