Microphones are referred to by their transducer principle, such as condenser, dynamic.

Their directional characteristics usually include, cardioid, super-cardioid, hyper-cardioid, bi-directional, omni-directional.

Sometimes other characteristics such as diaphragm size, intended use or orientation of the principal sound input to the principal axis of the microphone are used to describe the microphone.

A dynamic microphone is a small loudspeaker used in reverse. Dynamic mics are built tough, can withstand a lot of abuse, but are not that sensitive, they work best recording loud sounds or when placed close to the source.

Condenser-type microphones are way more sensitive than dynamic mics. If, instead of a shout, you want to pick up the sound of a mosquito flying, you’ll use a condenser mic.