omnidirectional microphone

What Are Omnidirectional Microphones Used For?

What is an omnidirectional microphone? Should I go for an omnidirectional microphone? What are omnidirectional microphones used for? Are omnidirectional microphones good? These questions have surely jammed your head if you are setting up the recording studio for the very first time. It’s quite natural, especially for beginners, as the variety of microphones is really overwhelming.

The name ‘Omni’ refers to ‘all’. So, omnidirectional microphones are designed with superior sensitivity and can pick sounds from all 360° angles around the microphone. They are specifically efficient in picking sounds of different instruments or people simultaneously. Many peeps also prefer it to record room ambiance.

In our article below, we have brought an in-depth guide on the omnidirectional microphone, its features, advantages, disadvantages, and an overall comparison with other microphones of different polar patterns. As we have answered all the probable queries, you can rely on us. So, be ready and choose the microphone that suits your style & requirements the most!

What Are Omnidirectional Microphones?

Omnidirectional microphones are microphones with high sensitivity, to be used only when a user needs to record sounds from all directions. These models always feature a circular polar pattern for an equal reception from the overall surroundings. For instance, professionals prefer to use an omnidirectional microphone to record background music, room ambiance, sounds of nature, the audience’s reaction to a podcast, etc.

What Are The Best Omnidirectional Microphones?

What Are The Types Of Microphone Pickup Patterns?

The pickup pattern basically refers to a diagram showing how a microphone receives sound if observed from its superior aspect.

Unidirectional Polar Pattern:

From the name ‘unidirectional,’ you can guess that these mics can pick up sound from one specific direction only. There are some subcategories of unidirectional mics, including- cardioid, super-cardioid & hyper-cardioid models.

Cardioid mics are exclusively sensitive at the front and least sensitive at the back & the sides. They are basically known as cardioid mics for their heart-shaped pickup pattern.

Super cardioid mics offer a tighter & more narrow pickup pattern than the cardioids. Thus, they are more focused on the sounds coming toward the mic’s head. So, you will notice a sound drop if the mix is a bit away from the sound’s origin.

Hyper cardioid mics have the tightest polar pattern. Due to their superior specific direction, most users prefer them for podcasting or vocals. They are perfect for blending other background noises.

Bidirectional Polar Pattern:

The bi-directional polar pattern is similar to the infinity symbol. They are especially suitable for picking up sounds from two individuals facing one another. It is also used to pick sounds from both the right and left sides simultaneously. If you utilize this one to capture an orchestra’s ambiance, you will definitely love its sound quality.

Omnidirectional Polar Pattern:

Omnidirectional microphones offer the same pattern as a human’s hearing capabilities. It doesn’t have any null point to blend background noises. As they can record sounds from all directions equally, professionals prefer to hang it with a boom stand just above the sound’s origin. Everyone generally encircles & sings in the direction of the mic.

What Is The Difference Between Omnidirectional, Bidirectional, and unidirectional microphones?

Unidirectional MicrophoneBidirectional MicrophoneOmnidirectional Microphone
Unidirectional mics are sensitive to one direction wherever the mic’s head is pointed.Bidirectional mics are specialized ones to pick up sound from two opposite directions.Omnidirectional mics offer the highest sensitivity from all directions.
It can cancel out noises.It also blends background noises but not as efficiently as cardioid ones.It can’t cancel out background noises due to its all-directional sensitivity.
The pickup pattern of the unidirectional mics symbolizes the heart.Its pickup pattern symbolizes infinity.It features the pattern of a human’s hearing.
It is best for recording vocals.It is best to record the sounds of two people from opposite directions simultaneously.This one is not suitable for vocals.
It is not preferable for capturing room ambiance as it focuses on one direction only.A bi-directional mic is preferred to capture the orchestra’s full ambiance. It offers an aesthetic sound quality via the discretion of the stereo field.This is perfect for capturing the ambiance of the room from all directions.

What Are The Advantages & Disadvantages Of Omnidirectional Microphones?

  • Unidirectional and other directional mics feature acoustic ports resulting in plosive noises. Omnidirectional models don’t have rear acoustic ports to reduce wind noises. So, you won’t face such consequences with omnidirectional microphones.
  • Omnidirectional Microphones feature lower proximity effects to reduce bass when the sound origin is too near.
  • Due to less proximity, they won’t capture vibrations or handle noises.
  • As the polar pattern is all-directional, you are never outside of the reception range.
  • Omnidirectional Microphones are equally sensitive to all sides. So, you can position it forward, backward, or even upside down as per convenience.
  • You can’t isolate your vocals as the mic will end up recording background noises simultaneously.
  • If you need to adjust and edit the sound of two sources separately, there is no way to do it via an omnidirectional microphone. Get a cardioid or hyper-cardioid microphone instead.
  • Omnidirectional mics can create feedback issues. So, never place them close to amplifiers or speakers.

What Are Omnidirectional Microphones Used For?

  • Omnidirectional mics are mics with special polar patterns and are generally used in special scenarios like – capturing natural sounds in a jungle, room ambiance, or sound reinforcements in a music show.
  • Omnidirectional mics are commonly set up in group singing programs where musicians, drum circles, or folk performers encircle the mic and sing towards it. It can reduce extra expenses & hassle of setting up multiple microphones.

Many famous bands like – The Bond Quartet uses omnidirectional mics specifically in their shows to record auditorium ambiance and audience applause.

What Type Of Microphone Is Used For Podcasting & Vocals?

During a play or podcast, the microphone needs to pick the user’s voice in detail. That’s where cardioid or hyper-cardioid comes in, as it can pick up sound from one spot while canceling the background noises. On the contrary, omnidirectional microphones are popular for capturing sounds from all directions. Thus, Among different polar patterns, we would prefer cardioid or hyper-cardioid microphones over omnidirectional microphones for podcasting & vocals.


Is cardioid or omnidirectional better?

Both cardioid and omnidirectional mics are good in their own way. Cardioid mics usually pick up sound from one specific direction. They are super sensitive at 0° angle & least sensitive at 180°. So, they are perfect for recording applications and can easily blend room noises.

Are dynamic mics omnidirectional?

No, they have a unidirectional or cardioid pattern. Thus, it picks sound from only the pointed direction and cancels out other noises from the background.

Is omnidirectional microphone noise Canceling?

No, they can’t cancel noises. As they are quite sensitive to sound, they can pick up noise from any direction.

Which type of microphone is good for picking up room ambiance?

Ambiance usually comes from multiple directions. Omnidirectional mics are equally sensitive in all directions. Thus, they are highly popular as ambient microphones.

Are shotgun mics omnidirectional?

Shotgun mics usually focus on one specific spot. So, they are not omnidirectional. Instead, they concentrate in the pointed direction via a narrow beam. In fact, they are more directional than typic cardioid or super-cardioid mics.

Final Words:

Are omnidirectional microphones any good? What are omnidirectional microphones used for? You must have been very confused due to such confusion. I believe by now you have reached a consensus on whether you really need it or not. I will specifically recommend this one if you want to record room ambiance or a group of musicians together. So, are you ready to purchase your favorite type of microphone now?

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