Variable polar patterns can actually be good for several things. Before we go into them, we should probably briefly discuss what the main polar patterns are. The three “main” polar patterns are cardioid (or unidirectional), figure-eight (or bidirectional), and omnidirectional.
In a nutshell a cardioid microphone picks up sound from the “front” only. A figure-eight microphone picks up sound from the front and rear of the microphone.
An omnidirectional microphone picks up sound from all around. There are also a few polar patterns that fall between cardioid and figure eight that are supercardioid and hypercardioid. The supercardoid pattern has more side rejection than cardioid…in other words, it’s even more directional…but there’s a little more pickup from the rear. [read]