Whether it’s about recording a video for a YouTube channel, a short film, or a vlog, audio technologies are ruling almost every film-related field. And definitely, revolutionary technologies have made us live the characters through incredible audio quality in films and videos.
The best shotgun mic is among the most spectacular audio tech innovations when it comes to filmmaking and recording and if you too are into any of these fields, a shotgun mic will surely prove to be your best companion.
Didn’t hear shotgun mics before? Here is what shotgun mics are all about.
The Best Shotgun Mics – What They Are
Shotgun mics, as the name suggests, are the type of microphones that are capable of recording crisp audio, only from the direction they are facing. This property of the best shotgun microphones is extremely useful as it helps in cutting undesired background noise and get crystal clear audio of the speaker.
A shotgun mic’s tube is what makes it stand out among other mics. The tube is responsible for the shotgun mic’s audio beam recording pattern and thus, without this tube, the microphone would act like a normal cardioid microphone (which exhibits a heart-shaped recording pattern).
From Where Did These Microphones Get Their Name?
Shotgun microphones justify their name in every aspect as they resemble a shotgun. The reason behind this resemblance is the interference tube, which is responsible for detecting the on-axis audio and neglecting the undesired noises from behind and side of the camera. This automatically helps in enhancing the audio quality, recording only necessary audio, and simplifying audio editing.
Where All Would You See the Best Shotgun Mic
Shotgun microphones are a one-stop destination for filmmakers and YouTubers as audio influences the film to no extent. Here are the places where you’ll definitely find a shotgun mic.
- Audio dialogues in TV shows, YouTube videos, and films
- News coverage
- Public speaking shows
- Press conferences
- Recording spot effects, etc.
And the reason behind this is pretty simple – A SINGLE PRIMARY FOCUS ALONG WITH THE NARROW AUDIO PICKING PATTERN.
Best Shotgun Mic – Buying Guide
A shotgun microphone may be much more complicated than you think. These mics function on a standard recording pattern and the user needs to take care of several other aspects, including off-axis rejection, sensitivity, self-noise, and much more.
Thus, to help you choose the best shotgun microphone and use your microphone to its full potential, here is a comprehensive buyer’s guide. The guide also describes some of the key properties of a shotgun mic that a user must know.
How does microphone sensitivity affect your experience with a shotgun mic?
The sensitivity of a shotgun mic (or any mic) greatly influences the quality of output you’ll get as microphone sensitivity is nothing but the measure of output concerning a given input. In simpler terms, the higher the sensitivity of the microphone, the better (or louder) will be the output and thus, you can record low-frequency audio pieces clearly.
But that doesn’t lead us to the conclusion that shotgun mics with higher sensitivity are better than low sensitivity ones. To generalize things, you should use:
- High sensitivity microphones for quiet, ambient sounds
- Low-frequency microphones for loud and isolated sounds
Where can I use low sensitivity shotgun microphones?
Low sensitivity mics can be used at the following places:
- Sounds with high SPL i.e. vehicles, guns, etc.
- Live music concerts (high ambient noises)
- Bass and guitar amps, etc.
Where all can you use a high sensitivity shotgun microphone
Here are the tasks that can be performed with a high sensitivity mic
- Natural sounds
- Ambiances, etc.
And thus, the buyer must understand his/her objective for buying a shotgun mic to decide the level of sensitivity required for the work.
What do we mean by self-noise of a shotgun microphone?
Self-noise is that noise which a shotgun microphone produces when there’s no subject recorded (or there is no source of sound). Thus, a buyer must check the range of self-noise produced by the microphone before buying.
If you are recording loud sounds and the mic and the subject are very close to each other, you need a lower gain to overpower the self-noise of the noise. On contrary, if you’re recording low-frequency sounds, the higher gain will lead to increased self-noise.
How will off-axis rejection influence your overall experience with a shotgun mic?
If you’re using the best microphone, a crystal clear sound is all you’ll crave for and off-axis rejection will help you achieve this! The best shotgun mics for filmmaking are designed to reject the off-axis noises i.e. noises above 2 kHz.
Factors to look at before buying the best shotgun mic
Here are some significant factors that a buyer should look for to get the best shotgun mic for DSLR, filmmaking, or video recording.
- Length of the mic: The length of the shotgun describes its portability. For instance, if you’re planning to buy the best shotgun mic for DSLR, the mic shouldn’t be too long otherwise it will enter the frame. Besides, longer mics demand more space for storage, thus, putting traveling restrictions.
- Moisture resistance: considering moisture resistance before buying the best shotgun mic for outdoors as the humidity may kill your mic. Most shotgun mic manufacturers resort to a conformal coating on wirings to protect the mic from moisture.
- Compatibility: The shotgun mic you’re buying should be compatible with different accessories like shock mount, mic clip, etc, which depends on the diameter of the mic.
- Mics for smartphones: The best shotgun mics for iPhone are mini shotgun microphones, designed to be mounted on (or connected to) smartphones so that the user can record crisp audio pieces and videos on his/her phone only.
