Have you just finished filming outside and realize that although everything looks wonderful, the sound is muddy and unclear? It is a typical problem when using built-in microphones to record a video. Don’t fret; the best shotgun mic can help you overcome these issues.
A shotgun microphone features a narrow recording sweet spot and great sensitivity to shield its subjects from outside sounds. Moreover, it can be installed on a camera to capture a person talking to the lens, used to pick up background noise in a noisy environment, placed on a podium to record a speaker, or used by solo musicians in an ensemble.
Here, we’ll discuss everything about shotgun microphones, covering their purpose and factors you should weigh before looking for a suitable shotgun mic. So let’s get to it.
How Does a Shotgun Mic Work?
Every shotgun microphone uses a long hollow tube with slots along its surface and a directional microphone capsule at its end to capture sound. Such capsules often exhibit a very condensed polar pattern (super cardioid).
A shotgun microphone, in essence, uses the concept of “waveform interference” to perform its function. Interference is caused by the tubes’ slots, not by positioning the microphone at the bottom. Sounds traveling in the desired direction (on axis) will go unobstructed to the capsule at the end of the tube. Off-axis sound, which will enter many slots at various positions, is separated at the source by the slots.
These off-axis noises are out of phase with one another, mixed, and often cancel out since each slot is at a different distance from the microphone capsule. A phenomenon known as constructive or destructive interference causes the sound to either attenuate or dull the sound coming in from the end of the tube. The sound amplifies when the listener is on axis and mutes when they are off axis.
Roundup of the Best Shotgun Mics
|Overall Best Shotgun Mic
|Rode NTG-2 Multi-Powered Shotgun Microphone
|Best Shotgun Mic for Professionals
|Sennheiser Professional MKE 600 Shotgun Microphone
|Best Shotgun Mic for DSLRs
|Rode VideoMic Camera-Mount Shotgun Microphone
|Most Versatile Shotgun Mic
|Audio-Technica AT875R Line/Gradient Shotgun Condenser Microphone
|Best Shotgun Mic for Filmmaking
|Rode VideoMic Pro+ Camera-Mount Shotgun Microphone
|Shotgun Mic With Best Sound Quality
|Rode NTG-3 Shotgun Microphone
|Most Compact Shotgun Mic
|Sennheiser Professional MKE 400 Directional On-Camera Shotgun Microphone
|Best Shotgun Mic on Budget
|Comica CVM-V30 LITE Video Microphone Super-Cardioid Condenser On-Camera Shotgun Microphone
Things to Consider When Looking for a Shotgun Mic
Here is a list of things you should look for when shopping for a shotgun mic.
The microphone’s ability to accurately record sound at various frequencies is known as its frequency response, and the units to measure are Hertz (Hz).
Shotgun microphones often have very broad and flat responses to represent what the human ear can hear accurately. It implies they are sensitive to various frequencies and pick them up easily. In addition, they frequently undergo some tuning to assist in accentuating speech and other frequencies in the midrange of the audible spectrum.
Condenser vs. Dynamic Microphones
Condenser microphones and dynamic microphones are the two primary categories of microphones. Microphones make use of diaphragms that vibrate when sound waves strike them. The diaphragms of condenser microphones are extremely tiny, making them responsive to soft, quiet, and nuanced sounds. However, they are more fragile and easily damaged when subjected to severe handling or wetness.
Since dynamic microphones have bigger diaphragms, they are not as excellent at picking up subtle nuances, but they perform exceptionally well when subjected to extremely loud noises. They are very sturdy and can withstand much punishment without breaking. Condenser microphones are often used in shotguns since they aim to record even the quietest of conversations.
Shotgun microphones are available in a wide range of lengths, ranging from a modest 3 or 4 inches to lengths of more than 1 foot. When considering whether or not you want a tiny microphone, you should consider how you want to use it. For example, a lower-profile microphone can be lighter and more easily maneuvered when mounted on a camera because of its reduced size.
Longer shotguns have a greater propensity to have more condensed polar patterns; this makes them an excellent choice for capturing concerts or athletic events in which you need to minimize the overpowering noise of the crowd. If you attach one to a camera, though, you run the risk of causing someone to lose an eye!
