June 23, 2013

Microphone Pickup – or Polar – Patterns

If you’ve ever found yourself in a higher math class, you might be asking yourself what the point of all of this really is.  This tends to happen in calculus when you are trying to derive equations and integrate function – but the applied part of it just seems over your head.  There is a second in later calculus that involved something called parametric equations, where you are able to work with different coordinate systems in order to create symmetrical and non-symmetrical patterns.  These are actually more relevant to sound engineers than anyone else, but once you understand what the math is actually doing, it seems like a brilliant use of math.

Those parametric equations can give you some brilliant designs like the cardioid and the bi-directional design.  On paper they look like a pretty piece of art created with some sort of pattern making machine – but in practice these symbols represent how sound will eventually be picked up on a microphone of that type.  The two dimensional graph is really a cross section of the field of view each type of microphone has.  Omni-directional mics are the most common with a circular field of area where they can pick up sound.