A shotgun mic is a long, cylindrical-shaped microphone that is adept at isolating the sound source. It only picks up the sound source from in front of the mic while canceling all the sound sources from the sides and rear. Thus, it is especially useful to filter out all the other ambient sounds and noise around the recording environment. It’s designed to narrow down its pick up range while rejecting other ambient background sounds.
Uses of Shotgun Mic
There are around ten models of shotgun microphones from Rode itself available on the market right now. Rode seems to be more specialized in this shotgun mic category than to other categories such as lav, handheld, and USB mic categories. You will have a variety of choices available for your shotgun mic among the Rode’s models.
In fact, you need to have some technical knowledge to set up the Shotgun microphone correctly for optimum audio quality. Technically, this kind of microphone is normally heavily in professional sound industry productions such as film/video- making, theater, live sound, and sound effect productions.
However, shotgun mics can also be used in some common recording events such as presentations, speeches, conferences, lectures, and other speaking events where the human voice in a single direction is the only sound source to be picked up by the mic. It’s especially very useful when the speaker is speaking towards the mic’s direction in a fixed position within a reasonable distance.
If you plan to use it for recording singing performance, you will have better choose other types of the mic. The shotgun mic only picks up the isolated sound source that directly pointed to it without picking up any of the reverbs, tones and ambiance sounds of the room.
Things To Consider When Buying A Shotgun Microphone
Shotgun mics are hyper-cardioid mics. Its pickup pattern is very narrow to the point that the audio quality of the targeted sound source will deteriorate significantly if the targeted sound source is slightly off-axis occasionally.
If you are using it for capturing dynamic sounds such as singing and musical instruments, shotgun mics are not made for this kind of application.
However, it’s more suitable for an on-camera dialogue where the human speaking voice in front of the camera is the only sound source that needs to be captured.
2) Tube Length & Its Frequency Response
The tube length of the shotgun mic does affect its frequency response and pickup pattern.
Shotgun mic with a long tube, for instance, will only capture the on-axis sound and eliminate all the off-axis sound. Thus, it is very suitable for capturing distant sound sources, outdoor and in loud environments. This type of shotgun mic only suitable for capturing fixed sound sources that don’t move around so much. The sound quality will be affected even the sound source has slightly deviated from the mic’s direction axis. Otherwise, you will need a professional boom operator to handle the boom mic placement & direction.
Whereas, for the shotgun with a medium length tube, it is more suitable for general uses in most environments.
Shotgun mic with a short tube is more suitable for capturing shorter distance sound sources because it will pick some of the off-axis sounds in the minimum level. However, it still good at eliminating those off-axis high frequencies at some point.
There must be a shotgun microphone that suitable for you without breaking your budget. It’s all depends on your applications of using that mic. Alternatively, You can buy different shotgun mics for different recording purposes if you have a very deep pocket. In my opinion, having one or two shotgun mics that can apply to most of your recording purposes is the path you should pursue.
Rode Shotgun Mics Review
1) Rode Videomic Shotgun Microphone with Rycote Lyre Mount (Model: VIDEOMICR)
Backed by the popularity of its original VideoMic. Rode has replaced its original VideoMic with this improved and upgraded version. And this new model has become one of the most popular shotgun microphones for DSLR cameras in a very short period of time after launch.
It is connected through a 3.5mm stereo mini-jack. The user can control it’s level and filtering functions via the control button at the back of the mic itself. In terms of sound quality, It works great on the dialogue recordings and directional applications such as interviews and dialogue to cameras.
And it’s the model of shotgun mic that ideal for camcorders and mid-range DSLR.
2) Rode VideoMic Pro Compact VMP Shotgun Microphone
The applications of the Rode VideoMic Pro model are similar to the Rode Videomic model, which we have discussed above. But, its quality and features are better than the Videomic model. It’s more advanced at rejecting the off-axis sound than the VideoMic model.
Furthermore, It works great on applications such as interviews, dialogue to cameras, sporting events and other outdoor events in louder environments. And this model is ideal for high-end DSLR and full-frame cameras.
3) Rode NTG1 Condenser Shotgun Microphone
The RØDE NTG1 is an entry-level condenser shotgun microphone that suitable for filming, video, television, and other general video productions. It only weighs at 105gm with a 22 x219mm tube dimension. Thus, it’s an ideal shotgun mic to be used as an overhead boom microphone.
