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Pickup patterns

From: Digital Audio Principles

Video: Pickup patterns

Now, another important characteristic of microphones is their pickup pattern. And what this ultimately is, is where a microphone is looking for sound and where it's not paying attention to the sound that's around it. So in these charts I have a gray area that represents the pickup pattern type and then this would represent 360 degrees around the microphone, the white circle. So knowing what the pickup pattern is of your microphone is really helpful, because you can use different patterns in different applications. You can focus the microphone in on something very narrow like a voice of one person, or you can use it to record a whole room, or you can set it up in situations where you have sound sources in certain areas that you want to get, but other sounds in the same room maybe that you don't want to get.

Pickup patterns

Now, another important characteristic of microphones is their pickup pattern. And what this ultimately is, is where a microphone is looking for sound and where it's not paying attention to the sound that's around it. So in these charts I have a gray area that represents the pickup pattern type and then this would represent 360 degrees around the microphone, the white circle. So knowing what the pickup pattern is of your microphone is really helpful, because you can use different patterns in different applications. You can focus the microphone in on something very narrow like a voice of one person, or you can use it to record a whole room, or you can set it up in situations where you have sound sources in certain areas that you want to get, but other sounds in the same room maybe that you don't want to get.

So picking the right pattern and knowing what the pattern is of your microphone has a lot to do with how you determine which one to use and where to place it based on it's pattern. There are three kind of, I'll call them, three big patterns that you'll get used to, Cardioid, Omni-directional, and Bidirectional. These are the most kind of common families, so to speak. And really Omni and Bi, they aren't really families, they are just their thing, but cardioid is kind of a family. And cardioid actually refers to heart, and you'll notice it's kind of heart-shaped.

So there's the Cardioid, Super Cardioid, and Hyper Cardioid. The difference between these three is really how much they reject on the side and how much they reject in the back. You'll notice that sounds on the cardioid if they're coming in from the side, it will get picked up a little bit more than they will on the super cardioid. And the hyper cardioid just try not to hear them very much at all. And also the hyper cardioid is focused more towards its front. So sounds coming from around here, it's not as sensitive to those, whereas the cardioid, if you're over here, you're still going to be heard pretty well.

And the trade-off on the super and the hyper is that they have this little mushroom stalk here that picks up the stuff immediately behind it a little bit. It's a trade-off, if you're trying to focus a group of local singers, you've three singers next to each other, they're each other on microphone, you can use a hyper cardioid. That way one singer's voice doesn't get into the other microphone. You'll use this a lot on things like guitar amps, drums, almost all the drums you'll use some sort of cardioid pattern on, even bass amps. There are all kinds of applications, acoustic guitars.

You can think of cardioid really as directional or kind of pointed at something. It's kind of like a gun where you can aim it at something. The opposite is the omni-directional, which picks up evenly in all directions around it. So this is good if you have a group of singers, and you want to spread them out around one microphone. It's also good if you want to record a drum set in a room, and you've a bunch of close mics on it, but then you want to put one back and get kind of the ambiance and the effects, an omni-directional mic in the room can do pretty well.

And it's also good for actually handheld interviews, when you're out moving about on the street, like if you're walking next to someone and trying to hold the microphone in their face. An omni-directional microphone is more forgiving when they move in turn or when you move the mic up and down, actually you get a more even sound. The catch-22 is you're going to pickup the cars down the street a little bit more, but when you listen back it's that evenness of the pickup that actually makes that a more listenable interview in a way. And that you don't have big volume changes where all of a sudden you can hear the person talking, then you can't hear them as well because they have moved from the microphone.

So omni is actually really useful in certain circumstances. A lot of times though in live circumstances where you're trying to avoid feedback or leakage, omni-directionals don't come into play that much. The bidirectional, or figure-8 pattern, picks up to the front and the back of the microphone and rejects both sides. So this is convenient if you want to put two people around a microphone for an interview session, also if you have one microphone and need to record things like Two Toms or something like that on a drum set, and you just want to put one in-between them, and this can work. Although, it's usually not available on a lot of dynamic microphones.

