SUPPORT & ADVICE
Whether you need advice about your Sontronics product, you want to learn a bit more about microphones and recording or you need some specific support, you've come to the right place...
"Sontronics is one of those rare companies that actually treats all its users like members of an extended family and nothing is too much trouble for the support team. They're amazing!"
Ed Harcourt, Artist/Composer/Producer
TECHNICAL ADVICE & TOP TIPS
Click the links below for specific advice articles and information or scroll down for more info
A cardioid pattern picks up sound
from the source it is pointed at but
also offers a graduated rejection of sounds from the side and very
little input from the rear.
When shown on a graph, the pickup response resembles a heart shape,
Cardioid mics are also referred to as 'pressure-gradient' and are ideal for recording vocals and spoken word, guitar, piano, guitar amp, strings and other instruments.
Cardioid mics exhibit the proximity effect (more on this below).
An omni-directional pattern picks
up sound equally from all directions,
like a large sphere around the head of the microphone.
This pattern is useful for recording groups, ensembles and choirs, for using overhead on a large instrument such as piano or drumkit as well as for capturing the natural ambience of a room or performance space.
Omni-directional mics can also be referred to 'pressure-sensitive'.
Mics in omni mode do not exhibit the proximity effect.
Another common polar pattern is
figure-of-eight, which picks up an
equal response from the front and the rear of the microphone with complete rejection at the sides.
A single figure-of-eight microphone can give a very intimate reproduction of sung vocals or solo instruments, and also for use in stereo applications where rejection of sound and noise from the off-axis is critical.
A figure-of-eight mic can be used in combination with a cardioid mic for mid-side stereo technique.
By controlling the voltage and phase cancellation to a capsule, it is possible to create other kinds of directional polar pattern, such as subcardioid, hypercardioid and supercardioid.
Sitting between cardioid and figure-of-eight, HYPERCARDIOID offers good side rejection and a flatter frequency response (compared to regular cardioid) while having a low sensitivity to sounds coming from the rear of the microphone.
Use this pattern if you need greater focus on a particular source, such as recording hi-hat within a drumkit or a violin in a string quartet.
Sitting somewhere between cardioid and omnidirectional, a subcardioid pattern reduces the level of proximity effect (see below) while maintaining excellent
This pattern is useful if a vocalist has a habit of moving while singing, keeping the signal as focused and uninterrupted as possible.
This pattern is related to both cardioid and hypercardioid, but has an even tighter pickup with more rejection on the sides and a slight pickup from the rear.
It’s ideal for use on stage as it offers superior feedback rejection too. You’ll find this pattern in the capsule used for our best-selling Podcast Pro, Solo, Halo and Corona dynamic mics.
Often, when talking about microphone placement, you'll hear the term 'proximity effect'.
This describes the phenomenon you experience when a cardioid (or 'pressure-gradient') microphone is moved closer to its sound source (or the source moves closer to the mic) and its bass response increases.
When recording vocals, the singer can move closer to the microphone and achieve a richer, more intense sound.
It's also a classic technique for voiceover artists to sound deeper and more intimate.
If you're experiencing too much proximity effect but don't want to change your mic positioning, you can take advantage of the mic's low-cut filter (see below), which can be found on most of our condenser microphones.
PAD & FILTER CONTROLS
As instruments and voices can vary wildly in character (as can the methods by which they can be captured), you need to be flexible. In order to make our mics as versatile as possible and to help you get the best possible recording every time, most of our mics feature filter and attenuation or pad controls.
The low-cut (or high-pass) filter reduces the output of lower frequencies captured by the microphone.
As mentioned above, this is particularly useful when the proximity effect may not be desired or where low-frequency sounds such as vibrations or distant traffic rumble are being picked up.
It is also very useful when your sound source exhibits little or no low-frequency output. In this case, the filter can be switched in to add definition to your recording while limiting unwanted noise.
The pad switch is used to attenuate (or reduce) the sensitivity of the microphone by a number of decibels (usually -10 or -20dB).
This is very useful when recording a loud sound source (for example, a trumpet played directly at the mic) which could overload the sensitive internal electronics and cause unpleasant distortion.
In this case, the pad can be switched in to reduce the level of sound being captured by the microphone while still allowing it to pick up and reproduce the characteristics of the instrument.
3 THINGS TO REMEMBER
ABOUT RIBBON MICROPHONES
Ribbon microphones capture a beautifully natural picture of whatever you're recording. This can lead to incredibly intimate results, especially on vocals and wind instruments. You will love it!
The ribbon element suspended between the two magnets can only react to sound pressure coming from the front and back, hence its figure-of-eight bi-directional polar pattern.
Our ribbon mics are more rugged than vintage ones but they're still delicate, and a blast of sound can stretch or completely disintegrate the delicate ribbon, so handle them with care.
Any microphone that has active electronic circuitry inside (this includes all Sontronics condenser and ribbon microphones) will require DC current to be sent into the microphone via the third pin of an XLR cable.
Most audio interfaces, soundcards and mixers offer an option to supply phantom power, usually via a switch labelled 48V (even though some interfaces don't even supply half of that voltage!).
If you are using a Sontronics condenser or ribbon mic, simply make sure phantom power is switched on so that the internal circuit of the microphone is powered up and the mic will work perfectly!
Our Aria and Mercury microphones are supplied with their own power unit and don't require phantom power. Ensure your device has the phantom power switched off when using these mics so no harm is done to their internal electronics.
CARE & CLEANING
Now matter how many microphones you have in your set-up, it's important to treat them with care so that they continue to operate to their full potential as long as possible.
Get into the habit of wiping down your microphone with a clean, dry cloth after each session.
Acid in your fingerprints can start to eat into the surface of the microphone body leading to corrosion, so regular cleaning each time you handle the microphone will prevent this from happening.
Dust and dirt can settle on the delicate capsule surface, which is so microscopically thin, it's impossible to clean. A build-up of dirt and dried moisture can stop the capsule reacting to the incoming soundwaves and lead to dull or fuzzy sound.
Keep your microphone covered between sessions to protect from dust in the air and always use a popshield when recording vocals to reduce the amount of moisture entering the microphone.
As with any electronic equipment, you should do what you can to protect your microphone from extremes of heat and humidity.
Using a cold microphone (either in a cold room or brought into the studio from a cold storage cupboard) to record vocals will cause condensation to gather on the mic body and the electronics inside, which can lead to corrosion, capsule damage and short circuiting.
Today we are more aware than ever of the need to keep strict hygiene rules to stop the spread of viruses, and microphones are no exception.
It is advisable to use anti-bacterial wipes (or a clean cloth sprayed with anti-bacterial liquid) to clean the exterior surface of your mic and its clip, shockmount and any accessories, especially if the mic will be used by another person. However, you MUST ensure that all surfaces are then wiped with a second dry cloth to stop any moisture settling on or in the microphone.
We suggest that you have spare grilles and inner windshield foam for mics such as our handheld Solo (right). These can be swapped out and cleaned with anti-bacterial spray, scrubbed carefully with a small brush, then patted dry with kitchen roll and left to dry fully before replacing on the mic.
Our ST-POP popshield is supplied with a spare nylon-mesh cartridge so you can clean one (wash in warm soapy water, rinse and leave to dry) while the other is in use.
INTERACTIVE PRODUCT TABLE
This handy table lists all our mics in alphabetical order, but can be rearranged to list mic by type, by polar pattern or by application simply by clicking on the header. Use the SEARCH box to find what you need.