Klover Products has been focused on capturing audio from long distances since 2012. We have sold hundreds of parabolic microphones designed to do exactly that. In addition, we have spent many hours testing both parabolic microphones and shotgun microphones in order to better understand the best options for capturing long-range audio. Obviously, there are advantages and disadvantages to each type of microphone.
Most people are familiar with a shotgun microphone. They are seen wherever you see a video camera. A shotgun microphone is a type of directional microphone that is designed to pick up sound from a specific direction while rejecting noise from other directions. It gets its name from its long, narrow shape, which is similar to the barrel of a shotgun.
What is a shotgun microphone?
They are typically used in situations where it is important to capture sound from a specific direction while minimizing noise from other directions. They are commonly used in film and television production, as well as for recording lectures, interviews, and other types of speech.
How do shotgun mics work?
Shotgun mics are actual a standard microphone element (or diaphragm) at the end of, a long hollow tube. That hollow tube, called an interference tube, use a series of small slots along its to reject sound that’s not coming from directly in front of it. Microphone manufacturers spend huge amounts of time and money trying to perfect the design of their interference tubes.
As shown below, some shotgun microphones have very sophisticated interference tubes, while others have very, very simple ones. Not surprisingly the product on the right has a very wide pickup pattern.
How are shotgun mic used?
Shotgun microphones are typically mounted on a boom pole or other support to allow them to be positioned close to the sound source. This is because a shotgun mice provides no mechanical amplification, only rejection. They rely solely on electronic amplification. It will be up to your amplifier, recorder, etcetera to amplify the signal captured by that microphone element.
It is very common to see shotgun microphone mounted inside wind covers or blimps as the slots in the interference tube are susceptible to wind noise. Shock mounts are also frequently used to reduce handling noise.
Our microphone testing
In our testing we found many products advertised as “shotgun microphones” actually have pickup patterns that are not directional at all. Many of these products are advertised as having “cardioid” or “super-cardioid” pickup patterns. Microphone manufacturers have thousands of mics with these same pickup patterns that are not advertised as “shotgun mics”. A search on any online electronics store for “supercardioid microphone” will show a number of products called a shotgun mic.
It is our opinion that a microphone with “cardioid” or “super-cardioid” pickup pattern should not be considered to be a “shotgun mic”. This designation gives many users the impression that the product will be far more directional, or focused than it actually is. (We have a series of articles discussing types of microphones as well as the different pickup patterns coming soon. Please check back if you are interested in more information on those subjects.)
While we cannot change how manufacturers describe their products, we want customers to be aware that just because a product is called a shotgun mic does not mean it will be any more directional than any other mic not called a shotgun. Please be warned.