An omnidirectional microphone“hears” sound from every direction,so it wouldn’t seem like the best choice for capturing clear, clean, and isolated vocals in the studio, and only a lunatic would sing through one on stage a midst blaring amps, drums, and monitors. But this doesn’t mean that omnis should be avoided as if they just caught very bad cases ofH1N1. These mics—or, more accurately,these polar patterns—offer somevery attractive characteristics to vocalists of all genders, styles, and dynamic levels.
Many musicians are introduced to theomni pattern via multi-pattern, large diaphragm condenser mics such as the AKG C414 (omni, figure-8, hypercardioid,cardioid, wide cardioid),Shure KSM44 (omni, cardioid, figure-8), and Audio-Technica AT4050(omni, cardioid, figure-8). Those whonever move the pattern switch off“cardioid” are missing a fair amount of aural treats. Sure, the heart-shaped cardioid pattern may appear to bemore of a “useable” option forrecording vocals as it mostly picks upsound from the front, and rejectsmuch of the sound occurring at itsrear and sides. But while cardioid patterns minimize ambient noise andfocus on what’s coming out of thesinger’s mouth, they also exhibit off axis coloration (where the tone of thevoice changes as the singer movesaway from the front of the mic) andproximity effect (where low frequencies are intensified as the singer’smouth gets closer to the mic), and are susceptible to plosives (thoseannoying popping “p” sounds).
Meanwhile, the omni pattern isoften considered the purest-sounding polar pattern because it adds very little coloration to the original sound. Omnis are also less sensitive to plosives,and, by virtue of the fact theycapture sound equally from all directions,off-axis coloration is negligible. So if you desire a relatively pristine,accurate, and balanced vocal track—along with the bonus of some naturalambience that might make reverbunnecessary at the mixdown—theomni starts looking like an option oftrue genius. Here, then, are a coupleof tips to maximize the pattern’s benefits,while minimizing its potential shortcomings.
As stated earlier, omnis capturesound from all directions, so you haveto be very conscious of your recording environment in order to achieveoptimum results. However, I view the360-degree audio field as a benefit. As long as your housemates aren’tcranking up the big-screen TV’s surroundsound, environmental noisesshouldn’t be too much of a problem, and gaining some ambience is a niceaural homage to the days whenvocals were sometimes cut in big studiospaces. Look for a spot in yourhome that offers the most pleasantambience. Do some test recordings, and listen to how the environmentaffects the tone and vibe of thevocal. Take care not to go too crazy,as you can’t remove the reverberationonce you record it down with thevocal, so what you get is what you’llhave always and forever. Too muchambience, for example, could soundunnatural in a mix where the otherinstruments are rather ...