Our Guide to PolarDesigner by Austrian Audio
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Our Guide to PolarDesigner by Austrian Audio

Selecting the right polar pattern for the right source is an important task that can make or break a recording session - after all, you only get one chance to pick the right pattern, right?! Well, not any more!

Whilst PolarPilot is an app that controls the Austrian Audio OC818 during the recording process, Austrian Audio’s PolarDesigner is an AU/VST3/AAX plug-in that sits in your DAW and enables you to customise polar patterns after the recording… here’s how it works.

How It Works

By recording both the front and rear diaphragms in raw form into a stereo track inside your DAW, the PolarDesigner plug-in can retrospectively process and combine the two signals to a mono output using a variety of polar pattern shaping tools. It works in the same way the polar pattern would be controlled on the mic itself, but by capturing the raw source audio from both capsules at the time of recording its now possible to choose and customise a polar pattern after the recording using the PolarDesigner plug-in.

Optimum Recording Settings

OC818 itself needs to be set to its dual-cardioid mode during recording to allow the rear capsule to be sent to the mini-xlr adapter on the rear of the microphone. It's best to set the preamp gain for both the front and rear capsules identically (and preferably using the same preamp design) for PolarDesigner to perform at its best. The actual procedure is to set the front capsule's gain as normal, then simply match that gain figure (+40db or whatever it is) to the mic-pre on the rear capsule. The output of the mic-pre from the rear capsule will be lower, but those settings will deliver the best results.

Adjust Polar Patterns

Once inserted across both of the diaphragm’s outputs, the PolarDesigner plug-in can augment the resulting polar pattern from a hyper cardioid all the way to a figure of 8 directly in your DAW and without the fear of asking yourself “did I really use the best pattern during the tracking phase?”. 

PolarDesigner can also be used to blend between the front and rear capsules of OC818 to help focus-in on direct signals or ‘zoom out’ to hear more ambient signal. Because PolarDesigner is a plug in, you can even automate that blend to change during the track to open up to an omni during a chorus and narrow to a cardioid during the verse for extra ambient control.

Frequency Dependent Polar Patterns

PolarDesigner has another unique trick up its sleeve. By dividing the audible frequency range to 5 ‘bands’, PolarDesigner can assign any of the available polar patterns to each of the bands for even more advanced pattern adjustment.

Using this feature, you can set a Hyper-Cardioid pattern for the low frequencies and then open up the patterns towards omni for the higher frequencies to achieve an airy, high-end quality with a tight and focused low-end. 

Imagine rejecting the high-frequency cymbal bleed in a kick drum outer microphone with a rear-facing, cardioid pattern whilst capturing the low-end body of the kick drum using an omni pattern for the frequencies between 50-180Hz. Revolutionary!

Each of the 5 frequency bands can be solo’d/muted, the crossover point for each band can be moved to the sweet spot, and the gain for each of those ‘bands’ can be adjusted to completely tune your mic’d source to get the best possible result directly at source. And before your compression and EQ processors.

It’s worth noting that PolarDesigner is not destructively changing a setting or configuration within the audio file, it is purely altering the relative levels between the front and rear capsules between a range of frequencies to achieve the desired polar pattern(s). 

Remove Spill with The Terminator

Using the technology inside the plug-in alongside some clever analysis, PolarDesigner can be used to ‘Terminate Spill’ from other sources into the microphone. This can be used when you are recording a Floor Tom microphone using OC818. Simply solo a section of spill (when the Tom isn’t being hit), engage the ‘Terminate Spill’ function in PolarDesigner, and now the plug-in analyses the audio and uses an assortment of different polar patterns at different frequencies to minimise the spill and focus-in on the instrument that you want to exaggerate. The 'Maximise' target function works in the opposite way-by exaggerating the frequency range you have solo’d and reducing the spill in other direction.

Works with any dual-output microphone

Although it has been designed to work seamlessly with OC818, the PolarDesigner plug-in works with any stereo audio file recorded with any dual output microphone or stereo/dual-cardioid set!  It’s free to download from the Austrian Audio website and is compatible with any major DAW that supports AU/VST3/AAX. Best of all, it’s available now! 

Watch the introductory video on PolarDesigner from Austrian Audio here:

Further reading

If you like the sound of adjusting polar patterns remotely but prefer to be a bit more committal at the tracking phase, then check out the OCR8 remote and Polar Pilot app available for OC818’s users with Android and iOS devices!

Read our guide to the PolarPilot App here

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This new blog is presented by the team at Sound Technology Ltd, a leading distributor of musical instruments and pro audio equipment in the UK and ROI.