Polar Patterns – Part 3: Supercardioid

The Straight Story on Microphone Directionality

Look up in the sky — It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s … supercardioid. That’s right, this week we shed the glasses and duck into the telephone booth to examine just what goes on inside supercardioid mics. We’ll learn what makes supercardiod mics special and discuss how you can use them in the studio and on stage. 

If you missed the first two installments in this series, take a minute and check them out. In Part 1, we looked at the omnidirectional pattern, and we examined the popular cardioid pattern in Part 2.

Remember how cardioid mics pickup sound in front, become less sensitive around the sides and completely reject sound at the rear of the mic? Well, supercardioid mics are similar. They use an even tighter pickup area at the head of the mic, quickly taper to reject sound from the sides and have a very small lobe of sensitivity near the rear of the mic. You could say it’s the stricter, more “focused” brother of the cardioid pattern. 

The very narrow supercardioid pickup pattern is great for capturing a single instrument or isolating a singer’s voice from any accompanying instruments. But make sure the recordist doesn’t move around too much—the tight pattern will reject sound if the performer is off-axis. 

Because they’re even more focused than cardioids, supercardioid mics generate much less feedback. This makes them ideal for capturing vocals or isolating a particular instrument in extremely loud stage environments. Just remember, that little sensitive spot on the rear of the mic will pickup sound if you’re not careful. In contrast to cardioid microphones, it is not recommended to position the monitor in front of the microphone. Position each monitor 120 degrees off-axis to avoid unwanted feedback.  Aim any monitors away from the mic to minimize noise bleed. 

Add some “super” to your sound with any AKG supercardioid or multi-pattern mic. Some of our favorites are the C414 XLSD7 (S) and D5 (S).

AKG Products with supercardioid polar pattern:


AKG Artists