It is often necessary to capture or record audio in a noisy environment, such as at outdoor events, concerts, or conference sessions. Capturing a specific voice, or sound source, while minimizing background noise can be a real challenge, and this is where using the right microphone comes in handy.
What type of microphone should I use?
A microphone that is well-suited for capturing a specific sound in a noisy environment is called a directional microphone.
These types of microphones have a narrow pickup pattern that focuses on sound coming from a specific direction, while rejecting sounds from the sides and rear. These pickup patterns (or polar patterns) are called Supercardioid, Hypercardioid, or Lobar. Various manufacturers may have different names for the lobar pickup pattern which is more directional than the other two and are usually only available in shotgun microphones.
Key factors to consider
However, please do not assume that a microphone is a highly directional microphone just because it is advertised as a shotgun mic. Many “shotgun” microphones have cardioid pickup patterns which will not do well in a noise environment. At the very least, check the specifications for the pickup pattern of the microphone. We recommend comparing the actual pickup pattern of the various microphones being considered.
Reputable manufacturers will provide different patterns for different audio frequencies. This is because a microphone will react differently to low frequencies (such as a bass drum) than to a high frequency (such as a bird call). Be to look at the frequencies that you are most interested in capturing.
Also note that shotgun microphones typically pick up more sound from the rear than Supercardioid or Hypercardioid mics do. This is important to consider when recording in noisy environments.
Regardless of the microphone that is used, placing the microphone as close to the source as possible and taking care to point the microphone directly at the desired sound source will be critical to capturing great audio.
Based on all these factors, here is our list of the top 5 hyper-cardioid microphones. They are known for their high sound quality, consistency, and directional pickup pattern.
1 – Sennheiser e965
- High-quality sound: The Sennheiser e965 microphone is praised for its excellent sound quality, which is clear and detailed.
- Versatility: This microphone can be used for a variety of applications, including live performances, studio recording, and broadcasting.
- Durability: The microphone is well-built and sturdy, which makes it durable and long-lasting.
- Supercardioid polar pattern: The supercardioid polar pattern provides excellent noise rejection, making it ideal for use in noisy environments.
- Expensive: The Sennheiser e965 microphone is more expensive than other microphones in its category.
- Sensitivity to handling noise: The microphone is sensitive to handling noise, which means that it can pick up unwanted sounds if not used carefully.
- Large size: The microphone is quite large and heavy, which may make it difficult to use for extended periods of time.
- Requires phantom power: The microphone requires phantom power, which may be an issue for some users who don’t have the necessary equipment.
2 – Shure Beta 87A
- Clear and crisp sound: The Shure Beta 87A has a wide frequency response and a supercardioid polar pattern, which ensures clear and accurate sound reproduction.
- High sensitivity: The microphone has high sensitivity, which means that it can capture even the slightest nuances in sound.
- Durable: The Beta 87A is built to last and can withstand rough handling and harsh environments.
- Minimal feedback: The supercardioid polar pattern of the microphone ensures minimal feedback, making it ideal for live performances.
- Versatile: The microphone is suitable for a wide range of applications, including live performances, broadcasting, and recording.
- Expensive: The Shure Beta 87A is relatively expensive compared to other microphones in its category.
- Requires phantom power: The microphone requires phantom power to operate, which may not be available in all situations.
- Sensitive to handling noise: The microphone is sensitive to handling noise, which may be an issue during live performances.
- Limited polar pattern options: The microphone only has a supercardioid polar pattern, which may not be suitable for all recording situations.
- Heavy: The microphone is relatively heavy compared to other microphones, which may make it uncomfortable to use for extended periods.
3 – Audio-Technica AT4053B
- High sensitivity: The AT4053B has a high sensitivity of -38 dBV/Pa, which means that it can capture even the faintest of sounds with excellent clarity and detail.
- Low self-noise: With a self-noise level of only 14 dB, this microphone is well-suited for recording in quiet environments and for capturing subtle nuances in audio recordings.
- Hypercardioid polar pattern: The hypercardioid polar pattern of the AT4053B makes it highly directional, which means that it is capable of rejecting sound from the sides and rear of the microphone, making it ideal for use in noisy environments or when isolating a specific sound source.
- Durable construction: The microphone has a rugged metal body and a multi-layered grille that protects the diaphragm from damage, making it suitable for use in demanding environments.
- Price: The AT4053B is relatively expensive compared to some other microphones on the market, which may make it difficult for some users to justify the cost.
- Phantom power requirement: The microphone requires phantom power, which means that it cannot be used with devices that do not provide this feature.
- Sensitive to handling noise: The AT4053B is a sensitive microphone that can pick up handling noise if it is not mounted properly or if the user is not careful when handling it.
- Limited low-frequency response: The microphone has a limited low-frequency response, which means that it may not be suitable for recording deep bass or other low-frequency sounds.
4 – Neumann KMS 104
- High-Quality Sound: The Neumann KMS 104 delivers a clear and natural sound that is ideal for professional vocal performances. Its large-diaphragm capsule ensures that the sound is captured accurately and with minimal distortion.
- Excellent Directional Characteristics: The supercardioid polar pattern of the KMS 104 ensures excellent off-axis rejection, meaning that it picks up sound from the front while rejecting sound from the sides and rear. This makes it ideal for use in noisy environments where other sounds may interfere with the main source.
- Durable Construction: The KMS 104 is built to withstand the rigors of live performance, with a rugged metal housing that is resistant to impact and moisture.
- Low Self-Noise: The KMS 104 has a low self-noise level, which means that it picks up less background noise and interference.
- Expensive: The Neumann KMS 104 is relatively expensive compared to other handheld condenser microphones, which may make it less accessible for some users.
- Requires Phantom Power: The KMS 104 requires phantom power to operate, which means that it must be connected to a compatible mixer or preamp that provides phantom power.
- Sensitive to Handling Noise: The KMS 104 is highly sensitive to handling noise, which means that any movement or vibration of the microphone can be picked up and amplified, potentially affecting the sound quality.
- Limited Frequency Response: The KMS 104 has a relatively limited frequency response range, which may not be suitable for all types of vocal performances.
5 – Audix OM7
- High gain before feedback: The Audix OM7 has a hypercardioid polar pattern, which allows it to reject sound from the sides and rear. This means that it can be used in loud stage environments without feedback problems.
- Accurate sound reproduction: The OM7 has a very flat frequency response, which means that it accurately reproduces the sound of the source. This makes it ideal for vocalists and other performers who need a clear and natural sound.
- Durable design: The OM7 is built to last. It has a rugged metal construction and is designed to withstand the rigors of touring and live performance.
- Comfortable to hold: The microphone has a comfortable grip, making it easy for performers to hold and use for extended periods of time.
- Expensive: The Audix OM7 is a high-end microphone, and it comes with a correspondingly high price tag. This may be a barrier for some performers who are on a tight budget.
- Limited versatility: The OM7 is designed specifically for live performance use, and it may not be as versatile as other microphones that can be used for both live and studio recording.
- Requires a lot of gain: The OM7 has a low output level, which means that it requires a lot of gain from a preamp or mixer to produce a usable signal. This can be a challenge in some situations, particularly if the sound system does not have a high-quality preamp.
- Sensitive to proximity effect: Like many hypercardioid microphones, the OM7 can exhibit a proximity effect, which causes an increase in bass frequencies as the microphone is moved closer to the sound source. This can be a problem for inexperienced performers who are not familiar with microphone technique.
We have hands-on experience with each of these manufacturers, and our experiences have all been positive. However, to expand the scope of our analysis we relied on online research to create this list.
We hope you find this information to be useful.