You’ve heard of cardioid microphones and dynamic microphones, but let’s take a moment to talk about supercardioid microphones. A supercardioid is not often talked about, but it can be incredibly useful in a range of situations.
But… you need to find the best supercardioid microphone if you really want to level up your audio!
A supercardioid microphone is a relative of the cardioid style microphones that we all know and love.
We’ve all used them on stage, in the studio and for a range of content creation applications, but what makes this one so “super”? The answer lies in it’s slightly unique cardioid pattern.
A supercardioid microphone offers the user a very directional cardioid pattern that responds best to sounds directly in the microphones line of sight.
The pick up range is not as wide as a standard cardioid microphone. They respond best to being pointed straight at the thing you want to capture. The pattern can be found in both condenser and dynamic microphones.
In this article, we are going to look at the best microphones that fall into this style of cardioid pattern, and talk about the best uses for each one and how they can help you in your professional recording and performance endeavors today.
When looking for a supercardioid mic, for any and all recording purposes, look no further than this trusted Sennheiser mic! It can be used in hectic, diverse environments for some quality recording!
What Is A Supercardioid Microphone Used For?
Due to their fantastic directional pickup pattern, supercardioid microphones are often the best choice for filmmakers and movie creators.
The directional capabilities of these types of microphones allow them to be used in very noisy environments, and accurately capture the source they are being pointed at.
This category of cardioid polar pattern is the best option for capturing direct sound without any unwanted spill from the sides, especially in noisy environments such as on stage or in a busy public place.
You may find them mounted on microphone booms on set or mounted to cameras for film makers on the go. They also have many fantastic uses for professional live sound and studio applications… like close-miking instruments and live vocals.
In This Article
- Top Pick: Sennheiser MKH416
- Runner Up: Rode NTG3B
- Best Under $350: Rode NTG4
- Best Budget: Audio Technica AT875R
- Best Bundle: Electro-Voice ND96
- Sennheiser E614
- Sennheiser MKH 8060
- Shure BETA 87A
- Sennheiser e945
- Peavey PVM 50
- Rode M2 Handheld
- Neumann KMS 105
- Sennheiser e865
- Sennheiser E 845-S
- Sennheiser E609
- Electro-Voice RE520
- Audix VX5
- Rode Microphones S1
17 Fantastic Supercardioid Mics To Check Out
|Top Pick||Sennheiser MKH416|
|Runner Up||Rode NTG3B|
|Best Under $350||Rode NTG4|
|Best Budget||Audio Technica AT875R|
|Best Bundle||Electro-Voice ND96|
Top Pick: Sennheiser MKH416
The MKH416 blew us away. Here is a microphone that can pack a punch and give professional results in all conditions. The all metal body is rugged and ready to be used and abused.
It can handle huge amounts of SPL, right up to 130dB (Trust me, you don’t want to find yourself close to that sort of volume!) and it’s ready to work in all climates.
Quoted on the Sennheiser website as being the best for outside broadcast applications, this microphone has excellent directive capabilities and really does come up top for any content creators or film makers working in louder or outdoor conditions.
Clocking in at just 165g, having the MKH416 mounted to your camera or boom arm isn’t going to take its toll on you, even in the most demanding shoots. It is lightweight and rock solid.
It’s also a transformerless design, which saves on weight… and it can draw all the power it needs just from being connected to the camera of your choice.
Sennheiser MKH416 Key Features:
- Max SPL 130dB
- High sensitivity
- Shotgun Tube Mic
- Very low self-noise
- Condenser microphone
- 40Hz – 20kHz frequency response
- Rugged and suitable for adverse climate conditions
Runner Up: Rode NTG3B
It would be difficult for a microphone like this to not come so high on our list. Sure, the MKH416 beat it to the top spot, but that doesn’t mean this mic isn’t every bit as good.
