Super Cardioid vs Cardioid Microphones


Super Cardioid vs. Cardioid Microphones

If you’re a company executive delivering a presentation to an auditorium full of staff members, a singer delivering a vocal performance, a podcaster interviewing a subject matter expert, or a musician who wants to ensure their instrument can be heard clearly, chances are a microphone will be part of your tool kit. Microphones can be connected to a P.A. system to amplify the sounds of your voice or musical instrument, they can be connected to videoconferencing equipment for worldwide meetings, and they can be plugged into recording equipment to document the proceedings for later consumption.

There are a variety of microphone types and designs, each suited for a specific task. The technology inside the mic itself varies widely, but the way the microphone performs in picking up sound, known as its polar pattern, can be broken down into a few key categories. There are omnidirectional mics featuring a circular polar pattern, picking up sound equally well in all directions. There are bidirectional mics featuring a figure 8-shaped polar pattern, picking up sound best from in front of and behind the mic. There are unidirectional mics with an extremely narrow polar pattern, performing best in picking up sound directly in front of the mic.

And a subset of unidirectional mics is what’s known as cardioid mics, so named thanks to their heart-shaped polar pattern. Although cardioid mics perform best when the sound source is directly in front of the mic, they can also pick up sounds that may be slightly off the center axis.

Cardioid mics can be further broken down into three categories based on the shape of that polar pattern, or how well they pick up those off-axis sounds, ranging from a standard cardioid microphone to a hyper cardioid microphone, with the sensitivity of a super cardioid mic falling somewhere in the middle.

Let’s look at two types of cardioid mics, a standard cardioid mic and a super cardioid mic, and how they might be used.

What is a cardioid mic?

cardioid.jpgIn general, a cardioid mic is most sensitive to sounds directly in front of the mic, with sensitivity decreasing slightly as the sound moves to the sides. The sensitivity drops off significantly at the 90-degree mark, with little sensitivity beyond that point or to the rear.

Cardioid mics are great when recording live music, for example, when placed in front of stage monitors pointing at a singer. Their wider polar pattern also makes them a good option for picking up a singer who moves around a bit, or the voices of two singers standing close to each other.

What is a super cardioid mic?

super-cardioid yamaha mic.pngA super cardioid mic has a narrower polar pattern than a standard cardioid mic, with the field of sensitivity ranging about 75 degrees off the center axis on each side. The narrower front polar pattern, however, results in a super cardioid mic having a slight lobe of sensitivity to the rear of the mic.

A super cardioid mic is great for placing directly in front of musical instruments thanks to its greater directionality. Super cardioid mics are also great when trying to isolate a sound source from a great deal of background noise.

Super cardioid vs. cardioid mic

The different types of cardioid mics obviously raise a question: which one should I choose? Of course, it depends on the job.

The directionality of a cardioid mic and the absence of a rear lobe of sensitivity allows the microphone to pick up the voice of the singer without picking up sound from the monitors or the audience. Additionally, the somewhat wider angle of sensitivity tends to sound a bit “warmer” thanks to the mic picking up some of the room ambience.

A super cardioid mic, on the other hand, is a better option when a higher degree of directionality is required or when trying to eliminate the pickup of background noise; for example, when conducting an interview with a speaker on a trade show floor or participating in a teleconference session in a noisy office.

Unfortunately, thanks to the rear lobe of sensitivity, a super cardioid mic isn’t a good choice for placing in front of stage monitors pointing at a singer. For best results, the target sound should be directly in front of the mic.

Help with the choice

With all the various microphone types on the market, choosing the one that best suits your needs can be a dizzying task. To ensure the mic you choose will deliver the desired results, it helps to speak with an expert.

And when it comes to expertise, Yamaha Unified Communications has the knowledge to help you make the best choice.

Yamaha UC offers a variety of microphone systems, with solutions for nearly any task. Additionally, the company offers a variety of conference phones, speaker systems, accessories, and other audio solutions.

No matter what your audio needs may be, Yamaha UC can help. Contact us to speak with an expert and learn more.