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June 15, 2022

What do those MICROPHONE symbols MEAN?

What do those MICROPHONE symbols MEAN?

Ever wondered what the weird symbol means on your microphone? It actually plays a very important role in how you use your microphone, and some microphones, like the Blue Yeti, have multiple options. So, which do you pick?


Ever wondered what the weird symbol means on your microphone? It actually plays a very important role in how you use your microphone, and some microphones, like the Blue Yeti, have multiple options. So, which do you pick?

In this episode, Eric covers this and uses the Blue Yeti as reference, since this is a very common microphone with multiples of these symbols. The meaning and context should be the same for any microphone though. Listen in to learn what they mean!


Did you find this episode helpful? Leave us a review at www.practicalpodcasttips.com. We'd love to hear how it helped!

Transcript

Eric Beels 0:02
What are those weird symbols on my microphone? Let's talk about that. You're listening to Practical Podcast Tips.

My name is Eric Beels. And today, I'm going to cover tip number 34. What are those weird symbols on my microphone. So we're gonna make a quick episode on some of the different polar patterns is what they're called on your microphone. And there's actually going to be a picture that you'll see on the thumbnail for this this episode, I have that there, because I'm going to talk about those different patterns and what they all mean. And I'm going to be referencing a Blue Yeti microphone, mainly because they the Blue Yeti microphone, is one of the few microphones that can actually switch between the different types of polar patterns. And the reason this is important to know and understand is because like the Blue Yeti just has the symbols, they don't really tell you what they mean, some microphones will have maybe two options like a cardioid option, and a bi directional option, that sort of thing. It can be kind of confusing of what you should be doing, but it can have a pretty big impact on how your audio sounds. Okay. So I'm gonna go over what they all mean. And generally what they do in layman's terms also give some comparisons on other microphones of of these different types. Okay, the four that I'm going to talk about, this is going to cover pretty much all types of microphones, but I'm going to cover these four because they're on the Blue Yeti, it's a very common microphone. So there's the stereo pattern mode, the cardioid and omni directional and a bi directional, okay. And even within some of these, there's actually like some sub genres within each one of these that get more specific, I'm not going to go into that because they are just simply differing variations of each one. But in these four, essentially, there are different ways that the microphone is picking up audio. Okay. Now, one of the most common ones that most microphones are is the cardioid option. Okay, now that one The reason it's called cardio is because it actually looks like a little heart. That's why it's called a cardioid. And what that means is, it's how your microphone picks up audio. Okay, so think of the your microphone like your eardrum, okay, you have like a flat eardrum, and it's something similar on the microphone as well, it's got like a little little eardrum underneath the the microphone. If you were to take the screen off, that's what you would most likely see there's different kinds of microphones, but that's most likely what you would see your voice will vibrate off of that little eardrum. And what the cardioid is showing you it's showing you where most of the audio or dialogue is going to be picked up and from what direction it's really important because on a cardioid, if you have it backwards, you might hardly be able to hear yourself on it or it might sound really distant. That's probably because you would have your microphone backwards. Okay. cardioid is more directional. That is the most common type of directional pattern to use for like podcasts. It's ideal for single person, that's what I'm using right now. So this microphone that I'm talking right now only has one pattern option, it's only cardioid. You can't change it like you can on a Blue Yeti. Now, the other ones are you have the stereo in stereo is kind of an interesting one, I think only the blue yetis have that option. But essentially what that's going to do is most of the time when you're recording on a microphone, it's recording what's called a mono file. Okay, or at least the recording is because it's coming for one microphone source, you're you're creating a mono file versus a stereo file, the I think the stereo mono is probably best for like music. That way you kind of get some more dynamics in the room, I never use the stereo option. If you're doing podcasting, you probably shouldn't be using the stereo option unless there's you know of something that you're using with it that need the stereo option. But most dialog, you definitely want to be in a mono format. And the reason for that is because if you're in stereo and like you talk on like one side of the microphone, you're actually going to hear more of your voice on one side of your ear if you're listening to headphones. Okay, so like if you were to talk on the left side of the microphone, and when you listen to playback, you would hear yourself on like the left side of your headphones or on the right side, whichever side right generally that's not preferable. You generally don't want that. It might sound strange, that sort of thing. Right? Dario is definitely preferred thing for like music though. The stereo is the one with the it looks like two rings, and they're kind of interlocking with each other that you can actually, they're overlapping each other. That's the stereo symbol on the Blue Yeti. Now there's the omni directional one, and that one is just a circle. Okay? Now, omni directional is also a fairly popular and polar pattern. And that is most most commonly see that on, like lavalier microphones, so the little microphone that you would like attach onto your collar with like a wireless pack, if you've ever worn one of those, almost certainly, that is an omnidirectional microphone,

