Top 11 Best Shotgun Microphones On The Market In 2020


Shotgun microphones are essential tools in the world of professional film and video production. Their narrow pickup patterns are excellent for capturing specific speakers and sounds in any situation. Whether attached to the end of a boom pole; mounted to a camera, or otherwise set up around a set, a shotgun microphone is a fantastic instrument to have in your location/film sound kit.

Not all shotgun microphones are created equal, though. In this article, we’ll discuss the top 11 best shotgun mics you can purchase on the market today.

The top 11 best shotgun microphones on the market are:

In this article, we’ll define the shotgun microphone type and discuss the factors that produce a great shotgun mic. This short analysis will, of course, be followed by a detailed look into each of the 11 microphones on the list.

TO JUMP STRAIGHT TO THE TOP 11 SHOTGUN MICROPHONES, CLICK HERE.

Schoeps, Sennheiser, Rode, DPA, Neumann and Shure are featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.


What Is A Shotgun Microphone?

A shotgun microphone is a highly directional microphone. It typically has a very directional supercardioid or hypercardioid capsule with a long interference tube to further narrow its polar response.

The shotgun mic type has nothing to do with the transducer type and everything to do with the directionality and form factor of the mic. However, the vast majority of shotgun microphones are condensers.

The narrow unidirectional polar pattern of a shotgun microphone allows it to pinpoint its sound source even from a distance. A good shotgun mic is very sensitive to the direction in which it points and is very rejecting of off-axis sound and noise.

This design makes the shotgun microphone a go-to tool for capturing dialogue in film. The mic can be positioned just out of frame and focus in on the actor delivering a line.

The shotgun microphone is also used extensively in field sports broadcasting as a sideline microphone that can reach far into the field to capture sound. Think football/soccer and American football.

To learn about shotgun microphones in greater detail, consider reading my article The Lobar/Shotgun Microphone Polar Pattern (With Mic Examples).


The Traits Of A Top-Performing Shotgun Microphone

Each model of a shotgun mic will perform differently and have its own character.

That being said, there are some similar factors between high-end shotgun mics and some other points that we should be aware of when choosing the best shotgun microphone for our application. These are:

  • Narrow polar pattern
  • Natural frequency response
  • Low self-noise
  • High sensitivity
  • Weather (humidity and temperature) resistance
  • Durability
  • Length and weight

Note that many of these factors are application-specific but are worth considering before purchasing or using a shotgun mic.

Narrow Polar Pattern

This goes without saying but a shotgun microphone should have a narrow and consistent polar pattern. High directionality is the main reason we would select a shotgun mic in the first place.

A narrow pickup pattern is effectively another way of stating that the mic has excellent off-axis rejection. This rejection of sound and noise off-axis allows the mic to produce a clean signal with more of what we want and less of the rest.

That being said, there are situations when a bit of a wider shotgun pattern is useful. Examples include film set situations where the boom operator is inexperienced or when there’s a lot of movement in the scene.

To learn more about directional polar patterns, check out my article A Complete Guide To Directional Microphones (With Pictures).

Natural Frequency Response

A shotgun microphone with a natural, flat and extended frequency response will capture a true representation of the sound.

This is particularly important because of the typical applications for a shotgun mic. Film, television and broadcasting benefit for clean, precise sound capture.

It’s also critical to have a neutral frequency response on-axis because of the off-axis rejection. Microphones are naturally more directional at higher frequencies means they’re more omnidirectional at lower frequencies. This means that as we move off-axis, the shotgun pattern will lose high-end before low-end.

Though a clean, concise, frequency-independent polar pattern would be ideal, it is often not possible due to the physics of sound.

For everything you need to know about microphone frequency response, be sure to read My New Microphone’s Complete Guide To Microphone Frequency Response (With Mic Examples).

Low Self-Noise

The vast majority of shotgun microphones are condensers and all condensers are active. Active electronics inside active microphones produce self-noise that worsens the microphone’s signal-to-noise ratio. This self-noise is further compounded when we apply gain to the signal at the preamplifier stage.

