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Best Shotgun Microphone for Film

Shotgun microphones are a staple in the professional filmmaker world. Shotgun mics are designed for capturing high quality audio at a distance while having the least amount of background noise possible in the recording.

These mics were once only accessible if you were a major film studio in Hollywood with a large budget. However, nowadays it is pretty much possible for independent movie producers to get their hands on a high-quality shotgun mic that will provide them with a natural sound.

In this article, we are going to review 7 products to find out what is the best shotgun microphone for film of all, divided into three categories: overall best, runner-up, and best budget. We will, as well, list a few things you should look for when buying this type of audio equipment.

Tip: If you’re looking for mics intended for music recording, be sure to check out our Best Microphone for Vocals article.

We Tested 7 Products and Found the Audio-Technica AT897 to be The Best Shotgun Microphone for Film

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The Rode NTG4+ and the Vidpro XM-88 Were the Runner-Up and the Best Budget Option, Respectively

Best Shotgun Mics for Film – Reviewed in Detail

Table of Contents

  1. RODE NTG4+
  2. Audio-Technica AT897
  3. Sennheiser MKE 600
  4. Audio-Technica 875R
  5. RODE VideoMic GO
  6. VidPro XM-88
  7. RODE NTG1

1. RODE NTG4+

RODE NTG4+

RODE products are a staple in the film-making industry. The RODE NTG4+ is one of the most popular shotgun microphones there is. This model has excellent sound quality and low self noise, as well as a few built-in buttons that can make your life easier.

Product Specifications

  • Condenser Shotgun Microphone
  • Super Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • +48V Phantom Power Optional
  • Built-In Battery
  • XLR Connection

Pros

  • Regarding sound quality, the RODE NTG4+ is one the best shotgun microphones there is.
  • Low self noise when recording. Self noise is the amount of noise produced by the mic itself. A low amount is desired, of course.
  • The battery can be fully charged in under two hours, according to the manufacturer, via the micro-USB port. This is a pretty fast charging time.
  • There are built-in controls in the body of the microphone for high-pass filter, pad, and high-frequency boost. This can help make the audio editing and mixing process easier.
  • The frequency response is extremely flat and balanced.

Cons

  • Not the most affordable option.

Conclusion

The RODE NTG4+ is the staple shotgun microphone for film. The manufacturer is synonymous with sound quality so you know what to expect. The only drawback with this product is its high price, making it not so affordable.

Still, there are other RODE shotgun microphone models (in the professional range) that have a more accessible price such as the RODE NTG1, which we will review further down the article.

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The Audio-Technica AT897 is the flagship mic by this famous professional products manufacturer. This model in particular is known for its precision when capturing audio that is far from the mic. The price was also something that attracted us: although not as affordable as some other options, it is pretty fair in our opinion, considering the quality of this product.

Product Specifications

  • Condenser Shotgun Microphone
  • Line + Gradient Polar Pattern
  • +48V Phantom Power Optional
  • Battery Powered
  • XLR Connection

Pros

  • One of the features that shines the most in the Audio-Technica AT897 is its capability to reject off axis background noise.
  • The exclusive Line + Gradient directional pickup pattern from Audio-Technica present in this model combines the main directional mic capsule with an interference tube and directional element to further reduce background noise.
  • The loss of dynamic range when using the battery instead of the +48V phantom power isn’t that much of a problem in this model.
  • There is a built-in switchable low cut filter in the body of the microphone.
  • The Audio-Technica AT897 is a short shotgun mic, meaning it can be used even with small digital cameras.
  • The battery-life is pretty good. 1200 hours, according to the manufacturer.

Cons

  • None that we’ve found.

Conclusion

The Audio-Technica AT897 is an excellent choice, especially considering its price compared to the quality offered by the product. By the time this article was written, this high quality shotgun microphone was priced at around $249. For that reason, it was considered one of our favorite options from the list.

3. Sennheiser MKE 600

Sennheiser MKE 600

Sennheiser is a reputable brand and we often review products from this manufacturer in our roundups (microphones, headphones, etc). This particular shotgun mic is a fairly compact option with high quality sound and a professional construction.

Product Specifications

  • Condenser Shotgun Microphone
  • Lobar and Super Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • +48V Phantom Power Optional
  • Battery Powered
  • XLR Connection

Pros

  • This is one of the models with the higher audio sensitivity on the list.
  • Switchable low-cut filter.
  • Includes a foam filter for reducing unwanted wind noise.
  • Among the shotgun mics from Sennheiser, it has one of the best frequency responses.
  • Low-battery indicator.
  • There are two polar patterns available in this shotgun mic: lobar and super cardioid. The lobar polar pattern is even more directional-focused than the supercardioid, giving this product a great advantage against its competitors.
  • There’s an on/off switch for the battery, which can help to extend the battery life.

