Chapter 2 Notes

1.  Microphone Directionality:

Omnidirectional microphones collect sound from all around – a 360 degree area.

Unidirectional microphones pick up sound from the top of the microphone/one direction, very little from the sides, and almost none from the back.  The pickup pattern of this microphone looks like an upside down heart.

2.  Microphone Elements:  

      Dynamic element – These microphones consist of a diaphragm and small, moving wire coil. Found in inexpensive microphones.  They are durable and have average to good sound quality.  

Condenser element microphones require a power source either from batteries or phantom power from an audio mixer.  They contain two thin magnetized plates that vibrate when sound waves travel through it. They provide better sound quality than dynamic microphones.   Favorites of singers and instrumentalists.

Microphone Impedance:

Impedance relates to the amount of resistance to a microphone’s signal. Microphones are rated as either high or low impedance. High impedance microphones can only be used with high impedance equipment, low impedance with low impedance equipment. 

Low impedance microphones are used with professional cameras and generally use an XLR connector.  An XLR microphone connector has 3-prongs. 

High impedance microphones are used in portable systems or with consumer-grade camcorders.  

Frequency Response:  

Frequency response is the range of sounds (in hertz) from low to high that the

Microphone can hear. Human hearing is 20-20000 hertz. The greater the range, the better the microphone. 

5. Types of Microphones:

Handheld, Lavaliere, Surface Mount Microphone, Pressure Zone Microphone, Shotgun Microphone, Wireless Microphone System

Lavaliere microphones are usually omnidirectional and usually have a condenser element.  Three advantages to using  a lavaliere microphone include:

small size, less noticeable

talent is free to use hands 

requires no skill from the user

A shotgun microphone is very unidirectional.  It collects sound from a very narrow area in front of the microphone and none from the sides or back. 

A hand-held microphone should be held four to six inches from the sound source.

A surface mount microphone is designed to be placed on a flat surface.

A wireless microphone replaces cords and cables with a radio transmitter and receiver.

A windscreen is a piece of foam that fits over a microphone to cut down on wind noise and can also be used when a talent has an expressive voice that over emphasizes the letters b, d, p, and t.  

A microphone’s performance can be described four ways – 

Directionality – the area from which the microphone collects sound

Element – the way the microphone converts sound waves into electrical signals

Impedance – the amount of resistance to signal and must be matched with the recording equipment (high or low impedance)

Frequency Response – the range of sounds (low to high) that the microphone can hear. The greater the range, the better the microphone.

Microphone tips:

know your microphones

use headphones

handle carefully

test by speaking not tapping

carefully connect to camcorder

use a windscreen outdoors

use proper talent to mic distance

mic source not area



Nat Sound - Natural sound a microphone picks up in the room, or the background noise. 


B-roll - Video shots that enhance or tell the story.


Package  -  A prerecorded piece that includes narration or voice over, interviews, and natural sound.  A  package is also referred to as a story. 


SOT  - Sound on Tape / the sound that is on the tape  whether its an interview, a VO or nat sound


Slate - The information shown at the beginning of a video identifying the video's title, length/total running time and those who appear in the piece.  


Soundbite - A soundbite is an interview or sound from a source other than the narration or voice over.  


Supers - Text messages that flash across the screen to support key voice-over points.  (May identify the location of where a video was shot or the name of the person being interviewed.)


TRT - Total Running Time means the length of the edited package.


Titles - Identification of all people featured in a packaged story.


VO - The reporter's voice narrating the story