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Why you need a multi-pattern microphone

Jul 16, 2021 3 min read

Thomas K.T.
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In this blog, you’ll learn why you need a multi-pattern microphone and when it makes sense to use one. You'll also learn how the microphone creates different polar patterns with the help of a dual-diaphragm capsule.

What is a multi-pattern microphone?

What’s a multipattern microphone? As the name indicates, it features multiple polar patterns.

Usually, these mics feature a dual-diaphragm capsule like this one.

Condenser capsule

You probably already know that a polar pattern describes the on and off-axis frequency response of a microphone, but if you’re new to polar patterns you might want to check out this blog here.

Multipattern microphones often feature a combination of these polar patterns: Omni, Wide cardioid aka Broad cardioid aka. Subcardioid, Cardioid, Supercardioid, Hypercardioid, and Figure-8.

Changing the polar pattern alters the frequency responses in most cases, so they also give you different sound characteristics. The most obvious thing is that they all pick up different amounts of sounds from different directions.

Different polar patterns give you different frequency responses

Different polar patterns can give you different sound characteristics, but most importantly they have different directionalities.

These things combined make a multi-pattern microphone:

  • Highly adaptable and a flexible workhorse in the studio
  • A reasonable first investment for your studio or home studio
  • Great for many different sources, different singers, and various stereo recording techniques

The dual-diaphragm capsule

The first dual-diaphragm microphone was invented by Von Braummuhl and Weber in the 1930’s. There have been many different attempts to create a multipattern microphone and there is and has been a variety of different designs that realize multipattern functionality.

Some interesting designs include:

  • The Neumann M49. It was the first studio mic with a seamless polar pattern control. It was developed for a German broadcast station and introduced in 1952.
  • The KM86, also by Neumann, is a small diaphragm condenser multipattern microphone. Instead of a dual-diaphragm capsule, it features two separate capsules that are about 1 cm apart to improve low-frequency performance for the figure-8 pattern.
  • The RCA 77-D ribbon microphone. This ribbon microphone uses an acoustic labyrinth to create different polar patterns. You can adjust the polar pattern by adjusting a little screw at the back.

Nowadays, the most common way to realize multipattern functionality is to use a dual-diaphragm capsule.

You have a cardioid on the front and on the back. If you polarize one of them, you’ll get a cardioid, obviously.

And if you polarize both sides, the two cardioids add up and you’ll get an omni pattern. But how can one create all the other patterns from the two cardioids? Let’s check.

How the different polar patterns are created

Omnidirectional

Let’s start with the omni pattern.

Since we have the two cardioids from the dual-diaphragm capsule, we just add the two to get our omni pattern.

Two cardioids add up to an omni pattern

Omni pattern from two cardioid polar patterns

Wide cardioid

For the wide cardioid, we reduce the sensitivity of one of the diaphragms, for example by adjusting the polarization voltage internally.

Wide cardioid is created from two cardioid polar patterns by reducing the sensitivity on one of the two sides

Reducing the sensitivity on one of the two cardioid capsules to get the wide cardioid polar pattern

Cardioid

To get the cardioid pattern, we simply use only one of the two diaphragms.

Cardioid on the front diaphragm

Cardioid polar pattern on the back diaphragm

Figure-8

This next one is a bit more exciting. To create the Figure-8 pattern, we turn the phase of one of the signals by 180°. This removes everything that comes from the sides of the signal and what you get is the classic figure-8 pattern.

Figure 8 pattern can be created from two cardioid polar patterns

Figure-8 polar pattern needs a phase invert

Supercardioid

Supercardioid takes the figure-8 pattern and reduces the sensitivity of one of the two sides.

Supercardioid is a figure-8 polar pattern with reduced sensitivity on of the two diaphragms

Multi-pattern microphones by LEWITT

If you're interested in our multi-pattern microphones here are some of our best-sellers.

LCT 441 FLEX - MSRP $/€399

  • 1" multi-pattern studio microphone
  • Pure studio sound quality
  • Studio allrounder
  • High-end specifications
  • Eight polar patterns incl. three reversed ones

LCT 441 FLEX multi-pattern microphone

LCT 640 TS  - MSRP $/€899

  • 1" multi-pattern studio microphone
  • Full, crisp, and well-balanced sound
  • Revolutionary Dual Output Mode
  • POLARIZER plugin to create any pattern after the fact
  • Stereo capabilities

LCT 640 TS multi-pattern microphone

LCT 940  - MSRP $/€1,699

  • Tube and FET microphone in one housing
  • Blend tube and FET circuit at any ratio
  • Studio centrepiece
  • 12AX7 tube
  • Remote control and power supply in one
  • Multi-pattern design

LCT 940 multi-pattern tube microphone

 

More about polar patterns

It is essential to know polar patterns to get the perfect recording out of your microphone. If you're interested further in this topic, we'll recommend reading this blog here: 5 polar patterns explained

If you have any further questions, drop us a message. 


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