Cons

  • None particularly concerning.

Conclusion

Regarding audio quality and usability, this shotgun microphone is top-notch. We’ve really liked the fact that it comes with a foam filter for less wind noise. Also, the lobar polar pattern is something that is not always present in other models.

Comparing it to a competitor in the same price range, the RODE NTG4+, it is hard to pick a favorite. Both mics perform really well; But, the RODE’s unit has a few more built-in features that led us to prefer it over the Sennheiser MKE 600.

Related: Best Microphone for Piano 

4. Audio-Technica 875R

Audio-Technica 875R

Another model by Audio-Technica, the 875R is considerably shorter and more affordable than the previously reviewed AT897, but still maintains the same excellence and crisp audio quality. The model is only 7 inches, making it perfect for those who need to use it with compact digital cameras.

Product Specifications

  • Condenser Shotgun Microphone
  • Line + Gradient Polar Pattern
  • +48V Phantom Power Required
  • XLR Connection

Pros

  • Among shotgun mics, it is one of the most compact ones with a length of only 7 inches. This makes it perfect for use with compact digital cameras.
  • Just like the Audio-Technica AT897, the 875R has a unique Line + Gradient polar pattern, which helps reduce unwanted noise.
  • Very lightweight, weighing only 80g according to the manufacturer.
  • Included foam filter.
  • Little to no handling noise.

Cons

  • The frequency response is a bit limited in the low frequencies, as the pickup range starts at 90Hz. This shouldn’t be a problem for most applications unless you’re recording audio with a lot of low-end.
  • Can’t be used with a battery, only with +48V phantom power. This could be a problem for smaller cameras.

Conclusion

Regarding sound quality and the ability to reduce ambient noise, the Audio-Technica 875R performs really well. It is a compact unit with a solid construction. However, it can only be used with +48V phantom power. Most compact video cameras can’t supply the amount of power needed by this mic. This is an important factor you must pay attention to.

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The RODE VideoMic GO is a smaller solution of shotgun/boom microphone, designed for those who need a compact option for small video cameras. It is a great product for content creators and YouTubers, but can also serve an independent film-maker very well.

Product Specifications

  • Condenser Shotgun Microphone
  • Unidirectional Super Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • Powered by Camera Plug-In Power – Min. 2.5V

Pros

  • The RODE VideoMic GO is extremely compact and can be powered with a minijack present on most small cameras.
  • This small shotgun mic is very affordable too, with a price considerably lower than its larger counterparts.
  • The product is pretty easy to install, even by beginners.
  • The company is very transparent about the components used to build this shotgun mic, such as the JFET impedance converter with bipolar output buffer, and we like this fact.
  • The full spectrum frequency response graph has a small bump in the mid and high frequencies, making it great for dialogue recording.
  • Very low noise.
  • Natural bass roll off in the frequency response.

Cons

  • Limited compatibility with larger filming equipment.
  • Limited frequency response. The pickup range starts at 100Hz.

Conclusion

This lightweight shotgun microphone can do a pretty good job for those favoring compactness and portability. The mini jack connection may limit your options a bit if you work with larger filming equipment in the future, but it will work with smaller cameras. Overall, it is a great option for beginners on a budget.

6. Vidpro XM-88

Vidpro XM-88

Vidpro is an audio/video equipment manufacturer that has been around for ages, and we’ve heard lots of great things about the XM-88. Priced at around $100 by the time this article was written, it is certainly one of the most affordable standard-sized shotgun microphones you can buy.

Product Specifications

  • Condenser Shotgun Microphone
  • Cardioid and Super Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • +48V Phantom Power Optional
  • Battery Powered
  • XLR Connection

Pros

  • The shotgun mic comes bundled with a lot of stuff. The kit includes a foam-padded case, 3 mount adapters (for boom pole, shock mount, etc), 2 cable adapters, 2 XLR cables, a cushioned hand grip, a furry wind muff, and a foam filter.
  • Considering the low price and the amount of stuff that comes with the Vidpro XM-88, it is a great budget shotgun mic for those who want to try their hand at this kind of product.
  • The polar pattern can be switched between cardioid and supercardioid.
  • The product can be connected to a camera both via XLR and minijack cables.

Cons

  • The frequency response is limited in the low range.
  • Large size.

Conclusion

To be honest, this is the best option we’ve found for beginners on a budget. The Vidpro XM-88 comes bundled with pretty much everything you need to connect it to your camera and start recording for a price so low that it is hard to find anything like it at the same range.