The dynamic range of the microphone, measured in decibels (dB), indicates the frequency of sound it can record and send to the amplifier.
Sensitivity to the Free Field
When you hear feedback on a microphone, it means that the device is amplifying background noise. Good free-field sensitivity refers to the ability to capture music or speech directly without the presence of feedback.
Signal to Noise ratio
Signal to Noise Ratio is a component of the quality of the microphone that dictates how loud you can amplify it. It also determines the amplification’s sharpness, measured in decibels (dB).
Much like every other type of condenser mic, Shotgun microphones need to be powered by some means. Phantom power of 48 volts, which recording equipment like a mixer, and camera supplies, is what they rely on. However, some of them also can use an AA battery, which may be a lifesaver if you ever find yourself in a scenario where there is no phantom power accessible.
Top 8 Shotgun Microphones
To aid you on your quest to buy one of the best shotgun microphones available in the market, we have made a list that ranks the best shotgun mics. So let’s take a look!
1. Rode NTG-2 Multi-Powered Shotgun Microphone
Overall Best Shotgun Mic
- Very good value for the money
- Durable, lightweight, and portable
- Very natural-sounding
- Sturdy metal construction
- Reduced pickup pattern
- Excellent precision
- Lacks an on/off switch
Rode NTG2 is a short-range shotgun mic with a precise sound and excellent rejection for its price point. The model is rather light yet has a sturdy appearance and feel; it is, as one would expect from RDE, a high-quality piece of gear, and that’s why we have chosen it as the overall best shotgun mic on our list.
We were satisfied with the aesthetically pleasing looks and sturdy Rode NTG-2, and Rode backs the entry-level NTG2 with a generous 10-year guarantee. Moreover, the flexibility of NTG2 means you can use it in various settings without issue, and the roll-off feature aids in suppressing low-frequency disturbances.
We found the frequency response of the Rode NTG2 very flat and near-ideal for a budget microphone. It ensures faithful reproduction of the original sound with little processing. It has a full, warm tone and is very detailed. This microphone’s maximum sound pressure level (SPL) is rather high, coming in at 131 dB at 1% total harmonic distortion, making it suitable for use in extremely loud or noisy settings when shouting is necessary.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for a good microphone at a reasonable price, go no further than the Rode NTG 2. It works well for both newcomers and seasoned pros. Moreover, it does a respectable job for what it is, and in the hands of a skilled cameraman, it might be an invaluable addition to any videographer’s arsenal.
View on Amazon: Rode NTG-2 Multi-Powered Shotgun Microphone
2. Sennheiser Professional MKE 600 Shotgun Microphone
Best Shotgun Mic for Professionals
- Includes additional accessories
- Has low-cut filter
- Great battery backup
- Fantastic design with easily reachable controls
- Convenient to carry because of its compact design
- We didn’t find any issue
Sennheiser MKE 600 is a high-quality, short-range shotgun with a 10″ barrel. Although it is offered for a relatively low price and is an entry model, its performance is almost up to professional standards. Owing to its exceptional features, we have included it as the best shotgun mic for professionals on our list.
Its design makes it an ideal mic for indie filmmakers and smaller crews. The MKE 600 is a lightweight, high-quality addition to the Sennheiser boom microphones, with strong directivity that effectively removes noise from the sides and back. It also has a battery option, which allows for optimum portability.
This mic boasts a wide frequency range and a clean high end, making it a great all-around choice. It features noise levels that are borderline professional (15 dB-A weighted) and performs well while recording sounds at low volumes. We found that it captures the sound coming from any direction. Therefore, it is not necessary to position the device in front of the speaker to benefit from its exceptional noise cancellation and bass pickup.
In conclusion, Sennheiser Professional MKE 600 Shotgun Microphone combines the classic sound of the company’s previous models with portability and low cost benefits. Moreover, the MKE 600 might be the ideal outdoor microphone for everyone from a novice videographer to a seasoned journalist or podcaster.
