A high quality shotgun mic is one of the greatest investments you can make as an aspiring filmmaker or sound guy. The shotgun microphone is a highly directional device used to capture audio in just about every production, at any scale. This should be the first audio device you purchase, and we’re here to help you find the best one for your budget and needs! Don’t understand the listed features or technical mumbo jumbo? At the bottom of our list, we’ve also included a section explaining what these deciding factors mean, and why they are important to consider when purchasing a Shotgun Mic. So, without further ado, we present FilmToolKit’s Top 5 Best Shotgun Mics For Film!
- 1 Why Should You Buy a Shotgun Mic?
- 2 The Top 5 Best Shotgun Mics For Film – Our Picks
- 2.1 1. Rode NTG-8 Shotgun Microphone (Our Pick For Best Shotgun Mic).
- 2.2 1.5 The Rode NTG-3 Is An Excellent Alternative At A Lower Price.
- 2.3 2. Sennheiser MKE 600 Camcorder Shotgun Microphone (Best Shotgun Mic Under $350)
- 2.4 3. Audio-Technica AT875R Line + Gradient Condenser Microphone (Best Shotgun Mic Under 200)
- 2.5 4. Rode Videomic Product Line (Best Shotgun Mic For Interviews/On-Camera)
- 2.6 5. TAKSTAR SGC-598 Interview Microphone(Best Cheap Shotgun Mic)
- 3 Essential Shotgun Mic Accessories
- 4 How Do We Determine The Best Shotgun Mic?
Why Should You Buy a Shotgun Mic?
- By far the best choice for picking up sound in a specific direction due to the hypercardioid pickup pattern.
- Best for recording Dialogue in films.
- Can be attached to the top of a DSLR for high quality audio of whatever is being shot.
- Blocks unwanted noise from other directions.
- Great for non-ideal acoustic situations.
- The industry standard for sound in Film and TV.
Shotgun mics are the most widely used sound recording device in all of film. Unless you’re using lavalier microphones to record audio when you can’t get close to the actors, you’re pretty much always going to need to go with a shotgun mic.
They are often mounted to a boom pole to pick up the signal as close to the source as possible. Cheaper ones are often attached to the top of a DSLR to bump up the quality of the in-camera audio.
The Top 5 Best Shotgun Mics For Film – Our Picks
1. Rode NTG-8 Shotgun Microphone (Our Pick For Best Shotgun Mic).
With killer options at just about every price point from “Pro-sumer” to “Hollywood Professional”, The Rode NTG Line was an easy choice for the best shotgun mic. The NTG1, 2, 3, 4, and 8 are all top-tier professional grade shotgun microphones of varying refinement. Out of all of their options, the NTG-8 is by far the most powerful.
What really knocks Rode microphones of the park is the excellent 10 year warranty. This length is significantly longer than other manufacturer’s, and guarantees that your hefty investment is a safe one. Any sort of defect not caused by user damage will be fully covered for up to 10 years with online registration.
Here’s an audio sample from the NTG8!
As you can tell, the sound is very warm, and is as crisp as you are going to get with any shotgun microphone. Although the NTG-8 is quite expensive, we think that this is a necessary addition to any professional audio recording kit.
Here’s our rationale. You use a shotgun microphone when you want to get highly directional, focused, crisp audio. The Rode NTG-8’s ridiculously long body allows it to reject a massive amount of sound off axis with a needle-like pickup pattern. The length also helps it to reject lower frequencies, a problem most short shotgun microphones suffer from. You’ll also find that you get much more usable recordings at longer ranges due to the narrow pickup.
This thing is so long that it requires a specially engineered shock mount (included) to properly stabilize it. This special shock mount also provides it with extremely low handling noise. This combined with the incredibly low self-noise makes for a very clean recording.
If all of this praise towards the fantastic audio quality wasn’t enough, you will be very pleased to find out that the RF bias technology makes this microphone perform very well in adverse weather conditions too. Condensation can often destroy your recordings, but this microphone, and the NTG-3 we discuss below, are both very resistant to moisture.
If you’re looking for the best of the best, the Rode NTG-8 is a solid, hyper focused choice used throughout the industry.
Our Verdict: The best of the best. The polar pattern is very narrow, which is what shotgun mics are intended for. The warranty makes it the safest choice.
If you don’t want to shell out $1000 for that mile-long microphone, you may want to look into the rode NTG-3! This is our go-to recommendation if you would prefer a more well rounded shotgun microphone as opposed to the highly specialized NTG-8.