When clean, clear audio is required, a low self-noise is necessary.

To learn more about microphone self-noise, check out my article What Is Microphone Self-Noise? (Equivalent Noise Level).

High Sensitivity

To output a strong mic signal, a high sensitivity rating is needed. Sensitivity refers to the level of output at a given sound pressure level.

In order to remain out of frame in video applications, shotgun microphones are often, by necessity, positioned at a distance from their intended sound sources. Higher sensitivity allows the mic signal to remain strong even if the mic is positioned away from the sound source.

To learn more about microphone sensitivity, check out my articles What Is Microphone Sensitivity? An In-Depth Description and What Is A Good Microphone Sensitivity Rating?

Weather (Humidity & Temperature) Resistance

As an audio technician in the film or broadcasting industry, you will likely, at some point in your career, be asked to work outside.

In these cases, a proper windscreen and deadcat can help to protect your microphone from wind and weather. However, this is not the most effective strategy and it’s much better to have a shotgun mic (or multiple) in your kit that can sustain harsher recording environments.

Durability

Similar to being resistant to humidity and temperature, a shotgun microphone with a rugged build is nearly always a better choice. Throughout the span of a shotgun mic’s life, it will likely get bumped, dropped, and otherwise deal with physical force. It’s better to get a tough microphone at the beginning.

Length & Weight

The ideal length and weight of a shotgun microphone are highly dependent on the application.

In general, longer shotgun microphones are more directional.

However, mounting a shotgun mic to a camera or even at the end of a boom pole can be tricky if the mic is too long. The last thing we want to happen is the mic to droop into the frame during recording.

Oftentimes shorter is better for functionality but worse for directionality.


A Few Extra Notes

Before we get to the individual microphones on our list, I’d like to share a few notes.

First, I’ve based this list, and the microphones within, on the following:

  • Personal experience.
  • Outreach to mentors and their opinions.
  • Forum research.
  • Product descriptions, sales pages and datasheets.

This list is, ultimately, an opinion piece and is certainly not gospel. I expect my readers to have differing opinions that I have.

That being said, I personally believe this list to be true and I hope you enjoy reading about the microphones on my list of the top 11 best shotgun microphones on the market today!

I have excluded stereo shotgun microphones from the list to keep the playing field more even.


The Top 11 Best Shotgun Microphones On The Market

Once again, the top 11 best shotgun microphones on the market, according to My New Microphone, are:


Schoeps CMIT 5U

The Schoeps CMIT 5U (link to compare prices on Amazon and B&H Photo/Video) is a top-performer when it comes to shotgun microphones and is well-deserving of a top position on this list.

Schoeps CMIT 5U
  • Frequency response: 40 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Capsule directionality: supercardioid
  • Length: 251mm / 9.88″
  • Diameter: 21mm / 0.83″
  • Weight: 95g / 3.35oz
  • Sensitivity: 18 mV/Pa (-35 dBV/Pa)
  • Self-noise: 13 dBA
  • EQs filters:
    High shelf filter: +5 dB @ 10 kHz
    Low cut filter: 80 Hz – 18 dB/oct
    Proximity filter: 300 Hz – 6 dB/oct
  • Pads: N/A

The Schoeps CMIT 5U is very directional but also ultra-consistent in its pickup pattern. As is natural with all microphones, the directionality of the CMIT 5U increases with frequency. However, unlike many lesser microphones, the off-axis pickup level decreases steadily and naturally in a rotationally symmetrical polar pattern.

The result is a neutral sound capture with an unusually low coloration of off-axis sound. This allows some flexibility in microphone movement during recording to keep a fairly uniform sound while maintaining the high directionality of the microphone.

In terms of durability, we can depend on the CMIT 5U in most situations, though I’d recommend going with an RF shotgun in overly humid or wet situations. The lightweight, robust all-metal housing provides excellent protection against the regular wear and tear a shotgun mic may experience. Just ensure the proper protection is being used in the 5U is required in rainy applications.