The NTG3B is weatherproof, which in itself is a huge bonus for anyone who films outdoor footage on a regular basis. This slim shotgun mic delivers broadcast quality audio in all conditions,
The Rode website claims that this mic offers 50% less noise than all it’s peers, and after road testing it, I’d be inclined to agree. It’s quiet, precise and light weight. It’s ticking a lot of boxes!
The polar pattern picks up very clear and accurate audio. And with a frequency response that extends from 40Hz up to 20kHz, there wasn’t a great deal that this mic couldn’t do.
Rode have even considered that this mic would be transported a lot when they decided how to package it. The mic comes with an aluminium tube to transport it, along with it’s included mic clip, pop filter and zip pouch.
The aluminium case will protect it from any damage risk while in transit.
Rode NTG3B Key Features:
- Low handling noise
- 130dB Maximum SPL
- Broadcast quality audio
- Withstands adverse weather
- Supercardioid pickup pattern
- 40Hz – 20kHz Frequency Response
- Immunity to radio frequency interference
- RF Biased True Condenser Microphone
- Includes aluminium storage tube with pop filter, mic stand clip and zip pouch
Best Under $350: Rode NTG4
Shotgun mics are a staple of any filmmakers tool kit. This broadcast quality offering from Rode is one that any committed content creator should consider. The NTG4 is a condenser with a rich character and a highly directional pickup pattern.
The mic has a built-in high-pass filter, pad, and high frequency boost that are all activated by a series of three buttons on the side of the microphone.
The pad is a standard -10dB pad for those louder recording sessions, and the high-pass filter will roll off any unwanted noise below 75Hz.
The Rode has a low noise circuit and a standard XLR connection, meaning that it can be used for recording on location or in a more stationary environment such as a studio.
The NGT4 requires phantom power, so if your camera does not provide phantom power, this might need to draw power from another source for use on the go.
The low noise circuitry is housed in a robust metal chassis that is ready to take a beating on set and in the studio. Rode has a reputation for quality, and they’re certainly upholding that here.
RODE NTG4 Key Features:
- PAD (-10db)
- Max SPL: 135db
- 0.50″ diaphragm
- High Frequency Boost
- Condenser Microphone
- High-Pass Filter (Flat/75Hz)
- Frequency response: 20 – 20k Hz
Best Budget: Audio Technica AT875R
If there is one thing to be said about many camera mount mics, especially those that work to a professional standard of audio quality, it is that many are often too big for any users that may be out in the field with smaller, handheld cameras.
The AT875R is just under 7 inches in length, which means that this condenser is smaller and more compact than many others on the list… making it the best option for anyone in need of a mic to go great with their small camera rig.
Audio Technica are offering a simple, but effective mic here for a great price. Not only does this mic sound great, but the price is great too.
I can’t think of a better way to spend this kind of money if I were looking for a high performance mic on a modest budget.
The compact design of this mic not only makes it a breeze to get around with, but it also provides smooth on-axis audio capture and excellent rejection to anything off-axis.
For filmmakers on the go, whatever you point this at will be captured cleanly and accurately.
AT875R Key Features:
- 127dB max SPL
- Polarized condenser microphone
- 90hz-20kHz frequency response
- smooth on-axis recording quality
- under 7 inches – perfect for small cameras
- designed to reduce camera and handling noise
Best Bundle: Electro-Voice ND96 Dynamic Supercardioid Vocal Microphone Microphone Essentials Accessories Kit
Everyone loves a bundle, and the good folks over at EV have provided this EV vocal bundle that is ideal for anyone just getting started. If you need a microphone for live vocal use and all the accessories to go with it, look no further.
Along with the fantastic ND96 microphone, you also get a mic stand and an XLR cable. Products like this are great, it sets you up with all the gear you need right out of the box.
The ND96 has a large-diaphram for capturing detail, and a frequency response covering 140Hz up to 15kHz. Wait a minute, I hear you say, that’s not anywhere near as wide as the frequency response of some of the other mics here.
You’re correct, but don’t let that put you off. Imagine the ND96 as a live vocal mic. The somewhat limited frequency response is not as limited as you may imagine. For live vocals, this microphone is a great option.
