Guideline to use shotgun mic for marching band

Recording a marching band may be difficult since it is a group of instrumental musicians who perform while marching in a really large area. It is a good idea to use the shotgun mic for marching band. You may wonder why it is a good choice of the recording gear and how it helps achieve high-quality audio recording. We will cover the following topics in this post:

  1. What is a shotgun mic?
  2. What is the benefit of using it for recording of marching bands?
  3. How to place it to capture better sounds?
  4. How to mount it in place?

Use camera shotgun mic SYNCO D30Photo by karim yatrib

What is a shotgun mic?

Shotgun mic is in a long and thin tubular design. It is a highly directional microphone with a narrow sound pickup, which means it is sensitive to sound directly in front of the microphone while rejecting sound from the sides and back.

As a result, it is ideal to use the shotgun mic for outdoor recording. It is hugely "accurate" while capturing sound at a distance, allowing it to be placed further away from a sound source while maintaining detail and clarity. It is frequently used as the primary microphone in film and video productions, particularly for recording speech, sound effects, and ambient sound. It comes in a variety of sizes and characteristics.

Generally, you will encounter the following polar patterns when looking for shotgun mic for marching band performance.

  • Supercardioid: It is a pickup pattern where the microphone is sensitive directly in front of the diaphragm and off-axis sounds are rejected
  • Hypercardioids: It is similar to super cardioid but with a narrower pickup pattern. The rear pickup is extended.
  • Ultracardioids: It is the most directed pickup pattern and not generally ideal for use on a boom pole since the subject will travel off-axis with slight movement.

The video below is created by Richard Wong. He showed the directionality of the D2, a shotgun mic at SYNCO, by changing his talking angle to the mic. You can jump to 8:10 and watch the video to get more information of the directional pickup pattern.

Benefits of using shotgun mic for marching band

As is often the case, the marching band video is frequently taken from the 50-yard line bleachers, so it is good to use the shotgun mic for video to collect sounds at this distance.

Shotgun microphone is known for its great directionality and good off-axis rejection. Because of these features, you may set the microphone further away from what you're recording and still get clear, full-bodied audio with significantly less ambient room noise than if you used another type of microphone.

It can be compared to a cardboard paper towel roll in terms of operation. Concentrate on an object 50 feet away, then gaze at it through the paper towel roll. The item is no closer, but you can't see everything else surrounding it.

Shotgun mics also works on the same concept. They only focus on the sound sources that they point to even at a longer distance. So they can capture the sounds of instruments like bass perfectly in loud environment.

How to place shotgun mic for marching band recording?

You can try the following miking techniques as a start if you have four shotgun mics for marching band:

  • Place two microphones in an X-Y stereo arrangement at the 50-yard line. Then, on either side of the 50, set the other two microphones at the 30 (or 35).
  • Space all four mics evenly along the sideline, for example, each 40 and each 25.
  • To catch some ambiance, place one mic at the 50, one mic at each 30 (or 35), and the last mic near the press box.

If you take the number one technique, it offers stereo sounds. As for the other two techniques, the audio can be either mono or stereo. Just remember that experimentation is the key to the marching band miking. If the technique satisfies your ears, it can be the right one that you need.

How to mount it for marching band recording?

In addition, it is important to mount the shotgun mic properly in place so as to ensure high quality audio pickup. There are a few ways to mount it, but for marching band recording, a stand or boom arm is recommended.

It is a great way to leverage the high directionality of the shotgun mic by attaching it to a mic stand or boom pole. The mic should be pointed directly to the talents and a few feet above for the best audio results.

Conclusion

Recording marching band show is a large challenge indeed. Hopefully, you can utilize a shotgun mic for marching band to ensure audio pickup in outdoor area and focus on the target sounds. By testing the right miking technique and mounting the mic properly and stably, you are able to record the performance with pleasant audio and frame.