Many condenser microphones will give you the option to switch between cardioid, omni-directional, and bidirectional, and I'll show you an example of those kinds of microphones later. The last one I want to talk about is the Hemispherical pattern, which basically is a pattern that's associated with a pressure microphone or a PZM microphone or a boundary microphone, which is basically something that you put on a flat surface, and that surface becomes the pickup. So for instance, this represents a little microphone that you've put on say like a boardroom table and all of the sudden everyone talking around, and that table gets picked up in this hemispherical pattern around that microphone.

They use them a lot in theater situations where you want to hear people walking on stage or sound effects, but you don't want a bunch a microphones pointing at the actors. This picks up kind of the overall ambiance of what's going on, on the stage. Sometimes you'll see them used in recording studios, they'll hang them on walls to pick up drums, different walls, like opposite of drum set, to get a room sound or if you're doing symphony you can put a few of them on the wall and just get different hemispherical pickups in the room where the symphony is. You can also see them on the walls of studios to pick up big drum rooms, or rooms with ensembles, or even orchestras.

Knowing about patterns will payoff for you in terms of focusing your microphone on the sound you want to pickup, and the ones you want to reject, the ones you don't want to get into your recording. It's good to kind of study these, get to know them, you'll see icons on microphones that represent these patterns, they look here, they're a circle, they're a cardioid heart, they're the figure-8, but they're good to know and good to think about when you're picking microphones for your applications. The next thing I want to talk about is the Polar Pattern graph, which is used to represent the sensitivity of microphones to different frequencies in relationship to their Polar Pattern or their pickup pattern.

So in this slide we have what you'll get if you buy a microphone, you'll probably get this in the specs, the polar pattern. And what it shows, it's just the different degree of sensitivity to different frequencies at different points around the pickup pattern. So this is a cardioid pickup pattern, and what it's saying is that this thick line is the 1 kHz frequency, at that frequency it's sensitive, and a true cardioid pattern. Now, if you look at this line, it represents 8 kHz, a higher frequency.

It's actually more sensitive to that back here where it's supposed to reject it. So if you have higher frequencies, you're actually going to hear those a little bit more, and they'll seep through and have more presence in what you're recording, than like the 1K will. It won't be rejected as much as that frequency. So this is more or less the sensitivity footprint of your microphone. And just kind of let you know where it's listening and what it's listening form kind of the directionality of it. In the next section we'll talk about axis or where you're pointing your mic in relationship to where the sound source is coming from.

