Are you looking for a shotgun microphone that’s reliable, effective, and has minimal background noise? Throughout this guide, we’ll discuss the 5 best shotgun mics available.
We’ll also go over some common questions about shotgun mics, as well as the features to look for in the best models out there.
By the end of this article, you’ll have enough insights to make a conscious buying decision.
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What to Look for in the Best Shotgun Mic
One of the most crucial things to search for in a shotgun mic is a sufficient degree of durability.
You don’t want to end up with a broken hunk of plastic after a week of owning your mic, so ensuring that it can withstand the rigors of use will allow you to get your money’s worth out of the mic.
Beyond sturdiness, your shotgun mic should also be reliably made with quality parts so that you don’t run into any glitches or unexpected issues getting it connected to the rest of your equipment.
To make sure of this, we recommend buying mics from reliable manufacturers that you know you can trust.
Shotgun Microphone Types
There is a myriad of available shotgun microphones. Here are the most common types:
On-camera mics are the most basic shotgun mics. They can be mounted on most mirrorless cameras and DSLR cameras via a shoe mount.
In addition, it has a 3.5mm connector that plugs in most smartphones and cameras.
Short Shotgun Mics
Your shotgun mic’s length has a great impact on its directionality. The best thing about short shotgun mics is that they are very portable and reliable.
You can easily mount them on cameras and carry them around. Short shotgun mics have the highest durability, making them great for active vlogging.
What’s the difference between short shotgun mics and on-camera mics? Short camera mics require an audio mixer, require phantom power, and have an XLR input.
Recommended: 4 Best XLR To USB Cables
Medium Shotgun Mics
Medium-sized shotgun mics are suitable for film and TV because they have better voice pickups.
The benefit of using larger shotgun mics is because they reject off-axis sound and have a better directional pickup pattern.
You can use medium-sized shotgun mics from 6 feet away, and they’ll still omit background noise.
Medium-sized shotgun microphones are best for recording and booming. Since it is a directional mic, it gives you more freedom in regard to placement.
Large Shotgun Mics
Large shotgun microphones are used for outdoor recording and have a dedicated pickup pattern. You should keep this microphone as close to your primary subject as possible.
The only exception is when you’re shooting documentaries and movies; this is where you’ll need to keep the mic out of the frame and away from the subject.
With large shotgun mics, you’ll have a 9 feet recording range, with minimal noise in the background. This is due to the tight pickup pattern. The boom operator can be aimed directly at the subject and catch sound at a longer distance when in use.
Doing so is essential because the changes in the microphone would cause a drop-off in the final audio output. Despite being good for outdoor recordings, large shotgun mics have their own drawbacks. They have increased reverberation indoors because of their high sensitivity and tight frequency range.
In some scenarios, a reverb can be more intrusive than an echo because echos are sounds that transfer back to the original source. Reverb is the remaining part of a sound wave that still plays in a room seconds after the sound source stops making the sound.
Large shotgun mic users have difficulty recording in limited spaces. Because in rooms and environments enclosed by walls, the off/on-axis sounds are omnipresent and similar, which helps similar mics pick them up.
To avoid this, make sure you monitor the audio and watch out for echoes and hard surfaces. After that, you can use a large shotgun mic in a closed area.
Since most shotgun microphones are made to pick up human voices, the frequency ranges will only be necessary when searching for a microphone to fit that use case. Understand that longer shotgun mics are better at rejecting off-axis frequencies.
One important aspect to consider is the microphone’s polar pickup pattern. This will determine how well your microphone picks up sounds in a certain direction. For example, Omnidirectional microphones capture sounds from all directions. Cardioids are good at capturing sounds from the front but reject sounds from the rest and sides.
- Ultra Cardioid: Ultra Cardioid mics have narrow pickup patterns. These aren’t usually good for boom poles because they are so directional that minimal movements will cause the subject to become off-axis. Here are the main polar patterns for shotgun mics:
- Hyper cardioid: similar to a super-cardioid, but it has an extended rear pickup and a narrower pattern.
