If you’re looking to achieve professional level sound for your video projects, you’re probably looking for the best shotgun mic. This article features our list of what we believe to be the best shotgun mics out there.
Professional shotgun microphones have a selection of features and styles for a variety of prices and quality. Here, I will look at the standards available, their costs, usability and recording quality.
Rode and Audio-Technica seem to hold the top stop in the industry overall, with other shotgun mics competing for an ever tighter budget spot – like Sennheiser and Shure.
We’ll start the article look at the best shotgun mics list. After that, we’ll take some time outlining the various buying decisions and feature sets of good shotgun mics.
Best Shotgun Mic – The List
Let’s look at some modern shotgun mics and their advantages and disadvantages. Shotgun mics are usually about a foot long (or under), made of metal, and have a fixed point bracket to hold them to a stand, boom arm, or your camera itself.
Without further ado, here’s our list of the best shotgun mics.
The Rode NTG3 is a great shotgun mic, for both quality and reliability. There is a G4 model. However, due the success and reputation of G3, I thought it was better to focus on tried and tested mics, after all newer isn’t always better.
Low self-noise and excellent sound quality is boasted here and this is why this shotgun mic is so popular amongst the professional community. The Rode NTG3 has the best quality for money ratio on the market.
This mic is so well made and durable. Interestingly, it’s even the choice for projects in humid climates, where other shotgun mics might not perform so well.
Sound range and clear sound is great with this mic making it difficult to find any fault with this professional piece of equipment.
Sennheiser has a slightly brighter more ambient sound. However, the sound is so clear and the performance so reliable, it is difficult not to name the Rode NTG3 the winner straight away.
Rode NTG3 can handle explosive changes in sound and with a self-noise of 13dB-A, it has the best rating of any of the entry-level shotgun mics, this includes other models which are twice the price, so you can see my conflict to not just end the review early and crown this one the winner!
This mic has an excellent dynamic range, with a clean professional sound. Can’t really say more than that.
The only downside is the NTG3 can be power-hungry, this might be the only reason to look at the NTG4 version, as well as the reasonably poor low-cut filter. All minor shortfalls.
- Shotgun Condenser Microphone with Moisture-resistant Design
- Aluminum Stage Cylinder - Black
- Low Hling- Self-noise
This is a compact mic at only 7 inches long. Generally seen as a universal solution, it offers all round great performance.
This is another highly recommended mic, good for most purposes. With a fixed octave role of 12dB, it picks up low tones and voices very well.
There is no audible hiss, when using this mic, again all attributes which point towards a good shotgun mic. It’s also compact enough for interviews and run-and-gun style documentaries, for example.
Using an XLR output requires a phantom power source. So is not directly compatible with the camera, a preamp is usually needed. With this model, there is no over mic cover, so I would recommend one for filtering and protection.
This is a good all-around mic, useful for many projects and at a very reasonable price. I would recommend you test this model, to compare its quality and if you think it’s up to the task, this justification can save some money in the long run.
- Designed for video production and broadcast (ENG/EFP) audio acquisition
- Extremely short length (under 7 inch ) ideal for use with compact digital cameras
- Provides the narrow acceptance angle desirable for long distance sound pickup
- Excellent sound rejection from the sides and rear of mic
- Tailored response minimizes camera and handling noise
BEST SHOTGUN MIC
What Are Shotgun Mics?
Shotgun mics are microphones used for recording sound, typically in video or film. They’re often mounted on a boom pole and positioned close to the subject of the audio being captured.
They can be used in live events like concerts because they’re good at picking up sound from one specific direction while rejecting sounds coming from other directions.
Shotguns can be used for interviews and in the field, to capture sound that is a distance away from the camera or recorder.
They typically have an extended barrel and are often used for outdoor recording purposes, such as capturing the sound of large musical instruments or other long-distance sound sources.
Shotguns can also be used for close up work and they’re usually more directional than standard microphones due to their design.
Shotgun mics are popular in film production and have a narrow-focused pickup pattern with very little background noise interference.
Another shotgun mic with a great reputation. It’s a popular model used by a lot of creative people and Sennheiser are obviously a well-respected name in audio hardware for many years.
This mic has a hypercardioid pickup pattern, which means it is an extremely sensitive high quality mic.
This shotgun produces good results and people like it – there are sterling reviews all over the internet. Professional movie trailers have been recorded with the Sennheiser MKH 416, too, which is pretty cool.
With all this feedback, this shotgun mic is well worth looking at, if you want high standard results.
Low popping and feedback, including bass problems. This a great all round mic, which is especially good at interviews and capturing the human voice.
Some people are switching from their Rode for the 416 and I can kind of understand why. Deeper sounds can sound better, but the high frequencies are still not as great compared with the Rode mics. At the end of the day, like with any gear purchase, I think I boils down to personal choice.
If you know someone with both mics, give them an equal test on a project and see which you like best. This is a good way to try out any new potential gear purchase.
- Compact pressure-gradient microphone with short interference tube for film, radio and television
- Rugged and highly immune to humiditiy due to its RF condenser design, making it ideal for outside...
- Featuring high directivity, low self noise, high consonant articulation and feedback rejection
- Transformerless and fully floating balanced output
- Matte black all-metal body
The Neuman 81D is a favoured mic amongst both sound engineers and video producers. And, obviously, these people know what they’re talking about as are at the forefront of technology development.
The digital circuit technology provides a clear balanced sound, which is deep and rich. This model also features supercardioid pattern recognition to clearer longer range recording and has a great range of sampling rates.