- Others: Other factors include off-axis rejection, level of self-noise, microphone sensitivity, etc.
Since we have noted some considerable properties of shotgun microphones, let’s head towards the best shotgun mics for streaming, filmmaking, and vlogging.
Best Shotgun Mic Reviews
In the previous sections, we could observe that shotgun microphones are much complicated than they seem. They exhibit a narrow, audio beam recording pattern and tend to reject off-axis noises to enhance the audio clarity. Besides, these microphones also vary in sensitivity, which determines the quality of output when the subject(s) exhibits abnormal frequency and loudness.
And undoubtedly, buying such a complicated product can be pretty confusing. The case can be even worse if you are going for the best budget shotgun mic for the first time. To help you out with this, here are some of the best shotgun mics for the outdoors that you can definitely go for.
Impressing the camera owners with its crispness, Rode VideoMic Pro+ is genuinely the best in class directional shotgun mic that you can spot in the market. The USB type, on-camera condenser mic will sit quietly on your DSLR but make a blast of vibrancy in the output.
- Rode’s 2-stage pass filter is known for sheer clarity as this filter master in eliminating the low-frequency noises (like traffic, crowd, etc.)
- The best shotgun mic for vlogging offers a 3-stage gain along with a +20dB function, which will improve the audio quality on your DSLR to no extent.
- Rode offers a safety channel to avoid signal clipping during unexpected spiking.
- The manufacturer embedded an auto turn-off system that turns off the microphone automatically when the user unplugs it from the camera, thus making it the best run-and-gun shooter.
- The battery-operated camera allows easy replacement of batteries through its built-in battery doors. These doors also promote the safety of the battery.
- Two power options to choose from – Rode LB-1 Lithium-ion battery or directly through USB.
- VideoMic Pro+ offers digital switching, which encourages better sound capture at the source.
If you ever feel spellbound by the output quality of any microphone, perhaps you’re listening to an audio piece from the Rode NTG condenser microphone! This microphone is not only visually spectacular but is also host to several insane features, making it the best shotgun mic for a film.
- Rode NTG is an exceptionally lightweight product offering sheer versatility with its applications in films, recordings, interviews, TV shows, voice-over, and much more.
- The best boom mic offers incredible audio transparency along with a great signal to noise ratio of 76 dB.
- The selectable high-pass filter is designed to prevent the recording of undesired noises like fans, crowd, etc.
- The product offers two power options to choose from – 1.5V AA battery or P48 phantom power supply, which makes it ideal for non-power supplying cameras like DSLR videos.
- Rode’s WSVM windshield is effective in minimizing wind noises and other low-frequency disturbances.
- Designed with Rode’s reliance in Australia along with a 10-year warranty.
Talking about top-notch shotgun mics and the name Sennheiser doesn’t pop up is near to impossible, isn’t it? The market leader has set several milestones in manufacturing the best shotgun mics for films, corporate events, and much more, and thus, going for this exceptional masterpiece will surely conquer all your audio-related expectations.
- Sennheiser MKH4 serves the buyers with an incredible performance with its pressure gradient microphone along with a short interference tube.
- The RF condenser design of the microphone makes it tough enough to battle humidity and moisture.
- The best shotgun mic for interviews and films is designed to offer negligible self-noise, high directivity, great feedback rejection, and much more so that the user can shoot in noisy outdoor conditions and great an incredible output with minimal post-production editing.
- The product is extremely durable and can easily endure tough climatic conditions.
- Sennheiser never compromises with the appearance and this time too, the matte black mic looks absolutely stunning.
- The shotgun mic exhibits a super-cardioid pickup pattern at mid-range frequencies, while lobar at high frequencies.
Here’s another aristocratic product from the audio market leader, Sennheiser, but this time the product is loaded with some incredible features. Sennheiser Pro Audio unidirectional shotgun mic is designed to be the best shotgun mic for interviews, shows, and events, and here are the reasons.
- Sennheiser understands the interplay of audio and video and has designed the best boom mic with the clearest audio output.
- Talking about the filter, its low-cut design is known for cutting wind-noises effortlessly for a rich output.
- The user can choose between power options for using the mic – phantom power supply or battery.
- You need not worry about the mic going off between the recordings as the mic comes with a low battery indicator. Besides, the battery offers a reserve of 8 hours and can be switched off easily when not in use.
- The product is ideal for outdoor as well as indoor shoots (if your studio lacks acoustics).
Coming to the best budget shotgun mic, Rode NTG4 won’t disappoint you in any audio, connectivity, or appearance-related aspects. The lavish audio quality of this cheap boom mic has the potential to enliven a dampened video and thus, investing in this product may prove to be a fruitful investment.
- Build with the DNA of the award-winning NTG1 mic, Rode’s NTG4 offers premium audio quality and a dramatic number of applications.
- The convenient digital switching allows the user to control the high-frequency boost, high-pass filter, and pad. Also, the mic retains all the settings even if you turn it off.
