5 Microphone Pickup Patterns that every video maker should know! 1

Don’t choose the wrong microphone! Learn these essential five polar patterns.

A film is only as good as its audio.
While it can be easy to be captured from the visual side of a movie, audio should be high on the list of priorities for any videomaker. Poor audio can quickly disappoint an already distracted audience, so it is important to choose the right microphone depending on the type of work. This also applies to the wedding video.

Let’s take a look at the six main polar diagrams that every videomaker should know. There is no single solution for everything when recording audio on a movie set or in a documentary. The ideal would be to bring along a good assortment of lavaliers and directional microphones to adapt to different scenarios.

Omnidirectional

Perfect for:interwievs, moving subjects.

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Omnidirectional microphones are the easiest to understand. In a nutshell, omnidirectional microphones record audio from all directions. Generally, you want to use an omnidirectional microphone when recording audio that you cannot control very well (such as ambient audio, a press conference or a talking person on the go). Omnidirectional microphones are the most flexible microphones, but they are also the loudest. In a cinematic context, you will see almost exclusively omnidirectional models in lavalier microphones.

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Examples of omnidirectional microphones:

  • Rode SmartLav: € 55
  • Sennheiser MKE-2:>€ 400
  • Sistema wireless Sennheiser EW 112-P G3: € 585

Cardioids

Perfect for:documentaries, weddings, events.

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A cardioid type microphone has a highly flexible polar pattern model which is great for universal use. Cardioid microphones are available in all shapes and sizes and are typical video camera microphones. A cardioid microphone, although slightly directional, should not be confused with a hypercardioid or supercardioid microphone. Cardioid microphones will still detect background noise if they are not in a controlled environment.

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Examples of cardioids microphones:

  • Polsen SCL-1075 Shotgun Mic:€ 50
  • Rode Videomic Pro: € 262
  • Audio-Technica Pro 70 Lavalier: € 125

Ipercardioid (Mini-directional)

Perfect for: camera microphones, documentary recording and instrument recording has a highly flexible polar pattern model that is great for universal use.

Cardioid microphones are available in all shapes and sizes and are typical video camera microphones. A cardioid microphone, although slightly directional, should not be confused with a hypercardioid or supercardioid microphone. Cardioid microphones will still detect background noise if they are not in a controlled environment.

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A microphone with hypercardioid diagram is an excellent type of microphone for isolating audio. While you may find some lavalier microphones with hypercardioid polar pattern, you will typically see this type of pattern only in shotgun microphones. While each brand is different, the biggest difference between a hypercardioid microphone and a supercardioid microphone is the amount of rear and side noise detected. Hypercardioid microphones are typically used for recording instruments.

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Examples of ipercardioids microphones:

  • Audix SCX1-HC: € 600 
  • Sennheiser MKH-416:€ 955

Supercardioid (shotgun)

Perfect for:  reality, content with script.

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Supercardioid microphones are the most popular types of microphones for independent videomakers because they offer users the ability to isolate audio while allowing for a slight margin of error. Supercardioid polar patterns are typically found only in shotgun microphones that are used on booms or mounted on top of a video camera. This is a great microphone for movie shooting, but it’s a little awkward to use in weddings as it’s not as small as other models. It should be noted that a supercardioid microphone model picks up some audio from behind the microphone. So if you mount a supercardioid microphone on your camera, you will need to minimize the operating noise of the machine itself.

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Stereo

Perfect for:natural sounds, music.

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And if you’re wondering: What is the best ambient microphone?

Well then the discussion changes. In fact, so far we have made an overview of microphones for recording the voice, which is strictly mono. To capture ambient sounds, such as the background sound of nature or the environment in a room, then it is more appropriate to use stereo microphones. A stereo microphone will give you the opportunity to have two audio channels, thus making the sound more enveloping and the viewer will feel more immersed in the scene. On the market there are stereo microphones that are combined with recorders, small and not bulky. The quality is excellent and the price low.

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Examples of stereo microphomes (with recorder):

  • Sony ICD UX570: € 128
  • Zoom H4NPRO: € 185
  • Tascam DR-05 V2: € 180

To write this article I took inspiration from this post on Premium beat.

If you found this article interesting leave me a comment! What kind of microphones do you use for your productions?

If you want to deepen the topic and understand in detail how to use microphones for optimal recording then visit my Shooting techniques page. I will give you a fundamental help to improve the quality of your audio. Don’t let your videos be perceived as amateur products just because the audio is of poor quality. With a few but precise rules you will learn to master this field, trust me!