Best Shotgun Mics for Recording
What is a shotgun microphone?
As the name suggests, a shotgun microphone is a hybrid between a ‘gun’ and a mic. The final product is a microphone with a relatively long slotted tube but with no bullets. The trade-off, however, is an incredible ability to isolate sounds coming from the front from those from the rear and sides. These microphones also tend to have a narrower range of focus and are, therefore, ideal for recording human frequencies. so what are the best shotgun mics on the market? Read on.
Also known as Rifle mics, shotgun microphones are found mainly mounted on news reporter’s or movie producers’ cameras. However, you need not practice any of the above professions to use these types of mics.
If you like photography and videoing for fun, then a budget-friendly shotgun microphone like the Neweer shotgun Microphone will help you capture quality sounds for your clips than your camera’s built-in mic.
Shotgun Microphones for Recording Studios? How and Where?
The last place where you’d expect to find a shotgun mic is in a recording studio especially the home-based types. These audio tools are designed mainly for the news reporters and video makers. However, several studio professionals and enthusiasts have a use for about anything.
Several people use rifle microphones to record vocals. I once met a sound engineer who said that he uses a shotgun mic for voiceovers and on snares (when pointed downwards) and sometimes on acoustic guitars. It turns out that the use of shotgun microphones in recording studios isn’t complicated really. It can be used easily in several applications that require sound isolation. You only need to understand how to position it.
Whether you’ll try to find a way to utilize your shotgun in your studio or you’ll stick it on your camera to improve your videos’ audio quality, here are some of the best shotgun microphones for 2017.
6. Neewer Uni-Directional Shotgun Microphone - Best Shotgun Mic under $100
Neewer Shotgun Microphone is amongst the best budget shotgun mics on the market today. Well, don’t expect this mic to stand a chance before the big boys from Rodes and Audio Technica.
Luckily, if you don’t have over 150 dollars to spend on them, this Neewer Rifle Mic has your name on it. It’s good for starting off before you can think of upgrading. And it’s not so bad for the money. A few customers on Amazon are already purchasing more of these for spare obviously for a reason.
Neewer is available in 2 sizes. You can either opt for the 14.17’’ or the 10.47’’ unit. Though dirty cheap, Neewer 14.17’’ shotgun microphone offers lots of features to capture clear audios with your DSLR camera with. To begin with, this mic is compatible with a wide range of camcorder and digital DSLR cams. The camera only needs to have a 3.5mm input socket and hotshoe.
Again, it also has a great audio quality and an effective pick-up range of 9ft (3m). Neewer uses a condenser capsule and uni-directional polar pattern. You also get a lot of accessories including an anti-wind cap, 2 mic stands, and a 26.05-ft cable.
Audio-Technica is one of the giant brands when it comes to studio gear. Whether you’re in need of the best studio headphones or studio monitors, this American brand has some of the best units for your music production.
Speaking of the best shotgun microphones, the ATR-6550 is amongst the cheapest models you can think of from Audio-Technica. The ATR-6550 uses a mono condenser element.
A great feature with this mic is that it offers 2 pickup modes. The Normal mode is used for close and medium range voice recording and the Tele mode is for obtaining sounds from a source over a distance. Uniquely, the 2 modes utilize different polarity patterns to offer crisp and intelligible sound pickup.
The Normal mode uses cardioid directionality. On the other hand, the Tele range setting is engineered to use supercardioid pattern hears audios several feet away while ignoring ambient noise. The ATR-6550 also has an impressive frequency response of 70Hz to 18 kHz which is ideal for capturing human speeches. Its open circuit sensitivity of -56dB and -45dB at Normal and Tele settings again make recording top-notch audios a total breeze. The package includes a camera mount, foam windscreen, 1 AA battery, and a microphone stand clamp.
This is one of Rode’s best shotgun microphones under 100 dollars. What’s amazing is that you can use it on either your iPhone (except iPhone 7) or camcorder and HDSLR camera too.
Rode VMGO has been designed to offer you the best videoing experiences ever. First, it’s amongst Rode’s most lightweight microphones at 73g only. At this weight, you won’t have any problems trying to balance it on your camera or hands if you’re using an iPhone.