what a lot of people mistakenly do is they think they got to point the microphone up at you, you don't have to point it out. The whole thing with an omnidirectional microphone, is it really doesn't matter which way it's pointing, it picks up audio equally in all directions, I suppose you could say it's maybe going to be a little bit less if like on where the side of the cable is, but in my experience, it doesn't matter. Okay. Now, why would you use this? Well, in the case of a lavalier microphone, you know, you just clip it on to wherever is going to be best right on the person, you don't don't, you don't have to worry about pointing it up or anything is pointing in any direction. In that case, you just want to make sure it's not rubbing up against you. But the Blue Yeti microphone could be used if you had a group of people, right? Maybe you had a round table, you had four or five people, you could place the Blue Yeti in the center of the table, and then talk that way, set it to omni directional mode, and it's going to pick everyone up equally around the microphone, right? So that's the reason they have the omni directional option. Or if there's something else where you just want to pick up audio all around the microphone equal and not directional in any way. And again, that's the one that looks it's just like a simple circle. Lastly, there's the bi directional. What's good about the bi directional is this is kind of like the interviewer microphone. Okay, this is similar to the cardioid, except that, instead of it just being one direction, it's opposite directions as well. Okay, so I'm talking into one side of the microphone. Well, if if the microphone I was talking in was bi directional, then that means the other side of the microphone, it would pick up audio equally, okay. Now, why would you use this? Well, interviews is the is the prime use of it. So that way, if you were to set your microphone up and the like a table between you and maybe your guest, you would place that and then have you guests directly opposite of you. And then when your guest talks, your microphone would pick them up equally as yourself again, you know, these are all the different things that the Blue Yeti microphone can do. And I have just gotten questions on why the Blue Yeti has all these different options. And just to go over why the Bucha is one of the few microphones that can do this. It's because the Blue Yeti actually has three different little audio capsules on it. And they're actually placed in kind of a, like a triangle formation if you were to to take it off, don't do this, it'll void your warranty. But this is essentially when you select the different options. It cycles between which capsules it's going to be using. That is a pretty uncommon thing. Most microphones don't have this, but that's the only way that it can switch between all of these. So to sum this up, if you are doing podcasting, which you probably are, if you're listening to this episode, then you should almost certainly be using the cardioid pattern. If you're in doubt, you're not sure what to use cardioid all the way that is the one that you should be using 99% of the time, your audio will improve significantly if especially if in using the other ones. Let me go over real quick some of the reasons why it could matter. Well, if you're using bi directional and you're recording with a laptop or something like that, you could have your microphone in front of you your your laptop behind you, your laptop might start cranking the fans might kick on Well, if you have bi directional your microphones. If you're real happy to pick up those fans and pick them up really well. You're gonna have massive fan noise. So setting the right setting on your Blue Yeti can make a big difference. Now, if your microphone doesn't have settings like this, like on a Blue Yeti, it's most likely a cardioid but you can look it up you can see on the microphone, it should tell you what kind of polar pattern it is. It probably doesn't say like cardioid or Omni direction or anything like that. It'll just have one of those little symbols. It's most likely cardioid but it could be like an omnidirectional though so it's good to just look and see what you have. I hope this episode helps you out and hope to answer any questions you had about the different symbols and what they mean. If you have any questions feel free to leave comments and and I will reply to that comment and see how I can help and there's something I missed on here or didn't talk about that you'd like me to go over, reach out, and maybe I'll make an episode about it. All right. I'll see you later. Hey, thanks for listening. If you liked this episode, feel free to leave us a review. I'd love to hear how it helped. Also, if you know somebody else that could benefit from it, go ahead and share it with them. Thanks again and see you in the next episode.