- Super cardioid: This is a narrow pickup pattern where sounds of the axis are rejected, and the microphone is the most sensitive in the front
Any decision you make when buying your mic should be based on its pickup pattern. Doing so will help you get a microphone that’s tailored to your preferences and get a better recording outcome.
Phantom vs. Battery Powered
The ‘phantom’ term can be confusing for beginners using shotgun mics for the first time. To simplify, if a microphone uses an internal power source or battery, it’s a battery-powered mic.
However, if the microphone needs external power to operate, then it’s a “phantom” powered mic. What’s the difference between the two? With battery-powered mics, they will work longer than phantom-powered mics. If you’re recording outdoors and you want better battery performance, it’s better to go for a mic with a built-in mic.
Besides having a longer battery life, not having to use an external power source will add to your entire sound setup and mic’s portability.
5 Best Shotgun Mics:
- Safety Channel Included
- RF Rejection
- High-Pass Filter: 75Hz – 150 Hz
- Frequency Range: 20Hz – 20kHz
- Supercardioid Polar Pattern
The Rode VideoMic is the most versatile shotgun mic available. Since it has a 3.5mm connection, it can be placed with any camera with a microphone input. Due to its versatility, this can be used for gaming, streaming, and for videography.
With its 6.7 x 0.8 dimensions, the mic is small enough to slide in the bag. The Rode VideoMic’s durable metal body makes it great for extended usage. It feels more solid than competing brands that use plastic construction.
It has two separate high-pass filters (75Hz – 150 Hz), which reduces noise from computer fans and ambient sounds in the background. Also, it has a high-frequency boost, so if you have a lower voice, you can adjust it with the push of a button.
The Rode VideoMic’ safety channel works by creating a simultaneous pass in 20dB if there are issues in your main recording. This button allows you to use the -20dB pad or safety channel (both have status LEDs). Underneath this is an LED light that tells you if the microphone is powered up.
Note: You’ll experience a minimal amount of the mic’s transparency if you don’t disable the camera’s audio presets. By doing so, you’ll give the microphone the ability to record vocals without any outside interference.
Overall, get the Rode VideoMic if you want a microphone with high-end sound performance. It is well-rounded and captures natural sound with minimal distortion. With its 30-hours USB rechargeable battery, you can expect this microphone to last for a long time.
- Battery Life: 300 Hours (Max)
- Supercardioid Pattern Microphone
- Wind and Sensitivity Filters.
- Improved Noise Reduction
- Headphone Monitoring Feature
The Sennheiser MKE 400 Shotgun Microphone is our second best shotgun microphone. How do you use it? Simply plug it in – or use an adapter and get started. The Sennheiser MKE 400’s has an auto-power feature, which turns the mic on when plugged in, and turns off when the microphone is disconnected.
Unlike boom mics, this mic is placed on top of the camera for easier usage. Plus, the microphone’s 3.5mm output is placed in the front, preventing the detachable cable from hanging in front of your phone display or camera.
When indoors, the Sennheiser MKE 400 Shotgun Microphone produces clear, crisp vocals, as you’d expect. It records less reverb and provides better clarity when the speaker is talking. Thus, making it a good choice for broadcasters trying to create a professional sound.
You’ll find a drawstring pouch in the box to hold the mic, a TRS-TRS cable, a TRRS-TRS cable, and AAA batteries. With its 300 hours of battery life, you’ll have enough juice to make the most out of your recordings.
The Sennheiser MKE 400 Shotgun Microphone has a 3-stage gain. This helps keep the audio at a decent level, especially at the 20+ dB range. With its side noise rejection, you’ll eliminate unwanted sound during the film production stage.
For audiophiles, the Sennheiser MKE 400 Shotgun Microphone is worth your money. Not only does it have an integrated shock mount, but it also has wind filters to adjust the sound. While it’s the second-best shotgun mic on this list, it still effectively captures natural audio.