We’ve read a few customers relating that the building materials were not the best, but regarding sound quality most reviews (and ours) were positive. For the price, it does a pretty good job.

7. RODE NTG1

RODE NTG1

Yet another option by RODE, the NTG1 is their entry-level shotgun mic. It does have fewer features than the previously reviewed RODE NTG4+, but regarding audio quality and construction materials, it stands up pretty well.

Product Specifications

  • Condenser Shotgun Microphone
  • Supercardioid Polar Pattern
  • +48V Phantom Power Required
  • XLR Connection

Pros

  • The RODE NTG1 is extremely lightweight.
  • The construction quality is pretty rugged.
  • The frequency response is pretty impressive.
  • The frequency response has a high boost which can help give more clarity to your recordings.
  • There’s a built-in high pass filter.
  • The polar pattern offers an extremely directional response, just like the more expensive RODE NTG4+.
  • It employs the line gradient technology which can help further reduce background noise.
  • RODE has one of the longest warranties in the market of shotgun mics: 10 years.

Cons

  • +48V phantom power only.

Conclusion

While not as affordable as other options in this list, the RODE NTG1 is a good entry-level shotgun mic. There are a few limitations though, compared to the RODE NTG4+. If you don’t mind the fact that you can’t use this product with a battery, it is a great alternative to its more expensive counterpart.

Related: Best Microphone for GarageBand 

What to Look for When Choosing a Shotgun Microphone for Film

Professional shotgun microphones, most of the time, aren’t the most affordable investment. So, in order to choose the best option of equipment for you, you got to be careful with a few things such as recording modes and polar patterns.

Before we head on to our top picks, let’s see what are the main points you should consider when choosing a shotgun mic.

Polar Pattern

Polar pattern of the RODE NTG4+. Source.

Polar Pattern

The polar pattern of a microphone refers to what direction the mic capsule will favor the most when picking up sounds. There are a lot of different polar patterns, such as cardioid and figure 8, but most shotgun mics feature a unidirectional supercardioid or lobar one

This is because these patterns are the best at rejecting background noise coming from the sides and the back of the mic. Instead, it focuses on sound sources that are directly in front of it. See the image above for a better understanding of the concept.

Frequency Response

Frequency response of the RODE NTG4+. Source.

Frequency Response

The frequency response of a shotgun mic refers to how it behaves across the frequency spectrum. Microphones with a flatter response, like the RODE NTG4+, can deliver a more natural sound. As you can see in the image above, this particular product is pretty flat in the low and medium frequencies, with a few small bumps in the high-end.

Preamp

Recording cameras that support shotgun mics usually have a built-in preamp. Low noise microphone preamps will ensure you a clear and precise audio recording, so you have to pay attention to this component when shopping for a camera.

+48V Phantom Power vs Battery

Most of the shotgun microphones on this list will let you power the unit either via battery or +48V phantom power (the standard for condenser microphones). If you opt for a +48V phantom power only option, though, make sure that your camera can handle it. Usually, smaller cameras are not compatible.

Conclusion

To choose our top picks for the best shotgun microphones for film, we’ve considered not only factors such as audio quality and building/construction, but also value for the price and affordability. All of the shotgun mics in the list performed pretty well, but three were our favorite, each in different categories. Keep reading to learn more.

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Audio-Technica AT897 – Overall Best Shotgun Microphone for Film

With improved sound quality and high sensitivity, as well as an excellent background noise reduction, the Audio-Technica AT897 really stood out among the shotgun mics in this list. There were options just as good as this one too, but the value for the price of this product was hands-down the best.

RODE NTG4

RODE NTG4+ – Runner-Up for Overall Best Shotgun Mic

To be honest, the Rode NTG4+ almost made it to being number 1 on the list, if it wasn’t for the excellent price value of the Audio-Technica AT897. The NTG4+, though, has features that aren’t present in any other shotgun mic on the list, such as the built-in filters and pad. There’s a reason why it is the industry standard.

Vidpro XM-88

Vidpro XM-88 – Best Budget Shotgun Mic for Film

The Vidpro XM-88 bundle comes with an absurd amount of extras such as adapters and cables. For a price so low (compared to other options on the list), it is the best shotgun mic for those looking to try this kind of product without making that much of an initial investment.

How to Buy

You can find the link for each product on their respective titles in the guide. We advise you also check the buyer reviews before making a purchase.Thank you for reading our best shotgun microphones article. Make sure to check our related posts about mics and feel free to contact us if you have any questions!