An omnidirectional microphone picks up sound from all directions, as the name suggests. A unidirectional microphone is designed to pick up sound in front of it and reject sounds from other directions. This helps make recordings clearer and more focused on what’s happening in one direction.
In this blog post, we will discuss how these two types of microphones: Unidirectional Microphone Vs Omnidirectional Microphone, and compare them with each other and when they should be used in recording situations.
What are omnidirectional and unidirectional microphones?
Omnidirectional microphones pick up the sound from all directions, and hence you can hear everything with the equal gain happening around the Omni mic.
The sound of omnidirectional mics picks up sound equally in all directions, making it ideal for use where multiple sources of voice or instruments need to be recorded at once, such as public speaking, conferences, lectures, meetings, etc.
For example, You live streaming a conference that’s taking place in a big hall; If want to record the speech but also picks up sound that Omni mic will be useful while editing like laughter/applause/etc.
The best microphone for this would be an omnidirectional microphone. Omnidirectional microphones can pick up the voice clearly along with other ambient noises room, e.g., shuffling papers (clipping of nails), typing sounds on the keyboard, shuffling feet of the audience (footsteps), etc.
Unidirectional mics are also known as directional microphones because they pick up sound from one direction only; they don’t have to be positioned at a specific angle from the sound source, but they have to point directly towards it.
The pickup pattern of the unidirectional mic should cover the sound source only, so all other sounds coming from other directions won’t be picked by polar pattern while recording vocal/instrumental tracks. The sounds will pick up from one direction only; the pickup pattern range is greater than that of Omni-directional microphones.
The best way to pick up a directional sound when recording music or vocal tracks is to position the Omni microphone directly in front of the instrument or voice source (e.g., bass guitar/vocals) but not pointing towards it.
Directivity is needed when recording vocals and instrumental tracks because you want to reduce wind and unwanted sounds like feedback coming from other sources, e.g., the low-frequency rumble of speakers, traffic noise outside your studio, etc.
The distance between the microphone and source of sound also matters while recording vocal/instrumental tracks because moving away from the source will make the proximity effect more audible. The microphone should ideally be at a very close distance to the source of sound (e.g., guitar/vocals).
What’s the Difference Between Unidirectional and Omnidirectional Microphones?
One of the main differences between these two is that they isolate sounds (in the case of unidirectional) differently. While using an omnidirectional mic, external sounds such as voices from outside or even traffic noise would affect your recording.
While using a unidirectional microphone, on the other hand, you will be able to cut off all these unwanted noises and keep it only on your voice!
The second thing that comes to mind when comparing these two types of microphones is channel separation. We don’t need to know what channel separation means, but for those who would like to understand it, here’s a simple explanation.
As the name suggests, channel separation talks about sound being separated into different channels in the recording process.
The third difference between these two microphones is the lower frequencies response. The omnidirectional microphone has a slow frequency response when compared to the unidirectional mic.
Omnidirectional microphones and unidirectional microphones can be seen in kick drums or bass guitars, as both tend to have very low frequencies and need larger mics to produce good results.
The last thing that comes into mind when comparing these two is the proximity effect, which means how close you are to the microphone.
So what happens here? In normal recording cases, we stand at a certain distance from our instruments while singing, but if we sing while standing.
While comparing these two types of microphones, the last thing that comes to mind is distortion. As per our observations, this term talks about how much sound will be distorted while passing through the microphone.
Though in both cases, it is better to avoid using omnidirectional mics at close distances but if you still wish to try, then here are a few things that you must keep in mind!
When should they be used?
Today we will explain why unidirectional microphones vs. omnidirectional microphones are better for a particular situation and when the other one should be used.
Everything comes down to what do you want your mic to record a specific sound or a whole scene.
The unidirectional microphone is also called directional because this type of mic captures wind noises from only one direction, so if there is some wind noise coming from behind the mic, the Unidirectional microphone is so sensitive so won’t capture it unless it’s very loud.
If you need a uni microphone, for example, in presenting the event, this will be a perfect option because your audience will hear everything that is recorded, but other people won’t hear anything; unidirectional microphones have very low noise levels, so it will be great for webcasting or video chatting.
Also, it is useful if you need to record some important information from a person who cannot close up the mic because these types of unidirectional mics don’t require much space between him and the mic to capture his voice with good quality.
This type of microphone is also perfect when large groups discuss something. It would help if you only recorded it because unidirectional microphones do a great job in such a situation.
As I said before, omnidirectional microphones capture sounds from all directions; Omnidirectional microphones are designed to record the whole scene; any noise in the surrounding directional mics will record it too.
So directional microphones should be used for situations where you don’t want to capture unwanted sounds.
But if you want to get everything happening in the room, a directional microphone will work perfectly and won’t cost too much money because quality omnidirectional mics are more expensive compared to directional ones.
If the quality omnidirectional microphone is just one loud voice in some situations, a directional microphone would be inappropriate, so this type of omnidirectional mic can only be used when the people involved in the conversation are quiet or not talking simultaneously.
When comparing unidirectional vs. omnidirectional microphones, there are many factors to consider to decide which is best for your speaker’s needs and budget.
Hooke Audio has highlighted some operational differences you should be aware of when deciding between these two types of microphone set-ups so that you can make an educated buying decision.
If this information helped, or if you have any questions about the difference of types of mics we carry, please comment below.