One of the most under-utilized recording technique is the polar pattern.
If you know how to use the polar pattern of the microphone to your advantage, you’re golden.
Your Ears as the Polar Pattern
Imagine there’s a guitarist on your right side and a vocalist on your left side.
Put one hand over your left ear and you’ll hear much more of the guitarist. But if you start turning your head, your right ear will start picking up more of the vocalist.
A cardioid polar pattern works exactly like that. If you point the mic in the direction of the guitarist, it will pick up much more of the guitarist. But if you start turning the mic it will start picking up more of the vocalist.
Essentially, that’s how polar patterns work. Different polar patterns just mean that they pick up the sound from different directions.
- A well positioned hyper-cardioid snare microphone will reduce hi-hat bleed into the snare mic if you position it correctly.
- A bi-directional microphone is great for a minimalist background vocal sound if you only have one track and the singers sound better together than apart.
- An omni pattern works wonders if you have a great sounding room.
I could go on, but I think you get the point.
It all starts with your ears.
Microphones are only the tools to recreate what your ears have already told you. – Click to Tweet!
Use your ears before you even set up a mic. Cup one ear and use it like a microphone. That’s a great way to find the sweet spot. It’s easier than setting up a mic, hitting record and moving the mic around a bunch of times.
Just stand there and use yourself instead of a microphone. If it doesn’t sound good to your own ears, then do you really expect the results to be better with a microphone?
We All Need a Starting Point
That said, starting points are good to have. You want to be able to throw up a microphone and get a good sound immediately right?
With the least amount of effort?
Because sometimes you don’t have time to play Dr. Ear Engineer. Sometimes somebody’s paying you for a session that has to happen now. That’s why chapter 3 in Recording Strategies is my favorite chapter.
It says so in the title: A Cheat Sheet for a Better Sound.
Because sometimes, you want to have a bag of easy to use recording tricks that save you time and help you record better sounding tracks.
Check it out here:
Image by: baldbrad