Shotgun microphones are one of the most common types of microphones used in voiceover and video production. They are the go-to in the industry for both amateurs and professionals.
You can typically recognize a shotgun microphone by the 8 to 24-inch tube sticking out of the front of the microphone. They were designed to help sound producers deal with an extremely directional polar pattern when recording.
If you are thinking about making your own videos, music, or starting to do some voiceover work – you need a high-quality microphone. The quality of the microphone will make or break your production.
So, you need to make sure that you are investing in the right microphones for your project.
Shotgun microphones are typically very long and thin, with small slots in the side of the main body that help to channel the sound coming from behind the microphone.
In this article, we will be talking you through everything you need to know about Shotgun microphones; what they are, what they are used for if they’re right for you, and which brand offers the best Shotgun microphone.
Table of Contents
Shotgun Microphone Definition
A shotgun microphone is a long, thin microphone that allows you to be very selective about the sounds you pick up and the ones you don’t. They are also known as interference tubes or pinpoint microphones.
A shotgun microphone typically comes between 8 and 24 inches long and will be less than 2 inches in width.
The microphone sits in a plastic casing. Towards the rear end of the casing, there will be a series of slots. These slots will help to direct the sound that is coming from behind the microphone.
Shotgun microphones are widely used in video and audio production because they allow sound producers and directors to pinpoint what sounds they want to record and which ones they don’t.
Microphones tend to record sound coming from multiple sources and directions.
How well they do this is measured in a graph, this response is called a polar pattern. Shotgun microphones produce a very extreme polar pattern, in that they can record pretty well from only one location.
This can be incredibly useful depending on what kind of filming and audio recording you are trying to do.
How Does a Shotgun Microphone Work
Shotgun microphones are designed to selectively pick up sound.
For example, the can be used to pick up an actor’s voice when filming on a busy street and will not pick up most of the surrounding traffic noise.
How does it do this?
The microphone is very thin, so, this means that it only picks up a small area of sound at the front.
The sides of the microphone are almost entirely covered by a plastic case. The only breaks in the casing are very small and angled slots.
These slots help direct the sound that is coming from the back of the microphone. They also prevent too much noise from being picked up from the side of the microphone as well.
This results in a very selective recording, where the people using the microphone have extreme control over what they pick up.
Lavalier Microphone vs. Shotgun
Lavaliers, also known as lapel microphones, have been designed to make picking up dialogue and quieter sounds easier. They are microphones that are also used by many during video production.
A lavalier microphone is used in many similar situations to a shotgun microphone – for vlogging, for capturing dialogue outside, and even for interviews.
So, in what situation would you pick a shotgun over a lavalier microphone?
The main selling point of the shotgun is how versatile it is, compared to the lavalier. The lavalier can pretty much only be used for recording dialog. However, a shotgun can be used for most sound recording situations.
You also are a lot less likely to bump a shotgun microphone when recording, so you will have more usable takes on average.
Condenser Microphones vs. Shotgun Microphones
Shotgun microphones are a type of condenser microphone – however, lots of microphone experts do not consider them to be true Condenser microphones.
Shotgun microphones do everything that a condenser microphone does – as they technically are condenser microphones. The major difference between the two types of microphones is the price.
Shotgun microphones were originally developed in the 1970s as a cheaper alternative to the larger and more expensive Condenser microphones available at the time. Shotgun microphones are smaller and more targeted.
Shotgun microphones are still much cheaper than condenser microphones. You can look at the Rode catalog for example – the top Shotgun microphone is half the price of the most well-reviewed condenser microphone.
Whether you are working on a budget or not, you will probably find that a shotgun microphone will offer you better value for money, than a condenser microphone.
Boom Microphone vs. Shotgun
Both boom microphones and shotgun microphones are both regularly used on video production sets. When we think of microphones that are used on TV and movie sets, we think of boom microphones.
Boom microphones are typically handheld by a sound technician. They do a very similar job to shotgun microphones. However, there is one major difference between them.
Boom microphones perform better than a shotgun microphone over a distance.
They are typically used in video productions to get wider shots. Whereas shotgun microphones are used to get tighter shots – as they are smaller and work better when the speaker is closer.
If you are interested in filming TV and movie-style videos then you may want to invest in both a boom microphone and a shotgun microphone – as you will find both useful.
However, if you want to use your microphone to record music, stream, or record voiceovers – then you will find a shotgun microphone more practical and better suited for your needs.
