When it comes to choosing a DSLR microphone for your Sony A7C, there’s no shortage of options. However, what works for a professional musician may not be the best choice for someone vlogging their outdoor travels. 

polar patterns for Sony A7C

To find the perfect external microphone for your needs, it’s important to consider the type of recording you’ll be doing, and the environment in which you’ll be recording. By taking these into account, you’ll be able to select the right polar patterns for Sony A7C and create high-quality content that will keep your viewers engaged and coming back for more. 

If you’re unfamiliar with microphone polar patterns for Sony A7C, don’t worry. We’ll explain what they are in this article and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about external microphones. And if you want to learn more about using external mics for your Sony A7C, be sure to check out our helpful tips.

What Are Mic Polar Patterns?

A polar pattern, also referred to as a pickup pattern, describes the directionality of a mic and how it responds to sound coming from different angles or directions.

While all types of microphones have at least one polar pattern, others have multiple options you can switch between. Certain patterns are better suited for recording vocals, capturing specific instruments, or different sound sources.

Polar patterns are typically represented in a circular chart which shows the microphone’s sensitivity to sound from various directions. Each one has a unique shape, making them easily distinguishable from one another.

polar patterns

What Are the 5 Types of Microphone Polar Patterns?

cardioid polar pattern

1. Cardioid

The cardioid pattern is one of the most commonly used directional patterns in microphones. It is often used when focusing on one sound source while simultaneously reducing pickup from the sides and rear. Fun fact: it is called “cardioid” because its pattern resembles a heart.

To illustrate, imagine a vocalist performing on stage with a handheld microphone. A cardioid polar pattern would be highly effective at capturing the singer’s voice while blocking out other sounds from the foldback monitors and other performers on the stage.

hypercardioid and supercadioid polar pattern

2. Hypercardioid and Supercardioid

These two polar patterns are variations of the classic cardioid shape but with a tighter directionality at the front. They also pick up less sound from the rear and sides when in close proximity.

The most extreme example of a super-cardioid mic is the shotgun microphone. It has an extremely narrow front pickup area and largely ignores sounds from all other sides. This microphone is typically used in film and television sets, where it’s necessary to pick up sound from a distance. It’s also useful in sports events and wildlife documentaries.

figure-8 (bidirectionality) polar pattern

3. Figure-8

Figure-8 microphones, also called bidirectional microphones, capture sound equally from the front and rear while blocking out noise from the sides.

This feature creates an ‘8’-shaped polar pattern that produces a realistic sound replication. By capturing the sound source and natural acoustics of the recording space, figure-of-eight microphones can add depth and dimension to recordings.

However, compared to all other polar patterns, they are the most sensitive to handling noise and wind and have the least bass response.

omnidirectional pattern

4. Omnidirectional

The omnidirectional polar pattern captures sound with equal sensitivity from all directions. It’s known for its flat frequency response and excellent bass response, and it’s the least sensitive to handling and wind noise.

However, the Omni pattern has higher directivity for very high frequencies, resulting in higher side rejection for these frequencies (and causing it to behave like a figure-8 at around 16 kh). That’s why recordings made in a terrible-sounding room using an omni-polar pattern may produce unsatisfactory results.

In live settings where the recorded signal is monitored and played back through a PA system, feedback can also be a problem. 

wide cardioid pattern

5. Wide Cardioid

The wide cardioid polar pattern is a variation of the classic cardioid with a wider pickup angle at the front, resulting in a more open and spacious sound.

Although the front is the most sensitive area, it still picks up some sound from the sides, giving it a slightly “open” character. With a pickup angle of approximately 135 degrees, the wide cardioid is an excellent compromise between the focused sound of a cardioid and the more ambient sound of an omnidirectional pattern.

The wide cardioid pattern is especially useful in situations where a more natural and spacious sound is desired, such as in orchestral recordings or capturing the sound of a room. It is not the best microphone choice when recording in a noisy or acoustically poor environment.

FAQs About Polar Patterns for Sony A7c

What Is the Best Microphone Polar Pattern for Streaming (Live Sound)?

A cardioid polar pattern is often considered the best option for streaming due to its ability to isolate unwanted ambient sound and other unwanted sounds (like a loud fan and the clatter of your keyboard) from the back of the microphone. 

How Are Mic Polar Patterns Measured?

To test the polar pattern of a microphone, manufacturers use a special machine that produces sounds at different pitches and volumes. The microphone is placed a certain distance from the device and turned around to measure how loud the microphone records from different directions. 

What Is “Off-Axis” vs. “On-Axis”?

To help you understand “on-axis” versus “off-axis,” imagine a flashlight. When you hold a flashlight and point it straight ahead, that’s like being “on-axis” because the light is shining directly where you want to see. But if you point the flashlight to the side, that’s “off-axis” because it’s not pointing where you want to see. The same idea applies to microphones – when sound comes straight at the microphone, that’s “on-axis.” But when sound comes from the side, that’s “off-axis.”

Are Microphone Polar Patterns Frequency Dependent?

Yes, microphone polar patterns are typically frequency-dependent. Think of it like this: just like different people hear sounds differently, microphones can also “hear” sounds differently depending on how they’re made. The way a microphone picks up sound from different directions can change depending on the pitch or frequency of the sound. So, a microphone might be better at hearing high-pitched sounds in one direction, but better at hearing low-pitched sounds in another direction. 

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