- The NTG4 range of mics by Rode is loaded with lavish audio features like low noise floor, smooth character, and higher sensitivity for capturing the richest sound.
- The manufacturer offers 10 years warranty after the registration of your mic.
- Rode has also emphasized durability through a sturdy metal body.
- The best budget shotgun mic also exhibits very low self-noise for unparalleled audio quality.
- The super-cardioid pickup pattern along with an exceptional off-axis rejection will surely leave you mesmerized with the final output.
Audio Technica AT875R is a one-stop destination for those who are searching for a cheap shotgun mic with uncompromised audio quality. This shotgun mic stands among the best-selling microphones under the best budget shotgun mics and we don’t see this lunacy for Audio Technica mics vanishing this year.
- The most prominent reason behind the popularity of this microphone is its short length (near to 7 inches), which prevents it from entering the frame, thus making it one of the best DSLR mics.
- The gradient shotgun condenser mic is designed especially for broadcasting and video production and there would be nothing incorrect to call it the best shotgun mic for vlogging and filmmaking.
- Audio Technica AT875R exhibits a narrow acceptance range along with an incredible off-axis rejection, which makes it capable of capturing sounds from long-distance subjects.
- The elite audio technology offers very low self and handling noise.
- The product is ideal for compact cameras.
Shure VP83 LensHopper is yet another best shotgun mic for DSLR and HD camcorders. The mic has compelled an appreciable number of buyers with its sharp audio quality and impressive features. The mic is extremely compact and easy to mount on any DSLR and thus, all you need is to relax and record.
- Shure promises the most detailed audio for professional results.
- The directional, super-cardioid pickup pattern can reject off-axis noises like a doddle and capture every detail from the subject.
- Shure made its mic immune to RF devices so that the user need not worry about capturing undesired noises.
- The mic allows the user to work without any worries of batteries draining while recording as the AA alkaline battery provides 130 hours of battery life.
- The Rycote Lyre shock mounting system is designed to reduce vibrations and self-noise from the mic.
- The microphone comes with a 3.5mm audio connector for connecting with the DSLR or HD camcorder.
- Shure offers outstanding durability with its all-metal shotgun mic.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. Are shotguns mics good?
Ans1. Shotgun mics are among the most incredible types of mics as they have the ability to capture the on-axis sounds with the utmost clarity and reduce unwanted disturbances. They are generally used in filmmaking, vlogging, broadcasting, news reporting, interviews, and many more places, which is a clear testimony to their popularity.
Besides, they can be easily mounted to a camera and will record the sound from the direction in which they are placed. You may also find the best shotgun mics for iPhone that can be used with smartphones.
Q2. What is the range of shotgun mics?
Ans2. Shotguns microphones offer a range of a minimum of 4′. This range is also influenced by the quality of the microphone you’re using as premium microphones offer a much better range than budget mics.
Q3. Why is it called a shotgun mic?
Ans3. Shotgun microphones got their name from the long tube attached to the front of these microphones (known as interference tube) and this tube makes them resemble a shotgun. Interference tubes play a significant role in giving a crisp sound as they reject the sounds coming from more than 30 degrees and capturing sound from the subject only.
Q4. What is a shotgun mic?
Ans4. A shotgun microphone is a type of microphone with a directional pickup pattern. These mics record audio-only from the direction in which they are placed. In other words, they are capable of avoiding sounds from behind and side of the camera, giving out clear audio from the subject.
Shotgun microphones have a long, protruding tube (known as interference tube) for directional recording. These are usually mounted on cameras and used in recording audio in videos, films, TV shows, news reporting, etc.
Q5. When do you use a shotgun mic?
Ans5. Shotgun microphones are generally used when the user wants a directional pickup pattern i.e. recording audio from sources in a single direction. They can be used in recording sound in TV shows, films, interviews, conferences, etc.
Q6. How do you record with a shotgun mic?
Ans6. Recording with a shotgun microphone is pretty simple once you set it up. You can use it by mounting it on your DSLR and facing it towards the subject. Another way of using it is holding it and placing it towards the subject.
This is how they are used in interviews, conferences, films, etc. The cameraman just points the microphone towards the subject (s) and the mic automatically recognizes the on-axis audio.
Q7. What is the pickup pattern of a shotgun mic?
Ans7. Shotgun microphones exhibit extremely directional pickup patterns. This means that these microphones will record audio, only from the direction in which they are placed (on-axis sounds). The property of off-axis rejection of sounds enables these mics to avoid sounds from behind and side of the camera and giving out an extremely clear sound.
Q8. What does a shotgun mic look like?
Ans8. a shotgun mic justifies its name completely as it actually resembles a shotgun. It has an interference tube that is attached to the microphone, which makes it look like a shotgun. This tube eliminates off-axis noises for giving out clear and crisp audio quality. In addition to this, you can mount several accessories like microphone isolation on this microphone to make it more useful and increase its compatibility with other devices.