Home Resources Cardioid vs. Supercardioid vs. Hypercardioid Microphones

Cardioid vs. Supercardioid vs. Hypercardioid Microphones

by Stuart Charles Black
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Greetings mate and Welcome aboard!

Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions, so…

Sound, in its many forms and nuances, is a fundamental aspect of our lives.

From the music that stirs our emotions to the clarity of voices conveying knowledge and stories, the way we capture and reproduce sound is a critical component of modern technology and communication.

In this exploration, we dive into the world of microphones, those unsung heroes of audio, which come in various shapes and sizes, each with its own unique abilities and applications.

Join me on this journey as we uncover the fascinating differences between cardioid, hypercardioid, and supercardioid microphones, shedding light on how these directional microphones shape the way we listen, record, and experience sound.

Cardioid, hypercardioid, and supercardioid microphones are all directional microphones that are commonly used in various audio recording and sound reinforcement applications.

They each have different polar patterns, which determine how they pick up sound from different directions.

Let’s compare and contrast these three types of microphones, along with omnidirectional microphones for reference:

Omnidirectional MicrophonesBlue Yeti ReviewPolar Pattern

Omnidirectional microphones pick up sound equally from all directions, creating a 360-degree sensitivity pattern.

Use Cases

They are ideal for capturing ambient sounds, room acoustics, and situations where you want to capture audio from all directions.

Commonly used in conference recording, studio vocals, and field recordings.

The Blue Yeti (pictured above) has an Omnidirectional mode for these types of applications.

Cardioid Microphones

MXL’s 990 is a Cardioid Condenser Microphone.

Polar Pattern

Cardioid microphones are most sensitive to sound coming from the front and reject sound from the rear. They have a heart-shaped pickup pattern.

Use Cases

Cardioid microphones are versatile and are commonly used for live sound reinforcement, instrument miking (e.g., guitar amplifiers, drums), and studio vocals where you want to isolate the source and reject background noise.

Hypercardioid Microphones

My old Samson C01 was a Hypercardioid Condenser.

Polar Pattern

Hypercardioid microphones have a tighter forward sensitivity with some pickup from the rear but with more rejection compared to cardioid microphones.

Use Cases

They are useful in situations where you need even more off-axis rejection, such as on-stage use to isolate a single instrument or voice while minimizing bleed from other sources.

Supercardioid Microphones

Polar Pattern

Supercardioid microphones have a narrower forward sensitivity compared to hypercardioid microphones but still reject sound from the rear.

Use Cases

Supercardioid microphones are often preferred for video production, field recording, and live sound applications where you need focused sound capture with some ambient rejection.

They are suitable for use on shotgun microphones for capturing audio from a distance.

Comparing the three directional microphones (Cardioid, Hypercardioid, and Supercardioid):

Directionality

Cardioid microphones have a wider pickup angle at the front compared to hypercardioid and supercardioid microphones.

For instance, the C01 (a Hypercardioid) doesn’t mind you getting right up on it. In fact, it’s preferred and sounds better when you’re very close.

By contrast, a mic like the MXL 990 (Cardioid) prefers if you just back the F up a little. xD

It tends to do well when you’re about 6-8 inches away.

Hypercardioid microphones have a tighter pickup angle than cardioids, while supercardioids are somewhere in between.

Rear Rejection

Hypercardioid and supercardioid microphones offer better rejection of sound from the rear compared to cardioid microphones.

This is useful in situations where you want to minimize background noise or bleed from other sources; especially if you live in an apartment like me.

I live right next to a semi-major highway, and the C01 did a phenomenal job of basically rejecting every bit of noise you could imagine.

This to me was astonishing considering I was only using a Pop-Filter with no extra room treatment.

Off-Axis Sound Capture

Cardioid microphones capture more sound from the sides, which can be useful in some applications.

In my own recordings, I tend to notice that moving around while rapping with an MXL 990 isn’t as detrimental as doing the same thing with a C01.

This is because the C01 rejects pretty much all noise from the sides and back, while the 990 picks up some.

So, Hypercardioids and supercardioids are more focused on the front and offer better rejection from the sides.

Closing Thoughts

In the world of audio, the choice of microphone can make a profound difference in the quality and character of what we hear.

Whether you’re recording a musician’s heartfelt performance, capturing the excitement of a live event, rapping obscenities very loudly, or simply seeking to communicate clearly through a microphone, understanding the nuances of directional microphones like cardioid, hypercardioid, and supercardioid is invaluable.

These microphones, with their distinct polar patterns, offer a spectrum of possibilities for audio engineers, musicians, broadcasters, and content creators.

They enable us to isolate the sounds we want to emphasize while minimizing unwanted background noise.

The choice between them ultimately depends on the specific demands of the situation, and selecting the right microphone is an art in itself.

As technology continues to advance and new recording techniques emerge, these directional microphones remain essential tools in the audio professional’s arsenal.

They help us capture the essence of a moment, convey the power of a performance, and deliver crystal-clear communication.

So, whether you find yourself on stage, in the studio, or out in the field, remember that the microphone you choose plays a vital role in shaping the way we experience the world of sound.

Embrace the power of choice, experiment, and let your ears be your guide as you craft your sonic masterpiece.

Well, that’s about it for today folks! I hope you’ve enjoyed this discussion on Cardioid vs. Hypercardioid vs. Supercardioid microphones and gained some valuable insight.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!

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Which mic type do you have the most experience with? I’d love to hear from you. Until next time…

All the best and God bless,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

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