What is a Directional Microphone?


A directional microphone is a go-to choice to capture close-up audio. During any conference call or meeting, it is important for each party to be able to clearly hear what each participant is saying. In this handy walkthrough, we've outlined the benefits of directional microphones, so that you can decide whether this microphone style makes sense for your conferencing space.

What is a Directional Microphone?

When talking about a directional microphone, it’s helpful to understand what a pickup pattern (or polar pattern) is. Sound can come from all directions, but a microphone’s directionality, or pickup pattern, is the angle from which the sound arrives.

Also known as a unidirectional or cardioid microphone, directional mics pick up sound from a specific area. Directional mics are designed to minimize unwanted background noise and has the highest pickup sound from the front, unlike omnidirectional mics which capture audio in every direction.

In a noisy environment or a space with poor acoustics, a directional microphone can help block unwanted noise and focus on picking up the speaker’s voice.

How Does a Directional Microphone Work?

Named for its heart shape pickup pattern, cardioid mics primarily capture sound from the front, a little less from the sides, and almost nothing from the rear. Other directional mics (such as a gooseneck) have an even tighter pickup pattern, so that they capture close-up speech and reject almost everything else.

Benefits of Directional Microphones

It’s hard to say if a microphone type is better than another in general, but some mics will perform better in a particular context or setting. Directional microphones are perfect for conferences and boardroom meetings where every participant needs dedicated mic coverage. Likewise, if you're hosting a conference in a noisy environment or a room with subpar acoustics, directional mics can help mitigate those issues.

What's the Difference Between Directional Microphone Types?

In addition to the all-purpose cardioid microphone style, there are many other directional mic styles, which have their own pickup patterns. Here are a few of the most common types:
  • Hypercardioid: Even more focused than a cardioid mic, the hypercardioid pickup pattern is designed to isolate the subject, and it's often used for instrument recording.
  • Supercardioid: Typically found on shotgun mics for filmmakers, supercardioid isolates the subject while still picking up a tiny bit of sound from the rear.
  • Unidirectional (Lobar): This is the most directional mic type (and the least forgiving).

What is the Best Directional Microphone?

The best directional microphone should capture audio with a focused pickup pattern, while offering protection against RF noise. It should also be easy to mute, so that other guests can speak without distraction. Essentially, the mic should put you front-and-center, while still sounding natural and clear.

When looking into directional microphones for a conference environment, you should look for a versatile microphone system that can allow flexibility to customize each meeting type. For instance, the Executive Elite wireless microphone systems can handle up to 76 mics at once, including gooseneck, handheld, and omnidirectional models.

Ready to experience the clarity and focus of directional mics? We invite you to use our Product Finder to discover the best unified communications technology for your needs.