What Is a Hypercardioid Microphone?

What Is a Hypercardioid Microphone

If you’re looking for a good microphone for your new live stream or vocal project, a hypercardioid microphone might be your best choice. Aside from vocal projects, a hypercardioid pattern mic is also great if you are a gamer and want excellent communication with your team. 

So what are hypercardioid mics exactly? They are different from cardioid mics in a slight difference in polar pattern. In this write-up, we provide a detailed discussion about hypercardioid microphones and their best use cases.

In this article, you will learn: 

  • What a hypercardioid microphone is
  • Hypercardioid polar pattern
  • Hypercardioid microphone generalities
  • Use cases
  • Miking techniques

What are Hypercardioid Microphones? 

Hypercardioid Microphones have directional hypercardioid patterns, unlike supercardioid or cardioid microphones. They are most popular in filmmaking due to their high directionality and noise isolation when it is required between sound sources.

Hypercardioid polar patterns are sensitive on the axis points with low or zero points between 110 to 270 degrees and rear lobe sensitivity. Such microphones have less sensitivity on their sides and slightly more behind. It is an excellent pick-up pattern to record isolated audios. The hypercardioid polar pattern is great for on-camera microphones, recording instrumental and documentaries. 

The Hypercardioid Polar Pattern 

The hypercardioid polar pattern may be confused with cardioid polar patterns. The main difference is its directionality. It has more directional power than other polar patterns, with side rejection and a large rear lobe. When we cross a cardioid and bidirectional polar pattern, it results in a hypercardioid polar pattern. 

A cardioid polar pattern is fully pushed towards positive pick-up, whereas bidirectional is equally positive and negative in the front and back. 

The bidirectional side null points of hypercardioid are moved towards the rear 110 degrees and 250 degrees. 

Characteristics of Hypercardioid Polar Pattern Microphone 

Here we discuss some essential characteristics of hypercardioid microphones: 

A Popular Base Polar Pattern of Shotgun Microphones 

The vast majority of polar patterns for shotgun or Lobar microphones are either hypercardioid or supercardioid. The high directionality of the polar pattern makes it an ideal choice for shotgun mics. The polar pattern gives a straight point for the maximum level of directionality.

To achieve a high directional lobar pattern for shotgun mics, an interference tube is tightened on the front side of the hypercardioid directional polar pattern to narrow down the pattern for maximum results. Thus, shotgun mics will often have a hypercardioid polar pattern for high sensitivity. 

An Good Choice for Live Recordings and Film

The hypercardioid polar pattern is more directional than any other polar pattern. As hypercardioid directional microphones focus on the sound source, they are ideal for miking instruments requiring proximity.

They are also good for close miking solutions as they work well for isolated purposes where there are loud environments. In close miking, hypercardioid mics only pick up the intended sound sources as there is a very short distance between the mic and the sound source. 

Null Points at 110 and 250 Degrees 

A hypercardioid microphone features null points at 110 and 250 degrees that represent its directional points. The null points clearly show in which direction the mic works; ideally, these are points where the patterns reject sounds. In reality, null points in the polar patterns of the microphones depict the points of attention and off-axis coloration.

Rear Cone of Silence

The above-mentioned null points at 110 and 250 degrees of hypercardioid polar patterns are 2D angles without complications. Whereas many other microphones that have cardioid or supercardioid polar patterns do not operate in 3D space, and hypercardioid microphones operate in 3D space, the null points represent a three-dimensional cone of silence that shows maximum rejection of to the rear sides of hypercardioid microphones. The rear cone of silence is the main characteristic of hypercardioid mics. 

Rear Lobe of Sensitivity 

The hypercardioid pattern comes at the cost of the rear lobe of sensitivity produced at -6dB; dB quantifies the audio level change. The rear lobe of the hypercardioid polar pattern starts at the rear of both null points at 110 and 250 degrees. The lobe increases the sensitivity to roughly -6dB at every rear point of hypercardioid microphones from the stated points. 

The potential hazard of a hypercardioid mic is the rear lobe, especially in live sound environments, where they can pick up the loudspeaker sounds and can cause distraction. Also, the rear lobe does not provide isolation sources in certain mics placements. 

Sides Less Sensitivities with 12dB 

The sensitivity of the sides is an indicator of the microphone’s directionality. The ideal sides sensitivities are -12dB for hypercardioid microphones, an impressive attenuation of the sides sound source (90 and 270 degrees). The typical hypercardioid microphone is less sensitive on the sides than to its rear.