Hyper-Cardioid Microphones vs. Shotgun
Hyper-cardioid microphones and shotgun microphones look very similar. They are both fairly thin microphones with small, narrow pick-up bands at the front.
The main difference between the two microphones is that hyper-cardioid microphones are not as selective as the Shotgun microphone – their polar pattern is a lot less extreme. The hyper-cardioid will pick up sound from in front of it, its side, and from behind it.
However, shotgun microphones have channels in their casing which prevent the microphone from picking up a lot of sounds from behind it or to its side.
You may find that if you are recording music, an event, or are trying to give your audio a more authentic sound then you will find the Hyper-Cardioid suits your needs better.
However, if you want to have more choice over which sounds you are recording, or clearer audio then choose a shotgun microphone.
Handheld Shotgun Microphones
Shotgun microphones work best when they are fixed to a stand. So much so that most microphone manufacturers don’t sell handheld shotgun microphones.
The problem with handheld shotgun microphones is that because of the way they pick up sound, even a small amount of movement would be picked up on the microphone (which would ruin the recording).
The same goes for a situation where something hits a shotgun. The shotgun would record an incredibly loud sound that would drown out what you were actually recording. It may also record the sound of the microphone rattling around in the stand.
When you are setting up your shotgun microphone, it is important that you purchase a stand that fits your microphone so that you do not get any of this rattling when you are trying to record.
You may find it easiest to buy the stand from the brand you bought the microphone from.
Best Uses For Shotgun Microphones
In the sections above, we talked about how the Shotgun microphones differ from other microphones and what situation they are best used in.
Let’s look at those situations in a little more detail now. Here are three situations where you will benefit from using a shotgun microphone.
Shotgun Microphones For Recording Music
When you are recording music, you will find that using a shotgun microphone gives you a clear sound and that the shape of the microphone allows you to pick up the music well.
They are particularly useful when working with stringed instruments, as they will pick up the sound made by the strings rather than the sound of the strings hitting the body of the instrument.
Shotgun microphones are also incredibly versatile. You will be able to use them to record nearly every type of instrument – as well as be able to record vocals.
Shotgun Microphones For Recording Voiceovers
If you are recording voiceover work you want a really sensitive microphone that cuts out a lot of background noise for you – especially if you do not have the budget to fully soundproof the room you are recording in.
This is why shotgun microphones can be a voice actor’s best friend.
They are built to be very selective about what they record. If they are set up in the correct way then they can pick up dialogue and block out a lot of background noise.
What makes shotgun microphones even more appealing is their low cost.
Shotgun Microphones For Gaming and Streaming
If you are someone who wants to use voice chats while gaming or wants to stream your gaming then you should consider investing in a shotgun microphone.
You will find that if you set them up at the right angle, you will be able to record or stream your voice clearly, without having to worry about noises from your computer’s speakers interfering with your audio.
Shotgun microphones can be set up, just out of the way and can be relied on to record solid audio. They usually come with stands which are easy to set up and don’t need to be touched after that.
Best Shotgun Mic For DSLR
There are a large number of people who do the majority of their filming on a DSLR camera.
A DSLR (digital single-lens reflex camera) is chosen by many over the film camera used on TV and movie sets because they are much cheaper, they are easier to use, and they are much more practical.
Many shotgun microphones are designed to work with DSLRs exclusively, and come with camera mounts that allow you to secure them directly to your camera while you are filming.
Here are two microphones that stand above the rest when it comes to performance with DSLR cameras.
If you know anything about microphones then you will be aware of the brand Rode. Despite only being formed in the 1990s, Rode, an Australian company, has taken over the microphone market.
They offer top-of-the-range microphones that give you an unrivaled sound quality. When it comes to Rode microphones, you get what you pay for – and by that we mean, they are expensive, but they really are worth it.
If you want a Rode camera to work with your DSLR then you will be spoilt for choice, however, we recommend that you start with this one.
The Rode VideoMic comes with a 40Hz-20kHz response and a high-pass filter at 80Hz – to prevent background noise. It has a detachable camera mount and even comes with a boom pole.
You will be able to plug your headphones straight into the microphone so that you are able to get real time feedback and adjust the placement of the microphone if needed.
Like most Rode microphones this piece of equipment also comes with a 5 year warranty – which you can extend if you pay a little more.
- Can pick up an impressive range of sounds
- High quality microphone
Our second recommendation is the Sennheiser MKE 600.
Sennheiser is another high end brand that is used by professional sound technicians all over the world. Their products are on the more expensive side, however, you do get something really special for the price.