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This video is part of

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Digital Audio Principles

110 video lessons · 28288 viewers

Dave Schroeder
Author

 
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  1. 50s
    1. Welcome
      50s
  2. 39m 10s
    1. What is sound?
      4m 15s
    2. Hertz and frequency response
      5m 34s
    3. Phase
      2m 39s
    4. Capturing audio
      3m 39s
    5. Sample rate
      6m 16s
    6. Bit depth
      9m 47s
    7. The waveform
      5m 3s
    8. Audio file formats
      1m 57s
  3. 7m 25s
    1. What is a digital audio workstation?
      2m 59s
    2. Typical DAW signal flow
      4m 26s
  4. 50m 33s
    1. What microphones do
      1m 57s
    2. Element types
      5m 0s
    3. Pickup patterns
      6m 51s
    4. Axis
      2m 52s
    5. Frequency response and the proximity effect
      5m 10s
    6. Phase issues
      1m 41s
    7. Microphone types
      8m 44s
    8. Miking vocals
      5m 39s
    9. Miking amplifiers
      2m 17s
    10. Miking drums
      10m 22s
  5. 16m 39s
    1. Cables and connectors overview
      2m 42s
    2. Balanced and unbalanced cables
      3m 19s
    3. Common cable types
      7m 13s
    4. Cable tips
      3m 25s
  6. 12m 16s
    1. What is an I/O device?
      1m 41s
    2. Analog to digital conversion
      3m 10s
    3. Tour of an audio interface
      4m 49s
    4. Interface considerations
      2m 36s
  7. 21m 5s
    1. What is a preamp?
      3m 21s
    2. Input levels
      5m 29s
    3. Padding
      2m 18s
    4. Phantom power
      2m 37s
    5. Phase reverse
      3m 4s
    6. Preamp demo
      4m 16s
  8. 12m 56s
    1. What is a mixer?
      5m 55s
    2. Input section
      1m 17s
    3. Channel strips
      3m 16s
    4. Master section
      2m 28s
  9. 18m 21s
    1. What is monitoring?
      2m 11s
    2. Speakers
      4m 47s
    3. Room considerations
      5m 43s
    4. Headphone types
      3m 50s
    5. Monitoring levels
      1m 50s
  10. 15m 23s
    1. What role do computers play?
      1m 36s
    2. Performance issues
      4m 11s
    3. Hard drives
      4m 38s
    4. Mechanical noise
      2m 10s
    5. Authorization
      2m 48s
  11. 6m 54s
    1. Planning for recording
      54s
    2. Doing a system check
      1m 26s
    3. Planning your inputs
      1m 42s
    4. The recording environment
      2m 52s
  12. 25m 52s
    1. Types of digital audio software
      38s
    2. Multi-track recorders/sequencers
      4m 56s
    3. Two-track recorders/waveform editors
      4m 55s
    4. Loop-based music production software
      5m 44s
    5. Plug-ins
      6m 56s
    6. Other varieties
      2m 43s
  13. 18m 59s
    1. Common components
      46s
    2. The transport
      2m 4s
    3. The toolbar
      3m 19s
    4. The Edit/Arrange window
      4m 42s
    5. The mixer
      5m 8s
    6. The file list
      3m 0s
  14. 19m 17s
    1. Setting up a session
      3m 30s
    2. Assigning inputs and getting signals
      3m 19s
    3. Input modes
      3m 28s
    4. Overdubbing and punching
      5m 14s
    5. Bouncing down
      3m 46s
  15. 19m 42s
    1. What is editing?
      1m 21s
    2. Waveforms
      2m 53s
    3. Making silent cuts and trims
      7m 1s
    4. Fades and automation
      8m 27s
  16. 1h 23m
    1. What are plug-ins?
      3m 0s
    2. Using plug-ins
      6m 11s
    3. EQs
      7m 4s
    4. Dynamics pt. 1: Compressors, limiters, expanders, and gates
      5m 40s
    5. Dynamics pt 2: Applying dynamic effects
      7m 2s
    6. Pitch shifting
      6m 14s
    7. Reverb
      9m 28s
    8. Echo and delay
      6m 23s
    9. Modulation effects: Phaser, flanger, and chorus
      9m 39s
    10. Sound tools pt. 1: About, gain, normalize
      7m 39s
    11. Sound tools pt. 2: Reverse and time compression/expansion
      6m 29s
    12. Sound tools pt. 3: Noise reducers, dither
      8m 11s
  17. 23m 43s
    1. What is MIDI?
      3m 6s
    2. Keyboard controllers
      1m 23s
    3. Computer-based virtual instruments
      1m 6s
    4. Control surfaces
      1m 6s
    5. Recording and editing MIDI
      12m 4s
    6. Virtual instruments
      4m 58s
  18. 27m 29s
    1. What is mixing?
      1m 54s
    2. Some common objectives
      3m 4s
    3. Some useful techniques
      5m 59s
    4. A quick mixing demo
      16m 32s
  19. 18m 48s
    1. What is mastering?
      2m 24s
    2. Sonic maximization
      9m 43s
    3. Final preparations and exporting
      6m 41s
  20. 13m 34s
    1. What is audio compression?
      2m 16s
    2. Popular formats
      2m 9s
    3. Bit rate, sample rate, and channels
      5m 42s
    4. Other adjustments and considerations
      3m 27s
  21. 15m 6s
    1. Essential gear
      7m 36s
    2. Voice recording setups
      1m 43s
    3. The voice production process
      5m 47s
  22. 10m 4s
    1. Analog vs. digital
      2m 48s
    2. Tube vs. solid state
      5m 6s
    3. The continual upgrade
      2m 10s
  23. 18s
    1. Goodbye
      18s

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