Polar Pattern

Focussing on Sound

Mic placement is a tricky art. In the romantic rose tinted glory days of Motown there was only one mic and it was placed in front of the band. Everyone else was carefully positioned in the room to get the "mix" right. The drumkit was even nailed to the floor. Those days are long gone and everything is a lot more complex.

Understanding where to place your mic not only requires an intimate knowledge of how the mic sounds and what colouration it may give to your recording but also understanding the polar pattern. The mic's placement is key. You have to understand not only how it will pick up your source but how it will also react within its environment. Pointing it vaguely in the direction of the drumkit may work sometimes but...

Wait! Don't hit record just yet, there's an app that may be able to help you. Now in its second iteration Arapolarmic is created by Spanish company Aratechlabs and uses augmented reality to help you visualise the polar pattern of the mic you are wanting to use.

According to this Sound on Sound article:

The first version of Arapolarmic certainly raised a few eyebrows when it was released last year. Its innovative use of augmented reality made it possible to see the polar patterns of microphones and technical specs in real-time, to reinforce decision-making when positioning. Although there were a few screams of protest from social media, the app seems to have found a following among engineers, instructors, students and musicians, notably SAE Institute in Europe and The Blackbird Academy in Nashville.

Arapolarmic is also a ‘micpedia’ which contains a database of microphones with their technical specs that is continuosly expanded with new microphone models from different manufacturers. The current launched versions 2.0 and 2.1 will contain more than 110 microphones and Aratechlabs keep working to include more microphones that manufacturers have sent in.

Further uses include helping improve knowledge in microphone properties for using with instruments or voice, explaining microphone properties, or for more commercial or sales-oriented purposes.

The video below is a quick guide to how the app works and shows what visual feedback you get when using it. I personally feel that this is a great educational tool for people like me who have a limited knowledge of mic types and certainly not enough recording experience to have amassed the required knowledge to know what to expect from different mics.

See what you think.


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