Comparing Different Types of Microphones

Whether you’re interested in music promotion or are just wanting to up your studio-garage game, then you may be in the market for a new microphone. It’s important to understand the different types of microphones that you can use and what qualities each one brings to the production process. We’ll walk you through what the most common types of microphones used in music production are and what each type of microphone is best at.

Polar Patterns of Microphones

The polar pattern of a microphone is key to understanding how it will function and what strengths it’ll have. The microphone’s polar pattern relates to how the microphone picks up sound in relation to what direction the sound is coming from. The “pattern” part of the term polar pattern refers to the spatial representation of the different directions the microphone will pick up. Understanding different polar patterns helps a musician select the correct microphone to get the sound they want while reducing noise that’s unwanted.

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Cardioid Microphones

Microphones with a cardioid pattern are good at capturing sound coming from the front and block sound from everywhere else. This pattern is focused in the front means that you can point the mic directly at a source of sound to isolate it from unwanted noise. This direct pickup ability makes it a perfect choice for live performances and other events where you need to reduce noise and feedback due to a loud environment.

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Super-Cardioid Microphones

Super cardioid mics have the same front-facing pickup direction as a regular cardioid mic, but they have a more focused directionality. This narrow area of sensitivity allows for better isolation of the sound you’re trying to capture and provides more resistance to feedback. These kinds of mics are similarly effective in noisy environments where you need to reduce the pick up of loud sources. However, these kinds of mics are somewhat worse than regular cardioid mics when it comes to back rejection, so you’ll want to avoid placing loud sources like drum kits or stage monitors directly behind it.

Omnidirectional Microphones

Omnidirectional mics are able to pick up sound in all directions. These mics are designed to be non-directional with zero rejection. This means they’re better able to capture slight changes in sound making them have a more natural quality. These mics work well in places with good acoustics like a sound studio or similar venue for producing a well-made album. They can also be used to record multiple instruments or sound sources as long as the environment is quiet.

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Figure-8 Microphones

Figure-8 mics get their name from their unique capture pattern, which looks somewhat like an 8. These kinds of mics pick up sound from the front as well as from the back but reject sound from both sides. This sensitivity to sound from two directions makes this kind of mic ideal for capturing multiple instruments and stereo recording. Functionally, they operate much like omnidirectional microphones but reject sound from the sides. 

Shotgun Microphones

Also called line and gradient mics, shotgun mics are unique in that their tube design makes their polar pattern more directionally focused than super cardioid mics. Sound from the sides is eliminated by an interference tube. Their design means that their focused polar pattern has a longer pickup range than most other kinds of mics. While they’re usually used for events like film or theater production, they can also be effective for capturing large groups like a choir. 

Every kind of microphone can be effective depending on what you need it for. When used to their strengths, each mic can shine and help you make the most of your musical performances. When you are wondering if you are ready to take the step from recording in-studio to putting your music out there on the radio for all to hear and love, contact Planetary Group in LA at (392) 952-5050 with any questions and find out what promotion could do for you and your music today!