Beginner's guide to super cardioid mic

Super cardioid mic is a type of directional condenser microphone. It differs from omnidirectional in that it has a considerably smaller pickup area, blocking the off-axis sounds. In this article, we will explain what super cardioid mic is and include the topics below:

  1. What is it?
  2. The interpretation to the supercardioid pattern graph.
  3. Its ideal and not so recommended applications.
  4. The difference between cardioid and supercardioid microphone.

Video: Supercardioid mic definition and sound pickup example

It features an extremely directional polar pattern. With null points at 127° and 233° and a back lobe of sensitivity, it is most responsive to on-axis audio that the mic points to. Due to its strong directionality, it is widely used in filmmaking.

See how it sounds by using a shotgun mic featuring super cardioid polar pattern to pick up sounds.

Super cardioid pattern graph explained

Super cardioid pattern graphThe above pattern graph shows how a super cardioid mic capture sounds. We will explain it in detail so you can get a further understanding of it to use it better.

Null points at 127° & 233°

As is shown in the graph, the standard super cardioid mic pattern has sensitivity null points at 127° and 233°. Null points are the areas where the microphone should theoretically not pick up any sound. Actually, it indicates that the sound will be substantially muffled (especially at high frequencies). But pay attention, the nature of acoustics, reality, and reflections allows audio to reach the mic from other directions, even though it is coming from a null point direction directly.

Rear cone of silence

The angles of maximum sound rejection in 2D are shown by the null points at 127° and 233°. This corresponds to a back "cone of stillness" in 3D.
This is significant to know since super cardioid mic operates in three dimensions. When setting supercardioid microphones properly, whether to maximize gain-before-feedback or reduce leakage from unwanted noise, understanding the cone of quiet and the rear lobe of sensitivity will be quite helpful.

Rear lobe of sensitivity yields -10 dB at 180°

Although it is audible, the optimal supercardioid rear lobe is often not unduly evident in the mic signal at -10 dB in relation to its on-axis sensitivity.

It's crucial to understand the supercardioid pattern's back lobe. Knowing that the rear lobe is 10 dB less sensitive than the on-axis response enables us to make better decisions about where to place supercardioid condenser microphone.

Keep in mind that a microphone's back lobe often has different characteristics at different frequencies. Therefore, even while the perfect supercardioid microphone has a 10 dB difference in the sensitivity at 0° and 180°, it isn't always a perfect 10 dB difference at all frequencies.

Roughly 10 dB less sensitive at the sides (90° & 270°)

Part of the added directionality of the supercardioid mode (relative to the cardioid) is that it refuses to emit sound to the side. In a standard supercardioid pattern, there is 10 dB of attenuation at 90° and 270°.

In this way, it is an excellent choice for isolating a single sound source.
Note that 10 dB is the standard. At lower frequencies, a true supercardioid mic may have less than 10 dB of side attenuation. Likewise, at higher frequencies, the lateral attenuation may be more than 10 dB.

Supercardioid microphone uses: When and when not to use

Each microphone polar pattern has advantages and disadvantages. The super cardioid mic is no different, operating well in certain circumstances and badly in others. The following are the ideal uses:

Best uses for microphone super cardioid

  • Attach to the end of a boom pole for filmmaking.
  • Mount on the camera to improve off-frame sound rejection.
  • For directional pick-up and a narrower acceptance angle.
  • In noisy conditions, to close-mic or isolate single sound sources.
  • To record each sound source individually from a near distance like the drums of a drum kit.

As stated, there are other less desirable applications for supercardioid microphones.

When not to use:

  • Place in front of foldback monitors directly in live shows.
  • Use as a still microphone to record moving sound sources.
  • To record authentic room sound and background.

Cardioid mic vs supercardioid: Main difference in sensitivity

Sensitivity is the biggest difference between cardioid and supercardioid microphone.

Cardioid mic is the most sensitive to all types of audio waves, and because of its wide reception pattern from +90 to -90 degrees and often 130-degree pickup angle, it is excellent at managing background noise.

As a result, it's a fantastic choice for those who want to record their voices, acoustic guitars, and guitar amps but also need to make sure that background sound is completely eradicated.

A super cardioid mic, on the other hand, has a narrow pickup angle and is most responsive to audio waves that are angled between 130 and 227 degrees.
However, it is only responsive to sound sources that are right in front of it. It may be a preferable choice if you are shooting a short movie or video because of its substantially higher rear lobe sensitivity.

Unfortunately, in order for the sound waves to transfer effectively, you must always position the target sound correctly in front of the microphone.

This is undoubtedly the major drawback and the main reason why more people tend to use cardioid condenser microphones.You will need to utilize it carefully since you won't have as much mobility as you would with a cardioid mic because it essentially eliminates side noises perfectly.

Super cardioid shotgun mic is always used to record audio for live performances, solo singers, and film and video. It is preferable for detailed recording.