Every microphone in the world has some form of pickup pattern, or polar pattern as they are sometimes known. In a nut-shell, this term is used to explain the directions from which a microphone records the most or least sound, and that which it negates entirely.
Not every mic suits every situation, which is why pickup patterns are clearly advertised and important to learn. So, read on to find out the five most common patterns, and our tips for where to deploy them.
Named for its heart-like shape, the cardioid pattern is designed to grab sound coming in from the front, but block out the sides and rear. Additionally, as a directional pattern, it can be utilised in conjunction with what some people call the 'proximity effect' – which is where sound is warmer the closer the subject is to the microphone.
2. Super- or hyper-cardioid
Although technically different, super- and hyper-cardioid microphones are very similar. Typically found in shotgun mics, the super- and hyper-cardioid pattern is designed to pick up a slightly wider scope from the front than its cardioid brethren, although as a result of this, it also picks up a slight lobe of sound at the back. The super variant is wider than hyper.
For the ultimate in directional pickup patterns, a lobar – also known as unidirectional – mic is going to suit you just fine. Lobar mics are also shotgun mics, but have a much tighter pattern that pulls in sound from the front, and tries its best to negate every other direction. You'll get very clean audio from a subject even in a high-noise environment, but lobar mics aren't as forgiving if the talent falls outside their narrow pickup area.
Now we're moving away from directional patterns. An omnidirectional mic is, as the name suggests, designed to catch sound equally from all directions. While this makes it highly convenient in certain instances, you do have to listen carefully for background noises that might disrupt the recording, or sound sources that cause awful feedback screeching.
Figure-8, or bidirectional mics, do exactly what it says on the tin – pick up sound from two places. In this case, the front and back, while rejecting noise from the sides. You'll also commonly see figure-8 mics called 'ribbon' or 'large-diaphragm' mics.
And of course, if you're ever unsure about what mic you need for your project, come in and chat with the team at DVT or contact us today.
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