The major downside of the Sennheiser range is that their microphones are not compatible with every type of DSLR. In fact, most of them are only compatible with Canon cameras, and this microphone is only compatible with the newest Canon models.
They do have microphones that work with other types of DSLR, but you will need to make sure that you check the product notes carefully before purchasing.
That fact aside, you will struggle to find a better microphone than this on the market. Its audio sensitivity is an impressive 132 dB. It is incredibly directional and only picks up the sound that you want it to.
It takes less than 10 seconds to set up and will give you really impressive results. As well as being used with DSLRs this can also be used on professional camera setups and is used by professionals around the world.
- Trusted by professionals
- Long battery life
- Impeccable sound quality
- Not compatible with all DSLRs
Best On-Camera Shotgun Microphones
Let’s take a look at another top quality offering from Rode. The Rode VideoMicPro is used by many professionals but it really is that microphone that sits between professional and amateur status.
It offers the quality of a professional microphone in a size that suits the amateur and at a price that is more amateur-friend. It is still a more expensive microphone, but you won’t be paying thousands of dollars for it as you would with a professional microphone.
This offers an audio sensitivity of 14 dB and can be plugged straight into any film camera or DSLR. You can either plug this microphone into a power source or you can run it on the internal battery. That battery lasts for 70 hours.
You can expect the typical Rode quality from this microphone and the long Rode warranty too.
This microphone comes in the trademark Rode Lyre stand – this is designed to stop the microphone from popping if it is knocked into and it prevents wind noise when the microphone and camera are moved around.
- Well-built microphone
- Long warranty
- Long battery life
- Smart stand
- Fairly expensive
If you have one of the newer models of the Canon DSLR then you might want to consider investing in the Canon Directional Microphone DM-E1. This microphone was designed by Canon exclusively for their cameras.
This is a battery powered shotgun microphone that can be fitted directly to any of the new Canon models. It offers 42 dB of sensitivity and has a frequency response of 50 Hz to 16 kHz.
This comes with a windscreen and shock mount that will allow you to attach it to the DSLR.
The only real problem that we have with this shotgun microphone is the shock mount that it comes with. It is far too rigid to be an effective shock mount and it sits too far back on the body of the camera.
It sits so far back on the camera that it is nearly impossible not to knock into it when you are trying to use the camera. This often leads to ruined audio. If you are going to leave the camera undisturbed on a tripod this would not be so much of an issue or inconvenience.
- Good price
- High sensitivity
- Good internal filtering
- Only works with Canon cameras
If you liked the sound of the VideoMicPro and have a little bit more money in your budget for a microphone then we would recommend investing in the VideoMicPro +.
As the name suggests this camera does everything the original did and much more.
The most impressive new feature of the VideoMicPro + is what Rode refers to as digital switching. The microphone comes with the following four settings that can be changed with the push of a button:
- 2-Stage High Pass Filter to reduce low frequencies
- 3-Stage Gain Control, with +20dB function designed to improve audio quality
- High Frequency Boost will boost high frequencies
- Safety Channel to help ensure the signal does not clip when unexpected spikes occur
These four settings make this one of the most versatile microphones on the market. It also has a sensitivity of 20 dB.
The directional capability of this microphone is second to none and you will be shocked when you listen back to your recordings.
The only real complaint we have about this microphone is the price, but you really do get what you pay for when you buy from Rode.
- Well-built microphone
- Long warranty
- Long battery life
- Smart stand
- High sensitivity
- A good internal filtering system
- Fairly expensive
Best Shotgun Microphone For Android
Not all mobile shotgun microphones are designed to work with Android phones, sadly. However, if you are an Android user then you will be able to use this great kit from Moukey.
The Moukey video microphone comes with jacks that are both iPhone and Android friendly. It can also be used with a DSLR camera, or with computers.
This is a really small microphone that comes with an Android friendly tripod and also comes with a wind cover and case.
The stand also had a real time monitoring system and offers 40 hours of battery life. You have the option to plug your headphones straight into the microphone – this is not an option that you get from many other microphones this size.
Due to the slightly questionable shape of this microphone, it does have a problem with background noise. While this is a shotgun microphone – it would benefit from a lot more groves in its casing to channel the background noise away.
That being said, if you are looking for a product that will work with Android, this is by far your best option.
- Wide range of accessories
- Can plug headphones straight into the microphone
- 40 hours battery life
- Amplifies background noise
Best Shotgun Microphone For a Sony Handycam
For the price that Takstar is charging for this microphone, it has no right to be this good.