More than $300 cheaper than the NTG-8, The NTG-3 also brings broadcast quality audio to the table, in an arguably more well rounded package. Because it is not as long and laser-focused as the NTG-8, the NTG-3 brings the same high-fidelity sound in a pickup pattern closer to what you would find in other typical shotgun microphones. Here’s an audio sample.
As you can tell the sound quality is superb, and is on par with that of its longer brother. The only difference we could discern is that the NTG-8 has a slightly more warm sound profile. The off-axis rejection is still superb, although you will hear a lot more than you would with the NTG-8.
This model, like the NTG-8, is designed specifically to withstand adverse environmental conditions, and comes with an excellent weatherproof storage cylinder to keep your microphone safe in all conditions. If you are planning on purchasing a Rode Blimp to go along with your microphone, this will have to be your choice, as the NTG-8 is a bit too long to fit inside.
It also has an excellent feature that sets this microphone apart from typical supercardioid shotgun microphones.They have eliminated the pickup area behind the microphone, reducing embarrassing noises from the boom operator. Oddly enough, in many situations, the NTG-3 may outperform the NTG-8. The NTG-3 is shorter, and has a more broad polar pattern, reducing the odds that you may not point your microphone directly at the target. It is more agile, easier to use, and is also considerably cheaper.
2. Sennheiser MKE 600 Camcorder Shotgun Microphone (Best Shotgun Mic Under $350)
Sennheiser is a well established brand in the film and music industry known for making excellent microphones. The MKE 600 is a competitively priced option is the best well rounded shotgun mic on this list. Reviewers are very happy with this microphone, and have often been quoted saying that it is above and beyond anything at the $300 price range.
Here is an audio sample of the Sennheiser MKE600!
We think that this audio quality is excellent for YouTube productions of all scales, as well as independent films and even lower-end commercial work. The frequency response is an excellent 40 Hz to 20 kHz, standard for higher end shotgun microphones, and the supercardioid pickup pattern offers a more focused sound than cardioid alternatives.
If your recording configuration does not supply phantom power, this is the perfect choice, because it is also capable of being powered by AA batteries, reportedly for over 150 hours. The high pass filter is very effective at reducing wind noise, and although you will want to invest in a suspension system, the design is pretty good at suppressing handling noise.
Unfortunately this microphone lacks the same 10 year warranty that Rode has, but nevertheless, Sennheiser holds their products to an incredibly high standard of quality, and there are several users willing to vouch that their microphones have lasted them for years.
Our Verdict: Although it may not be as focused as the expensive Rode mics above, the Sennheiser MKE 600 offers excellent quality at a very affordable price.
3. Audio-Technica AT875R Line + Gradient Condenser Microphone (Best Shotgun Mic Under 200)
I thought finding a microphone for this category would be easy, but it turns out the best boom mics are usually really expensive! The Audio-Technica AT875R is a short yet effective shotgun microphone with excellent sound rejection from the sides and rear. Vocals are crisp and pop well, and the frequency response is impressive for a microphone of this price. Weighing under 12 ounces, it is agile enough to mount on any DSLR rig, and is very easy to handle on a boom pole.
What really impressed us was how many reviews praised this microphone for being the best shotgun mic for the money. The quality is very disproportionate to the price – you can achieve a professional sound for your indie films without breaking the bank. If you’re not doing audio for big TV shows and Movies, you’ll really never need more than this.
This is really above and beyond anything on the market at the price range. The frequency response is 90hz-20kHz, which is a bit less wide than the other microphones we’ve reviewed, but as you can tell from the audio sample below, it gets the job done.
Audio Technica is a trusted, high quality brand for audio equipment. With over 150 reviews on amazon, there are still absolutely no negative reviews. Although we advise that you pair any shotgun mic with an appropriate suspension shock mount, the AT875R has an audio response already tailored to minimize camera and handling noise. It does require phantom power, so make sure the rest of your system will be capable of supplying it!
Our Verdict: BY FAR the best value on this list, and the perfect choice for those looking to spend under $200 on their shotgun mic.
4. Rode Videomic Product Line (Best Shotgun Mic For Interviews/On-Camera)
If you’re looking for a simple solution for indie jobs, commercials, or YouTube videos, the Rode Videomic line has several options which are simple and easy to use. This is our number one recommendation if you are only planning on using your microphone mounted on-camera.
What sets these apart from our other recommendations, is that they come bundled with several essential accessories and allow you to start shooting right after you open the box. Every model includes a windshield and a suspension stabilizer to reduce noise from wind and handling respectively. They all also feature the awesome Rode 10 year warranty we talked about back in the NTG section!
