I agree. I got the chance to test some MEMS microphones from Wolfston last year. I compared them to the standard Electret microphones and there was no comparison. The MEMS are far superior, lighter and more sensitive.
There is no doubt in my mind that Electrets are dead. If your product isn't using MEMS, then your customers will want better.
Just my opinion.
Sorry, I have to jump on this comment as it propagates some misconceptions. MEMS are not "far" superior. Their main advantage is they can be surface mounted, but now there are electrets that can withstand the temperature required for surface mounting and there are electrets just as small. MEMS have good SNR, but only if you test them at say 94 dB SPL. They have higher noise floors than the better electrets (which can have very low noise floor), making them less usable for pickup from distant sound sources. Also, their resonance can be very peaky, and when coupled to a plastic hole their resonance frequency can be very low frequency -- not usable for anything but narrowband voice. Further, afaik there are still no unidirectional MEMS microphones, though somebody may enlighten me on recent developments. For cell phones, MEMS are mostly a win, for many other applications an electret should be considered.
I'm looking forward to improved feedback systems in noise cancelling headphones. Who knows, maybe they will be able to design a product that cancels noise over the full frequency range, not just "airplane noise".
MEMS microphones are almost replacing the condenser microphones. Mems can be integrated,compact and with stands more vibrations without performance degradation.Also they are manufactured within plus minus 3 db sensitivity which means less difficulty for the manufacturers to test their products for its uniformity. The analog devices makes it with 62-dB (typical) signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), 20-kg and 160-dB mechanical and sound-pressure shocks, respectively, and power supply rejection ratios (PSRRs) of 80 dB (digital version) and 50 dB (analog version).
"...what makes this MEMS mic so different is that the quality of the sound is so clear and perfect that it can make anyone sound like a rock star..."
I'm sorry, but as someone whose worked in the recording industry for years and sat through good sessions and bad ones I couldn't help burst out laughing when I read that.
Seriously, I do think MEMS technology is a potential breakthrough compared to electrets particularly in the low-cost sector. If they're that good I'm wondering when we'll see them used in the high-end acoustic measurement sector.
Did I miss a link to that demo sound file?
As an engineer and amateur musician I also feel like commenting your quoted sentence. Isn't it a role of a microphone to convert my voice so that when played back it sound as close as possible to what I really sound like and not to make me sound like someone else (let it be a rock star, Pavarotti or whoever!)? So if those ADI MEMS mics change the sound of my voice they aren't good at all! :)
It seems to be a poor choice of words. I see nothing in the signal chain of this mic that would do anything more than a best effort to make your voice sound as close as possible to what it really sounds like -- no built-in autotune!
Yes, MEMs mics are making great strides and the ease with which they can be interfaced lends to advances in signal processing of the sound on-the-fly (creating a psudo-unidirectional mic using phased elements). So far however, the only truely innovative MEMs mic that I have seen is the MicroFlown molecular flow sensor. It has the potiential to extend its applications into something as diverse as chemical sensing. It is just too expensive to even play with, much less incorporate into an instrument. Just mentioning it because your article did not make note of it.
Please give me a break! If you believe that MEM mics are getting even remotely close to those used in recording studios, you're the victim of consumer hype! A dynamic range of 60 dB is truly pitiful compared to a Neumann or even a Shure SM57 ... either of which can easily achieve 120 dB+ dynamic ranges. In the context of trendy, pocket-sized consumer stuff or large arrays for special applications, yes they're making progress (maybe even significant progress) but comparing them with a real recording studio setup is ludicrous. - Bill Whitlock, chief engineer, Jensen Transformers (and manager of electronic engineering at Capitol Records 1981-1988)
MEMS mics -- especially when combined with nanocoating -- have made a tremendous impact for hearing aids & cochlear implants by greatly increasing reliability to shock, vibration, and moisture.
This is vitally important in the pediatric market, where infants & toddlers cannot convey to parents & teachers that there is a problem.
Editor, The Hearing Blog
HI everyone! I am so pleased to see such an animated discussion about MEMS microphones - and yes @mediatechnology - the link to the demo file is missing in the story (sorry about that) - I'll look into getting it uploaded somewhere by my friends at Analog Devices. I guess I have this Pollyanna-ish view that Rockstars have good voices (I am sure all do not). :)
@Brakeshoe - Recently at a conference I held at UC Berkeley we had another MEMS mic company, Knowles Electronics, talk about the use of MEMS mics in hearing aids and their cross-over into consumer applications. You can check out my org's website for more info: www.memsindustrygroup.org. Thanks everyone and keep the comments coming - I love it and look forward to more on my next blog.
What other topics in MEMS would you like me to write about?
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