The shotgun mic is a film/TV industry staple for capturing extremely directional audio with little ambient noise. We’ll cover a few of the top shotgun microphones around if you’re looking to pick one up for your personal collection.
What Is a Shotgun Microphone?
A shotgun mic looks like a long tube, usually somewhere between eight and up to 24 inches long. Their main characteristic is their super tight directional pickup.
The tube on a shotgun mic actually serves a unique purpose. Sounds coming in from the front of the microphone are in phase by the time the diaphragm captures them. Sounds coming from the sides and back of the mic/tube end up phase reversed and cancelled out, so there’s little to no pickup from those areas. As the tube get longer, the mic gets more and more directional.
When Would You Opt to Use a Shotgun Mic?
Traditionally, shotgun microphones have been used to capture on-set audio in the film and television industry. Their hyper directionality means you can capture audio from far away without introducing a ton of background noise. If you’ve ever seen a boom op wielding a long microphone on a pole, they were using a shotgun mic. The sensitivity and directionality lets you lift the mic well out of the camera’s view while still being able to capture high-def sound with minimal ambient interference.
Shotgun mics tend to serve a specific purpose, but you can make use of them outside of professional sound stages. For example, you could set up a shotgun mic to record audio for YouTube videos. Vloggers will oftentimes use some sort of camera-mounted shotgun mic to capture audio as well. Whatever your needs may be, here are five of the best shotgun mics available.
The 5 Best Shotgun Mics for Your Home Studio
The Sennheiser MKE 600 is a perfect camera-mountable shotgun mic. It features all of the hallmarks of a great shotgun, including maximum rejection on the sides of the mic for a tight pickup wherever the camera is facing. It comes with a dedicated clip to mount to your camera’s hotshoe, and can even run on battery power since many cameras do not send phantom power.
2. Røde NTG5
Røde’s NTG5 is a boom op’s best friend, coming in at an ultra lightweight 76g and just over 20cm of length. The sound is very natural and uncolored thanks to a proprietary acoustic design. It comes with a comfortable pistol grip mount for long shoots where fatigue can set in. The NTG5 is also extremely rugged and durable for intense on-location conditions; it can withstand high humidity, cold, dust, and more.
3. Shure VP89M
The Shure VP89M is a high-end modular shotgun microphone with three different barrel lengths. Ranging from short to long, the customizable barrels allow more or less ambient noise into the recording/broadcast depending on the purpose. It comes packaged with a full range of accessories, such as windscreens and different mounting options.
Sennheiser’s MKH 416 is a professional short shotgun mic specially designed for film, TV, radio, and more specifically, outdoor applications. Like the NTG5, this Sennheiser is incredibly durable for harsh outside conditions that many boom ops experience during field recording and broadcast audio.
Audio-Technica offers a great sounding shotgun mic at an incredible value. The AT897 easily mounts to DV camcorders and compact digital cameras, and the barrel is short enough to stay out of frame even on smaller video devices. The audio capture is smooth and natural, and the mic offers ample off-axis rejection for recording sounds at range.