Understanding of Polar Pattern and Types of Microphones

Understanding of Polar Pattern and Types of Microphones

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Most microphone manufacturers will provide polar patterns charts and graphs in their specification sections, but the graphs are rarely helpful to the layman. The charts are even more confusing. What are the different polar patterns? How do they affect mic performance? To answer these questions, let’s consider the different polar patterns and how they are used.

Understanding of polar pattern and types of microphones is an important factor in recording audio. Microphones pick up audio via the diaphragm vibrating in relation to the sound waves that hit it. A microphone’s diaphragm is made of a thin material. The vibrations in the diaphragm are turned into an electrical signal by a transducer. This signal, along with the sound waves it picked up, are sent through an amplifier and then to your computer or device.

The choice of the best microphone depends on the application and the type of environment in which it will be used. By matching your needs with the characteristics of the microphone, you can easily choose the right type that offers the right features.

Here are a few of them. Let’s look at the different types to narrow down your search for the best cheap vocal microphone.

Moving coil microphone/Dynamic microphone

How it works:

Dynamic microphones have a coil connected to a diaphragm that is in the field of a permanent magnet. When the diaphragm moves, the coil moves with it, changing the voltage generated by the coil. Small changes to the coil will alter the sound reproduction.


  • They are often used for stage voices, speakers, etc.
  • Thanks to its rugged construction, this microphone can endure quite rough handling.
  • These microphones are excellent for high sound pressure levels and are very sensitive to transients.
  • Dynamic microphones have a low output impedance and a relatively high output level.
  • You do not need an internal pre-amplifier.
  • Dynamic microphones are relatively inexpensive compared to other solutions.

Ideal for:

Noisy sound sources such as guitars, drum machines and drum machines.

Condenser/condenser microphone

How it works:

Condenser microphones have a thin, conductive diaphragm that sits next to a metal plate called a back plate, forming a condenser. A small electrical charge is applied to the capacitor, either from the battery or from a phantom power supply. The distance between the diaphragm and the back plate varies with the pressure of the sound waves, causing the diaphragm to vibrate. These fluctuations cause changes in the output voltage, which produces an electronic signal from the microphone.


  • Condenser microphones use external power, internal batteries or phantom power applied to the input of the mixing console.
  • Most mixers have phantom power on the microphone inputs.
  • The condenser microphone is used to record high quality sounds, whether they are vocal or instrumental compositions.
  • These microphones are more sensitive to loud noises.
  • They are not as robust as dynamic microphones.
  • The output impedance of a condenser microphone is usually low, so longer cords can be used.
  • The price of a high-quality condenser microphone ranges from $100 to $200 to several thousand dollars, depending on the model and brand.
  • In some cases, an additional plop filter may be needed to reduce flat tone bursts.

Ideal for:

Sound over a wide frequency range with good transient response.

Ribbon Microphone

How it works:

Ribbon microphones work on the same principle as dynamic microphones. Unlike dynamic microphones, they use a thin ribbon instead of an opening and oscillate in response to a voltage.


  • Ribbon microphones are used for recording speech and a variety of instruments.
  • These microphones are mainly used in the studio.
  • Ribbon microphones need a pre-amplifier because of their low output signal.
  • These microphones have a very low impedance.
  • Their price is relatively high compared to the others.
  • Ribbon microphones are not as robust and durable as dynamic or condenser microphones.

Ideal for:

Excessive or loud high frequency sound sources, such as. B. Guitar amps or the higher frequencies of drums and brass instruments.

USB microphones

How it works:

These microphones have a built-in digital audio interface.


  • It can be plugged directly into a USB power outlet.
  • USB microphones offer the convenience of a plug ‘n’ play connection.
  • These are cheap microphones.
  • These microphones come in different sizes, such as. B. as portable and tabletop models.
  • In most cases, they are compatible with microphone stands.
  • These microphones cost between $100 and $200 or more, depending on the quality of the microphone.

Ideal for:

Advanced digital audio workstations (DAWs) and digital mixing consoles.

Wireless microphones

How it works:

These microphones are similar to other wired microphones that speak with an electronic voice. An electrical signal passes through a transmitter, which converts the signal into radio waves, which are converted into electrical signals to be transmitted to the sound system.


  • These microphones cannot be used with all receivers because frequency matching is necessary to obtain good sound quality.
  • They range in size from handheld models to clip-on microphones and headband microphones. There are also clip-on transmitters that allow you to convert a regular wired microphone into its wireless counterpart.
  • Wireless microphones are less expensive than other solutions available in the market.

Ideal for:

Broadcasting, public speaking, interviews and speeches.

All these types give different sound results. Depending on your needs and requirements, you can find different types of the best microphones up to 100.

Microphone polar diagram

In simple terms, polar pattern is the term used to describe the polar pattern of a microphone, i.e. the sensitivity of the microphone to incoming sound waves from different directions or angles. It is also called the polar diagram of the microphone.

Every microphone, whether ribbon, condenser or dynamic, has at least one polar pattern. Some microphones today have more than one polar pattern, depending on the type, model and price of the microphone.

Each polar diagram is dedicated to a specific voice type, recording scenario and instrument used.

There are three main types of polar models:


One way (kidney)

  • Supercardioid
  • Hypercardioid

Bidirectional (Figure 8)

Video demonstration of polar directional maps




Uniform 360 degree sensitivity.

  • It captures sound evenly from all sides.
  • The sound does not need to be directed in a certain direction.
  • Omnidirectional microphones are less likely to cause feedback.
  • They have the smoothest frequency response and best bass performance.
  • Omnidirectional microphones are the least sensitive to wind noise and handling noise.
  • For studio recordings, these microphones are the best.

