Understanding microphone polar patterns

Understanding microphone polar patterns
Cardioid
A microphone polar (pickup) pattern. Characterized by strong sensitivity to audio from the front of the mic, good sensitivity on the sides (at 90 degrees, 6 dB less than the front), and good rejection of sound from the rear, the Cardioid pattern can almost be visualized as a “heart-shaped” pattern (hence its name). The ability to reject sound from the rear makes Cardioid patterns very useful in multi-miking situations, and where it is not desirable to capture a large amount of room ambience. Popular in both studio and live use (where rear rejection cuts down on feedback and ambient noise), Cardioid mics are used for a very high percentage of microphone applications.Keep in mind that like all non-omnidirectional mics, Cardioid mics will exhibit pronounced proximity effect.

Supercardioid
A polar pattern name used to describe the pickup pattern of some microphones. The Supercardioid pattern is very similar to, and often confused with, the Hypercardioid pattern. The Supercardioid pattern is slightly less directional than the Hypercardioid pattern, but the rear lobe of sensitivity is also much smaller in the Supercardioid .
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Hypercardioid
A polar pattern name typically used to describe microphone pick up characteristics. Hypercardioid patterns are similar to Cardioid and Supercardioid patterns in that the primary sensitivity is in the front of the microphone. They differ, however, in that the point of least sensitivity is at the 150 – 160 and 200 – 210 degree positions (as opposed to directly behind the microphone in a Cardioid pattern). Hypercardioid microphones are thus considered even more directional than Cardioid and Supercardioid microphones. Hypercardioid microphones are frequently used in situations where maximum isolation is desired between sound sources.
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Omnidirectional
Literally, from all directions. In audio, microphones are said to be omnidirectional if they can detect sound equally from all directions. An Omnidirectional microphone will not exhibit a pronounced proximity effect.
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Figure-8
A microphone polar pattern in which the mic is (nearly) equally sensitive to sounds picked up from front and back, but not sensitive to sounds on the sides. This produces a pattern that looks like a figure 8 on paper, where the microphone is at the point of crossover on the 8. The pattern is also known as bi-directional.
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