In video production, shotgun microphone is widely regarded as the go-to standard for getting high-quality audio. As we all know, audio quality is key to video recording. That’s the reason why it’s important to select the right microphone and use it appropriately. So what is a shotgun microphone used for? Before that, let’s have a brief understanding of it.
What is a shotgun microphone?
A shotgun microphone belongs to directional microphone, which is good at capturing sound in front of it while blocking ambient noise from the sides and rear. Several types of shotgun microphones are used in recording. The followings are common types.
There are different ways to classify the shotgun microphone. According to the device applied to, there are shotgun microphone for camera, off-camera shotgun mic and shotgun microphone for phone.
If classified by pickup patterns, there are the super cardioid shotgun microphone, hypercardioid and ultracardioid shotgun mics.
Also, it can be classified by the length of shotgun, including long, medium and short shotgun microphones, which affects the using situations.
What are different lengths of shotgun mics used for?
The length of the shotgun microphone plays an important role in determining the situations where you use your microphone.
Short shotgun mics are widely used and commonly mounted on cameras. They are durable and portable thanks to the small size. Although owning short shotgun, it is still more directional and precise than lavalier microphones. The shotgun microphone range is 4 feet. But for better audio, you can put it 2 feet away from the subject.
Due to these characteristics, it is ideal to use short shotgun microphone for interview, vlogging, video conference, interview and such situations where you need a portable but directional mic. In most cases, it is the best shotgun microphone for smartphone and other mobile devices.
Medium shotgun microphone has more directional pickup pattern and reject more off-axis sound than the short one. In most cases, it requires XLR input and external power, known as XLR shotgun mic. In general, it works well in the range of six feet and gets best sound at around three.
If you are booming and recording voices for TV and film, a medium shotgun microphone is the safest bet. They’re extremely directional but still simple to use and provide you some flexibility in placement.
Long shotgun microphones have a very tight pickup pattern. Because of it, a boom operator is needed to point the microphone at the subject since changes in the microphone angle can be highly evident with a drop off in audio if not paid attention to.
Though it is common for you to keep your microphone as close to the target as possible, a long shotgun microphone can be used from a distance of roughly nine feet if there isn't too much noise outside.
Long shotgun mic is the best shotgun microphone for outdoors shooting since they have the tightest pattern and the longest range.
Pros and cons of using shotgun mic
When we use shotgun mic for streaming, it features many advantages, including
- It directly concentrates on the target sound.
- It helps reduce ambient sounds in the noisy environment.
- It provides clear sound quality.
- It saves time for post-production.
But there are also some disadvantages when using shotgun microphone which includes:
- You need to aim it at the subject exactly for good recording.
- It needs a boom operator to control the sound.
Shotgun microphone VS lavalier: the differences in uses
When used appropriately, shotgun mics and lavaliers, often known as lapel mics, can both capture high-quality audio. Both microphones are excellent for discourse, vlogging, and interviewing, but there are some differences when they are used.
Lavalier mics are usually clipped to the subject, even omnidirectional models can provide a strong signal-to-noise ratio due to their close proximity to the sound source, which means it can move with you and provides good audio. Therefore, it is ideal for the mobile shooting and cross-talk. For example, if you have an interview and need to move around, it is good to use lav mic for your and the interviewee.
Despite the fact that directed lavs are available, shotguns typically have a tighter pickup pattern and a more adaptable form factor. When compared to lavaliers, shotgun mics might sound more natural, and don't require much operation before the shooting begins. That is, you don't have to clip the mic properly and make sure it works well - something you need to do when using lav mic. As a result, it is a choice for simple and high-quality sound recording.
Q: When should I use a shotgun microphone?
A: When you need to capture sound without any background noise, a shotgun is a good solution. It comes in handy when you need to isolate a specific sound source in a crowded or noisy environment.
Q: When is a shotgun microphone not recommended?
A: When you need to record more than one sound source at the same time, a shotgun mic is an ideal choice.
Q: Why do I hear wind noise when my mic is used?
A: Wind noise is a sort of handling noise that is distinct from other noises. This can be caused by a multitude of factors. A damp capsule, a bad cable, or even a lack of a windscreen could all be to blame. Here are some suggestions for lowering handling noise.
① Maintain a low-humidity atmosphere for your microphones.
② Get a shotgun microphone windscreen and isolate the microphone as much as possible to reduce the amount of environmental noise.
③ Check the cables are properly connected both to the mic and the interface or mixer.
Q: What is the frequency response?
A: It ranges from 20Hz to 20kHz. However, it is dependent on the company and the model.
Q: What is a polar pattern?
A: The polar pattern refers to the sensitivity of sound picked up from various angles around the microphone. It’s the “listening space” in a nutshell. Because not all microphone diaphragms are created equal, the polar pattern for each might vary. This has an impact on how the microphone sounds as well as how much sound it picks up.
Q: How are cardioid & super-cardioid microphones different?
A: A super-cardioid microphone is substantially more directional than a cardioid microphone. It has the same directivity as a cardioid, but it lowers noise in front of the mic considerably more, typically by 10dB.