- 200Hz Low-Frequency Attenuation
- Low Cut Switch
- +10db Audio Boost
- Material: Plastic
- Frequency Response: 50Hz – 16kHz
The TAKSTAR SGC-598 is a great shotgun microphone for interviews. The microphone can be attached to your SLR camera. It has a C-Shaped stabilizer for non SLR devices, giving you a diverse range of cameras to plug it into.
Durability is necessary when conducting interviews, and the TAKSTAR SGC-598 doesn’t disappoint. It features a shock-resistant design that reduces vibration and camera noise. Users will experience a clear and resonant recording when this shotgun mic is in use.
This shotgun microphone is robust yet lightweight for its price. Weighing in at 1.15 pounds, you can mount this mic onto a camera and hold it for extended periods without feeling pain or aches in your arm.
The TAKSTAR SGC-598 has a neutral balance, emphasizing the lower and mid-tones based on their sound quality. It has a 50Hz – 16kHz frequency response, which picks up most sounds in the low-end. This makes a good bass for male vocals, but it doesn’t wash out female vocals.
The TAKSTAR SGC-598 is a cardioid microphone that should be used in a quiet area. You’ll notice that the microphone picks up audio when you move to the sides. Most of the audio is captured through the front of the mic, so make sure it’s positioned correctly to get the best audio results.
For interviews, this is the best shotgun microphone money can buy. It’s light enough to fit any camera, and it still performs well with its +20db and -10Db sound settings. The low-cut filters are great at cutting off the noise, which leads to more memorable interviews and HD audio.
- Frequency Response: 40-15,000 Hz
- 128 Max SPL
- Impedance: 80 Ohms
- Line-cardioid Polar Pattern
- Adjustable Attenuator
Consider getting the Audio-Technica AT8024 if you need a shotgun microphone that’s suitable for nearly any camera. It’s compatible with DSLR and other cameras and has a better sound quality than the camera’s internal mic. The microphone is powered by an AA battery that lasts for 80 hours, giving you enough power for any recording session.
There is a well-designed pop-out sled that’s easy to use. It has an LED light that indicates the power of the device. When the light is red, the battery needs to be replaced. This straightforward system makes it easy for the user to configure the mic’s battery settings and keep it charged, so it performs well.
Also, there is an 80 Hz low-frequency roll-off and a 12 dB octave. The low-frequency roll reduces mechanically coupled vibrations, room reverb, and undesired ambient noise. With this sound accuracy, you can expect to have high quality recordings each time it’s in use.
Since it is Stereo/Mono enabled, it has a dynamic range (Stereo: 104 dB, Mono: 106 dB). Further, the Audio-Technica AT8024 has a 128 high max SPL, giving the sensitivity needed to optimize your vocal performance. This gives you the sound quality needed if your camera mic isn’t clear enough.
The Audio-Technica AT8024 is great for YouTubers and vloggers. It features a 3 position adjustable attenuator (0, -10 dB, -20 dB), which captures loud and soft sounds with minimal distortion. This gives you the sound quality needed to get the most out of your podcasts.
Get the Audio-Technica AT8024 if you want a microphone with a feature-rich, lightweight design. It includes a windscreen and gives the user the chance to buy an optional fuzzy windscreen. With integral shock mounts, the microphone will remain steady throughout your vocal performance.
- Voltage Range: 1.0V-10V
- S/N Ratio: > 85 dB
- 115dB Max SPL
- Shock Mount Included
- Frequency Range: 20Hz -16 kHz
Last on our list is the Moukey MCM-1 DSLR Camera Microphone. It features a high-end cardioid capsule that achieves hi-fi recording when paired with some DSLR cameras. This is a microphone for someone who wants an affordable yet efficient option.
Sound performance-wise, it has a 43 dB audio sensitivity. It has a sponge cover and deadcat windshield to provide both indoor and outdoor audio protection. The integrated shock mount helps with eliminating unwanted vibrations and noise that can ruin your audio recordings.
