Selecting a microphone for the right reason…it’s pattern!

June 14, 2017 by Ben Stowe, CTS

When selecting a microphone it’s important to understand the various pick-up patterns and how which will perform best in your application. Let’s look at the 3 most common for DJ use.

Cardioid. So named for it’s “heart shaped” pattern, this pickup pattern is most sensitive on-axis, meaning looking straight down into the top of the microphone, and begins to taper off as you get off-axis, or moving towards the side. It has maximum rejection completely off-axis, which can be very useful in situations where you have monitors or other high ambient sound levels. This means the mic will pick up the person speaking or singing directly into it and reject sounds coming from other directions. These are the most typical for dynamic handheld microphones used by DJs, and also a popular choice for vocalists.

Omnidirectional. These microphones will pick-up in a spherical pattern all around the mic element. The pick-up is equal on-axis or off-axis. These are ideal in situations where you want to pick up sound from many directions, such as putting a lav on an officiant and using that to also pick-up the bride and groom. Omnidirectional mics also have the best wind rejection, but are also the most vulnerable to feedback and ambient sounds.

Supercardioid. These are very similar to their cardioid cousins, but have a more focused on-axis pick-up. They are less sensitive on the sides of the mic (90º off axis), but are a little more sensitive completely off-axis (180º). The additional directionality makes these ideal for areas where maximum ambient noise must be rejected, but also require a more attentive user. The person singing or speaking must be more aware of the mic position and axis and the sound board operator must be more aware of the increased 180º sensitivity if using monitor wedges.

Illustrations courtesy of Shure Inc.

Ben Stowe, CTS Ben Stowe, CTS (13 Posts)

Ben’s love of electronics and technology led to years of schooling in Electricity, Electronics, Robotics and Lasers. Ben supported himself through school by building and selling strobe lights and other electronic devices. He built his first DJ show largely from scratch and scrap, often repairing broken items others had thrown away because he could not afford to buy new equipment. He holds a Minnesota electrical license, and his AV installs have been featured in almost every major industry trade magazine. His relentless passion for education has led to a number of other certifications and accreditations, including the most widely recognized one in the AV industry, the InfoComm CTS. His love for education inspired him to begin the ProAcademy educational sessions, focused on increasing understanding of AV technologies within the industry. Ben has been involved in a number of technical writings, lectures, presentations, as well as research and development assistance with a number of manufacturers for products, industry wide. He is also a regular contributing author to industry magazines in the United States and Europe. Ben’s presentations have been featured across the world both as a part of industry leading trade shows, and as a presenter for various groups and functions. Some of these events include BPM in the United Kingdom, Mobile Beat, the ADJA National Convention, Wedding MBA, and a national tour as a headlining presenter for an industry magazine. The United States Armed Forces branches have also called upon Ben to provide engineering and training assistance. His highly informational, slightly nerdy and always funny presentation style have made him a favorite at events, while his sincere desire to help people with their application of technology have made him a favorite with them after the event. Ben serves the industry as the President of NLFX Professional, an industry leading supplier of sound, lighting and video systems, a role he has maintained since founding the company in 1993.


Filed Under: Performing, Sound