Sound Bites:
Part two - More about Microphones
Next comes the cardioid microphone.
Sensitive to sounds from the front and
sides, if you were able to see the area
which the microphone picks up it would
be more or less heart shaped, hence
it's called cardioid. This type of
microphone is ideal for recording
vocals since it can ignore a lot of the
surrounding noises but still allows the
speaker or singer a bit of movement
within the pick-up area.
If it doesn't matter whether the sound
comes from above, below, in front or
behind the microphone it is called
omnidirectional. One of an omni's
advantages is that it doesn't have to
be pointed at the subject but you do
have to be aware that all the sounds in
the vicinity, whether you want them or
not, will be picked up.  They also tend
to be less sensitive to handling and
wind noise than directional
There are occasions when you can't get
right up close to your subject and this is
where the super-cardioids or directional
microphones come into play. Because
they have a relatively narrow sound
"view", this is the most common
microphone used by  video crews.  The
recordist does need to keep awake
though, since if he points the microphone
in the wrong direction, you won't get the
sounds you want.
Microphones have all sorts of
characteristics, one of which is
their sensitivity to sounds
coming from different
directions. In the same way that
you use different focal length
lenses to see different angles
of view, microphones have their
equivalent of wide angles and
telephotos. Some professional
systems have interchangeable
heads to enable you to have a
selection of microphones.
Unless it's absolutely
unavoidable you should use an
off-camera microphone for
recording sound. Even ambient
sound sounds better when
recorded on a decent condensor
mic, directed to where it's
needed and buffered from wind
and thrumble. No matter how
good the camcorder mic is, it's
still dangerously close to zooms,
buttons, fingers and all the bits
on a camera which make noises.
Top of the range are the condenser
microphones such as the Sennheiser.
MHK-60, which costs well over a
thousand pounds ( €1600)
However, all is not lost and Sennheiser
also make a range, the K6, for smaller
pockets. Don't be tempted to go for
cheap brands though, as with all things
in life, you get what you pay for.
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