In the past few years, distributed acoustic sensing has gained great interest in geophysics. This acquisition technology offers immense improvement in terms of efficiency when compared with current geophysical acquisition methods. However, the fundamentals of the measurement are still not fully understood because direct comparisons of fibre data with conventional geophysical sensors are difficult during field tests. We present downscaled laboratory experiments that enabled us to characterise the relationship between the signals recorded by conventional seismic point receivers and by distributed fibre optic sensors. Interrogation of the distributed optical fibre sensor was performed with a Michelson interferometer because this system is suited to compact test configurations, and it requires only a very simple data processing workflow for extracting the signal outputs. We show acoustic data that were recorded simultaneously by both the fibre optical interferometer and conventional three‐component accelerometers, thus enabling the comparison of sensor performance. We present results focused on the directionality of fibre measurements, on the amplitude variation with angle of incidence, and on the transfer function that allows accelerometer signals to be transformed into optical fibre signals. We conclude that the optical fibre response matches with the array of the displacement differences of the inline accelerometers deployed along the fibre length. Moreover, we also analysed the influence of various types of coupling and fibre cable coating on the signal responses, emphasising the importance of these parameters for field seismic acquisitions when using the distributed fibre optic technology.