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Microphone Month 4

Variable Pattern Mic

A microphone in which the polar pattern can be adjusted. The adjustment may be in the form of a switch that switches between two or more common patterns such as omnidirectional, cardioid, supercardioid, hypercardioid, figure-8, and possibly some settings in between, or it can sometimes be a knob that provides a continuous adjustment. In most cases a variable pattern mic is made by placing two condenser diaphragms back to back, and then regulating the way the signals from them are combined inside the mic. Depending upon the exact construction, and the quality (and matching) of components a particular pattern may not always behave in exactly the same fashion as a mic with a fixed pattern. Nevertheless they are very widely used because the flexibility and overall usefulness of having multiple patterns often outweighs any minor discrepancy in the accuracy of the polar pattern. In fact, some of these inconsistencies can work to an engineer’s advantage if he or she understands how to apply them.

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