Posted on 9/27/22 by Louise Principe
If you’re looking for a superior in-person focus group solution, one of the first things you should consider is the type of equipment utilized in the session. An HD camera is obvious, but what kind of microphone should you use?
With the abundance of microphones available in the market, choosing one that fits your focus group needs can get overwhelming. Ideally, we would suggest using an omnidirectional microphone to get the best audio quality for your study. But why is that?
In this article, we go in-depth into what an omnidirectional microphone is, how they work, and why you should use them for your in-facility focus groups.
What is an omnidirectional microphone?
The word ‘omnis’ means ‘all’ in Latin. Hence the term omnidirectional. As the name suggests, an omnidirectional microphone picks up sound equally from all directions.
It allows you to hear audio from 360° all around the microphone. For this reason, omnidirectional microphones prove very useful when listening to multiple sounds simultaneously, such as musical instruments or conversations.
How do they work?
The audio picked up by an omnidirectional microphone is comparable to what a typical human can hear. For example, whether a person speaks from the front, back, left, or right of the device, the microphone will still record every sound with equal gain.
Other microphone types gather sounds from focused directions. Thus, making polar patterns that have different shapes. A polar pattern illustrates how much sound a microphone picks up from different directions.
Mics can mainly be classified into three types of polar patterns: unidirectional (one direction), bidirectional (two directions), and omnidirectional (all directions).
Take a look at the illustration below to see the pick-up patterns for each type of microphone:
A unidirectional microphone only records sounds coming from the front of it. Moreover, they are less sensitive to sounds coming from the back or sides of the microphone. The signal pick-up pattern for this category is named “cardioid” due to its heart-shaped look. These mics are ideal for isolating sounds while also minimizing background noise.
These specialized mics gather audio simultaneously from two directions – from left and right or front and back. This is evidenced by this model's polar pattern, which looks like a figure-eight. Bidirectional mics are suitable for recording two people facing each other, enabling them to speak or sing directly into the mic from opposite sides.
Since omnidirectional mics collect signals equally from all directions, their polar pattern is perfectly circular. This model is often situated on a boom stand and held above the sound source. If you want to record a focus group interview, you would ideally use an omnidirectional microphone hanging down in the group's center.
Why should you use an omnidirectional microphone for focus groups?
Now that we’ve learned what an omnidirectional microphone is and how it functions, let’s dive into why you should use them for recording your focus group discussions.
- You only need one microphone
Even if you’re only using one omnidirectional mic for the session, it would be sufficient for the entire group. Because of its ability to detect and record multiple sounds simultaneously from its position, there is no need to give an individual mic to the moderator and participants.
- Immersive audio recording
Aside from picking up human speech, omnidirectional microphones can also pick up ambient sounds (e.g., crinkling paper, a chair moving) on the spot. This helps add a sense of aliveness to the recorded audio and makes your remote observers feel like they are in the same room as the focus group session.
- Could record a moving target
When a mic is attached to a person, it could sometimes make it harder for you to hear because of wind noise, handling noise, and plosive sounds such as “P”, “T”, and “B”. An omnidirectional mic helps reduce these unwanted sounds while clearly recording a person's voice, even if they are moving around the room.
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