Schoeps Brings Its ‘Open Cardioid’ to Town

By Dan Daley

Germany-based Schoeps raised some eyebrows late last year when it announced its MK 22 compact microphone, touting its “open cardioid” directional pattern. It generated some puzzled posts on Gearslutz.com and other audio forums. Schoeps brought the mic over for NAB 2009 for its first U.S. showing.

Here’s the scoop, according to Christian Langhan, Schoeps’s head of R&D. “The MK 22 was developed for use as a spot microphone. It unites the strengths of the MK 4 and MK 21 capsules. Its directionality is only slightly less than that of the MK 4 cardioid, while its sonic character is reminiscent of the MK 21 wide cardioid. Its directivity is essentially constant throughout the frequency range. Its inherent low-frequency response is somewhat more pronounced than that of the cardioid, while proximity effect is somewhat less.”

He describes the “open cardioid” directional pattern as “occupying a point on the spectrum between the wide cardioid and classic cardioid patterns.” Developed by Schoeps in 2008, it offers response of -5 dB at 90 degrees 16-dB suppression of rear-incident sound. “It is in essence,” he says, “a variant cardioid which balances a very natural sound quality with a good degree of directionality.”

Langhan points out that the MK 4 cardioid is often used as a reference microphone, even in difficult recording situations: “Its sonic transparency and suppression of rear-incident sound make it a universal problem-solver.” The MK 21 wide cardioid, he adds, is an alternative when its lower directivity fits the recording situation: for example, for the first desk of strings or for solo piano. This capsule type of microphone, he says, is “prized for its sonic character (similar to that of a pure omnidirectional microphone) and its relative lack of proximity effect.” A “middle way,” he says, combines these characteristics into a single capsule, the MK 22 open cardioid.