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Condenser or Capacitor...

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Condenser or Capacitor...

Postby Mike Stranks » Wed Dec 20, 2017 6:15 pm

Mr Pedant here again...

I hope the SoS staffers will take this in the spirit it's meant... I'm not trying to be 'clever' or take a cheap pop...

A few months ago we had a discussion in the SoS Forum about whether we should be referring to 'condenser' mics or 'capacitor' mics. They consensus of the cognoscenti was that as the term 'condenser' had been universally replaced by 'capacitor' in the electronics world then mics ought to be labelled in the same way. Our esteemed Technical Editor commented that he now always refers to 'Capacitor Mics', but acknowledged that as the 'other' term was so deeply entrenched, getting a universal switch to the correct terminology would be a very difficult task.

I know that SoS has house-rules/a style-guide on what phrases and terminology should/shouldn't be used so I just assumed that as a standard-bearer for excellence and accuracy, SoS would have the term 'Capacitor' as part of it's house-style.

Didn't really give it any further thought except to notice the use of the term 'Capacitor' here and tried to use it myself in postings here. Then last month in the 'News' section of the mag I noticed several references to 'Condenser'. I didn't say anything as I didn't want to come across as a clever-clogs and thought it might be a proofing slip.

But this month's mag has caused me to reach for the keyboard. Some pieces/articles use 'Condenser', some use 'Capacitor' and some use both! The classic example is in the article on live-sound vocal mics:

"Barry is not a great fan of capacitor mics on rock stages. 'I've tried a few different condensers...'"

Yeah; I know I should get out more... but as we're often told here, forum responses should take account of the level of experience of the wider 'lurking' audience and not just that of the original poster. If I was just starting-out, the either/or approach rather than one or t'other would have me confused.

As 'The World's Best Recording Technology Magazine' I'd expect there to be consistency across the magazine. I don't much care whether you go with the crowd and use 'Condenser' or are in the vanguard of using the (correct) term 'Capacitor'. But the present hybrid approach doesn't (to me) seem very satisfactory.

It's still an excellent magazine though! :lol:
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Re: Condenser or Capacitor...

Postby desmond » Wed Dec 20, 2017 6:26 pm

A quote in an interview though is not the same as a editorial piece written in house - you can't really change the words of someone being interviewed just because what they said didn't quite happen to match house style... :headbang:
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Re: Condenser or Capacitor...

Postby Wonks » Wed Dec 20, 2017 6:47 pm

SOS could have added in a '(sic)' after 'condenser' in the quote. ;)
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Re: Condenser or Capacitor...

Postby Mike Stranks » Wed Dec 20, 2017 8:16 pm

desmond wrote:A quote in an interview though is not the same as a editorial piece written in house - you can't really change the words of someone being interviewed just because what they said didn't quite happen to match house style... :headbang:

But that's my precise point! There doesn't seem to be a house style about Condenser/Capacitor at the moment! :)
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Re: Condenser or Capacitor...

Postby blinddrew » Wed Dec 20, 2017 8:22 pm

Just call them all C-mics and be done with it ;)
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Re: Condenser or Capacitor...

Postby ConcertinaChap » Wed Dec 20, 2017 8:22 pm

TBH I think it's just one of those things not worth losing sleep over. If someone wants to refer to my concertinas as free reed aerophones that's also fine by me. If you understand what the other person means then I think it's OK. I accept that there are times when such an attitude could lead to a debasement of the language and a loss of useful words, like the way "disinterested" is gradually becoming a synonym for "uninterested", but I don't think this is one of them.

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Re: Condenser or Capacitor...

Postby Mike Stranks » Wed Dec 20, 2017 9:01 pm

Fifteen attempted replies later he just decides to walk away...
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Re: Condenser or Capacitor...

Postby Wonks » Wed Dec 20, 2017 10:18 pm

Free Reed Aerophone Man. You going to change your forum name, Chris?

Mike, don't give up. I know Hugh is strongly behind the Capacitor title. But even with a house style, unless there's someone reading through each article and enforcing it (or simply doing a word search and replacing where appropriate), it is still very easy to swap the two terms when writing.
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Re: Condenser or Capacitor...