The 15kHz ceiling makes for great rejection of unwanted top end from the cymbals on stage, but it still covers a high enough range to deliver a great sound on any vocal tone.
The reduction of those high frequencies will actually help a vocal sound richer and clearer on a loud stage, because there will be unwanted bleed at the top end of the frequency spectrum.
Coupled with the built in humbucking coil, this mic, and it’s price range, makes it a very desirable option.
ND96 Key Features:
- Dynamic mic
- With mic stand
- dent resistant grille
- vocal presence emphasis switch
- 140Hz – 15kHz frequency response
- humbucking coil prevents hum and noise
- Value bundle for live microphone singing
- high quality XLR male and female connectors
Other Supercardioid Mics We Checked Out
Five choices, no matter how quality they are, sometimes just aren’t enough! Here are some other great choices that just didn’t make our list, but that we think are quality contenders nonetheless!
With a max SPL coming in at a staggering 139dB, the E614 is a microphone that can handle a lot of sound and still come out swinging.
Sennheiser themselves state on their website that this microphone is designed for demanding instrument recordings and performances, noting specifically high SPL handling, extended frequency ranges, and transient response. This is one fast responding, fantastic sounding mic.
You get to cover frequencies as low as an earth rumbling 40Hz with this mic, which is way beyond what most mics in this price range can pick up clearly. The mic also does not add a great deal of color to any situation, as it tends to record fairly naturally.
This mic is best if the source you are recording is already sounding good. This certainly puts more emphasis on the importance of good mic technique, and not relying on fixing it later on.
Sennheiser E614 Key Features:
- Max SPL: 139db
- Electret Condenser Mic
- Sensitivity: 3 mV/Pa at 1 kHz
- Includes pouch and mic clamp
- Frequency Response: 40 – 20k Hz
Like most other condenser microphones in this list, the MKH 8060 is also built into a robust metal casing, which is streamlined for camera mounting, but it’s also weatherproof.
This is great news for amateur and professional filmmakers who like to get out in the open. The weatherproofing gives your gear its best shot at staying safe and dry.
This compact shotgun mic has a supercardioid polar pattern, which delivers a very natural sound with low self-noise and low distortion.
Even the coating on this mic is clever.
It’s coated in a material called Nextel, which is a non-reflective coating. You wouldn’t think that would be a big deal, but even the microphone rejects sound reflections. That will surely make things a little clearer in the heat of the moment.
One feature of the MKH 8060 that really blew me away was the way that it naturally attenuates the frequencies from off-axis sound sources. There is no hard rejection here.
It attenuates the signals so that you still get a very directional sound, but without a hard edge to it.
MKH 8060 Key Features:
- Max SPL: 129db
- Condenser Microphone
- Self Noise: 11db (A weighted)
- Frequency Response: 50 – 25k Hz
- Sensitivity: −24 dBV/Pa (63 mV/Pa)
The Shure Beta 87A is a handheld microphone running a supercardioid polar pattern, making it a very good choice for live vocals and general on stage use. This style of polar pattern is more directional than a cardioid polar pattern… which, for live vocals, really helps clean up the audio and reduce spill.
The Shure Beta 87A has a built-in pop filter to reduce wind and breath noises, but this also protects you from any vocal pops.
Shure very cleverly built the Shure Beta 87a with an electronic low-frequency roll off, which will help compensate for the proximity effect. This is especially useful if the mic is being used to mic up an amplifier.
The proximity effect is when the perception of the low end of a sound source is increased as the microphone is placed closer to the source.
This isn’t always a bad thing, but if you are putting a mic on an audio source that already has a lot of low end, the proximity effect can make the low end overbearing and reduce the audio clarity.
Shure BETA 87A Key Features:
- Condenser vocal mic
- Built in pop filter reduces undesirable wind and breath sounds
- Wide dynamic range (117 dB) and low distortion characteristics
The e945 is a reliable, rugged, gig-ready machine.