Second, VideoMic Go does not require any complicated setups to make it functional. In fact, there are no switches or settings on the mic. All you do is to mount it on your camera and start your thing.
But what is even more impressive is that VideoMic Go does not use any batteries. This mic is powered by your camera’s plug-in power through the 3.5mm mic input. Needless to say, this eliminates the inconveniences of batteries running out in the middle of videoing sessions.
How does it sound? VMGO is a directional microphone with a supercardioid polar pattern. This directionality doubled with the onboard windshield helps in attenuating specific sounds in noisy environments. It’s also supported by Rycote Lyre shock mount that protects the mic from vibrations and bumps. On this note, if you’re considering using this microphone on your iPhone for vlogging, Ulanzi iPhone vlogging rig (approx $20) will make it easy for you.
For the filmmakers who are in need of the best shotgun microphone under 200 bucks, Audio-Technica presents you the AT875R. This mic has hit the 250-dollar price point some years back. As such, getting it at around 170 bucks (on Amazon) is a real steal.
Audio-Technica claims that the AT875R is its shortest shotgun microphone at 7 inches. This makes it easy to use with your compact digital cameras while making a minimum footprint and without staying on your way.
The AT87R uses an entirely polarized condenser. Its diaphragm is engineered to offer a narrow-angle of acceptance with line and gradient directionality design. This narrow and tight acceptance angle makes it easy for it to pickup sounds from a source a few feet away while subduing all unwanted sounds from the rear and sides.
What makes it a popular option for video production is its tailored response that minimizes all noises from the camera. The AT87R also has a high Signal-to-noise ratio (74db) and a high SPL handling capability (127dB).
All the shotgun mics that we’ve reviewed so far cost way below 200 dollars. They are quite affordable and will help you learn the ropes in this department. A step up into some of the pricey models is this Rode NTG2.
This model is an entry level microphone to the Rode’s NTG series of professional shotgun microphones. Though a bit pricey, the NTG2 is nothing compared to the NTG8 which will set you up 1000 dollars back.
The NTG2 offers an economical solution for film-makers who want accuracy sounds for their video projects without costing them a fortune. Rode NTG2 is a lightweight shotgun mic that won’t skew your rig’s balance.
Similar to other microphones from this Australian brand, the NTG2 has a rugged construction design featuring a heavy-duty metallic housing. Even better, its internal circuitry has been designed to offer you superior performance regardless of the weather conditions.
But what makes it the best shotgun microphone for the money is that it has almost all the features required for professional applications. First, this mic uses supercardioid directionality that isolates all unwanted noises from the source. Again, NTG2 has an impressive signal-to-noise ratio (76dB) and an impressive sensitivity of 36dB. Its max SPL handling is also pretty high at 131dB. All these mics make it amongst the best shotgun mics for use in loud environments.
1. Sennheiser Mke 600 Shotgun Microphone - Our Pick for Best Shotgun Mic
The Sennheiser MKE 600 is synonymous with high-quality audio reproduction. This is a professional shotgun microphone common with film-makers and news broadcasting stations. It’s also a great option if you’ll be picking up sounds on a windy day.
Like the NTG2 above, the MKE 600 can be powered either by 48-volts phantom power or a 1.5v AA battery. It has a battery compartment onboard and can run on it for close to 150 hours.
This convenient powering options plus its heavy-duty construction make it for both indoors and on-the-road use. Its compact and lightweight design, in fact, makes it a good shotgun mic for use on the go. It's also easy to use the MKE 600 on either a boom or DSLR cameras.
So, how does the MKE 600 perform? This is a highly-directional condenser microphone that targets the source and rejects most of the off-axis noise. The mic itself has an amazingly low self-noise 16dB. This means that the microphone won’t add any considerable noise to your recordings. It also has a wide frequency response ranging from 40Hz to 20 kHz. Even better, the mic has a low-cut filter that comes in handy in windy situations.
As a video producer, a shotgun microphone is one of the must-have tools that shouldn’t lack in your tool kit. The thing with these mics is that they are just so good at picking up sounds from the required source while rejecting off-axis sounds. The good news is that they are easily affordable and easy to maintain given their rugged construction.