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Tech Tip Of The Day: Microphones And Monitoring

Do microphone polar patterns affect stage monitor placement?

By PSW Staff April 16, 2010

Provided by Sweetwater.

Q: Is stage monitor placement affected by the polar pattern of the performers microphone?

A: When doing live sound work, different microphone polar pickup patterns do dictate where stage monitors should be placed for best feedback rejection.

For example: A cardioid pattern microphone has best sound rejection directly behind the mic (place the monitor right in front of the singer), where a hypercardioid mic actually has two dead spots, one at around 160 degrees, and the other around 200 degrees off-axis from the mic capsule (place the monitor in front, but slightly off to the side of, and angled back at the singer; placing a monitor directly in front of a singer using a hypercardioid mic will invite feedback).

If your singer thinks he is Ronnie James Dio (only taller), and wants to have two monitors, a hypercardioid mic is a better choice than one with a cardioid pattern.

Corollary to today’s tip: The above information also holds true when you are trying to minimize leakage of sound in the recording studio. Clever and thoughtful placement of microphones with the right polar patterns will greatly help in controlling microphone bleed…

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Justin Bartlett says

Oh come on - this “tip” is low-grade mush.

First of all, the vast majority of live vocal mics are either cardioid or supercardioid, not hypercardioid.

Second, the polar pattern is three-dimensional, so the null of a cardioid microphone points straight out the back of the mic.  Thus when using a typical microphone placement, the null of the cardioid mic is *above* a stage monitor placed directly in front of the singer.  In this situation a supercardioid microphone would still provide better GBF.

The only situation where a cardioid mic would provide better GBF relative to the monitor system would be if the mic on the stand were pointed directly back and down at the monitor.

This is a good topic to cover here, but this was an awfully shallow - and somewhat misleading - treatment of the subject.

jackinthebox says

A cardioid mic has a more pronounced null to it’s rear. supercardioid mics have two nulls and less rejection from the rear, hence two monitors = supercardioid better choice. hypercardioid and supercardioid are pretty similar but supercardioid rejection is better from the rear.

if you don’t have anything nice to say…...

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