Looking for the best shotgun mic? This guide will help you pick the best shotgun microphone for your set-up and budget, and help you get the best deal.
So you’ve come home after filming a few things outside only to find the visuals look great but the sound is muffled and distant. It might sound like they’re in a goldfish bowl, or perhaps there’s so much wind that you can’t hear anything going on. That’s a common issue when it comes to filming a video with integrated microphones. Fortunately, there’s a piece of kit that can help - the shotgun microphone.
A shotgun microphone is a highly directional mic that is ultra-sensitive and has a small recording angle in order to isolate subjects from ambient noise. They are useful in a variety of settings whether it be taking audio while mounted to a camera to record a subject speaking to the camera, capturing distant sound in a busy setting, at a lectern while someone is giving a speech, or even for soloist musicians performing in a group or orchestra.
Vastly superior to onboard camera microphones, shotgun microphones are often used by filmmakers who want better audio quality when making videos. They are often mounted to the hotshoe of the camera, but can also be placed on the end of a boom, a camera rig, or even put on a mic stand or tripod.
If you’re new to shotgun microphones then you’ll quickly realize they all look pretty similar. A long (usually metal) cylinder with some slatted grooves flanking the sides and a cable connector. However, there are many hidden features that make a huge difference to the quality of sound recorded. Most, if not all, shotgun microphones run on phantom power (+48V) so require power via the camera, an external compatible power source, or a battery, and this varies from model to model.
Sound sensitivity is measured in Sound Pressure Levels (SPL) and mics have an upper limit called maximum SPL. Higher SPLs can capture louder sounds, or optionally, microphones can be placed further away with the same sound level results (helpful if you can’t get close access to a sound source, like a soloist in an orchestra). Frequency response determines how much sound the mic can capture, from low pitches to high pitches, and generally the wider the better, but sensitivity across the bandwidth is important, too. Size and weight make a big difference to travel and portability, too.
So let’s take a look at some of the best shotgun mics available…
The best shotgun mics in 2022
One of the leading microphone brands for entry-level equipment, Rode has created an excellent shotgun mic in the NTG4+. Although it’s a supercardioid polar pattern that isn’t quite as narrowly focused as others in this roundup, it has a high maximum Sound Pressure Level of 135dB, is one of the lightest at 176g, and shortest at 278mm.
Three control buttons on the top of the microphone body make it easy to switch between a -10dB pad to attenuate loud subjects, a 75Hz low-cut filter to reduce low-frequency rumbles such as traffic or wind, and a high-frequency boost to keep speech crisp. It also houses an internal rechargeable Lithium-ion battery that takes only two hours to fully charge via USB-C.
This is one of the best shotgun microphones in its class because it’s compact and terrifically sensitive. It can detect sounds well within the human hearing range of 20Hz to 20kHz for crisp, clear audio. On the underside of the microphone body, there’s a low-cut switch that reduces low frequencies below 80Hz by applying a -12dB octave slope. This low-cut switch works especially well at cutting out wind noise that often affects these kinds of microphones, even when there’s a wind guard in place.
Compact and lightweight the Audio-Technica AT897 can easily be mounted on a digital camera or boom for audio recording while filming and has a narrow acceptance angle that eliminates distracting ambient sounds and focuses on the speaking subject.
The MKE600 is known as one of the best shotgun mics in its class range. Constructed from metal all over it has a rugged, durable finish but stays light at just 128g. It can be powered either by phantom power on the recording device or via a single AA battery and can be powered by in-camera preamps without issue.
There’s a battery on/off switch to save energy and prolong the life of the battery should you switch one. It even comes with a low battery level indicator that flashes up when running out of juice so you don’t get caught out. A low-cut switch alleviates handling and wind noise and the mic is designed to be resistant to interference.
A premium shotgun microphone, Shure has ensured that this mic is worth the price tag. To do this they’ve constructed the body out of an aircraft-grade alloy made from aluminum to minimize weight and maximize strength. Also unique to the VP89 series is the interchangeable capsule design where users can switch between the S, M, and L capsules (70, 50, and 30 degrees acceptance angle respectively) without having to purchase the preamp multiple times. This saves money and space and is a welcomed feature.
For the price, one might expect a little more control over the sound, as it only has a switchable low-cut filter that kicks in at 200Hz. However, Shure has developed this microphone with extra shielding to reduce electronic interference, mobile devices, and other hum-prone sources.
Neumann doesn’t make cheap microphones, and there’s a reason for that. They’re renowned for producing some of the best, most accurate mics in the world and this shotgun mic is no exception. The KMR 81 i was designed for film and TV and has limited off-axis coloration to avoid sound dips when subjects move around.
Discreetly placed switches control a 200Hz low-cut filter and -10dB pad for reducing low-end rumble from traffic and wind, and attenuating sensitivity in order to capture louder subjects more clearly. Self-noise can be an issue in microphones and this is one of the quietest creating only 12dB-A. A slight uplift in frequency response around 2kHz helps enhance subjects that often lack the higher end when recording at a distance.
AKG’s approach to the C747 V11 shotgun mic looks a little unorthodox at first, but when you take into account that it’s the smallest, lightest mic in our roundup and more than keeps up in terms of performance, then you’ll realize why it’s here. Just 137mm long and weighing only 25g it comes with adapters for mounting on all kinds of surfaces, such as lecterns, booms, cameras, and more.
Armed with a low-cut filter that kicks in at 150Hz it also features RFi shielding technology to prevent the pick up of mobile phone interference and other radio frequency anomalies. Small and powerful then, but certainly not cheap. This is one perhaps for intermediate users and those hoping to move on to full-time filmmaking/sound recording.
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