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While owning and using the best vocal microphone can do wonders for your vocal recording from the get-go, you must also know the best mic pattern for vocals to use so you can further highlight and amplify the human voice.
This guide will explain the best mic pattern for vocals to use depending on the application or setting.
Before diving into the three most common mic patterns used for vocals, we must first know what a polar pattern is. Polar patterns are also known as pickup patterns. From the name itself, these are the patterns in which your microphone is most sensitive when picking up sound.
Depending on how you angle or position the microphone, it will pick up the sounds coming from those directions the most while rejecting unwanted sound sources.
May it be for vocal recording or other applications, the most commonly used polar pattern is the cardioid pattern. Said polar pattern is most sensitive at 0° and least sensitive at 180°. With that said, a microphone with a cardioid polar pattern is more sensitive in picking up sound at the front and will reject unwanted sound sources from the back.
This makes it the best mic pattern to use for vocals since most sound sources will come from the front and you would want to tune out background sounds that can dull down the human voice.
Cardioid microphones are also amazing at reducing ambient noise while amplifying the human voice because of the mic pattern. However, it can give the vocal recording more color through the proximity effect. If you are using a mic with this polar pattern, make sure to keep an ample distance to prevent the proximity effect from happening.
A microphone with an omnidirectional polar pattern will be sensitive to sound sources coming from any direction and at any angle. This mic pattern is best used when you want to produce a stellar bass response while retaining a flat frequency response. This polar pattern is also the least sensitive one when it comes to picking up wind noise.
If you want your vocal recordings to also capture the room ambiance while producing a “natural” and “open” sound, an omnidirectional mic is your best bet. This mic pattern can also create a natural reverb for your recordings, so it’s a great choice if the room you are recording in is a bit “dry”.
However, you will need to be careful in its placement and positioning as it can pick up multiple sound sources in the room.
Coming from its name, a figure-8 polar pattern is sensitive at 0° to 180°, but is least sensitive at 90° to 270°. This polar pattern is often used for stereo recording techniques wherein you want to reject sound sources from the side.
Considering using a microphone with this pattern if you want to achieve dry recordings and if you have plenty of sound sources, such as instruments, coming from the side. This way, you can still highlight the vocals of the person in front and backup vocals if any.
Do be cautious though as this type of pattern is often sensitive to wind noise.
To achieve great vocal recordings, you also have to take note of the best polar patterns to use for a specific application. Upgrade your vocal recordings further by knowing the best type of microphone to use and how to properly set them up.