The Different Microphone Polar Patterns Explained

The different microphone polar patterns can be a very confusing topic to understand, but don't worry.  We are here to help!  Every microphoneMicrophone Polar Patterns you purchase will mention one of the 6 polar patterns.  When you purchase a microphone, there is usually a polar pattern in the manual to explain it as well.  Before diving into the six different microphone polar patterns, let's first discuss what these mean.

These are in reference to the microphone's directional sensitivity.  These graphs consist of concentric circles, typically divided into 30% segments.  As the circles go inward, they are usually increased by 5 dB.  Now let's look at these six different microphone polar patterns:

The Different Microphone Polar Patterns

Omnidirectional Microphone Polar Patterns

Omnidirectional Polar Pattern

The omnidirectional polar pattern shows us that the microphone picks up sound almost the same in all directions around the microphone.

Bidirectional Microphone Polar Patterns

Bidirectional Polar Pattern

The bidirectional polar pattern shows us that the microphone is most sensitive in the front and in the read of the microphone, while the sides have the least sensitivity.

Cardioid Microphone Polar Patterns

Unidirectional (Cardioid) Polar Pattern

The unidirectional, or more often called cardioid, polar pattern shows that the microphone is most sensitive in the front and the sides of the microphone, while the rear is less sensitive.

Supercardioid Microphone Polar Patterns

Supercardioid Polar Pattern

The supercardioid polar pattern is more directional than that of the the cardioid pattern, meaning that most of the microphone's sensitivity comes from the front.

Hypercardioid Microphone Polar Patterns

Hypercardioid Polar Pattern

The hypercardioid polar pattern shows us that the microphones sensitivity is mostly from the front of the microphone, and a little from the read.  The sides of the microphone have the least sensitivity.

Ultracardioid Microphone Polar Patterns

Ultracardioid Polar Pattern

The ultracardioid polar pattern has the most narrow of all patterns in that the sensitivity is almost all in the front of the microphone.

Now that we have looked into the different microphone polar patterns, the technical jargon of microphones might make more sense.  Our budget microphones article and guitar miking techniques articles have some recommended mics using these patterns.  We also have an article explaining the different types of microphones to help you get ready for your next microphone purchase!  If you have any questions about microphones or recording, we are always there to help!  We can be contacted through our contact us page found here.