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TOPIC: Short Shotgun Polar Patterns

Short Shotgun Polar Patterns 4 years 5 months ago #1401

Fred,
Manufacturers and retailers list polar patterns for most short shotgun microphones as either supercardioid , line + gradient, supercardioid + lobar, supercardioid with interference tube, and sometimes books or other reference material will just call the polar pattern itself as "shotgun". Are there any technical differences between these polar patterns (for short shotguns) or are they relatively synonymous? When a manufacturer lists an interference tube microphones polar pattern as just supercardioid isn't that an incomplete statement? I know that the Sanken CS-3e, with its 3 capsules arranged in a linear array may behave differently from most inteference tube mics but let's make that an exception.
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Re: Short Shotgun Polar Patterns 4 years 3 months ago #1403

  • Fred Ginsburg
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Sorry that I did not respond to your question sooner! I was out of town several times during the summer, and somehow this forum entry slipped by me.

So to answer your question, polar pattern descriptions have become totally corrupted by the marketing people. Just like a good statistician or political poller -- they can stretch any truth to fit their own agenda. In fact, most sources do not even acknowledge "supercardioid" as a legit term; it really came about from the advertising department. All we used to have was cardioid and hypercardioid!

My advice is to never look at the short versions of the polar pattern drawings. Either get your hands on the actual engineering specs (fat chance of that) or just take them lightly.

Instead, arrange to borrow a mic or at least test one out at a reputable sound house, and LISTEN. Run your own angle tests. Determine what the shotgun actually does and does not do for you, while monitoring DIALOGUE under less than ideal lab conditions.

You will find that the microphone being tested rarely or never meets the (polar pattern expectations). Sometimes the mic sounds way better, and other times the mic comes off weak or flat. Let your ears decide what works and what doesn't for you.

I have played with mics that looked awful on paper, yet sounded amazing. And vice versa.

Squiggles on paper never tell the true story.

Quick proof.... just look at the patterns of all the popular lavalier mics. On paper, they seem almost identical, Yet we all know from experience that they each have very distinct feels; and that some are better for close-ups and background rejection while others are more natural and have greater reach for plant miking. We know that some of the worst patterns on paper somehow manage to sound wonderful when tucked under clothing at the chest. And so on. Catch what I am saying?
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