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A shotgun mic is great at capturing sound source that is directly in front of it while rejecting unwanted sounds coming from the sides. Since shotgun mics are highly-directional microphones, they are the preferred choice for certain applications wherein you want your recordings to come out with a clear high-quality sound that is documentary-like.
However, the high directionality of a shotgun microphone makes it highly sensitive. With that said, there are certain applications wherein a shotgun microphone is best used given its high-sensitivity nature. In this article, we will be listing down the four best uses for shotgun mics.
Generally speaking, shotgun microphones can be used in varied applications because they can come in four different polar patterns: cardioid, supercardioid, hypercardioid, and omnidirectional. Depending on the polar pattern or pickup pattern of your shotgun mic, you can choose which application it can be used best for.
Aside from the pickup pattern of the shotgun mic, its waveform interference tube design helps it reject sound coming from the sides and in other directions apart from where the mic is directly pointed. With that said, using a shotgun microphone can be used in many applications because of its ability to capture sounds clearly even in noisy environments — provided that you position the mic directly to the sound source.
However, using a shotgun microphone in the following applications can even produce better sound quality recordings because they are designed specifically for these environments.
Due to the ability of shotgun microphones to reject background noise and off-axis sounds, they make for great recording devices for capturing dialogue and audio interviews.
The tubelike design of a shotgun mic makes it optimal for recording speech and dialogue while rejecting unwanted background noise. The interference tube allows the shotgun mic to funnel waves into a narrow aperture hence, it is also called an interference-type line microphone. These interference tubes allow the mic to target and focus on a specific sound source — acting like a narrow pickup pattern.
A shotgun mic with a hyper-cardioid polar pattern and an extended rear pickup will also make for a great choice for recording interviews and speeches. This specific polar pattern is great at rejecting off-axis sound while retaining quality audio that sounds great.
As interviews, lectures, or meetings are most likely to be seated situations, shotgun microphones would do well in these applications. Ideally, a shotgun mic will need to be stable and mounted on either a boom pole, tripod stand, or even a DSLR. With this, the shotgun mic doesn’t need to be attached or clipped to the person, unlike Lavalier mics. Although Lavalier microphones are still a great choice for this application, shotgun microphones will be able to produce a more professional and clear sound.
Although dynamic microphones are often used for live event applications, shotgun mics are also great at handling noise. Even in noisy environments, shotgun mics will be able to clearly capture the sound or person they are aimed directly at. For that reason, shotgun mics are great recording devices to use during live events such as concerts, conferences, or festivals.
The interference tube of a shotgun mic will help in rejecting unwanted sounds, off-axis sounds, and ambient noise. The highly-directional polar pattern will also help in filtering out the busy and noisy environment that otherwise could overpower your intended recording.
If you are worried that the shotgun mic might be too delicate to use in such rowdy or crowded locations, then fret not since the microphone capsule is sturdy and stable to withstand bustles.
If you want to capture ambient sound, then a shotgun mic is perfectly capable of doing so. Similar to how a shotgun microphone is great at capturing voices, it can also do so with sound.
The sound pickup of shotgun microphones makes them great at isolating specific sound sources and removing unwanted background noises. However, you may want to limit it to just one specific sound at a time so that you can maintain a clear sound.
For nature recording, opt for an omnidirectional microphone with a low self-noise level. This will assure you that your recordings will sound as natural as possible.
Plenty of filmmakers prefer shotgun mics because of the compact size and audio quality they are able to produce. A shotgun microphone produces nuanced and controllable sound levels that will help filmmakers and editors yield superior audio that is easy to mix and edit.
Since a shotgun microphone needs to be near the person or source being recorded, this will have to be mounted via a boom pole or tripod stand so it can be stable. The good news here is that you are assured that the microphone will be outside of the camera frame since you have control over its placement.
A shotgun microphone is great for recording speeches, dialogues, and voice-overs. Since it is also a directional microphone, you can still use it for recording vocals and singing applications. However, a dynamic microphone may be the better choice for such if you want the vocals to be more lively and pronounced.
The highly-directional polar pattern, tubelike design, and low-level sound of a shotgun microphone make it a great choice for applications where you want clear and focused audio recordings.
Perhaps the most popular shotgun microphone of Røde is the Videomic Pro. It is most known for personal video camera use and even personal audio recording. However, with good frequency response, strong filters, and powerful battery life, the Røde Videomic Pro Shotgun Microphone is also used by many professional videographers.
Since a shotgun microphone is built to reject unwanted sounds and background noise, using it indoors in a quiet setting may alter how the microphone interprets the usable signal level. Depending on the angle you place the mic, it may interpret certain sounds and waves as “unwanted” and see them as noise.
Shotgun microphones are some of the most expensive mics out there. Arguably, the parts, features, and technology they use justify the cost of a shotgun mic. Another con is the setup time needed in operating a shotgun mic. Depending on how you would like to use the microphone, you may need a boom operator to hold the boom pole.