View on Amazon: Sennheiser Professional MKE 600 Shotgun Microphone
3. Rode VideoMic Camera-Mount Shotgun Microphone
Best Shotgun Mic for DSLRs
- Reasonable price
- Offers far better audio than the camera mic
- Superb build quality and design
- Excellent battery life
- Sturdy quality with nice fit and finish
- We did not experience any issues
The Rode VideoMic Camera-Mount Shotgun Microphone is a high-quality condenser microphone that measures 1/2 inches in diameter. You can use it with consumer video cameras and personal audio recorders. Its ABS structure makes it very lightweight while yet being tough, making it the perfect choice for inclusion as the best shotgun mic for DSLRs on our list.
We found that the VideoMic capsule and electronics are shielded from the all-metal shoe mount by a shock mounting system based on Rycote® Lyre®, preventing the microphone from picking up any background noise or vibrations or any radio frequency interference. The Lyre®, made from a single piece of durable thermoplastic, offers better acoustic suspension than conventional elastic solutions and will never break, droop, or wear out.
Regarding the recording, we found in our testing that the VideoMic is a directional microphone that will only record sound from the subject of your camera’s view. Nothing outside of your subject’s immediate vicinity will be audible to you. Furthermore, We found that it works wonderfully well indoors, but not outdoors.
In conclusion, the Rode VideoMic Camera-Mount Shotgun Microphone is a perfect mic for video and even for a Pod/Video Cast if need be. The Rycote® shock mount greatly reduces handling noise, and you can use it both on location and in a studio; and it does a fantastic job in both. Highly recommend!
View on Amazon: Rode VideoMic Camera-Mount Shotgun Microphone
4. Audio-Technica AT875R Line/Gradient Shotgun Condenser Microphone
Most Versatile Shotgun Mic
- Excellent versatility
- Very good sound quality
- Directional mic
- Compact and sturdy
- Easy to use
- We didn’t find any issue
The AT875R is a condenser microphone designed specifically for recording sound for broadcast (ENG/EFP) and video production. This mic attaches to a camcorder with no hassle or difficulty and is compatible with a camcorder and other small digital cameras. Given that you can use it to acquire audio with any of your video recording cameras, you have a gadget with a lot of versatility.
Although it is a short model with an affordable price, it has decent build quality. Compared to professional versions, the whole gadget is a bit more simplistic, yet it still feels extremely sturdy and has low self noise. One cool thing is that not much can go wrong with it, and it seems sturdy enough to endure some rough use.
W3 discovered the dynamic range of the AT875R is really good, and the sound it produces is full and clear. Its frequency response is flat across the board except for a little bulge in the high end, about 5 kHz, which gives it a warmer overall presence. The microphone has a predetermined low-frequency cutoff of 120 Hz at a rate of 12 dB per octave. It helps eliminate the bass sounds that directional microphones may pick up.
In conclusion, the Audio-Technica AT875R Line/Gradient Shotgun Condenser Microphone can handle most videography jobs, inside or out. It is particularly useful for conferences and seminars since it does not need a lavalier microphone and can compensate for the speaker moving slightly off axis. Compared to similarly featured microphones that cost twice as much, the quality you get here is a pleasant surprise.
View on Amazon: Audio-Technica AT875R Line/Gradient Shotgun Condenser Microphone
5. Rode VideoMic Pro+ Camera-Mount Shotgun Microphone
Best Shotgun Mic for Filmmaking
- High gain, superior sound quality
- Replaceable and rechargeable batteries
- Highly targeted pickup pattern
- Low self noise (14 dBA)
- High dynamic range
- Has tons of features
The Rode VideoMic Pro+ is a fantastic option, and it’s very accommodating to filmmakers and photographers. Moreover, it’s straightforward to use yet flexible enough that you can quickly improve your video’s audio to a professional standard; therefore, we have included it as the best shotgun mic for filmmaking on our list. It is also one of the overall best DSLR microphones on the market.
The Rycote Lyre suspension mechanism, exclusive to Rode, supports the VideoMic Pro+. This flexible plastic acts as a shock mount, dampening the impact sound caused by the camera’s movement and bumps. The suspension worked well in our tests, particularly when using a handheld camera in a fast-paced environment subjected to a fair amount of vibration.