Shows Proximity Effect 

Hypercardioid microphones display proximity effect, a physical presence that increases the microphone’s bass response as the mic comes closer to the sound source. The main reason for this is its pressure gradient principle, which says the hypercardioid pattern is only achieved when both sides of the mic diaphragm are open to the sound source.

Due to the pressure gradient principle, the hypercardioid polar pattern displays the proximity effect. The proximity effect is used for significant impact, accentuating the deep voice of the speaker. It increases the bass frequency response and happens due to amplitude differences and the combination of sound waves between every side of the diaphragm. 

Vocal Plosives Sensitivity 

Vocal plosives result from consonant sounds that usually come from the mouth when we speak. They are generally registered with hard P’s, D’s, T’s, G’s, and K’s. When a vocal plosive sound passes on the hypercardioid pattern, they tend to apply significant pressure on one side of the diaphragm and create a vacuum on the other side. The vocal plosive happens fast and causes an unwanted pop sound in the mic signal. Vocal plosives are usually weak and overload the mic capsule.  Hypercardioid microphones are sensitive to vocal plosives and wind sound. 

Great Sound Isolation 

As mentioned, hypercardioid microphones are highly directional. When appropriately used and placed correctly, the mic offers excellent isolation of a sound source. This becomes important when other sound sources are occurring on the sides or at null mic points. Due to its superb sound isolation, it is often used in live recordings and other places where isolated sound is needed. 

Good for Recording a Single Source 

The hypercardioid pattern has a relatively strong ability to isolate sound sources, making it great for recording single sound sources. It is great in recording environments, quiet studios, and everywhere where a single source needs to be recorded in isolation. 

Hypercardioid Microphone for Instrumental Recording

More Gain Before Feedback 

Microphone feedback is a positive gain loop of the microphone over the loudspeaker. The loudspeaker or any other potential feedback source is not in the front or rear hypercardioid microphone, likely to yield gain before feedback. The directional polar patterns and accentuations of the sides of the hypercardioid mics make it considered a choice where the gain before feedback is required. Be cautious about rear lobe sensitivity. Also, as the hypercardioid polar pattern is good for isolation, they produce gain instead of microphone feedback. 

More Directional at Higher Frequencies 

There are many cardioid patterns of microphones available, but only hypercardioid microphones become more directional at better and higher levels of frequencies. As per research, some microphones begin taking the Lobar pattern at the upper end of frequency responses. 

Less Directional at Lower Frequencies 

Hypercardioid microphones become less directional at lower frequencies. It portrays the cardioid and supercardioid polar patterns at the lower end of the frequency response. 

Follows a Pressure Gradient Principle 

All hypercardioid microphones work on a pressure gradient principle; in fact, all directional mics work on the same principle, there are no exceptions. The pressure gradient principle is the pressure difference between the front and back of the diaphragm, which causes a mic signal. A hypercardioid microphone’s directionality depends on having both sides of the diaphragm open to sound pressure with the encompassed backside acoustic labyrinth. 

The Perfect Ratio of Omnidirectional and Bidirectional Pattern

The 3:1 ratio of an omnidirectional and bidirectional polar pattern of hypercardioid microphones offers better sound sources, unlike cardioid and supercardioid patterns that are superpositioned at a 1:1 ratio.

How Is the Hypercardioid Polar Pattern Achieved? 

Hypercardioid polar patterns are achieved by carefully making an acoustic labyrinth that sets the timing of sound waves that hits the rear side of the mic diaphragm. 

The acoustic labyrinth of a hypercardioid microphone puts the null points at 110 and 250 degrees. The sound waves that hit the hypercardioid patterns from 110 and 250 degrees hit the labyrinth and take time to reach both the front and rear of the diaphragm.

Also, with null points, the hypercardioid polar patterns display a rear lobe of sensitivity. Sound waves that come from the rear of the mic will directly hit the rear diaphragm before hitting the front, which results in sensitivity and movement of the diaphragm. 

Uses of Hypercardioid Microphones 

Due to its high directionality, hypercardioid microphones are a suitable choice in some situations and less so in others:

  • The polar pattern of hypercardioid microphones is good for on-camera mics, recording instrumentals, and live recordings. 
  • While recording movies, there comes a need for moveable microphones; here, hypercardioid mics can be used.
  • They are good for capturing certain isolated sounds of noisy environments. 
  • For isolated or single sound sources, hypercardioid mics are great.
  • Good for picking up sound from a close-positioned individual sound source like a drum kit. 
  • Good choice for live performances. 