The Moukey MCM-1 is the perfect mic for smartphones and vlogging, as it’s compact enough to attach to cameras with ease. One of its main features is the aluminum-made body. This enhances the microphone’s durability and protects the sound recording from high-frequency interference.
For more sound optimization, the Moukey MCM-1 has a 20Hz – 16 kHz frequency response. This gives you a dynamic sound range that can pick up both lows and highs. With its 1.0V-10V voltage range, it works effectively without taking up too much power.
Get the Moukey MCM-1 DSLR if you want a useful mic that improves your audio quality. You don’t need batteries for this device; simply plug it into your camera jack. Due to its connectivity and build design, it’s built for casual and professional recording projects.
What are the Main Characteristics of a Shotgun Mic?
Shotgun microphones have a high directionality when they’re used. Other things to look for are low noise and high sensitivity. (Self-noise occurs through a microphone’s circuitry. A microphone with a high self-noise will make an audible hiss.) Doing so allows the microphone to pick up the vocals without any background interference.
Usually, shotgun microphones are used to capture sounds at a distance. This means it must be able to capture a low-level signal, which is why a shotgun mic must have a higher sensitivity level than regular condenser mics. The low-level sound will need to be amplified, making it essential to have a microphone with a low self-noise.
What Shotgun Microphone Length Should I Use?
It depends! Your shotgun microphone length will depend on what, where, and how you’ll be using it. You can go for a longer interference tube, as it does cut off more noise, but it does have high reverb in closed spaces because of its directionality and high sensitivity.
Shorter tubes have less directionality but still reject off-axis noise. The only caveat is that shorter tubes tend to have connectivity issues.
However, a medium-sized shotgun microphone delivers the best of both worlds. These microphones can work in most scenarios for voice pickup. The only issue is that since they don’t work at long ranges, they fail at working from a distance.
The goal is to find a shotgun microphone that has equally proportionate off-axis rejection and natural on-axis sound. Even with a high directional mic, it will have some off-axis sounds in specific frequencies. This occurs because of comb-filtering artifacts like a hardwood floor.
How Can I Properly Position My Shotgun Mic?
As we’ve stated earlier, shotgun mics focus directly on the subject in front of it. When in use, it rejects sounds from the rear and sides. You have to place the microphone in front of the sound source and keep it close to your subject.
We suggest placing your shotgun mic above the subject by a few feet. Placing it above the subject results in a cleaner recording. When placed above the subject, it will result in a clearer and clearer dialogue. And the noise from around the room will be on the off-axis. This leads to more vocal emphasis and less environmental noise.
Another tip to follow is if you’re shouting from indoors, avoid aiming the microphone at hard surfaces. Think brick walls or hardwood floors. The surfaces reflect the sound waves that can reduce the effectiveness of the mic’s interference tube design. So, more noise comes through the recording.
What Are the Benefits of Using Shotgun Mics?
Getting high-quality audio can be difficult when using a camera. The best advantage of shotgun mics is their narrow pickup pattern. This is a big upgrade from your camera’s mic, which has a wider pickup pattern and lower quality leading to more of the ambient noise entering your recording. Built-in mics aren’t suited for HD audio. They can pick up a lot of wind and background noise, while shotgun mics can pick up your voice easier.
In addition, shotgun mics have a longer reach. This helps when recording at a long distance. Because it has narrow and long pickup patterns, these mics can help record sounds from farther away.
Remember, shotgun mics don’t “zoom” in sound like camera lenses on actors. The premium shotgun mics record sounds at around 6 feet. Cheaper mics will record sounds from 3-4 feet.
Are you still confused about which shotgun microphone to buy? Purchase the Rode VideoMic NTG On-Camera Shotgun Microphone if you want the best microphone overall.
The Sennheiser MKE 400 Shotgun Microphone is our second best, but it still provides value for its price. If you’re looking for a simple microphone, get the TAKSTAR SGC-598. Regardless of what shotgun microphone you choose, you’ll have a tool that will bring your audio recordings to life.