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Polar Pattern Evolution in Microphones

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sciences
Wordcount: 1779 words Published: 16th Mar 2021

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Microphones are one of the most crucial elements involved in the recording process and this essay will give a brief historical context of microphone development. It would also be highlighting the modern technologic developments and advancements in terms of microphone polar pick up patterns and improvements in microphone technology as well as a background of the existing polar pick up patterns and a background on how polar pick up patterns have been used prior to this innovative technology and the benefits of this new technology.

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The idea of the word microphone was first used by Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1827. The microphone was created in 1876 by Emile Berliner and was used as voice transmitter which improved the telephone we know today. In 1878 David Edward Hughes invented the carbon microphone which later developed in the 1920s with the advent of radio. Following these great developments, James west and Gerhard Sessler of bell laboratories in 1964 received the patent for the transducer for the electric microphone which improved microphones greatly by providing greater reliability and higher precision at a lower price. Dynamic and condenser microphones were created in the 1970s because they offer a great amount of sensitivity perfect for broadcast usage.

Microphone Polar patterns are referred to as the sensitivity of a microphone to sounds arriving from different angles to its central axis. Understanding how these microphones pick up patterns helps guide in picking the appropriate microphone and its proper application. The fundamental types of polar patterns are omni directional and figure eight, all other polar patterns are created from a combination of these two pick up patterns in differing proportions for example a unidirectional microphone.               Omnidirectional microphones popularly known as omni mics are pressure microphones that measure sound pressure at a particular point in space using a fixed diaphragm in a sealed cavity, the advantages of this polar pattern are that it is has good frequency response to low end signals and less prone to picking up rumble from mechanical vibrations. It senses the sound pressure but does not detect direction of the sound wave. The figure eight microphone is referred to as a pressure gradient microphone and it uses a diaphragm which is open at the front and back of the microphone. The figure eight mic picks up sound waves from two sides of the microphone and has a more even frequency response but is more sensitive to mechanical vibrations.

The combination of an omni and figure eight microphone in a particular arrangement creates the cardioid mic which picks up signal from only the front of the microphone. The cardioid or unidirectional microphone is able to eliminate sound pick-ups from the sides and the back of the microphone allowing frequencies from the front alone. This is mostly used in studio recordings or live performances. These three are most frequently used polar patterns used in live and studio music production but there are more microphone polar patterns that can be created through different combinations and specifications of the omnidirectional, bidirectional and unidirectional pickup patterns.

Figure 1. omnidirectional + bidirectional=cardioid. This figure illustrates the three main microphone polar patterns: https://mynewmicrophone.com/the-complete-guide-to-microphone-polar-patterns/.

This essay will now highlight advantages and disadvantages of the commonly used polar patterns and introduce the latest technological development in microphone polar patterns. cardioid or unidirectional microphones are ideal for miking drum kits, live performances and vocals with the disadvantage of off axis coloration and proximity effect. Omnidirectional mics are immune to the proximity effect and are ideal for recording moving targets, recording in stereo and recording room sounds. Figure 8 mics are used for particular sound isolation pick ups and stereo recordings such as mid/side stereo technique. Through technologic advances and ingenuity of music engineers and producers they created a multi pattern microphone which allows for numerous polar patterns being accessible on a single microphone. These are referred to as multi pattern microphones. This development helped engineers limit the number of microphones they had to change for different applications by combining the patterns into one mic an example of a multi pattern microphone is the blue yeti pro microphone.  

Figure 2. Blue Yeti Pro Microphone. this figure illustrates an example of a multi pattern microphone the blue yeti pro. https://mynewmicrophone.com/the-complete-guide-to-microphone-polar-patterns/ .

The latest development in multi polar pattern mics is the OC818 Austrian Audio Microphone. It is engineered and manufactured in Austria and has a high sensitivity and the ability to handle extreme sound pressure levels. The OC818 microphone has made a groundbreaking innovation to how these patterns can be switched automatically using an app on a phone.  This is done using the OCR8 Bluetooth dongle which allows remote control of the microphone with an app.

 In conclusion the Austrian Audio OC818 microphone Bluetooth remote control ability would give engineers greater creativity and choice when utilizing various polar pick up patterns. This ability to set parameters and specifications from a smart phone also enhances the appeal of this technology and although it a relatively new discovery it could potentially dominate the market in the following years.


History of microphones

The-microphone-guide.com. (2020). The History of Microphones. [online] Available at: https://www.the-microphone-guide.com/history-of-microphones.html [Accessed 13 Feb. 2020].


A brief history of microphones and their creation, giving brief background on the inventors of microphones.

Polar patterns

Soundonsound.com. (2020). Using Microphone Polar Patterns Effectively. [online] Available at: https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/using-microphone-polar-patterns-effectively [Accessed 13 Feb. 2020].


understanding microphone polar patterns, proximity effect and theoretical practices of microphone patterns.

Polar patterns

RØDE Microphones. (2020). What are a microphone's polar patterns? [online] Available at: http://www.rode.com/blog/all/what-are-a-microphones-polar-patterns [Accessed 13 Feb. 2020].


example of standard microphone polar patterns according to rode microphones

Polar patterns

Mynewmicrophone.com. (2020). The Complete Guide to Microphone Polar Patterns | My New Microphone. [online] Available at: https://mynewmicrophone.com/the-complete-guide-to-microphone-polar-patterns/ [Accessed 13 Feb. 2020].


Pictures of polar patterns and pressure gradient types and polar pattern measurement

Polar patterns

E-Home Recording Studio. (2020). Microphone Polar Patterns: Cardioid, Omnidirectional, Figure-8. [online] Available at: https://ehomerecordingstudio.com/microphone-polar-patterns/ [Accessed 13 Feb. 2020].


history of polar pattern evolution

History of microphones

ThoughtCo. (2020). The Evolution of the Microphone. [online] Available at: https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-microphones-1992144 [Accessed 13 Feb. 2020].


additional history of microphones

Oc818 Austrian audio microphone

Austrian. Audio. (2020). OC818 - Austrian. Audio. [online] Available at: https://austrian.audio/oc818/ [Accessed 13 Feb. 2020].


oc818 microphone and Bluetooth ocr8 controller

Benefits of multiple polar patterns

Sweetwater, (2003). [online] Available at: https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/benefits-of-variable-polar-patterns/ [Accessed 13 Feb. 2020].


importance of variable polar patterns

Understanding microphone polar patterns

Corporation, A. (2020). Understanding Microphone Polar Patterns | Azden. [online] Azden.com. Available at: https://www.azden.com/understanding-microphone-polar-patterns/ [Accessed 14 Feb. 2020].


additional types of microphones for comparison

Making of Austrian audio YouTube video

Austrian audio. (May 27, 2019) Austrian Audio's Microphones: In Depth on the making of the mics. #1 of 3, [video file], https://youtu.be/fNJXvHGYfPQ

Break down of creation of this next generation microphone, Austrian audio.


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