All of the different noises we hear are caused by minute pressure differences in the air around us.
This article will help you understand what the main kinds of microphones are that are used in music production, both live and recording, and what each type of mic is typically used for.
Microphone Polar Patterns Polar patterns describe how microphones pick up sound, showing specifically where mics 'listen' spatially and which positions are blocked. Having a good grasp of these polar patterns will help you select the right mics that capture the sound that you need while minimizing unwanted noise.
Cardioid Microphones Cardioid mics capture everything in front and block everything else. This front-focused pattern will let you point the mic to a sound source and isolate it from unwanted ambient sound, making it ideal for live performance and other situations where noise reduction and feedback suppression are needed.
Cardioid mics surpass other polar patterns by far in terms of popularity, used widely in live performances, from karaoke to big arena concerts.
Other common uses include miking loud instruments like drum kits and guitar speakers. Note that these types of mics add subtle sound coloration when the source is off axis, which is why mic position when speaking and singing is very important.
This results in improved isolation and higher resistance to feedback. Because of their enhanced ability to reject noise, you can use these for loud sound sources, noisy stage environments or even for untreated recording rooms.
On the flip side, back rejection is a bit compromised, so you will have to position unwanted sounds like stage monitors and drum kits on the dead spot sides.
Omnidirectional Microphones These are microphones that capture sound from all angles. Because of their non-directional design and zero rejection, these mics capture nuances better, resulting in a more natural sound.
You can use these mics in studios and other venues like old churches with great acoustics, and can also be used for live recording of multiple instruments, as long as the noise level is low. The obvious downside is that they lack background noise rejection and are prone to monitor feedback, which makes them unsuitable for loud and noisy venues.
Figure-8 Microphones The name of this pattern is derived from its graphical representation, which looks like the number 8.
The long and short of it is that Figure-8 mics capture the sound of both the front and back, while rejecting the two sides.
This front and back sensitivity makes them idea for stereo recording and for capturing two or more instruments. They are essentially like omni directional mics, but with sound rejection on two sides.
Although not as popular as other polar patterns, the figure-8 is commonly used on ribbon mics and on some large diaphragm condenser microphones. Shotgun Microphones Shotgun mics, also called Line and Gradient, feature a tube like design that make their polar pattern even more directional than hyper cardioids.
The capsule is placed at the end of an interference tube, which eliminates sound from the sides via phase cancellation. This design results in a tighter polar pattern up front with longer pickup range. Although Shotgun mics are more commonly used for film and theatre, they also make great overhead mics for capturing things like singing groups, chorals, drum cymbals.
Many of today's USB condenser microphones have this feature, letting you switch between multiple patterns by simply flicking a switch. Others provide the same flexibility through changing the mic head. The advantage that these mics offer is obvious, more positioning possibilities and more usage. Just remember to be careful when handling these mics, you don't want to accidentally damage the extra moving parts and circuitry that give them their versatility.
Diaphragm Sizes Microphones pick up sounds through their diaphragm, a thin material that vibrates when it comes into contact with sound. This vibration converts sonic energy into electrical energy. While there is no actual standard unit of measurement, there are currently three main classifications for mic diaphragms, all of which are referring to the diaphragm's mass.
The size of the diaphragm affects the microphone's sound pressure level handling, sensitivity, dynamic range and internal noise level. Small Diaphragm Mics with small diaphragms are commonly called pencil mics because of their thin cylindrical shapes.
Their compact design makes them lighter and easier to position, and interestingly, they are designed to be stiffer, to handle higher sound pressure levels and have wider dynamic range. You can use them on acoustic guitars, hi-hats, cymbals, and other instruments.The discussion for the best boundary microphones rarely come up when there is a discussion about the different types of microphones for studio recording despite being very unique.
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Note that these types of mics add subtle sound coloration when the source is off axis, which is why mic position when speaking and singing is very important.
Super/Hyper Cardioid Microphones These mics have the same front directionality, but have a narrower area of sensitivity compared to cardioids. Dynamic and condenser describe the operating principal used in a microphone.
Operating principle - The type of transducer inside the microphone, that is, how the microphone picks up sound and converts it into an electrical signal. A transducer is a device that changes energy from one form into.
3 Types of Microphones used in Music Here are the three types of microphones most commonly used in music, available with either XLR or USB connectivity.