The capsule and amplifier of the CMIT 5 are built as a single unit and the interference tube is securely held in position. The design yields an excellent unidirectional polar response and superb immunity to wind noise.

Schoeps’ CMIT 5U has a natural roll-off of frequencies below 100 Hz which helps to reduce mechanical noise and EMI in the mic signal. If this natural reduction is not enough, the 5U also has two more low-end filters:

  • A steep low-cut filter (18 dB/oct. below 80 Hz) to suppress wind and boom handling noise.
  • A gentle low-frequency roll-off (6 dB/oct. below 300 Hz) that reduces proximity effect.

The microphone also boasts a high-frequency emphasis switch (+5 dB at 10 kHz) that helps to enhance speech intelligibility and to compensate for the high-frequency loss caused by windscreens.

All three of these EQ switches are engaged via push-buttons near the base of the mic. An LED light is positioned to either side of each button to signify in the filter/boost is engaged or disengaged. An excellent design feature saves the settings when the microphone is switched off and brings them back when the mic is turned back on.

Speaking of turning the microphone on, the Schoeps CMIT 5U is a “true condenser” with an externally-polarized capsule and an active solid-state amplifier. The microphone runs on +48V phantom power (though the mic will continue to function down to 34 V DC if the phantom power source is not standard.

Whether camera-mounted or at the end of a boom pole in video applications; in front of a vocalist or instrument in a live situation; on the sideline of a sporting event, or in front of a broadcasting personality, the Schoeps CMIT 5U will excel at bringing you professional results.

The CMIT 5U is compatible with universal shotgun microphone shock mount systems.

Here is the polar response graph of the Schoeps CMIT 5U to better understand the mic’s directionality:

Schoeps CMIT 5U Polar Response Graph

The Schoeps CMIT 5U, by itself, comes with a 2-year warranty and the following included accessories:

  • W 140: foam-type windscreen
  • SG 20: mic clip

Schoeps is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.

The Schoeps CMIT 5 U is one of three shotgun microphones listed in My New Microphone’s 50 Best Microphones Of All Time (With Alternate Versions & Clones).


Sennheiser MKH 416

The Sennheiser MKH 416 (link to compare prices on Amazon and B&H Photo/Video) is a famed industry-standard shotgun microphone in television, broadcasting and film. This RF condenser shotgun microphone is particularly effective and preferred in outdoor applications.

Sennheiser MKH 416
  • Frequency response: 40 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Capsule directionality: supercardioid
  • Length: 250mm / 9.84″
  • Diameter: 19mm / 0.75″
  • Weight: 175g / 6.17oz
  • Sensitivity: 25 mV/Pa (-32 dBV/Pa) +/- 1 dB
  • Self-noise: 13 dBA
  • EQs filters: N/A
  • Pads: N/A

Let’s begin by stating that the Sennheiser MKH 416 (like all the mics in Sennheiser’s MKH line) is an RF condenser or radio-frequency condenser microphone.

What is an RF condenser?

An RF condenser utilizes a low-impedance capsule as a tuning capacitor for an RF oscillator. This oscillator employs the capacitor/capsule in a low-impedance circuit where a high-frequency (radio-frequency) signal is passed through the capacitor at all times.

The front plate and backplates are set up in the same fashion as a “normal” AF condenser microphone with the front plate acting as a diaphragm. As sound waves cause the diaphragm to move, a coinciding change in the capsule’s capacitance occurs.

A change in capacitance alters the resonant frequency of the circuit (~8 MHz) and so its frequency becomes proportional to the audio signal.

An RF demodulator (rather than an impedance converter) is implemented in the design to restore the output to an audio signal.

This system is built ruggedly like a normal condenser capsule. It has the added advantage of practical immunity to humidity due to the low-impedance of the circuit and low charge on across the capsule plates. It makes Sennheiser’s MKH line of microphones a top-pick for engineers when recording in the great outdoors!

