Parabolic microphones are those big dishes you see at sporting events capturing audio from across the field. The dish works similarly to a satellite, condensing the incoming sound waves and reflecting them toward the microphone placed in the centre of the dish.
What are the best parabolic dished on the market today? Here are my top recommendations.
- Klover MiK 26″: The Klover MiK 26″ (link to check the price on Trew Audio) is the largest parabolic dish in the Klover MiK series. It is an ideal parabolic dish for sports broadcasting and is even used in the National Football League (NFL) Superbowl.
- Klover MiK 16″: The Klover MiK 16″ (link to check the price on Trew Audio) is the second largest parabolic dish in the Klover MiK series. This awesome dish is great for sports broadcasting and is often used behind home plate in Major League Baseball (MLB).
- Klover MiK 9″: The Klover MiK 09″ (link to check the price on Trew Audio) is the smallest dish in the Klover MiK series. This parabolic dish is intended for use in conjunction with a video camera. The Klover Mik 09 allows any lavalier mic to basically get turned into a shotgun mic capable of recording clean audio up to 30 feet away.
- Sound Shark 9″: The Sound Shark (link to check the price on Klover) is actually one dish in the “budget” line of parabolic dishes by the aforementioned Klover. This parabolic mic is excellent for use with video cameras.
Before we get into each of these parabolic dishes, let's quickly discuss the basic principles that make a great parabolic microphone dish.
Related reading: Best Parabolic Microphones
What Makes A Great Parabolic Dish?
- Distance reach: Pick a parabolic dish that will effectively capture sound from the distance you need it to capture sound from. Typically the bigger the dish, the further its distance reach.
- Weight and carrying: Choose a parabolic dish that is lightweight and easy to carry around. Bigger dishes are often carried with two handles and body straps while smaller dishes may be held by one handle alone.
With these few things in mind, let's talk about why I recommend the parabolic microphone dishes I do.
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The Klover MiK 26″
The Klover Mik 26 is an industry leading 26″ parabolic microphone dish in the world of sports broadcasting. It's a 26″ diameter dish with a true parabolic shape to focus incoming sound wave reflections all toward the microphone.
The 26's design incorporates a high-quality plastic collector dish with modular support pieces (many of which are made with carbon fibre).
Carbon fibre not only makes the overall dish very light, but also safer since the carbon fibre will not shard if broken like commonly used PVC pipe. This is important since sideline parabolic dish operation can be dangerous.
The modular pieces make it easy to replace and repair the Klover MiK 26 if on piece happens to brake and ultimately protects the dish itself much better than a one piece design. All connections to the Klover MiK 26’s dish incorporate vibration isolation components to eliminate unnecessary handling noise.
The Klover Mik 26 is safe, comfortable, and sounds absolutely amazing. Let's discuss it a bit more here.
Distance Reach Of The Klover Mik 26″
The Klover MiK 26 will pick up normal conversational level audio up to 500 – 600 feet (152.4 – 182.9 metres) away.
This is more than enough to be highly effective in sporting events. Take for example the sizes of an NFL American Football field or a Premiere League Football/Soccer pitch. The Klover Mik 26 easily captures sound across these distances. It will even pick up audio across the fields diagonally at the following distances:
- NFL field @ 340 foot (103.6 metre) diagonal
- Premier League pitch @ 125 metres (410 feet) diagonal – Falmer Stadium (largest pitch)
The superb reach of the Klover Mik 26 makes it an excellent choice for sports broadcasting but also for military, rescue, and nature recording situations.
Weight And Carrying Of The Klover Mik 26″
The Klover MiK 26 weight approximately 7.5 pounds. This may seem like a heavy load to bear throughout an entire football game, but the parabolic dish is designed very ergonomically for long-term comfort. 7.5 pounds is light for the Klover MiK 26's size and is doable by using carbon fibre components.
The Klover MiK 26 has an incorporated adjustable strap with a contoured neck pad. Operators are able to quickly and easily make minor adjustment to the strap to maximize their comfort and performance.
Furthermore, the Klover MiK 26 features vertical handles with a horizontal support bar between them. The operator may hold the dish with either the handles or the bar with both hands. Alternating hand position will reduce the onset of fatigue in the operator.