With an extended dynamic range it is a great mic for starting off in the digital domain and you won’t be disappointed with it, another fine shotgun mic. It has a standard sample rate of 48kHz along with a good Frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz.
This is a robust, dynamic, high tech mic, with is very easy to use and offers great results. This model provides all the features of an analogue mic, but with digital filtering and cutting edge digital technology.
The Neumann 81D also performs well in challenging situations, espeically where unwanted background noise may be an issue. Because of its digital recording, the technology is better able to reduce these factors.
If you need a more advanced shotgun mic, this is worth trying out.
- Short shotgun (9 in) with twist pack case and WS 81
- High directivity with 90° recording angle
- Excellent rejection of unwanted sound
- Low cut and pad switches
- Lightweight (145 g)
This is what we consider the top budget shotgun mic, and it’s certainly one of the best shotgun mics overall.
A 10” entry level model, the MKE600 is a great professional natural tone shotgun mic. This mic performs great in both closed and open environments. With very good frequency patterns, so all sounds will be recorded clearly and to a certain degree over an extended range. This is what you want!
With no annoying peaks, or low cut problems, this mic consistently records well and this can also in some situations be a slight problem. Machines and wind noises are also recorded extremely clearly and these can, on occasion interfere with the overall recording. Which can be a little annoying.
In general this mic offers broad and crisp sounds (15 dB-A weighted) and offers good flexibility when sound volumes and changes are fluctuating – in, say, an event videography environment.
Both high and low frequencies are recorded well on this mic and it’s easy to see why people have started to rate it as the best budget model.
Add a cover for enhanced normalised recording and you will certainly be onto a winner here!
- Ideal video camera/camcorder microphone: Able to handle the most demanding filmic challenges
- High directivity: Picks up sounds coming from the direction in which the camera is pointing and...
- Switchable "Low Cut" filter: Minimizes wind noise
- Phantom or battery powering: Because some video cameras/ camcorders do not provide phantom power
- Supplied with foam windshield and shock mount
BEST SHOTGUN MIC
Advantages Of Using Shotgun Mics
• Improve your production quality with professional quality audio.
• Known for their durability and high quality audio.
• Shoot a tight shotgun pattern that minimizes spill from a PA system, and will also reduce feedback while performing on stage.
• Makes your microphone more directional, keeping sound quality high.
• A solid choice of mic for musicians who want to record vocals or guitar into an amp as they play live.
• Eliminates unwanted noise and echo in a room (echoes can be heard on recordings if not eliminated or dealt with properly).
• Recording audio on-the-go is now easy as can be.
Features of Great Shotgun Mics
I’m probably preaching to the converted here. However, it’s good to go over the basics of what makes a good shotgun mic and the sound values for high quality.
Frequency response (Hz – KHz) is how sensitive the mic is to changes in the noise level.
This is an indicator of the quality of the recording circuitry and the better the quality microphone generally the better the clarity in range, the more distinctive the acoustic sound, so no distortion.
Dynamic range (dB) is sensitivity of the mic, what frequency of sound it is able to record and transmit to the amp.
This can include distortion levels, for the technically inclined. Think about how your ears adjust to volume, this is the dynamic range.
This is clarity of sound without reflective distortion.
When you hear feedback on a microphone, it’s amplifying background noise and direct recording of the music or voice without feedback is good free-field sensitivity. The entire sound which is being picked up and the overall quality.
Signal to Noise ratio
This is a comparison of the recorded music or voice, when compared to the background noise levels.
This determines the crispness of the amplification (dB) and is an aspect of the quality of the microphone which determines how loud it can be amplified. Again, within range of distortion.
How quickly the microphone reacts to changes in the sound (KHz).
How loud the mic signal can be amplified (bits) without distortion in general terms.
A digital signal (fixed-point bits), as opposed to an Analogue (KHz) is clearer because the mic recording is analysed and able to be processed, removing more of the distorted noise.
This is done through mathematically timed measurements, compared to wavelength resonance.
All mics use condenser capsules. However, it’s useful to know the difference between Electret and RF-bias condenser.
This is the electrostatic charge applied to the diaphragm of the microphone, this enables the sensitivity for the mic to work properly. The electret is made of a material, which gives the rear of the condenser a permanent electrostatic charge.
However, RF-bias condensers require this charge from an external source to be become polarized. This is usually from a source called phantom power, via a pre amp.
The basic point is phantom power, usually found on digital mics, drains the battery power fast! This is an important factor, especially when thinking about digital mics and the kind of power you need to power them on shoots. Even more so, if you’re shooting somewhere where getting your hands on a power source may be difficult.
Best Shotgun Mic – Final thoughts
The standard across all the shotgun mics is very high, which really is a breath of fresh air. Because, if you pick one of the above, the results you get will be professional and show your work in the best possible way.
Even the budget shotgun mic options here perform above expectations. So even those with a small budget will have no excuse to hold back, as you can get a lot of bang for your buck!
Another model worth considering, that we didn’t include in the longer write-up above, is the Shure VP82 Compact mic. This has excellent sound quality and is a rugged build suitable for outdoor work. Gets a big thumbs up from us!
Whenever making a buying decision on video gear, always consider price point, what you need the gear for, as well as durability and weight. We often preach this in our buying guides and it’s never more important than when it comes to microphones.
As you can see, there are high standards across the board when it comes to the best shotgun mics. However the Rode, has to be the winner on quality vs. cost alone. A great professional shotgun mic for all occasions and projects.
We hope this article on the best shotgun mic has helped you out and made you understand shotgun mics much better. Did we miss out your favorite shotgun mic? Let us know in the comments.
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