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The Best Way to Use Shotgun Mic for Audio Interviews


Using a shotgun mic for audio interviews is a great choice if you want high-quality audio when recording speaking dialogues. While using a shotgun microphone is often done to record a professional film, it also works great for video interviews with an emphasis on audio recording because of how it captures the sound source accurately.

Since using a shotgun microphone requires a bit of delicate handling and technicalities, we’re here to let you know the best ways how to handle shotgun microphones.

Can You Use a Shotgun Microphone for an Interview?

The Best Way to Use Shotgun Mic for Audio Interviews

Generally speaking, you can choose from a variety of microphone types for audio recording. Although lavalier mics are most commonly used for such applications, using shotgun microphones is also a great choice and will have its own pros.

Shotgun mics are highly directional microphones because of their hyper-cardioid pickup patterns. Said pickup pattern will also help in rejecting background noise and off-axis sounds while maintaining control over the sounds or person being recorded inside the room. Hence, the name “shotgun” because it will only pick up the sound source it is pointed directly at.

However, you will need a boom operator if you want to record detailed and clear audio. Although this will require more people to operate the microphone unlike lavalier mics where you typically need to clip the microphone to the person, hearing the documentary-style quality audio will make the added steps all the more worth it.

Fret not about having to hold and carry a shotgun mic though as these microphones are lightweight and sturdy. Simply attaching a shotgun mic to a boom pole or boom arm will help keep it in place for the boom operator to easily hold on to.

Where Do You Put Shotgun Mics for an Interview?

The Best Way to Use Shotgun Mic for Audio Interviews

Due to the high-directionality nature of a shotgun microphone, it is important to know the best mic placement and position when using this recording device inside or outside a room. Below are some of the tips that will help capture high-quality sounds while making sure that your shotgun mic is mounted securely.

General Tips

Boom pole-mounted shotgun microphones will need to be tied securely and tightly. We recommend using a boom pole that has an inside cable coil to help keep the microphone attached. For added safety measures, the microphone cord can be wrapped around the boom pole as many times as possible to keep it firmly attached.

If your shotgun mic is mounted via a boom pole, remind the boom operator to stretch before the recording takes place. We wouldn’t want the shot to get ruined because of a shaky boom as the mic might be caught on camera or inside the frame. Another way for your mic to be supported while using a boom is to make use of a C-Stand holder.

If you would like to opt out of a boom pole, then you may mount the shotgun microphone using a tripod. The most important thing is to find a sturdy stand that will keep the mic outside of the video frame but at a close enough distance to hear the person you intend to record talk. Otherwise, you may not capture usable audio.

Invest in an audio recorder that is compatible with your mic and camera if you would like to have more control over the sound or audio quality. An audio recorder will help you tweak the sensitivity settings of the sound being recorded. A great example of when to use this is if you cannot control the noise inside a room and the sound subject needs more tweaking for it to be audible.

Placement and Position

Typically, shotgun microphones need to be as close to the sound source as possible in order to get the best sound recording. You will need to be mindful that the microphone stays out of the shot, otherwise, it will be captured on film or on camera if you are doing a live video recording.

However, the distance can vary depending on the type of shotgun microphone you own. For example, entry-level shotgun microphones will need to be positioned at least three to four feet away from the sound or audio source while more expensive models can have a distance as far as six to 10 feet despite its pickup pattern.

To reject off-axis sounds and unwanted noise, make sure that the microphone is aimed toward the sound or audio source you intend to record. We recommend you do a test recording inside the room and monitor using headphones if you hear any background noise. This will ensure you that your mic is not picking up any noise other than the sound or subject matter you are recording.

If you intend on using a boom for your microphone because you’re using a video camera to shoot the exchange, then place the boom mic a few feet above the sound or audio source. Not only will this keep the boom mic out of the video but it also produces the best audio recording that is clear enough for the dialogue to be heard. This kind of placement and positioning will also allow you to pick up two sources or more for audio-video material.

How Many Shotgun Microphones Do You Need for Recording Interviews?

The Best Way to Use Shotgun Mic for Audio Interviews

Using multiple mics is not needed if you plan on conducting solo sessions, especially if these are seated interviews. However, you do have the option to make use of more than one mic if that is your preferred sound. If that is the case, then here are some tips to be mindful of.

Make sure to use identical microphones. If you plan on using a shotgun microphone, then your second mic should be of the same type. This will help you later on during the sound mixing process as editing sound from varying microphone types will give you different characteristics that can be difficult to post-process.

If the subjects are moving about and a boom or tripod is out of the picture to keep the microphone still, then make use of cardioid or super-cardioid shotgun microphones. It will help you gain control over the audio while still reducing the noise that can be picked up.

Final Note

If you want your finished audio to have a filmlike quality and feel, then using a shotgun microphone can do the trick for you. For other microphone options, check out our guide on the best microphone for interviews.

Naomi Feller

Originally from the East Coast, Naomi started singing as young as 3 years old. In her early teens Naomi made some embarrassing YouTube videos before settling on a love for Podcast editing. When she's not pouring over endless amounts of audio, she lends her expertise to us here at Shout4Music with her crystal clear and finely tuned microphone reviews.

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