The Difference Between Each Microphone Pickup Pattern

Have you ever wondered what the differences are between a cardioid pattern microphone and a bidirectional microphone?

Each microphone polar pattern is built with a specific end goal in mind, more or less. In other words, each type of microphone pickup pattern has a purpose and will work better in some scenarios versus others.

But these differences can make a huge impact on the quality of recording and it is thus very important to know how and when to use each microphone.

Today we will discuss the difference between cardioid patterns, bidirectional patterns, and omnidirectional patterns which are the most common types of microphone polar patterns.

Omnidirectional Microphone Pattern

This pickup pattern will allows the diaphragm to pick up sound from all directions.

  • These microphone pickup patterns are useful for field recordings
  • Omnidirectional is optimized for orchestral recordings
  • Omnidirectional is good for getting the entire image of surrounding recordings

Bidirectional Microphone Pattern

A bidirectional pattern will record sound from front and back but not the sides

  • This is usually an option but it is rarely the only option
  • THis type is useful for interviews and some vocal scenarios

Cardioid Microphone Pattern

A cardioid pattern receives from front and rejects most sides and back. This type of pattern is the most commonly used for recording vocals.

Hypercardioid Microphone Pattern

  • This pattern rejects 75% less than standard cardioid pattern.

Supercardioid (Hypcardioid) Microphone Pattern

  • This pattern rejects 50% less than the standard cardioid pattern.

By using different microphone patterns we can achieve a blend of direct signal and ambience. This is incredibly important to know because we can understand when to capture certain sounds and when to use certain patterns for doing so. Each can achieve a different effect in recording.

The Difference between a Microphone Patterns

When it comes time to decide between which type of microphone pickup pattern to use, whether it is a cardioid, omnidirectional, bidirectional, or a combination of those, it largely depends on the sound source as well as the environment within which the sound is being recorded.

For example, if you are planning on recording a vocalist then a cardioid is almost always recommended.

To learn more about this subject, consider reading about the difference between dynamic microphones and condenser microphones.