Basic Reference Guide to Microphone Polar PatternRelease Date:2015-12-11 14:41:58

Basic Reference Guide to Microphone Polar Pattern

As you can see this article right now, you must have been browsed and read many articles and shopping guides about microphones before, and pretty familiar with this term “Polar Pattern”. Even though there are numerous microphones, their working principle is identical: convert a physical or acoustic sound into some electrical signal we can control. Any little differences during the process will affect the result of sound reproduction. Thus for every music lover, it will benefit you greatly if you can grasp some basic knowledge about microphones.

Microphones type and polar pattern are the two major factors which matters how a microphone produce a sound. Polar pattern is the combination of directivity and sensitivity, etc. Following are four basic polar patterns about microphones: Cardioid, Hypercardoid, Bi-directional, Omnidirectional. Hope this article will do you a favor when you choosing a microphone.

Cardioid is the first choice when you want to buy a unidirectional microphone, as this kind of microphone can capture the sound only from one direction. Speaking of cardioid, one picture about heart may arise in your mind. As cardioid microphones are designed to receive sounds which directly produced in front of them not from behind. For those who need to record one directional sound, such as vocal and instrument, cardioid microphones are the perfect one to buy as they won’t pick up extra sound not from their pointed direction. This microphone works awesome not only in onstage performances but also in studio. However, a cardiod microphone cannot keep such “original” sound just like an omnidirectional one. And if place this microphone too closely to the sound source, you will notice an obvious increase in the low frequency response. For singers, this phenomenon can be used to produce fuller and warmer sound, but if you do it intentionally, things will develop in opposite direction when they become extreme.


Hypercardoid is a distant relative to cardioid microphones, both of them are good choice for live shows, especially for vocalists. But the former features a more specific directivity, more narrow, and with a larger bulb in the rear. If you aim to capturing vocalists’ loud and clear sound in ambient stage environment, this microphone cannot be neglected. However, for some active singers who like to dance or shake their body, this microphone may not be a good choice.

Bi-directional can also be called “figure 8” microphone, this kind of microphone can effectively capture sound both from the front and rear, but not sensitive to the sound from the sides. This microphone can be applied for speeches, when the speech of speaker from the front and the questions asked from the back in the audience need to be heard. One disadvantage of this microphone is it is not easy to handle the situation in live performances, but is a fantastic choice for studio environment.

The last one is omnidirectional polar pattern which is sensitive to sound in all directions. It can pick up sounds wherever from above, below, next to, behind, or in front of the microphone. What the most powerful part of this microphone is its impressive flat frequency response, especially in the low frequency. The polar pattern is not susceptible to wind or plosive noise when working. So it is suggest that not to use this kind of microphone in live shows and performances.

Truly hoping that all the mentioned above can help you when you choosing microphones. This article just gives a brief introduction about polar pattern, in real cases, each microphone may have different specifications and features, please consult more comprehensive materials to have a better understanding about microphones.