There are several different options at varying price points, we’ll briefly discuss the differences between them here.
The cheapest model with the smallest profile is the VideoMic GO.
Here’s a quick sample of the Videmic Go’s audio quality.
The frequency response range is smaller than the other two options, ranging from only 100Hz-16kHz. This means your audio profile and dynamic range will somewhat suffer, but you can use the audio clip provided above to determine whether or not you think it will still be good enough for you.
If you’re working with a point-and-shoot or an entry level DSLR, this is an excellent choice. The camera will supply sufficient power, so there’s no need for phantom or batteries. This mic is an excellent value at less than $100, and is the best low-end choice you’re gonna find.
Here’s the Videomic’s audio sample
The videomic base model is an excellent mid range choice with a very reasonable price around $150. Aimed towards camcorders and mid-range DSLRs, this mic is powered by a 9 volt battery and features a much wider frequency response range: 40Hz-20kHz.
This model includes a high pass filter for excessive wind and white noise. Another key feature is a level switch for both -10dB and -20dB, which cuts down the input and allows you to record loud audio at events and concerts. This is, quite obviously, the best mid range choice.
Finally, here’s a sample of the Videomic Pro-R:
It’s subtle, but you can tell that this model has the highest quality and most dynamic sound of all the videomic variations.
The Videomic Pro-R also includes a high pass filter, as well as a more diverse level control function. This microphone can be adjusted between -10dB, 0, and +20dB to help carefully tune your sensitivity in both loud and quiet environments. This is the perfect choice for high-end DSLRs, and even full frame cameras.
It’s also powered by a mid range battery, and shares the same excellent 40Hz-20kHz frequency response that the Videomic has.
It’s a marginal improvement over the videomic. What we really like are the features that the Videomic Pro-R + adds. An internal, rechargable battery, a wider frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz, and a safety channel to help prevent signal clipping during large spikes in volume make it the best in class choice for on-camera shotgun microphones.
Our Verdict: Several well priced options complete with mounting and line connections. The gold standard for DSLR-mounted shotgun mic all-in-ones. The Pro-R + is amazing.
5. TAKSTAR SGC-598 Interview Microphone(Best Cheap Shotgun Mic)
This is the best interview shotgun mic you’ll be able to find if you’re looking to upgrade your camera’s audio while spending as little as possible. As long as you understand what you’re getting, you’ll be very satisfied.
Here’s an Audio Sample Of The Takstar:
We think that considering this microphone costs less than $30, that audio quality is outstanding! There is quite a bit of static as you can tell compared to the other options, but still provides you with decent sounding audio that most people won’t question.
This is also a great buy due to the fact that it comes with a shock mount to remove handling noise! None of our other options include this, not even the $1000 NTG-8, and purchasing one on its own can cost you between 10-50 bucks! That’s more than what you paid for this microphone!
You probably won’t be able to, or even want to, mount this onto a boom pole. Hell, the boom pole will likely cost you 4 times as much as the mic itself! But for hobbyists looking for a way to upgrade the audio quality on their DSLR, the TAKSTAR SGC-598 is an excellent choice that will cost you next to nothing.
Our Verdict: Not even in the same realm as the other items on this list, but it’s a huge leap over in-camera audio, and can fit in any budget. We’re very impressed with the value!
Essential Shotgun Mic Accessories
Shotgun mics are different than most of the equipment we usually talk about in that they require a lot of accessories if you want to get the best use out of them. Here’s a list of all the accessories you should purchase when crafting the best shotgun microphone setup.
Unless you’re going with one of our last two choices, you’re going to need to purchase a Boom pole. For the uninformed, a boom pole is an adjustable, sturdy, lightweight stick that you use to mount your shotgun mic and get it as close to the talent as possible.
Lucky for you, we recently put together a list of the best boom poles, that reviews several of the best options at many different price points.
Our favorite from that list was the Rode Boompole, a stick with excellent construction and internal cabling at a great value.
If you would like to see the full review, or check out some of our cheaper recommendations, take a look at the full article.
If you’re planning on doing any shooting outside with your shotgun microphone, you’re going to need some sort of windshield. Of course, there are several cheap options, but if you just dropped several hundred on a mic and a pole, why should you skimp out now?
Sure, it is very, very pricey. But, this article is here to help you craft the best possible boom microphone. So if having that is your goal, this is an essential piece of the puzzle. Although it is designed specifically for the Rode NTG1, 2, and 3, this blimp is compatible with all of our suggested microphones (Except the NTG-8).
