Basic Microphone Patterns

A microphone is a very basic mechanical/electrical device.  Simply put, sound waves, rather like waves onto a beach, hit a diaphragm, which produces an electrical voltage down a wire – simple as that!!!

It is just a simple volume driven instrument and next to the complexity of your ears it’s practically a prehistoric device!!! However scientists have managed to develop this little diaphragm to give us certain pick patterns to work with, this means making them directional.

If we look at a representation of a basic Omni-directional microphone pick up pattern it will give us an idea of how these patterns work.

If you walked around the circle drawn around the microphone head talking, it would pick your voice up at the same volume all the way round. This type of microphone is used as ‘Personal’ lapel microphones and in journalistic interview situations like post football match interviews.

The next progression is the ‘Cardiod' pattern’.

As shown, if you walk around the back of this microphone, volume will drop off until you’re virtually unheard. 
This sort of microphone can me used in noisy 'hand-held' interview situations and is used frequency for stage performances where the ‘dead’ area of the microphone is faced off to the foldback loudspeakers.

A development of this is the Hyper/Super Cardiod pattern of microphones.

The pattern has been modified to give a very front facing pick up pattern, with a very ‘dead’ area at 30 degrees to the rear, but with a small extra lob towards the rear.  This microphone is used extensively in professional recording.

A further development of this is the ‘Gun’ microphone.  The 416 microphone is used extensively in professional location recording. It’s the microphone you usually see in a Rycote  “Hairy” basket. What you notice is that although the overall pick up follows the ‘Super’ Cardiod pattern, as frequencies rise (the Blue pattern), the pick up becomes quite irregular and much more directional.

There are other microphone pick up patterns, but the above gives you an introduction to the main ones you’ll come across.

Whenever using a microphone to record it’s very important to know the characteristics of that microphone and how it works, and most importantly – listen to it!!!!   Listen to how it works by moving it around until you get it in the best position.
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Many thanks for you patience.
Kind regards,
Mike - Media4ed.

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