NTG1 has an excellent frequencies response from 20hz all the way up to 20khz, which means that you will get a very natural sounding tone from the actors, actress and the targeted sound source you are recording. And the selectable high-pass filter at 80Hz is just another very useful feature to handle the low-end noise and eliminate the off-axis noise (surrounding noise ) from being recorded
After all, it’s a great shotgun mic to use in the indoor environment. I would suggest you get an additional “DeadCat” furry windshield if you want to use it in the outdoor environment or high wind conditions.
4) Rode NTG2 Shotgun Microphone
This Rode NTG2 is just another entry-level shotgun mic like the NTG1 we have reviewed previously. NTG2 makes no difference if being compared to the NTG1’s features side-by-side. Like NTG1, the NTG2 does come with similar features such as 80Hz high-pass filter and 20hz – 20khz’s frequencies response features. However, NTG2 is a little longer than the NTG1 at the 22 x 280mm dimension.
The NTG2 is able to run on an AA battery, which the NTG1 can’t.
The only drawback of NTG2 is that it will pick up a little bit of background noise in the room during the recording.
As an entry-level mic, NTG2 still can be considered as a good mic to get the general video recording jobs done with acceptable audio quality if you are on a budget.
5) Rode NTG3 Super-Cardioid Condenser Microphone
The NTG3 is more superior and advanced than the NTG1 & NTG2. It is very durable and suitable to use outdoor and even in tough environments.
Its audio quality is better than NTG1 & NTG2 with richer and warmer sound quality and fuller frequency response.
Its excellent self-noise capability as low as 13dBA ( 50% less self-noise than most of the shotgun mics) and efficient low handling capability have made the NTG3 become a better directional shotgun microphone at eliminating the rumble rustle and buzz noises as compared with NTG1 and NTG2.
This Rode NTG3 is a super-cardioid condenser shotgun microphone. With maximum SPL of 130dB, it is very suitable for filming, electronic news gatherings with high-resolution broadcast audio. It is also suitable to use in orchestra or concert to capture the sound of individual musical instrument.
Unfortunately, it is without the high-pass and low-cut filter in this NTG3 model. But, the External RF-bias technology which is used in NTG3 is more than sufficient to compensate for its absence of high-pass and low-cut filter features.
Its RF-biased technology is designed to make NTG3 a true condenser shotgun mic to works in humid conditions with better audio pickup quality. The RF-biased technology utilizes in NTG4 is to make it a perfect mic that is resistant to the environmental moisture, incredibly low handling and high level of immunity to the radio frequency broadcast.
6) Rode NTG4 & NTG4 Plus Shotgun Microphones
The NTG4 Plus is the newest model positioned in the middle of entry-level NTG2 and professional-level NTG3 models.
So, what are the differences between Rode NTG4 and NTG4 PLUS? And what are the features they both have in common?
In fact, NTG4 & NTG4 PLUS are identical in terms of its features, except that NTG Plus can run on 48V Phantom Power and a USB rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery. In contrast, the NTG4 can only run on the 12V, 24V and 48V Phantom Power.
NTG4 and NTG4 Plus are the semi-professional directional shotgun microphones that have more features than the previous NTG1, and NTG2 microphones.
NTG4 & NTG4 Plus features a very user-friendly digital switching for the high-pass filter (Flat/up to 75hkz), PAD (-10db), High-Frequency Boost functions. They are both utilize the latest condenser capsule from Rode to produce the audio recording quality that is richer, smoother with lower noise and higher sensitivity in directional sound.
In general, NTG4 & NTG4 Plus are more suitable for on-camera and boom applications in filmmaking, sound productions, broadcasts and field recordings.
7) Rode NTG8 Broadcast Quality Shotgun Microphone
This Rode NTG8 is a professional high-end shotgun microphone that made based on the popularity of the NTG3 model. In fact, NTG8 is a step up from the NTG3.
NTG8 and NTG 3 are both using the same “RF-biased Technology” that is completely resistant to the humid and unstable outdoor environments. And both produce nearly the same level of sound quality, except that NTG8 is more selective in picking up the directional sound due to its longer shotgun tube.
After all, The NTG8 is a very high-end shotgun microphone that perfects for film-making, television, sports events, live performance, outdoor broadcastings and other distance miking purposes with high-resolution broadcast audio.
Most shotgun microphones from Rode are quite good at capturing directional on-axis sound. However, it is suitable for most of your applications, it’s crucial to make sure the shotgun mic has the essential features such as low self-noise and high sensitivity with more natural on-axis sound and excellent off-axis noise rejection.
In my opinion, considering the budget and application factors in mind. You should go for the NTG4 Plus if you are regularly using the shotgun mic in the indoor environment. And If you are using your shotgun mic in the outdoor environment, I would recommend that you should get a NTG3.