The audio quality produced by this mic is pristine, with a self-noise level of only 14 dBA. The ability to record in a quiet environment is not standard on all microphones, especially DSLR mics, but this one has it. Extremely loud noises won’t be an issue, as the system is designed to handle a maximum SPL of 134 dB and has a dynamic range of 120 dB. Apart from this, it creates a high-quality, high-gain sound output for your camera and has excellent directional capabilities, despite its small size.
In conclusion, the Rode VideoMic Pro+ is worth the investment if high-quality audio for your camera is a priority. This is your best bet if you’re looking for a 3.5mm camera mic. It addresses all the problems with its forerunners while maintaining the same winning formula that has made it so popular over the years.
View on Amazon: Rode VideoMic Pro+ Camera-Mount Shotgun Microphone
6. Rode NTG-3 Shotgun Microphone
Shotgun Mic With Best Sound Quality
- Pure, brilliant sound
- Professional quality
- Extremely robust exterior
- Excellent value for money
- Low noise and high sensitivity
- Works in a humid environment
- Lacks low cut filter
The reasonably priced professional shotgun Rode NTG3 has excellent sound quality and little self-noise. It is perfect for field productions or low-budget movies when you want to obtain the greatest sound for your money. Therefore, we have chosen the shotgun mic with the best sound quality.
We found that it has a simplistic yet very durable design. There are no frills, such as lights or buttons, on its sturdy frame. Moreover, it comes with the same extended 10-year guarantee Rode provides on all its microphones. NTG3’s robust aluminum casing is watertight and feels almost impenetrable, and we found this one of its most appealing features. The included standard foam offers some protection from the breeze.
We were completely satisfied with the sound quality of Rode NTG3 and did not find any issue whatsoever. It has a mostly unaltered frequency response, with a touch of brightness added to make the sound more expressive. This microphone can handle more intense sound effects in addition to dialogue, and it has a more accurate representation of those sounds.
In conclusion, Rode NTG3 is a unique microphone due to its excellent performance and reasonable price. It’s an affordable piece of audio equipment with high-quality sound and great technological characteristics, and it’s sure to become a staple in your studio for years to come.
View on Amazon: Rode NTG-3 Shotgun Microphone
7. Sennheiser Professional MKE 400 Directional On-Camera Shotgun Microphone
Most Compact Shotgun Mic
- Clear, crisp, and directional signal
- Has a headphone port and volume controls
- Internal gain and low-pass filters
- Great value for money
- Very compact
- Can easily capture interview quality sound
- Headphone jack only functions during recording sessions
- Requires batteries for power
The Sennheiser MKE 400 Shotgun Video Microphone is compatible with DSLRs, HD camcorders, and mobile devices and comes in a compact design. Because of its directional recording pattern, it is ideal for capturing undistorted sound from people directly in front of the mic, even in noisy settings like the great outdoors.
The MKE 400, like many other shotgun microphones, has an elongated cylindrical shape. Owing to its compact size, it won’t add much bulk to the rear of your camera. On the other side, it probably won’t go all the way to the lens’s edge. Moreover, the MKE 400 Mobile Kit is portable and compact enough to fit in a pocket or bag.
We can safely say that due to its super-cardioid recording pattern, the MKE 400 effectively cancels out sound coming from the sides and rear. Consequently, you’ll have a clean, undistorted signal to deal with, which, predictably, will improve when you activate the low-cut filter. As well as helping with low-frequency industrial, city sounds or wind noise, the filter is great for capturing interviews or voices.
In conclusion, the Sennheiser MKE 400’s low-cut filters and windscreen combine to provide crystal-clear recordings in even the most difficult of environments. If you’re a vlogger or a content creator on the move, you can greatly benefit from MKE 400. on-camera shotgun microphone.
8. Comica CVM-V30 LITE Video Microphone Super-Cardioid Condenser On-Camera Shotgun Microphone
Best Shotgun Mic on Budget
- Incredible value for money
- Functions as a plug-and-play device
- Awesome design and light weight
- Requires no batteries
- Good audio
- Phone compatible
- We did not experience any issues with this microphone
Comica CVM-V30 LITE is a super economical choice for a shotgun mic. It gives out an extremely directed sound that will either block out the ambient noise behind and to the sides or at least significantly reduce it. It also has excellent frequency response (no tinniness or echoing and no AM radio distortion).
