What is an Omnidirectional Microphone?

Yamaha's RM-W Wireless Omnidirectional Microphone.

Last Updated: 1/19/2023

What is an Omnidirectional Microphone?

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In a fast-paced conferencing environment, sound can come from every direction. Sometimes, your team needs a microphone that can capture ideas from everyone in the room, whenever inspiration strikes. In this handy walkthrough, we've shared the benefits of omnidirectional microphones, so that you can decide whether this mic style is right for your business.

What are Omnidirectional Microphones?

An omnidirectional microphone captures sound from all directions. Whether you're in front, behind, or on one side of the mic, it records the signal with equal strength. This is a different approach from directional microphones, which have a pick-up pattern that captures the sound from one direction.

The prefix "omni-" comes from Latin and means "all". Someone who is omniscient is all-knowing, while someone who is omnipotent is all-powerful. Likewise, an omnidirectional mic picks up sound from all directions.  

How Does an Omnidirectional Microphone Work?

yamaha's omnidirectional tabletop microphone.Unlike directional microphones, omnidirectional mics have a circular pick-up pattern that records 360-degree audio. Also known as a polar pattern or polar plot, the pick-up pattern is key to every microphone's functionality. No matter where a person is sitting around an omnidirectional mic, they will be heard with equal gain.

Benefits of Omnidirectional Microphones

Omnidirectional mics can offer a more flexible way to capture sound. This is excellent for conferencing scenarios where a team is huddled around a single microphone, like in an open workspace or huddle room or where there is a large number of participants and can’t have directional microphones for each.


Omnidirectional vs Unidirectional

While an omnidirectional microphone is designed to pick up sound equally from all directions, unidirectional microphones are designed to hone in and isolate sound from one primary direction.

"Unidirectional" is just another way to say directional. Like omni, the prefix "uni-" comes from Latin, but it means "one". In many situations, a unidirectional mic is actually preferable to an omnidirectional mic, because it blocks out unwanted sound. If you're recording a single person's voice and that is the sole focus, a unidirectional mic will allow you to capture it more clearly. However, if another person on the other side of the room started talking, you wouldn't be able to hear them unless you repositioned the mic. 

Neither microphone is "better" than the other—they just have different features that perform better in certain situations.

What are omnidirectional microphones used for?

Omnidirectional microphones are preferred for when it is important to capture sound from all directions. yamaha's white rm-tt dante-enabled tabletop microphone.

Some common uses for omnidirectional microphones include:

  • Recording: Omnidirectional microphones are often used in recording studios and on television and radio broadcasts to capture the sound of a group of people or an entire room. They are a good choice for capturing the natural sound of a group of people talking or singing.

  • Public address systems: Omnidirectional microphones are commonly used in public address systems, such as intercoms in schools or churches. For example, an omnidirectional mic can easily pick up voices in a crowded elevator, unlike a unidirectional mic that would demand a specific angle for the speaker to adjust themselves to.

  • Portable devices: Think of when you put someone on speaker and place your smartphone on the table. Not only can everyone in the room listen to the call, but the omnidirectional microphone within the smartphone will ensure everyone can join in on the conversation.

  • Conference rooms: An omnidirectional mic is also a great choice for conference rooms, as it can sit in the middle of the conference table and pick up each participant’s voice from any seating position. 

Some omnidirectional mics are even capable of active voice tracking. This advanced feature allows the mic to work alongside a camera in a videoconference setting, putting visual focus on the participant who is currently speaking.

What is the Best Omnidirectional Microphone?

The best omnidirectional microphone should capture audio in true 360-degree fashion, while also equipped with acoustic echo cancellation to help combat unnecessary noise like HVAC systems.

Ready to experience the dynamic power of omnidirectional mics? We invite you to use our Product Finder to discover the best unified communications technology for your needs.