The Klover MiK 16″
The Klover MiK 16 is a 16″ parabolic microphone ideal for situations where a longer reach is not absolutely necessary. That being said, this dish will effectively gather sound up to 250 feet away.
Like all Klover MiKs, the 16's dish is a true parabola, reflecting and focusing all the incoming sound waves toward the centre microphone.
It features an adaptable modular design, allowing for easy part replacement and even module upgrades. Various mounts are available to safely mount the MiK 16 wherever it's needed.
The dish is made from high-quality plastics and the module components around it are largely made of carbon fibre for safety and weight concerns.
Let's talk about some key points that make the Klover MiK 16 an excellent parabolic dish.
Distance Reach Of The Klover Mik 16″
The Klover MiK 16 has an effective reach of 250 – 300 feet (76.2 – 91.4 metres). Though not nearly as far reaching as the 26 model, the 16 will cover most sporting events. It will also work nicely in nature recordings and rescue applications.
Weight And Carrying Of The Klover Mik 16″
Weighing in at only 2 pounds, the Klover MiK 16 is easy to hold up for extended periods of time. It features one vertical handle and only requires one hand to hold up. Simply switch hands if fatigue begins to set in.
The Klover MiK 9″
The Klover MiK 09 is the smallest model in its series. With a 9″ diameter and a weight of only 12 ounces, this parabolic dish will work well on its own or with cameras.
When recording video, lavalier and shotgun boom microphones are standard. With the Klover MiK 09, we can effectively turn an omnidirectional lavalier mic into a camera-mounted shotgun microphone with a reach of 30 feet.
For outdoor filming, this dish acts somewhat as a windscreen, shielding the mic from wind and wind noise. The available “dead cat” windscreen provides even more resistance to wind noise.
Let's now discuss the reach and mounting of the Klover MiK 09 in a bit more detail.
Distance Reach Of The Klover Mik 9″
The Klover MiK 09 has a range of 30 – 50 feet (9.1 – 15.2 metres). This makes it effective in most close range filming applications where there is only a single sound source in the frame. The Klover MiK 09 will turn an omnidirectional lavalier mic into a long range microphone with better reach and off-axis rejection than a typical shotgun mic.
The audio captured within the MiK 09 is very clean and natural. This parabolic dish should be a consideration for any solo interview or monologue shots.
A speaker that is within 6 feet of the MiK 09 will sound as if they were wearing a mic. This rids of the need for mic cables and transmitters on the talent, allowing for faster and more comfortable recording (unless the talent is nervous about looking and speaking toward a parabolic dish).
Weight And Carrying Of The Klover Mik 9″
The Klover MiK 09 weighs approximately 12 ounces.
This lightweight parabolic dish has a dual mounting system, making it easily mountable to any camera. The cylindrical mount allows for mounting wherever a standard shotgun mic would normally be mounted. The block mount lets the KM-09 be mounted to a hot shoe.
The Sound Shark 9″
The Sound Shark is Klover's “cost-effective alternative” to the MiK 09.
This consumer version parabolic dish has nearly all the same specifications as the Klover MiK 09. The main differences being the decreased flexibility and durability in its mounting.
Distance Reach Of The Sound Shark 9″
Like the Klover MiK 09, the Sound Shark 9″ has a reach of 30 – 50 feet (9.1 – 15.2 metres).
Weight And Carrying Of The Sound Shark 9″
The Sound Shark also weighs 12 ounces.
The Sound Shark is typically mounted directly to a video camera using the hot shoe mount. If needed, the hot shoe adapter is replaceable with a 1/4-20 thread, which allows the Sound Shark to be mounted to a light stand, Magic Arm, or just about anything with a matching thread.
So there we have it: my recommended parabolic mic dishes and why I've recommended them. Once again, they are:
- Klover MiK 26″: Best long range parabolic dish.
- Klover MiK 16″: Best medium range parabolic dish.
- Klover MiK 9″: Best camera-mounted parabolic dish.
- Sound Shark 9″: Best economic camera-mounted parabolic dish.
For all the My New Microphone mic/gear recommendations, please check out my page Recommended Microphones And Accessories.