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Old January 21st, 2014, 11:38 PM   #1
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Shotgun Mic Recommendations

I have a decent amount of audio gear including recorders, lav mics, rode stereo video mic pro, etc and I would like to add a shotgun mic to my arsenal.

I am looking for a good shotgun mic that can be used as a reference/backup mic for weddings and as a general audio source for corporate and documentary work. I generally use lav mics as my main audio source.

After doing some research, its seems like the list below are the most commonly recommended shotgun mics under $300. Although mics like the MKH416, ME66, etc are considered the industry standard, they are more than what I need right now.

Rode VideoMic Shotgun
Rode NTG
Audio Technica AT897
Azden SGM X
Sennheiser MKE series

What would you guys recommend for my needs?
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Old January 22nd, 2014, 01:21 AM   #2
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Re: Shotgun Mic Recommendations

It would be helpful to know to which cameras you are connecting these mics. The Røde Video mics are 3.5mm stereo plugs and an Audio Technica is an XLR connection.

For my two cents worth on one of these options, I have an original Røde VideoMic, which is a shotgun style device and I have been very pleased with it.
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Old January 22nd, 2014, 04:05 AM   #3
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Re: Shotgun Mic Recommendations

Thank You!

I use Canon DSLRs(5DIII, 5DII, 6D) for most jobs.
For audio, I usually record into a Tascam DR-100 mkII, DR-40 and/or Zoom H1.
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Old January 22nd, 2014, 07:30 AM   #4
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Re: Shotgun Mic Recommendations

Hi Chad - I have an old Audio Technica AT835b that I got for less than $100 on eBay and I'm planning to upgrade soon, so I've been doing a lot of research in this area. A couple of thoughts:

First - I wouldn't buy a Rode VideoMic or a Sennheiser MKE300[/URL]. They have unbalanced 3.5mm outputs, which are unsuited to long cable runs. If you ever decide to get the mic off the camera and closer to your talent (e.g., on a boom), you are likely to get cable hum or noise. The mics on your list with professional XLR jacks have balanced outputs, which can be run through longer cables. You may find this explanation of balanced output from Wikipedia helpful.

Next - I would make sure to buy a mic with both battery and phantom power, so you can plug the mic directly into the camera without going through one of your Tascams. I plug my AT835b directly into my camera with an $11 (on sale, as of this post) Hosa XLR to 3.5mm line transformer impedance matching cable (see image below):


http://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-16...o/P1110864.JPG


All of that said, here's how I would rank the mics on your list:

1. Sennheiser MKE600 -$329.95 brand new with foam windscreen, basic shockmount and mic pouch - same price without accessories from Adorama.

2. Rode NTG-2 - $269

3. Audio Technica AT897 - $213 (on sale at Amazon as of this post)

4.
Azden SGM2X - $207
(lowest price I could find is at B&H). Part of the reason that this microphone is so inexpensive is because it is battery powered only - no phantom.

Bottom line: even though it's $30 over your $300 budget, I recommend the Sennheiser MKE600 for its superior frequency response, sensitivity and off-axis rejection. It is very close in performance to its more expensive siblings, the K6/ME66 and 416, as seen in this review:




Hope this is helpful and good luck with your decision!

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Old January 22nd, 2014, 06:21 PM   #5
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Re: Shotgun Mic Recommendations

I recently watched this video comparing some of the microphones in question in a noisy environment and found it useful. It may help you in your decision.


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Old January 22nd, 2014, 11:25 PM   #6
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Re: Shotgun Mic Recommendations

You have effectively demonstrated shotgun fact #001. Once you get far enough away from the source, 20 feet in this case, the relative merits of shotgun mics is diminished to the point of "who cares."

In real life, shotguns hug the frame and are typically no more than 18-24 inches from the talent.

I'm pretty sure the MKH 416 is more sensitive than the other mics. Did you do any gain adjustment to make them sound more equal in level?

And Chad, if you're not going to use a boom to get close enough, the one that'll probably get in the way most will likely be the MKH416 due to its length. I'm pretty sure a 416 will be unwieldy and in your shot if you try to mount it on your DSLR.

Regards,

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Old January 22nd, 2014, 11:40 PM   #7
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Re: Shotgun Mic Recommendations

It was interesting to see in that video that the Røde VideoMic which I have appeared to perform quite poorly. I do not use it in that type of scenario and have always gotten good results. I use it as an on camera mic as an alternative to the inbuilt mics in the camcorder. It certainly always gives better sound than them. On cameras where I have the ability to connect XLR mics, I never use it. I have even run it on the end of 20m of unbalanced cable without an issue, yes, that could have just been good luck, but I was without other options for the shoot.

On my XLR capable cameras, I have only the original mic, but that video did show me that it may be time to go up market. I also now have 20m of balanced cables to give me more options for sound if I ever run into the situation I had as mentioned above.
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Old January 22nd, 2014, 11:46 PM   #8
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Re: Shotgun Mic Recommendations

Tim,

If you are booming, try a Rode NTG-3.

Here's my review....

Ty Ford Audio and Video: Search results for ntg-3

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old January 23rd, 2014, 12:08 AM   #9
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Re: Shotgun Mic Recommendations

Thanks Ty, that was very interesting reading. I will have to start saving up!
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Old January 23rd, 2014, 08:49 AM   #10
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Re: Shotgun Mic Recommendations

Tim,

Thanks! Unlike cameras du jour that come and go like the weather, good mics last a long time.

Also, the above mic test obscured another important differentiator - self noise.

By shooting in a noisy environment the relative selfnoises of the mics was totally obscured. This would not be important if you always shot in a lot of noise, but if you were in a studio environment or on a quiet Serengeti Plain on a nature shoot, the self noise of some of those mics would be intrusive.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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