CHAPTER 5 :
The Home Studio Microphone Guide
Types of Mics:
- Condencer microphone
- Rybon microphone
- Dynamic microphones
Mic Picks for the Home Studio
A microphone’s pickup (or polar) pattern refers
to breadth of its area of concentration. In other
words, it refers to how sensitive the microphone
is to picking up a sound source relative to its central axis. Most mics have a fixed pattern, though some studio mics include a range of pickup pattern choices by way of a switch on the mic.
An omnidirectional pattern will pick up 360 degrees around its element. If you have one mic and you want to pick up everything going on in the room, like a choir or a circle of singers or strings, an omni mic setting is the one to use.
A bi-directional mic will pick up sound sources
equally from the front and back of the mic. A bidirectional mic has two elements, one is negatively charged and the other positive. Most ribbon microphones have a bi-directional pattern, which is useful if you have two sound sources you want to record, like a duet of singers or instruments.
Cardioid is a tighter pickup pattern, and gets its
name from the heart-shaped pattern seen in the
diagram. The most popular mic pickup pattern,
cardioid mics will pick up sound sources in a fairly wide range from the front of the mic, will taper out sorces not directly in front, and have almost no sensitivity to sounds coming directly from the rear of the mic. This helps reduce feedback and focuses on the sound source.
Compared to a cardioid pattern, a hyper-cardioid microphone has a tighter area of front sensitivity plus a small area of rear sensitivity.
A super-cardioid pattern is similar to a hypercardioid, with a slightly larger area of concentration in the front and a thinner area in the rear.
A unidirectional pattern has extreme off-axis rejection, meaning it will only pick up sound sources that are directly in front of the microphone.
A shotgun mic is a unidirectional mic designed
to pick up things that are far away, with a high
degree of focus, so as not to pick up sources it
isn’t directly pointed at. They’re typically electret
condensers, and are often used for TV and
field recording, though they can be used to isolate instruments in a studio setting, like a bass drum or piano.
Pressure Zone Microphone (PZM)
PZMs have a very specific place, and are not
typically used in studio recordings. Most often,
a PZM is an omni-directional mic mounted to a
plate, so that the mic picks up all the reflections
of the sound in an awkward space (e.g. inside a
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