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WPI Technical Theatre Handbook: Directionality
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Different types of microphones pick up sound from different directions. So-called omnidirectional microphones pick up sound from all directions roughly equally. Directional microphones such as those with cardioid and supercardioid pickup patterns pick up sound from one direction while rejecting most other sound. Lastly, there are microphones with a figure-8 pattern that pick up sounds from two sides along the same axis, but reject sound along the perpendicular axis.

It is important to choose the appropriate type of microphone for a task. If there is a lot of ambient noise, a directional microphone can help to capture only the desired sound. If it is desirable to capture ambient sound, an omnidirectional may be the best choice. The Shure SM-57 and SM-58 are both directional microphones. The Shure SM-81 has interchangeable heads that allow it to act as a directional or omnidirectional microphone.

Steve Richardson 2000-07-06

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