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Dec 20, 2017 10:50 pm

I dont actually know if we (SOS) have a house style policy on this -- but Sam, Matt or Chris will know and may be along to share the policy in due course. However, speaking personally, I am very firmly in the capacitor camp, as Wonks says. The reason is predominantly because I read electronics at university where capacitor's provided capacitance...;-) Nevertheless, our colonial friends seem to prefer the term condenser, and, as far as I can see, the magazine uses both terms often and interchangeably.

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Re: Condenser or Capacitor...

Postby Tim Gillett » Wed Dec 20, 2017 10:52 pm

And there's a good reason it's easy to swap the terms when writing or speaking: a "capacitor mic" and a "condenser mic" are the same mic.
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Re: Condenser or Capacitor...

Postby resistorman » Thu Dec 21, 2017 12:11 am

I honestly can’t recall ever hearing it called a capacitor mic “in the wild” here in the States. In fact, if you go search the Sweetwater Music site, which is one of our biggest music stores, you get no results for capacitor microphone. I’d go so far to say that if I tried calling it a capacitor mic very few people would understand me. Anyhow, I thought y’all just spelled it “condensour” or something like that :lol:
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Re: Condenser or Capacitor...

Postby ef37a » Thu Dec 21, 2017 7:06 am

I went to "tech'" nearly 60 years ago and even in those ancient days (transistors were expensive. feeble and rare) all was 'Capacitor' and so it is logical to call the microphone the same.
Usually when talking to total 'noobs' on forums I use the form "capacitor (aka condenser") once in the discussion. Sometimes one of our colonial friends objects but I refuse to budge, neither will I EVER refer to a valve as the support device for a bog roll!

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Re: Condenser or Capacitor...

Postby Matt Houghton » Thu Dec 21, 2017 11:13 am

We don't have an official style on this. Both terms mean the same thing, though 'capacitor mic' is probably more a UK-specific term. It's rather like the choice between 'vacuum tube' and 'thermionic valve', both of which are perfectly acceptable. There's a song in here somewhere...

You say potato, I say potato
You say capacitor, I say condenser
Potato.
Potato.
Capacitor.
Condenser.
Let's call the whole thread 'off'? :beamup:
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Re: Condenser or Capacitor...

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Dec 21, 2017 11:16 am

:clap: :thumbup: :lol:
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Re: Condenser or Capacitor...

Postby Matt Houghton » Thu Dec 21, 2017 11:20 am

ef37a wrote:neither will I EVER refer to a valve as the support device for a bog roll!

Well... you do get valves in toilets :headbang:

Perhaps we should start describing them as 'glass-vacuum-tube-housed thermionic valves', just to avoid any possible confusion ;)
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Re: Condenser or Capacitor...

Postby Forum Admin » Thu Dec 21, 2017 11:39 am

Didn't our colonial friends also give us Condensed Soup and Condensed Milk? :beamup:

(I'll get my coat and feed the reindeer on the way out...) :D
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Re: Condenser or Capacitor...

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Dec 21, 2017 11:43 am

I've just checked, and our Technical Glossary describes a Capacitor Microphone, but also states the alternative term of Condenser Microphone... and the Condenser Microphone entry refers back to Capacitor Microphone. ... so that's all good. ;-)

https://www.soundonsound.com/sound-advi ... ical-terms

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Re: Condenser or Capacitor...

Postby resistorman » Thu Dec 21, 2017 3:49 pm

:bouncy: two nations separated by a common language :D I will say that “valve” is making some inroads here, thanks to the marketing people. So much more euphonic and sophisticated, doncha know...
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Re: Condenser or Capacitor...

Postby Mike Stranks » Thu Dec 21, 2017 3:51 pm

Thanks Matt...

... so capacitor-condenser mic it is.... or should it be condenser-capacitor? :lol:
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Re: Condenser or Capacitor...

Postby Matt Houghton » Thu Dec 21, 2017 4:05 pm

Mike Stranks wrote:or should it be condenser-capacitor? :lol:

Condacitor? :headbang:
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