Although it takes the form of a standard dynamic microphone, it projects a supercardioid polar pattern… which provides fantastic sound quality, crisp clear audio, and excellent isolation from other on stage sound sources.
With a 40Hz-18kHz frequency response, there isn’t much this mic won’t easily pick up, even on the noisiest stage. It will deliver clear audio while also rejecting anything that you don’t want it to pick up.
For live vocals, or even as a microphone for recording, this is a serious contender for anyone that might want a pro option that can wear a few hats.
Sennheiser E945 Key Features:
- Dynamic mic
- Frequency Response: 40 – 18000 Hz
- Professional Vocal Applications: Lead Vocals, Live Stage, Presentations, Sound & Recording
When it comes to affordable live vocal mics, many will get held up against the industry standard, the faithful Shure SM58 or the Shure Beta 87a.
Sure, these industry standard live vocal mics have set the bar very high, but that doesn’t mean we should overlook anything else.
The PVM50 offers optimum performance and a smooth response, with a tight directional pickup pattern. According to the Peavey website, this mic is perfect for live vocal reinforcement, and also for eliminating sound bleed.
It has a frequency range of 50Hz to 16kHz, so it should allow you to find your perfect sound without any unwanted top end harshness creeping into your mix.
There aren’t many products that fit into this sort of price range that can provide professional sound, a robust feel, and ease of use without some sort of compromise. I’m not finding much of a compromise here.
This mic is easy to use, and it works. It’s a great piece of gear for the stage or the studio… and while the price might say entry level, the performance says professional.
Try it against the Shure Beta 87a, I think you’ll be surprised just how well it stands up.
Peavey PVM Key Features:
- Dynamic mic
- Neodynium magnet capsule
- Mic clip and hardshell case included
- Frequency response: 50 Hz to 16 kHz
The feature that really makes this standout for me as a live vocal mic is the lockable on/off switch. How many singers amongst you have accidentally switched a mic off while jumping around the stage?
For the live sound engineers reading this, how many times have you had a singer totally vanish from the mix, only for you to discover that a simple switch was accidentally switched off.
You can say goodbye to this issue.
The super-cardioid pickup pattern of the M2 rejects feedback, so even on the loudest stage, the most active front-person would have a tough time getting this mic to feedback.
Alongside the great feature set on offer here, you also get a microphone that sounds professional. And while this is certainly a mic that specializes in live vocals, I would have no hesitation in taking it into a studio environment to use for recording.
The sky-high SPL handling of 141dB means you could throw this in front of a guitar amp or a drum kit, and use it as an instrument mic for loud recording sessions.
This would also make the mic best for live sound, and would really help keep the clipping risk down on loud instrument sources on stage.
Rode M2 Key Features:
- Lockable on/off switch
- Live condenser vocal mic
- Frequency Range: 35Hz – 20kHz
- Equivalent Noise Level (A-weighted): 23dB-A
- Maximum SPL: 141dB SPL (@ 1kHz, 1% THD into 1KΩ load)
It’s low noise, transformerless for portability, and has a built in pop filter that does not alter the natural tone of your voice in any way.
This particular bundle also comes with a great mic stand and an XLR cable, so it’s ready to go!
The KMS 105 was developed with the human voice in mind. Neumanns development built this around the demanding conditions of a live show, with the aim of a microphone that could deliver crisp sounding vocals whatever the on stage wall of sound may throw at it.
Neumann KMS 105 Key Features:
- With XLR
- K 105 Capsule
- Condenser mic
- Built in pop filter
- comes with an additional Kopul Premium Performance 3000 Series XLR M to XLR F Microphone Cable (10′)
The sensitive membrane that covers the capsule is excellent at reproducing even the smallest of vocal nuances, and delivering a true sound recording.
The on/off switch on the side of the microphone is totally silent, so even if the mic is being turned on and off during a live performance (Perhaps by a vocalist who is moving around a little while using it) there will be no pops or clicks through the front of house system.
