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‘Omni’ is the Word on Microphones

Handheld, omni-directional microphones that are durable and easy to use are what government video producers want.

Handheld, omni-directional microphones that are durable and easy to use are what government video producers want, and audio equipment manufacturers are working to provide that to their clients.

by J.J. Smith

Of course, selecting the right microphone for the right job is the first step when picking a microphone, say some manufacturers. Deciding on a microphone “depends on what it’s going to be used for,” said Steve Savanyu, director of educational services for Audio-Technica. “I presume government video producers are going to use it for interviews.”

While the microphone will likely be used for traditional one-on-one interviews in the studio, they might also be used for a group interview, conducted in the field, both indoors and out. To meet those needs, a user would want an omni directional dynamic microphone, Savanyu said. Omni directional means the ability to pickup sound equally in all directions, he added.

If not pointed directly at the interview subject, directional microphones are much less forgiving than omni-directional microphones, Savanyu saidThat is an assessment shared by Joe Ciaudelli, the director of market development for Sennheiser Electronic Corp. An omni-directional microphone picks up sound from all directions, whereas a cardioid (or condenser) microphone picks up sound in the direction that it is pointed; “Which is good in a very loud environment, such as during a protest where people are shouting all around the interviewer,” he said.

Audio-Technica’s BP 4002. Photo courtesy of Audio-Technica That opinion is shared by Chris Lyons, the manager of technical and educational communications for Shure Inc., who said, an omni-directional is also pretty forgiving as far as picking up handling noise, but it can also make interviewing a group of people easier. “If you’re interviewing two or three people at a time, it’s not as critical that the mike is pointed at any one individual. You can just hold it in the center of a group and you’re fine,” Lyons said.


To meet clients’ needs, Audio-Technica makes a shock isolated interview microphone in their BP line, Savanyu said. That microphone is the BP 4002, and it has special design criteria to minimize handling noise by the user, he said. The BP 4002 is our omni directional interview microphone; and it is designed for broadcast applications as opposed to a microphone for a singer in a band. It has a nice lower profile look to it; it has an intricate windscreen on the head case; it is shock isolated internally, so it picks up “minimal handling noise” and it is also longer than the typical handheld vocal microphone used by singers. At nearly 10 inches long, the BP 4002 allows the interviewer to keep his or her hand near the bottom of the microphone, and allows someplace near the top of the microphone for the broadcasters to put their identification flag.

The BP 4002 has an 80 to 20,000 hertz frequency response, which is a frequency response that is designed for dialog or a speech, Savanyu said. It works with a wide variety of inputs, camera inputs, field mixer inputs, and it is extremely rugged; it has a hardened steel grill, it has all metal housing; and both an internal and external wind screen, he said.


Sennheiser offers two models that government video producers might be interested in, Ciaudelli says. They are the MD 42, which is an omni-directional microphone, and the MD 46, which is a cardioid-version of the same microphone. Those microphones were closely developed with field engineers, and are very rugged and reliable, he said. They create low handling noise, have excellent wind resistance yet have really “good intelligibility,” especially for speech, he said. And the handle is longer than the typical microphone a singer would use, and, again, allows the user to add a broadcast flag just under the capsule, he said.

Sennheiser’s MD 42 and 46. Photo courtesy of Sennheiser

Shure Inc.’s SM63LB. Photo courtesy of Shure Inc. Both microphones have a frequency response that is contoured toward high-speech intelligibility, in the speech range between 1,000 hertz and 5,000 hertz. Also, “the polar pattern is smooth,” which means it is consistent if the user is talking right into the center of the microphone, versus the side of the microphone, specifically the MD 46.


Of course Shure Inc. offers its SM63LB, omni directional, handheld microphone to meet the needs of users, Lyons said. The SM63LB has a thin, streamlined look, and has “a good shook mount so it doesn’t pickup much handling noise,” he said. “It’s a good sounding microphone, and it has very good natural sound quality,” he said. “Plus, it’s lightweight and easy to handle.”

In addition, it has a nylon grill rather than a steel grill, “so if the microphone is dropped, the grill is flexible and will bounce, but it doesn’t dent,” he said. Since these microphones end up taking a beating as they are taken to video shoot after video shoot and with a nylon grill and the shook mount, “the microphones don’t have to be replaced as often,” and can be used for quite a long time. Also, they tend to be on camera a lot, and users do not want a microphone on camera “that has a big ding in the grill.”