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Online Guide Stage Vocal Mics
Directional Characteristics

 

Not all
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphones
pick up sound in the same way - for instance some are designed to respond primarily to sound approaching from a single direction, while others pick up sound from both the front and rear, but not from the sides. These directional characteristics are known as a microphone’s ‘polar’ or ‘pickup’ pattern, and are an important consideration when choosing a vocal
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
mic
for stage – together with the strategic placement of other band members and
FoldbackThe use of stage monitors or in-ear systems to enable on-stage performers to hear themselves.
foldback
speakers, the right polar pattern can substantially reduce ‘spill’ and decrease the chances of
FeedbackThe phenomenon whereby audio picked up by a microphone or guitar pickup that is then played from a speaker close or loud enough for it to be captured again by the same source. If left the signal will continuously loop, with any resonant frequency causing the undesirable 'howling' sound often heard at concerts.
feedback
. Here’s a look at the most common
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphone
patterns:


Omnidirectional

Omnidirectional

The response of a
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
mic
that has an
OmniSetting a MIDI device to Omni Mode enables it to receive data on any of the 16 possible MIDI channels. Used when many MIDI devices were not multi-timbral and so did not need to have different sounds set to different, independent MIDI channels.
omni
PickupA device for converting sound into an electronic signal, usually by direct contact with the instrument body or by magnetic interaction with the strings, as opposed to a microphone which picks up sound vibrations in the air.
pickup
pattern remains more or less constant regardless of where the sound is coming from. These mics tend to be the most technically accurate and ‘natural’, but they may well also pick up sounds not intended for them. In the studio, they are often used as ambient mics, and although they can be handy in live situations where there is little or no time to sound check, their susceptibility to
FeedbackThe phenomenon whereby audio picked up by a microphone or guitar pickup that is then played from a speaker close or loud enough for it to be captured again by the same source. If left the signal will continuously loop, with any resonant frequency causing the undesirable 'howling' sound often heard at concerts.
feedback
and
BleedIn audio, the unintentional interference of one audio source with another. This could be the sound from a singer's headphones leaking into the microphone. With magnetic tape, bleed (or bleed-through) occurs when the audio on one section of tape gets weakly imprinted on another as a result of close proximity on the reel.
spill
means they are seldom used in all but the most controlled live environments.


Cardioid

Cardioid

The
CardioidA heart-shaped microphone response pattern. In effect, cardioid mics are generally directional, but not strongly unidirectional.
cardioid
PickupA device for converting sound into an electronic signal, usually by direct contact with the instrument body or by magnetic interaction with the strings, as opposed to a microphone which picks up sound vibrations in the air.
pickup
pattern (sometimes also called ‘unidirectional’) is so-named because its range of capture looks a lot like a heart shape.
CardioidA heart-shaped microphone response pattern. In effect, cardioid mics are generally directional, but not strongly unidirectional.
Cardioid
mics pick up sound to varying degrees in front of the
DiaphragmIn a microphone the diaphragm is a thin membrane up to 1" in diameter that converts sound waves into electrical current. A loudspeaker diaphragm does exactly the reverse.
diaphragm
, while rejecting sound from behind it. This type of pattern is usually created by the use of ‘ports’ behind the
CapsuleThe part of a microphone containing the diaphragm which moves or vibrates in response to sound waves.
capsule
. The ports are acoustic paths or ‘labyrinths’ for sound to reach the back of the
DiaphragmIn a microphone the diaphragm is a thin membrane up to 1" in diameter that converts sound waves into electrical current. A loudspeaker diaphragm does exactly the reverse.
diaphragm
and effectively get lost, so that only the sound from directly in front of the
DiaphragmIn a microphone the diaphragm is a thin membrane up to 1" in diameter that converts sound waves into electrical current. A loudspeaker diaphragm does exactly the reverse.
diaphragm
is captured. This type of pattern is ideal for a stage vocal
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
mic
as it will reject any of the surrounding sound, especially what is coming from PA or
FoldbackThe use of stage monitors or in-ear systems to enable on-stage performers to hear themselves.
foldback
speakers which, once picked up by the
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphone
, could result in a ‘feedback’ loop (see FAQs).

Whilst the
CardioidA heart-shaped microphone response pattern. In effect, cardioid mics are generally directional, but not strongly unidirectional.
cardioid
is the most common of response patterns, it does suffer from the ‘proximity effect’ – live singers, though, often use this to deliberate effect, as it adds an intimacy and accentuated warmth to the vocal sound when it is placed closer to the mouth, but can also reduce clarity and
IntelligibilityOfficial measure of intelligibility of speech or audio signals, used in the specification of PA systems.
intelligibility
. A common mistake of inexperienced stage singers is to clasp one or both hands around the lower part of the grille, blocking the ‘ports’ referred to above, and temporarily turning the
CardioidA heart-shaped microphone response pattern. In effect, cardioid mics are generally directional, but not strongly unidirectional.
cardioid
into an
OmniSetting a MIDI device to Omni Mode enables it to receive data on any of the 16 possible MIDI channels. Used when many MIDI devices were not multi-timbral and so did not need to have different sounds set to different, independent MIDI channels.
omni
, often resulting in
FeedbackThe phenomenon whereby audio picked up by a microphone or guitar pickup that is then played from a speaker close or loud enough for it to be captured again by the same source. If left the signal will continuously loop, with any resonant frequency causing the undesirable 'howling' sound often heard at concerts.
feedback
.


Super and Hyper-cardioid

Super and Hyper-cardioid

Super-cardioids have a good response from the front, but even less response than a regular
CardioidA heart-shaped microphone response pattern. In effect, cardioid mics are generally directional, but not strongly unidirectional.
cardioid
to sounds arriving at the sides. Hyper-cardioids take this a stage further and also have a much narrower field of forward response. These types are very useful if there are other instruments either side of the vocalist that might be picked up by a vocal
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphone
with a less restrictive response, and they also tend to offer excellent
FeedbackThe phenomenon whereby audio picked up by a microphone or guitar pickup that is then played from a speaker close or loud enough for it to be captured again by the same source. If left the signal will continuously loop, with any resonant frequency causing the undesirable 'howling' sound often heard at concerts.
feedback
rejection. Beware though that they have a tight but significant ‘lobe’ of response directly to the rear, which means that any
FoldbackThe use of stage monitors or in-ear systems to enable on-stage performers to hear themselves.
foldback
speakers should be placed slightly to one side, rather than directly behind the
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
mic
.

 

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Contents:

[Contents] [Introduction] [Microphone Designs] [Directional Characteristics] [Understanding Specifications] [FAQ] [Hotdeals] [Conclusion and Feedback]
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