Microphone Directionality

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There are two basic types of microphone — omnidirectional and unidirectional[1].

Omnidirectional Microphone

Omni icon.gif

Omnidirectional mic. It is sensitive to sounds from all directions.

Best to use when more room ambiance is the goal. Direct and ambient sound can be adjusted by moving the mic closer to or further from the sound source.

Unidirectional Microphone

Uni con.gif

These are sensitive to sound coming from only one direction – let’s say from vocalist singing directly on axis, into the microphone or a guitar amplifier.


The most common type of unidirectional microphone is called a “cardioid” because its pickup pattern is heart-shaped. It picks up most sound from the front of the microphone and some from the sides.

Although you will get better gain-before-feedback from a cardioid microphone than an omnidirectional microphone, you will get better gain-before-feedback from a supercardioid or hypercardioid microphone (see next section).

Examples of common cardioid microphones (good to great microphones but not necessarily the best for gain-before-feedback with Bose L1 systems)

  • Sennheiser e 835, e 935, MD 935
  • Shure SM 58, SM 57, Beta 87C

Supercardioid / Hypercardioid

Superhypercardioid icons.gif

Supercardioid or hypercardioid microphones offer even greater sound isolation through narrower pickup patterns.

Examples of common supercardioid/hypercardioid microphones

  • Audix OM 5, OM 3b, OM 6, OM 7, VX 5
  • EV N/D 767A
  • Neumann KMS 105
  • Sennheiser e 845, e 865, e 945, e 965, MD 945
  • Shure Beta 58A, Beta 87A