The pickup pattern of a microphone is the area in front the mic designed for the best sound. Most sales brochures have a diagram of the pickup pattern and response curve for that mic.
Omni Directional Mics
Omni directional mics are not good stage mics. They work from all sides. They are good for:
- Recording in stereo
- Recording a moving target
- Recording a wide sound source
- Recording the sound of the room
Super Cardioid Mics
Super cardioid mics offer a tight pickup angle and reject sounds outside a bullet shaped area in front of mic.
From the Shure website: “A super cardioid mic offers better isolation from room noise and nearby instruments and can be more resistant to feedback than a cardioid mic, but it requires the user to maintain a more consistent position directly in front of the mic.”
Cardioid Mics Work Best for Vocals
A cardioid pattern is a large oval and works best for stage vocals. It allows you to move around a mic with consistent frequency response and not fade in and out.
New Instrument Mics
A new type of instrument mic has a pattern that allows them to be placed right on the speaker grille of a guitar amp. This greatly reduces pickup of other stage sounds.
Use the Right Mic for the Situation
Using the right mic in the best location with proper EQ should result in the ability to turn just that one sound up AND DOWN at the mixer. It’s not as easy as you might think.
Most important, what comes out of your PA is only as good as the mics you use.