In Favour of Hypercardioid

Back in the 1970s when I first started recording I was an avid reader of the trade magazine Studio Sound, which published a regular series of articles on different aspects of recording technique by well-known engineers.  In particular I can remember reading a piece by an eminent classical engineer, (name escapes me) on co-incident microphone technique, in which he expressed a preference for crossed hypercardioids. The reason he gave was that over many years of recording he had come to the conclusion that, with its large, well-defined front lobe and small out-of-phase rear lobe, the hypercardioid polar pattern most closely resembles the manner in which the human ear picks up sound,  ie. mostly from the front but with less well-defined pick-up to the rear. He therefore suggested that the choice of hypercardioid microphones produces a more ‘natural’ sound and thereby a better illusion of reality.

Whatever the truth of this, more than thirty years later this technique, using a pair of hypercardioids, is still one of my favourites for recording chamber music. At any session I usually experiment with polar patterns and microphone position but very often find myself back with hypercardioid!

Hypercardioid Microphones at 65 degrees

The diagram above is taken from David Tombs excellent book
‘Sound Recording From Microphone To Mastertape.’ 1980.

This except from my recent recording of Andrew Glover’s Flute Sonata ‘Remember’, uses a pair of AKG C414 BTLs mounted one above the other and set as described above and pictured below.

Charles Matthews & Katherine Birtles in rehearsal at Birmingham Conservatoire.

Charles Matthews & Katherine Birtles in rehearsal at Birmingham Conservatoire.

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2 responses to “In Favour of Hypercardioid

  1. If you consider hypercardioids to be half way between cardioid and figure of 8, then this technique can be thought of as being half Blumlein.

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  2. When setting up for this recording I did try figure of 8, but it is quite a lively room, and whilst I liked the sound of it, figure of 8 gave me just a bit too much of the acoustic…….. and so I went for the ‘half Blumlien’ !
    Thanks for that.

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