SKILL BUILDER

Electronics: Fun & Fundamentals

EASY

THE ECLECTIC

ELECTRET MICROPHONE

Written and photographed by Charles Platt

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Time Required: 1 Hour Cost: $10–$20

THE MICROPHONES IN OLD-FASHIONED WIRED TELEPHONES were relatively heavy, large, and expensive, and their sound quality was terrible. Thanks to materials science developments in the 1990s, electrets are now tiny, high- quality, and available from some sources for less than $1 each.

The electret microphone performs its magic with a pair of thin electrostatically charged membranes. When sound ...

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