The Takstar SGC-600 camera microphone is a really interesting microphone because it does not come from a big or well-established brand, and yet it is an incredible piece of kit.
This camera is designed to work with almost any camera, phone, or computer. And it is one of the best options out there if you are looking to record on a Sony Handycam.
This microphone weighs only 75 grams and can be carried in one hand or even in a pocket. It is so small.
It comes with an interactive camera mount that has over 9 different sensitivity settings – giving you a huge amount of control over the type of sound you are recording.
The SGC-600 boasts over 100 hours of battery life, which makes it a really useful tool to have on set or to take on the go with you.
The only real problem we have with it is that it doesn’t come with a wind cover.
- 100 hours of battery life
- Works with almost any device
- The interactive mount has multiple settings
- Does not come with any accessories
Best Cheap Shotgun Microphone
Now, let’s look at the best budget shotgun microphone.
We think that the best model for bargain lovers is the Tikysky M-1 video microphone.
While this isn’t the best microphone on the market – for the price it more than delivers. Not only do you get really solid sound quality with this microphone, but it also comes with multiple accessories.
It comes with a foam microphone cover, a wind cover, and an interactive camera mount that allows you to change the sensitivity of the microphone – considering it will not plug into a computer, this is a useful feature.
The only real downside to this microphone is that it is exclusively designed to plug into cameras – particularly DSLRs – or a smartphone. You can tell this is the case because the cord that is attached to the microphone jack is incredibly short – it is less than 3.5 cm long.
You would not be able to plug it into anything except a camera it was mounted on top of. It does come with a camera mount designed for DSLR cameras, however. It does not come with a smartphone mount.
- Lightweight, portable, versatile
- Comes with multiple accessories
- The cord attached to the jack is very short
Best Small Shotgun Microphone
Finally, we want to talk about the best small shotgun microphones on the market.
One of the benefits of buying a smaller microphone is that they cost less and they are easier to move around – which makes them a little more versatile.
The Sennheiser Pro Audio MKE200 is a small Shotgun microphone that really shot out to us.
This shotgun microphone is less wide than the average smartphone. No one would have any trouble holding this microphone in their hand.
It is incredibly lightweight and designed to fit easily in a camera bag or pocket. If you are someone who likes to record audio and content on the go, then this could be the perfect microphone for you.
The main issue that we have with this microphone is that it does not come in the traditional shotgun case. This means you will not be able to get the type of focused audio that most people expect from a Shotgun microphone.
However, you exchange this performance for how easy it is to carry around.
- Comes with a detachable camera mount
- Incredibly lightweight
- Versatile and portable
- Comes with no accessories
Shotgun Microphone Accessories
Before we leave you, let’s take a list of the three accessories that we think are essential for anyone who owns a shotgun microphone.
Depending on what you are planning to do with your shotgun microphone, you may not need all three of these accessories. However, they are all worth looking into, as they offer so much to the recording experience when it comes to a shotgun microphone.
Once you have chosen the type of shotgun microphone that works before for you, it is time to start thinking about accessories.
Shotgun Microphone Camera Mount
Earlier, we talked about the fact that handheld shotgun microphones don’t really exist. This is why you should consider getting a microphone stand or a camera mount to fix your microphone too.
Most of the microphones that come with a built-in camera stand come with a slightly lower quality microphone. So, if you don’t want to have to compromise on sound quality, then you should consider getting a separate microphone camera mount.
If you are looking for a microphone that comes with a built-in camera mount – then you should look at the Micolive Microphone Windshield Blimp. This is one microphone that won’t let you down.
Shotgun Microphone Holder
If you do not want to mount your microphone to your camera, or if you want to switch between mounting it and sitting it in a stand – then you should look into getting yourself a microphone holder.
There are many different types of microphone holders. You can use desktop microphone holders that traditionally are only a few inches tall.
Or, you can get microphone holders and stands that are self-supporting and can be used to record music, dialogue, or anything else you can think of.
There are types of stands to suit your needs.
Shotgun Microphone Wind Covers
There are two situations in which we think a wind cover for a microphone would come in handy.
When you are recording outside and when you are trying to record vocals. The sound of breath or wind popping against the microphone can ruin a recording.
You have a few choices when it comes to wind covers for shotgun microphones.
You can buy a wind cover that is designed to fit the most popular brands of shotgun microphones. Or you can buy a shotgun microphone that comes with a wind cover, as well as many other accessories – this is a good way to guarantee that the wind cover will fit the microphone.