The Ultimate Omni Mic Guide: What is an Omnidirectional Microphone?

August 09, 2019 4 min read

Whether you’re looking to purchase recording equipment to start a podcast, record an EP or make a documentary, you realize the importance of having the right equipment. But, if this is your first experience with a project of this caliber, you may be overwhelmed by all the options and information available on every piece of recording equipment out there,especially when it comes to omnidirectional microphones. Before you start blindly purchasing cameras and mics, you should do some research to discover precisely which type of equipment is right for your project.

Omnidirectional microphones can sometimes get overshadowed by the newer unidirectional mics, but they offer a lot of advantages and are better suited to different recording situations. If you’re trying to decide which mic is right for you, learn more about omnidirectional mics and their full range of capabilities.

What is an Omnidirectional Microphone?

As its name suggests, an omnidirectional microphone, colloquially known as an omni mic,is a microphone designed to pick up sound from all sides of the mic, meaning that a speaker can talk into the microphone from any direction and it will be able to capture the sound. While theomnidirectional polar patterns these mics use when picking up sound can be very advantageous in certain situations where sound needs to be detected and recorded from multiple different directions or locations, omnidirectional mics aren’t always the right choice. Consider what you’re looking to amplify with your mic and determine if the omnidirectional capabilities of the mic will be beneficial or detrimental to the overall quality of your recording.

music band recording in studio

When Should You Use an Omnidirectional Microphone?

Whether we’re talking about wired or wireless mics, omnimicrophones are recommended in any situation that requires viewers or audience members to hear sounds from multiple directions. If a single musician is performing on stage, a unidirectional microphone might be a better choice as the mic will pick up more of the sound (the singer’s voice) as it is directed right into the device and less of the background sounds.

Many musicians swear by an omnidirectional microphone for moments when multiple instruments need to be picked up at once. For bands trying to record or perform with a drum set and multiple electric guitars, omnidirectional microphones make it easy to clearly hear each individual instrument. The piano is another instrument that sounds great over an omnidirectional mic. For performances like musicals or plays with multiple actors on stage, omnidirectional lavalier microphones can easily and clearly pick up sounds from several different people at one time, making the show more audible to the audience.

Pros of Using an Omnidirectional Microphone

Omnidirectional microphones offer a lot of advantages to users but only in the right situations. Here are the best advantages of omnidirectional mics:

  1. Diminishes the sound of wind when you are recording outside

For anyone who is using their mic outside, omnidirectional mics are superior to unidirectional ones becausethey can diminish the distracting sound of the wind. With a port at the back of the mic to pick up sound, the unidirectional mic can very clearly capture wind noise.This makes it difficult to hear what is actually being said into the mic and diminishes the overall recording quality, which makes omnidirectional mics superior for outside recording.

  1. Captures sound from every direction

Thanks to the omnidirectional polar pattern, the most obvious advantage of an omnidirectional microphone is its ability to capture noise from every direction. This means you can be standing on any side of the omni mic. In fact, you can even hold it upside down, and it will still be able to pick up and transmit the sound. 

  1. Eliminates the proximity effect

The greatest advantage of an omnidirectional microphone is its ability to eliminate the proximity effect, which is a term for the additional bass a microphone picks up based on how close the speaker is to the mic. Without having to worry about this annoying effect, your overall sound quality becomes crisper and clearer.

Cons of Using an Omnidirectional Microphone

  1. Potentially can pick up unwanted sounds

The only real negative side effectofusing an omni microphone isits potential to pick up unwanted sounds. However, because of theomni mic’s design, this effect is usually intentional. If you’re looking to pick up something very specific and drown out the surrounding noise, an omnidirectional mic is not the device that you’re looking for. However, even if you’re not using an omnidirectional mic to pick up multiple voices at the same time, you may run into the issue of extra background noise that distorts the speakers’ voices. To avoid this, consider the environment in which you are recording and try to eliminate as much background noise as possible.That way, you’ll secure getting the most out of your omnidirectional mic, and create high-quality content.

variety on vintage microphones on table

Selecting the right type of mic is essential to bringing out the best sound quality in your recording or live performance. If you’ve been struggling to pick up multiple sounds or voices at once with your current mic, try out an omnidirectional microphone to improve the overall quality. Even if you’re not looking to record multiple sounds at once, but you can’t seem to get rid of the proximity effect, an omnidirectional microphone may just be the perfect solution, whetherit's a USB, wireless or lavalier omnidirectional microphone.