Anyone who is shopping for microphones needs to know how those microphones will capture the desired sounds while screening out background noise. This article discusses the common polar patterns (methods of sound collection) of the microphones which are readily available on the market.
Cardioid microphones only collect the sound that is originating from the front of the microphone. All other sounds, such as those coming from the sides or behind, are rejected. Cardioid microphones are used for several applications, such as during live performances. Care must be taken when positioning the microphone because some sounds may be modified if they approach the microphone at an angle.
Super Cardioid Microphones
Super-cardioid microphones also collect the sound coming in from the front of the microphone. However, these microphones have a narrower space from which they collect sound waves. This reduced range of sensitivity makes these microphones suitable for very noisy environments since the microphone will not pick up most of those background noises.
Omnidirectional microphones are designed to capture sound waves from all directions. These types of microphones are a good choice in case you would like a recording to sound as natural as possible (for instance, when you want to capture a conversation in a forest setting that has birds chirping in the background). This indiscriminate capturing of sound can pose some problems in case you have equipment, such as monitors, which can create feedback during a recording session.
Figure-8 microphones are designed to capture the sounds that are coming from the back and the front of the microphone. This microphone doesn't capture any sound that is originating from the sides of the microphone. They are often used to record the sound from two different musical instruments.
Switchable microphones can be used to collect sound in different polar patterns, such as from the front alone and later from all directions. Such a change in polarity is attained by flipping a switch to the desired polar pattern. Some switchable microphones rely on changing the microphone head to switch to a desired polar pattern. Switchable microphones are more delicate and complex because of the many moving components or the wiring that allows the polar pattern to be changed.
As such, each type of microphone is tailored to capture sound from a different direction. Start by identifying where you want to place your microphones and how you want them to collect sound waves before you select the particular microphones to buy. For more information, contact companies like Wagner Electronics.