The e865 is excellent at rejecting feedback and noise, and will always deliver a clean sounding audio for recording in the studio or use on stage.
Sennheiser E865 Key Features:
- 150dB Max SPL
- Silent on/off switch
- Sensitivity: 3 mV/Pa
- designed for speech and vocals
- Studio sound for live performance
- Frequency response 40 –20000 Hz
- Includes mic clip and storage pouch
Firstly, the e485-s is lower priced, the 485 is a dynamic capsule and the 865 is a condenser style mic. A cardioid dynamic vocal microphone is the industry standard for live vocals, but these offerings from Sennheiser offer extra directional pick up and great noise and feedback rejection.
The e485 works on a slightly reduced frequency response, peaking at 16kHz, but this should not be a problem for anyone using this in a live vocal situation.
You may find that it has less presence overall when compared to it’s bigger brother, but that does not diminish the sound of this mic.
Sennheiser E845-S Key Features:
- Dynamic mic
- Silent on/off switch
- Impedance 350 Ohms
- Hum compensating coil
- Excellent feedback rejection
The E609 is a mic that gives you back some of the space that traditional mic setups would take away. This is an excellent way to save some stage space.
This laterally designed mic does not require a mic clip, and it can be hung directly over the top of a speaker cabinet. You can stand-mount this if you see fit, but in situations where you need to save some space, this mic has your back.
You get a 3-6000Hz midrange peak that lends itself really well to being a guitar amplifier microphone. This mic will make your amp’s true character shine through, with close to zero compromise.
The hum reducing coil prevents any unwanted interference from getting picked up. We’ve all seen it before, when working on small stages there is a wide scope for each piece of gear to interfere with the gear around it.
Also, can you fault the price? For a high performance instrument mic that is professional in both sound and function, I really don’t think you can.
Sennheiser E609 Key Features:
- Dynamic mic
- Frequency Response: 40 to 18000 Hz
- Min. terminating impedance: 1000 Ohm
- Sensitivity in free field, no load (1kHz): 1,5 mV/Pa
- 3-6,000 Hz midrange peak captures instrument’s true sonic character
The RE520 is a condenser supercardioid housed in a handheld mic body.
This mic delivers vivid sound with fantastic attention to detail. The highs are crisp and the lows are warm and rounded.
The mic has a range of 40Hz up to 20kHz, but with a roll off at 150Hz to prevent any unwanted boomy low end or proximity-based bass issues. The roll off is activated by the high pass switch located under the mic grille.
There is a flat option that unlocks the full range of the mic and the high-pass position that gives you attenuation on anything below 150Hz.
The mic rejects feedback from stage monitors and other speakers when they are positioned off-axis to the microphone. Its supercardioid nature rejects unwanted noise and provides clear directional pickup.
RE520 Key Features:
- Condenser mic
- 150Hz bass roll-off
- Switchable high pass filter
- (40Hz–20kHz) frequency response
- vivid 3D sound and feedback-fighting polar pattern
The SPL handling is very high on this microphone, which means on a loud stage it will still sound clean and distortion free. But the tight polar pattern of the mic will provide fantastic rejection of any unwanted noise.
The transient response of the VX5 is very fast and punchy. It could easily be used to mic up drums, even though that is not the intended purpose. And in such a case, it would still perform to a studio standard.
The built-in pop filter will prevent unwanted wind noises. You also have two small switches on the mic, one to activate the -10dB pad, and the other to switch between flat response or high-passing at 150Hz.
If you do work in a home studio or a professional studio, this mic is a great recording mic.
Audix says that it is ideally suited to record acoustic instruments such as guitar, woodwinds, brass, percussion, drum overheads, pianos and more. They aren’t wrong.
Audix VX5 Key Features:
- Condenser mic
- Maximum SPL: >140 dB
- Frequency Response: 40 Hz – 16.5 kHz
- Switches for -10 dB pad and bass roll-off
- Handles acoustic music as well as loud stages
After all, we often separate our desires for stage mics versus studio mics. Can the S1 Pro bring that studio quality to the stage? You bet it can.