We were pleased by the one-of-a-kind shock mount design of the microphone since they discovered that it greatly reduced the amount of vibration and handling noise. In addition, the mount makes it easy for you to attach to your compact digital cameras or any other device. The mic is extremely lightweight, which makes it ideal for outdoor shoots.
Comica CVM-V30 LITE has a super-cardioid recording pattern that effectively cancels out sound from the recording space’s sides and rear. The mic’s narrow acceptance angle provides outstanding off-axis rejection for the desired sounds. It helps to effectively limit the unwanted noise that mike can pick up while recording.
In conclusion, Comica CVM-V30 LITE is the one you should get if you desire superb sound but at the same time do not want to break the bank. It has a lightweight, beautiful design, a shock mount, and a reasonable price. We highly recommend it for people who have just started vlogging or filming.
Frequently Asked Questions About Shotgun Mics
The narrow pickup pattern of a shotgun’s directional microphone makes it an excellent choice as a recording device. It has a high gain and concentrates primarily on the sound source in front of it. Thus it records that sound with a high gain, but it captures the noises (unwanted sounds) from the sides and the back extremely quietly.
People use shotgun microphones for public addresses in meetings, conferences, and classroom lectures as it is unnecessary for the speaker to hold a microphone to his mouth or to have a wired microphone attached to his person in these situations to record a speech or a lecture.
All condenser microphones, including shotgun mics, require an external power source. They often rely on the 48-volt phantom power provided by a recording device, mixing console, or camera.
If you aren’t moving around much while streaming, a shotgun mic should be sufficient for your needs. It also has excellent directionality since it will only take up the sounds sent directly to it, leaving behind any other noises. Because you can position it above the camera, the shotgun mic can be an excellent choice if you want to conceal the presence of your microphone.
Nobody can keep a shotgun mic completely still. If there isn’t a shock mount, it will pick up even the tiniest vibrations; the microphone will pick up even the tiniest vibrations as distracting background noise.
A Guide on Utilizing a Shock Mount
1. Attach the shock mount to a boom pole, microphone stand, or tripod using the included screws. A shock mount will have a threaded insert measuring either 3/8″ or 5/8″. Most of them come standard with adapters that make them compatible with any boom pole or mic stand.
2. Place the microphone inside the cradle. Put the microphone on top of one of the lyres, and then press down on it with consistent force. The lyre will gradually separate until it has completely received the microphone and firmly fastened it. Proceed in the same manner with the remaining lyres.
3. Plug the audio cord into the microphone. Most pencil condenser microphones require phantom power via XLR wire.
4. Secure cable. Most shock mounts come equipped with a built-in mechanism for wire management. It maintains order and safeguards any surplus cable.
5. Experience stability devoid of any noise.
When utilized properly, shotgun mics and lavaliers (lapel mics) may record high-quality audio. They work wonderfully for chats, vlogs, and interviews. Lavalier microphones, especially the omnidirectional kind that clip on the subject, deliver a high signal-to-noise ratio. A lavalier microphone with a 3.5mm connector allows direct recording from the microphone to the video file.
The transmitter for a wireless lavalier microphone may be put into a 3.5 mm jack or recorded to a second mixer for syncing in post production.
Shotgun microphones are more adaptable than lavaliers because of their compact design. Shotgun microphones often provide a more organic sound than lavaliers. In addition, you won’t have to worry about actors, yourself, or interviewees having to conceal them to keep them out of shots.
It’s a breath of fresh air that the quality of all the shotgun microphones is so great. For the simple reason that going with any of the options mentioned above will yield polished, high-quality outcomes that do justice to your hard work.
The quality of even the cheapest shotgun mics presented here exceeds any reasonable expectations. Moreover, since you can receive a lot for your money, even those on a tighter budget do not need to hold back.
We hope our buying advice will be useful to you when you go out to buy your own shotgun microphone. We feel confident recommending the Rode NTG-2 Multi-Powered Shotgun Microphone to anybody in the market for the best shotgun microphone.