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Old July 18th, 2009, 11:51 PM   #1
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Looking for suggestions: Shotgun mic for long distances?

Hi,

Just curious if anyone knows of a good shotgun mic that can pick up sounds for longer distances? Kinda looking for a mic that would allow me to focus in on wildlife without disturbing wildlife. :D

Thanks!
M
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Old July 19th, 2009, 01:37 AM   #2
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There are some other threads on this topic that have lots of good suggestions. Check them out...

Personally, I'd stay away from parabolic reflectors. These get the most throw, but can really muck with your frequency and phase responses.

The end solution really depends on your budget, but I'd focus on the quietest preamp/recorder (24-bit) that you can afford, and go with a long shotgun with low-noise and sensitivity as priorities.

If your noise is low enough, you can boost the gain enough to hear your target critter. If the mic isn't super directional, you'll hear insects, water, and other critters as well, but at least this is natural. If you don't have low noise stuff, boost your signal, and all you'll hear is hiss. It doesn't matter how directional your stuff is if it's smothered in hiss, or distorted by noise reduction.

And don't forget wind noise. Make sure to budget for a blimp and/or some fur to shield your microphone.
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Old July 19th, 2009, 06:17 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Micky Hulse View Post
Hi,

Just curious if anyone knows of a good shotgun mic that can pick up sounds for longer distances? Kinda looking for a mic that would allow me to focus in on wildlife without disturbing wildlife. :D

Thanks!
M
At the risk of repeating other threads, understand that shotgun mics DO NOT reach out and magnify distant sounds in the same manner that a telephoto lens magnifys distant images. Shotguns are no more sensitive to distant sound than is any other type of mic. What they ARE is directional, having reduced sensitivity to sounds arriving from the sides and rear, away from the direction where they're aimed. Since the amount of extraneous sound being picked up is reduced compared to the level of the desired sound, you can sometimes increase the recording gain a little and bring up the level of the desired sound that way. But we're still talking fairly close-in work here compared to the distances you're likely thinking about for wildlife filming. When recording human speech the general working distance for a long shotgun is about 3 to 4 feet and even the most sensitive and expensive shotguns made will max out at about 8 feet from the subject - even that much is iffy away from an acoustically deadened soundstage. Wildlife bellowing would be louder than speech of course and so you would be able to work considerably farther away but still, even with long guns costing multiple thousands of dollars you're not likely to get the high quality recordings at the hundreds of yards ranges I'll bet you're hoping for.

There are only a relatively few long shotguns on the market. One is the Neumann KMR82i, list about $2600 US but available for a tad under $2k. Another is the Shure SM89, about $800. Audio Technica BP4071 & BP4071L also fall into the long gun category. There are some others but that should get your search started if you want to try to go that route.
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Last edited by Steve House; July 19th, 2009 at 10:53 AM.
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Old July 19th, 2009, 09:51 AM   #4
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Just to add the sennheiser 816 or look out for a second hand 805 or 815

A rycote full blimp is essential.
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Old July 19th, 2009, 12:20 PM   #5
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WoW! Excellent information all! Many many thanks! I really appreciate the pro advice. :)

Sorry that I missed those other threads. I will do a better forum search now. :(

Again, thanks for the feedback. Thanks to you folks, these forums have been a life saver and time saver. :)

Have a great day!
Cheers,
M
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Old July 19th, 2009, 12:35 PM   #6
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While it is not a super "long" shotgun per se, the Audio Technica AT 4073a is a pretty "hot" mic and that can help it at a distance.

Last edited by Chris Swanberg; July 19th, 2009 at 04:11 PM.
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Old July 19th, 2009, 12:43 PM   #7
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Of course, for many years it was quite common to add in the sound afterwards, from a large sound effects library of sound effects. Who would know?
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Old July 19th, 2009, 01:22 PM   #8
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At the budget end is the AT815b. It's physically long, but not all that narrow acoustically, the off-axis rolloff isn't all that smooth, it's not very sensitive, and the noise spec could be better. It's not as bad as that description makes it sound, but hopefully, your budget lets you step up from that level. I'd set that mic as the absolute lowest that your budget should take you. Hopefully, you can afford more.

Still, I'd rather go with the AT815b and a clean preamp/recorder than a $2,000 mic and a noisy system.
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Old July 19th, 2009, 02:31 PM   #9
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Shotgun mics aren't magic wands.
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Old July 19th, 2009, 03:35 PM   #10
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More good info. Thank you. :)
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Old July 19th, 2009, 04:15 PM   #11
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Shotgun mics aren't magic wands.
They are Talking Sticks. :)
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Old July 20th, 2009, 09:25 PM   #12
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Sennheiser MKH 70 also,

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Old July 21st, 2009, 10:52 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Chris Swanberg View Post
While it is not a super "long" shotgun per se, the Audio Technica AT 4073a is a pretty "hot" mic and that can help it at a distance.
I have a 4073a and use it for outdoor recording a lot. It is super hot and picks up everything. But one problem is it's super hot and picks up everything. Also, it's response isn't really flat, so it would depend on what range of sound you are trying to record on how well that range would stand out. It is very hot so pre-amp noise would be kept down.

It would be worth a try, and with good post processing might be good.
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Old July 21st, 2009, 11:20 AM   #14
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whereas the mkh70 is very uncolored.

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Old July 21st, 2009, 12:54 PM   #15
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I have seen great deals on long Sennheiser Shotguns on EBay, allot of aspiring indie film makers purchased them and found out they are for very specialized use.

here is one (you will need a T to xlr adapter): SENNHEISER MKH-805 SHOTGUN CONDENSER MIC MKH805 816 - eBay (item 260445356901 end time Aug-11-09 08:10:36 PDT)
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