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Auctioneers frequently use some sort of sound (voice) amplification equipment.

In fact, we’ve recommended that every auctioneer always use a sound system when bid calling.

Auctioneers generally use either a headset-type microphone or a handheld-type microphone.

We’ve previous written about sounds systems here:

Today, we explore a bit more about handheld microphones and the issue of “directionality” or otherwise known as “polar pattern.”

Directionality or polar pattern is the amount of sensitivity a handheld microphone is at different points around its center.

Two other terms are used when describing handheld microphones: omnidirectional and unidirectional. Omnidirectional suggests the sensitivity is uniform around the center axis of the microphone, where unidirectional suggests the sensitivity is pointed a certain direction.

Handheld microphones have basically one of four types of directionality.

1. A pure omnidirectional microphone’s directionality is depicted by a circle, but meant as a sphere.

Response to audio sound waves is uniform all around the center of the microphone, although the handle of the microphone impedes response to some extent.

Omnidirectional microphones are not recommended for auctioneers.

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2. A unidirectional cardioid microphone’s directionality is depicted by this graphic, but meant as a three-dimensional figure.

Response to audio sound waves is more tilted towards the top and sides of the microphone, rejecting sound waves from the rear — generally recommended for speech or voice reproduction.

Unidirectional cardioid microphones are recommended for auctioneers.

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3. A unidirectional shotgun microphone’s directionality is the most narrow, as depicted by this graphic, and meant as a three-dimensional figure.

Response to audio sound waves is narrowed towards the very top of the microphone, largely rejecting sound waves from the sides and rear.

Unidirectional shotgun microphones are not recommended for auctioneers.

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4. A unidirectional figure-8 (sometimes called bi-directional) microphone’s directionality is pointed back-to-back, and meant as a three-dimensional figure.

Response to audio sound waves is narrowed to either the top or bottom of the microphone, largely rejecting sound waves from the sides.

Unidirectional figure-8 microphones are not recommended for auctioneers.

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As we’ve noted, the unidirectional cardioid microphones are the directionality style recommended for auctioneers. All the others either allow too much extraneous noise, or restrict the auctioneer’s voice too much.

The good news for auctioneers is that the unidirectional cardioid microphone is the most common and popular type of handheld microphone. Yet, when ordering or using a handheld microphone, auctioneers should still ensure it is a cardioid style.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. His Facebook page is: www.facebook.com/mbauctioneer. He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Columbus State Community College and is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.