Voice sample for OMNI-DIRECTION microphone

Unidirectional (cardioid)

The most sensitive at the front and the least sensitive at the back.

  • Unidirectional microphones are the most common.
  • It has a lower pickup on the sides.
  • The unidirectional microphones effectively eliminate ambient noise.
  • Unidirectional microphones are more resistant to feedback than omnidirectional microphones.
  • These microphones are ideal for vocals or when you want to emphasize the sound coming from a certain direction.

Voice functions for CARDIOIDMicrophone

Cardioid Variants ofMicrophones

Cardioid microphones are also divided into two different circuits that are more or less similar to cardioid microphones, but have different sensitivity and recording levels.


Speaking of the front: Supercardioid microphones have a narrow pickup direction compared to cardioid microphones.

  • The tight recording direction effectively eliminates unwanted background noise.
  • There are fewer vans close together in the back and on the sides.
  • Aggressive resistance to feedback.
  • These microphones perfectly isolate the single source in noisy environments.


Hypercardioid microphones have an even narrower recording direction than supercardioid microphones in relation to the front.

  • Better suppression of unwanted background noise.
  • Less pickup on the side and rear.
  • They are equally effective for isolating a single sound source in noisy living spaces.
  • The hypercardioid microphone is the least sensitive to feedback.

Bidirectional (Fig. 8)

Captures the same amount of sound from the front and back of the microphone.

  • These microphones do not have a side pickup.
  • It has the largest lateral deviation of any directional pattern.
  • Two-way microphones are more sensitive to the signal source and the natural characteristics of your room.
  • These microphones have the lowest bass response.
  • Used for both stereo midrange recordings and Blumlein recordings.
  • These microphones are more sensitive to motion and wind noise.

Voice diagram for microphone FIGURE 8

Here you will find a video demonstration of cardioid, omnidirectional and Figure-8 microphones to help you make the best choice for your needs and requirements.



Multipath microphones

To avoid having to buy a different microphone for each recording style, there are multi-pattern microphones.

By simply varying the output of microphones with different polar patterns, you can create any polar pattern that meets your needs.

For example:

  • Cardioid + Cardioid = Omnidirectional
  • Kidney + reverse polarity kidney = Figure 8
  • Cardioid + Cardioid (disabled) = Cardioid polar pattern.

Directional characteristic according to the application

Polar diagram Application
  • Drums
  • Live performances
  • Unprocessed recording space
  • Wide range of sounds (choir, piano)
  • Moving sound source
  • Recording in stereo mode
Figure 8 (bidirectional)
  • Stereo recording
  • Maximum insulation

Understanding how a microphone’s performance directly affects your sound will make it easier to make the right choice, whether it’s the best USB microphone for raps or the best microphones for vocals.

Here are some of the best microphones under $100 that offer the best features in the most affordable price range without compromising on sound quality.

Microphone type

As for the type of microphone, there are two main types that are commonly used. You can’t say that one type is better than another because they are designed for different purposes. Using the right microphone for the right purpose gives the best results.

Tube microphones

Tube microphones are associated with warmth and roundness. These microphones require a stable high voltage source. To obtain the desired voltage, these microphones are provided with external power supplies.

  • Softens the sound of the device.
  • It rolls over the top of the source and produces a warm, pleasant sound for the ear.
  • It adds an element of depth and resonance that makes instruments sound more than life-like.

FET microphones

FET microphones are best known for their fast transient response and accuracy.

  • These microphones are especially known for their transient response, making it easier to select accurate transients than tube microphones.
  • They are more suitable for louder sound sources, as the FET microphone is less powerful.
  • They work perfectly with the standard 48V phantom power supply that comes with most common preamps.

This source has been very much helpful in doing our research. Read more about bidirectional polar pattern and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 3 types of microphone pickup patterns?

There are three basic patterns in which a microphone can pick up sound and they are Omnidirectional, Unidirectional and Bidirectional. Simply put, the Omni picks up sound from all around the microphone and the Unidirectional picks up sound from one direction. The Bidirectional mic picks up sound from two directions. With the Omni pattern you can use it in a noisy environment and have a decent recording. The Bidirectional pattern is great for recording interviews. There are three main types of microphone pickup patterns: omnidirectional, cardioid (unidirectional), and bidirectional. Omnidirectional microphones pick up sound from all directions, while cardioid microphones pick up sound from a single source and reject sound from other directions. (Cardioid is pronounced care-dee-ohid, and the “unidirectional” designation just means that the microphone doesn’t pick up sound from more than one direction.) Finally, bidirectional microphones pick up sound from both sources, which is great for conference calls and other situations where you want to record both sides.

How do you read a polar pattern diagram?

A polar pattern diagram is a chart that shows you how a microphone or pair of microphones respond to sounds in different directions. It does not tell you how the microphone sounds. For example, a microphone that has a cardioid pattern sounds the same in any direction. You can do a “side-by-side” comparison of two microphones to see how they compare in different directions. A polar pattern diagram is a visual representation of the polar pattern of a microphone. It is a graphic display that illustrates the directionality of a microphone. This diagram is expressed in decibels relative to a reference point. The diagram typically shows a 90-degree angle, or the smallest spread of a directional microphone.

Which polar pattern is best for vocals?

The polar pattern you choose for your microphone is one of the most important decisions you can make. It will have a profound impact on both the quality of your recordings, and how easy they are to make. Several polar patterns are commonly used for recording vocals; one of the most common is a cardioid pattern. This is a great choice for vocalists and presenters, but other patterns are also useful for different situations. A polar pattern , such as cardioid , supercardiod , omnidirectional , or figure 8 , refers to the shape of a microphone’s pickup pattern . The two most common polar patterns are omnidirectional and cardioid , and they are ideal for picking up ambient sounds from all around and directional sounds from one angle, respectively.

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