Difference Between Hypercardioid and Supercardioid Microphones 

A supercardioid polar pattern has a tighter pick-up angle than a regular cardioid pattern, but unlike cardioid, the supercardioid mic comes with more side rejection capability. They are sensitive to sources that are behind the mic. Such mics offer isolation from room noise and other instruments. The main drawback of a supercardioid mic is it requires to be at a consistent position directly in front of the mic. Also, a supercardioid mic is more resistant to feedback than a cardioid mic. This article answers What Is a Supercardioid Microphone in thorough detail.

On the other hand, hypercardioid mics feature more sensitivity towards the rear, and they are best at rejecting sounds from the sides, especially as they are good at leaving feedback. As they are highly directional, they require price placement in regards to the sound source. Similar to the supercardioid pattern, the hypercardioid polar pattern offers a strong rejection of environmental sound sources. 

Hypercardioid Microphone

Other Polar Patterns of Microphones 

Here are some other polar patterns of microphones:

Cardioid Polar Pattern

The cardioid polar pattern is the most common directional polar pattern. It is often used in stage performances where there is a need to focus on a single sound source at the same time, reducing the pick-up sounds from sides and rear. We have an article titled What is a Cardioid Microphone which goes into greater detail about cardioid mics.

A good example of the use of a cardioid microphone would be a vocalist on a stage holding a mic. A cardioid polar pattern is highly effective at capturing a singer’s voice, while also blocking other monitors or performers present on the stage. 

Bidirectional Polar Pattern 

Bidirectional polar pattern microphones are also known as a figure of eight devices that picks up an equal level of sound from rear and front, but with the side sounds blocked. Bidirectional microphones are well used in mid/side stereo recording techniques. Such microphones result in highly realistic sound duplication like you are capturing the natural ambiance sound. 

Omnidirectional Polar Pattern 

Omnidirectional microphones pick up sounds from all directions, resulting in a natural and realistic audio recording. Usually, the omnidirectional polar pattern includes headset varieties as they allow the movement of the head naturally without disturbing the overall sound of the recording.  Recommended reading: What Is an Omnidirectional Microphone?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between cardioid and hypercardioid? 

Hypercardioid Microphone for Instrumental Recording

Both cardioid and hypercardioid microphones are directional polar pattern microphones. Cardioid microphones are more sensitive towards the sound coming from the front on-axis. Still, even on sides, the reception pattern extends, generally between – 90 to + 90-degree off-axis, whereas hypercardioid microphones come with tighter reception patterns, which makes for more directional microphones.

Cardioid mics are good at rejecting sounds from behind, whereas hypercardioid microphones reject sound from behind and sides. The cardioid polar pattern is mainly used where sounds need to be picked from front and sides by not rear, and the hypercardioid polar pattern has null points at 110 and 270 degrees with a rear lobe of sensitivity. 

What is the use of hypercardioid microphones? 

The high directionality of hypercardioid microphones allows for focus on specific sound sources, so that is the reason they are widely used and a popular choice for picking up instruments or other things that need recording with proximity. Also, it is used in the close recording of sounds in isolation. 

What is the difference between shotgun and hypercardioid microphones? 

Shotgun microphones come under the category of hypercardioid microphones. There are two types of shotguns: short and long shotgun. A short shotgun is less directional than its more extended option, but it is often required where there is a need to minimize length; also, a shotgun offers a better rejection of off-axis at higher frequencies than hypercardioid microphones. 

What does cardioid mean with respect to mics? 

A cardioid is a plane curved traced with a point on the circle’s perimeter that rolls around a fixed circle on the same radius. It is a polar pattern in microphones that illustrates the sensitivity of sounds from the rear or front. 

What are the four types of microphones?

Dynamic Microphones – These are versatile and affordable mics and are used in recordings.
Large-diaphragm Condenser Microphones – The first mics that come to mind for studio recording mics are large-diaphragm mics. They are stylish and used in professional studios. 
Short Diaphragm condenser microphones – These mics are small in size with consistent pick-up patterns and transient response. 
Ribbon Microphones – They are ultra-thin mics that have electro-conductive elements suspended between poles of a magnet to generate signals.

Parting Words

If you work in noisy environments, hypercardioid mics allow you to reject nearby sounds from the rear and sides. These mics are great for recording instruments, film recordings, and live recordings. Hypercardioid mics have highly directional polar patterns, which is a must for recording isolated sound sources. They are different from cardioid and supercardioid polar patterns in terms of their sensitivity from the rear, front, and sides. 

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