The Rycote Lyre suspension system will never snap, sag, or wear out like other suspension devices might, and the “dead wombat” is the killer feature here.
Why should you pay over 200 dollars for something like this? Well, while other windshields will work to some extent, this blimp absolutely kills the wind noise. At 4.8 stars on amazon, several reviewers have mentioned that this blimp is capable of completely silencing winds exceeding 20 Mph. If you’re shooting in areas where wind is often a problem, this is a must buy.
Plus, this device handles the shock mount suspension component as well, so you won’t need to purchase one. We’ll talk about what that does next.
You’re going to need a device to properly mount your microphone onto your camera or boom pole. Without this, your microphone will be susceptible to a large amount of noise from your movement and handling of your equipment. This will ruin your audio quality, so a proper suspension piece is an absolute necessity. Luckily, they are pretty cheap!
Our recommendation is the Rode SM3 Shock Mount. It’s a bit more expensive than the competition, but it is designed specifically with The NTG1, 2, 3, and 4 in mind. It has a super low profile, removes practically ally handling vibrations, and is much less prone to snapping than the $10 aftermarket alternatives.
If you don’t have anything left in your budget for a $45 dollar shock mount, We advise you go with the Movo SMM1. It is made with mics like the NTG and MKE-600 in mind, and is more durable than many of the other similarly priced options. It even comes with a few extra rubber bands for when the original ones snap.
Both of these options come with camera shoe adapters so that they can be screwed onto either the end of your boom pole, or top of your camera.
Unless you’re attaching it on camera, chances are you’re going to be needing an XLR cable. Several of our recommendations do not include one, and it is absolutely essential that you purchase a longer one if you are planning on operating with a boom pole.
This 25 Foot XLR Male to Female cable from Amazon Basics should give you enough length for pretty much any shooting situation. If you’d prefer a shorter one, here are listings for 20, 15, and 10 foot cables as well.
How Do We Determine The Best Shotgun Mic?
Microphone Audio Quality
Rather obviously, the most important factor you should be considering when picking a microphone is the audio quality.
Some microphones feature level attenuation adjustment which allows the recording of very loud audio levels without distortion. If you’re going to be recording concerts or live events, this can be pretty useful.
High Pass Filters
Some microphones come with high pass filtering features included. This is basically a filter that reduces noise below a cutoff frequency. This is typically used for reducing wind and white noise in your recordings.
Frequency Response Range
Frequency response is a measure of the output spectrum of your microphone in response to stimulus. Typically you want a flat frequency response, or 20Hz-20kHz. These microphones may be referred to as Flat Response microphones, but different frequency response ranges can result in better bass or treble response.
Signal to noise ratio
This is very important, but unless you don’t spend very much, you likely won’t have to worry about this. The signal to noise ratio is basically how much noise your microphone makes when there is no sound being recorded. The only microphone we recommended that has any noticeable white noise is the TAKSTAR, but that one is under 30 bucks.
Build Quality / Durability
If you’re a person who is not the best at handling their equipment, build quality and durability might just be the most important factor.
Most of the microphones we recommended don’t have issues with longevity, but it goes without saying that the more you pay, the longer you can expect your microphone to last. We’ve seen reports of all of the $200+ microphones lasting 10 years or longer, so you can definitely depend on them.
Some mics like the NTG-3 have special features that allow them to withstand different environmental conditions. The NTG-3 has RF bias technology making it completely resistant to moisture. That means its the only option in shooting environments where condensation is a problem.
Microphones can have a wide variety of different pickup patterns. The Polar Pattern of a microphone, also known as the directionality, refers to how the microphone hears things coming from different directions. Here are a few different pickup patterns.
Shotgun mics are exclusively either Cardioid or SuperCardioid. Now, Supercardioid is not necessarily a direct upgrade of Cardioid, but rather a variation.
All “shotgun” mics are Cardioid microphones. They pick up sound directly in front of them, and have little to no sensitivity on the sides and behind them.
The Supercardioid pickup pattern have an even tighter pattern directly in front of the mic, closes off and rejects noise from the sides, and then includes a small pickup area on the rear side. It’s more focused, but the rear pickup zone may be undesirable depending on your recording conditions.
The shotgun mics we reviewed on our list can be as expensive as 1000$. You can’t really afford to risk buying a defective product at that rate, so it’s a good idea to make sure your shotgun mic has a solid warranty. We we’re most impressed with Rode for this category, as they offered a 10 year extension on warranty for all mics that are registered online. The typical range for other companies is only 1-3 years!