This supercardioid condenser provides feedback free, studio grade audio if you’re performing to 10 or 10,000 people. It looks sturdy in its satin-nickel finish, and the capsule is surrounded by a built in pop filter to protect against those plosive words in the heat of the moment.
If you need a mic to take the heat of a long tour but, help you sound on top of your game every single night, the S1 Pro is worth your time.
It’s also available in black, and has a max SPL of 151dB. I can’t think of a single scenario where you’d be likely to sing near 151dB of anything! Your ears would not like that!
The range of the mic extends down to an earth rumbling 20Hz and all the way up to 20kHz. In the studio or on stage, this mic will capture every single detail good or bad.
Rode S1 Pro Key Features:
- 151dB SPL
- Condenser mic
- 20Hz – 20kHz Frequency Response
- electronically balanced to reduce loss over long cable runs
- 5-piece mesh head provides filtering of breath, wind, and plosive noises while not interfering with the REoeDE S1’s sensitivity or frequency response.
Could I Use A Supercardioid For Live Performances?
Being on a stage can be a volatile environment for a microphone.
You’ve got sound and high SPL’s coming at you from every angle conceivable.
The capsules are feeling the full wrath of the band, and occasionally you’ll have the sound guy pulling his hair out over the excessive drum bleed in the vocal mics. We’ve all been there haven’t we?
Supercardioid mics can be a real game changer in this world. Imagine a singing microphone that rejected the side noises from the wall of guitars. Or a guitar amplifier microphone that didn’t pick up the drums from the side.
These stationary sources can be made to sound cleaner and tighter through the front of house system by reducing the ambient bleed that you get from a typical condenser or dynamic microphone.
If you want a microphone for live vocals that captures the vocal performance put in front of it without the rest of the stage bleed, you’re going to need one of these.
After all, we all want to sound professional when we’re on that stage. We want to sound like professionals, and we want to look like we’re comfortable in our performance.
We all know the industry standard live vocal mic is the Shure SM58, and you don’t have to try very hard to find a live band or professional sound guy that doesn’t lean on a Shure SM58 for live use.
They’ve carved out quite a reputation for being rock solid workhorse microphones that sound great. They might not sound the best, but they certainly sound clear enough for even the most chaotic live show.
There are a few challengers to this title, inducing the Shure Beta 87a… which is their answer to a supercardioid dynamic microphone.
What Type Of Supercardioid Is Best For My Project?
Many of the supercarioids mentioned in this article are designed to be used for capturing sound at a distance, but there are also a few included that are intended for closer use… such as live vocal mics or for voice overwork.
A lot of these microphones have very dynamic frequency ranges, some extending very low on the frequency spectrum. When choosing a mic, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of the proximity effect.
The proximity effect happens when a sound source gets closer to the mic. This increases the perception of the low end of the audio source.
Think of a time you might have seen someone make a speech. If they held the mic right up to their mouth, their vocal may have suddenly sounded very muddy.
The same is true when placing a mic on an instrument source, especially something that produces low end frequencies… such as a drum or an amplifier speaker.
The proximity effect can be used to make things sound bigger, warmer, and fatter. But on the other side of the coin, it can be a source of frustration and cause problems like unwanted muddiness in your audio.
Due to the directional qualities of a good supercardioid microphone, the proximity effect is somewhat caged.
Figure 8 style mics tend to produce this effect more commonly. Something like a cardioid dynamic vocal microphone might produce this effect on a vocalist who is very close to the mic. The cardioid polar pattern would tend to produce a certain level of side capture… while a supercardioid would reduce it.
Hopefully, this post has given you everything you need to find the best supercardioid microphone for you.
But at the end of the day, the most important part of this process is to make your buying decision, and then get back to doing what you do best… creating.
Good luck! Drop a comment and let us know what you think of these options.
But most of all… keep creating and pursuing your passion!
That’s what it’s all about!