A very low self-noise is also common in RF condenser and with a self-noise rating of 13 dBA, the MKH 416 is no exception.

The sound of the MKH 416 is outstanding. It has a flat frequency response up to about 3kHz where a smooth +3dB presence boost appears. This curve is excellent for speech intelligibility.

The proximity effect of the MKH 416 makes it a great voiceover microphone in addition to its excellent performance as a camera-mounted or boom microphone.

Its directional response will accurately capture the intended on-axis sound while naturally rejecting sounds further off-axis.

The interference tube diligently reduces wind noise in the capsule while the RF capsule is intrinsically resistant to inclement weather conditions.

So the Sennheiser MKH 416 is essential and jack-of-all-trades and a master of most. It’s an excellent microphone that I’d recommend to anyone in any scenario.

This microphone requires +48 V phantom power to operate properly. Its size makes it compatible with most shotgun mic shock mounts.

Here is the polar response graph of the Sennheiser MKH 416 to better explain its directionality:

Sennheiser MKH 416 Polar Response Graph

The Sennheiser MKH 416, by itself, comes with a 2-year warranty and the following included accessories:

  • MZW-415: foam-type windscreen
  • MZQ100: quick release stand adapter
  • Carrying case

Sennheiser is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.

The Sennheiser is another of of three shotgun microphones listed in My New Microphone’s 50 Best Microphones Of All Time (With Alternate Versions & Clones).


Sennheiser MKH 60

The Sennheiser MKH 60 (link to compare prices on Amazon and B&H Photo/Video) is the most expensive of three MKH models on this list. Like all the MKH microphones, it is an RF condenser shotgun.

Sennheiser MKH 60
  • Frequency response: 50 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Capsule directionality: supercardioid
  • Length: 250mm / 9.84″
  • Diameter: 19mm / 0.75″
  • Weight: 150g / 5.29oz
  • Sensitivity: 40 mV/Pa (-28 dBV/Pa)
  • Self-noise: 8 dBA
  • EQs filters:
    High-pass filter: 100 Hz- 6 dB/oct
    High boost: +5 dB at 10 kHz
  • Pads: 10 dB

The radio-frequency condenser capsule of the MKH 60 has an inherent supercardioid polar pattern that is further narrowed by means of a well-crafted interference tube.

Its RF capsule exhibits superb lateral sound muting and its high directionality allows it to capture distant sound with ease. Whether on a film shoot or a broadcast (reporting, sports, etc.), this mic is an excellent choice. Its directionality is present throughout the entire frequency response.

The RF technology also yields a high sensitivity rating with very low self-noise which helps tremendously in capturing the cleanest audio signal possible. Another key feature is that, due to the RF capsule, the MKH 60 is largely unaffected by high-humidity situations.

The body construction of this microphone is rugged and durable and stands up well to regular wear and tear that is to be expected with a shotgun mic.

As for handling, the MKH 60 is lightweight and easy to maneuver. Its length of 250 mm allows it to fit nicely in most blimp-style windscreens, though camera mounting may require some careful positioning.

In terms of audio quality, the transformerless MKH 60 is amazingly transparent with an accurate transient response and flat frequency response. It has a slight roll-off below 100 Hz to help mitigate any mechanical noise (from the boom pole, camera or another device/object the mic is mounted to).

Off-axis, this audio quality smoothly and naturally declines with little colouration. In other words, the microphone is very directional.

In addition to this excellent frequency response, the MKH 60 has 3 switches on its body:

  • -10dB pad
  • Low-frequency roll-off at 100 Hz – 6 dB/octave
  • High-frequency emphasis (+5 dB shelf) for improved clarity when distance-miking

This microphone runs on +48V phantom power and is compatible with nearly all shotgun mic shock mounts.

Here is the polar response graph of the Sennheiser MKH 60 to better understand the mic’s directionality:

Sennheiser MKH 60 Polar Response Graph

The Sennheiser MKH 60, by itself, comes with a 2-year warranty and the following included accessory:

  • MZQ 40: quick release clamp

The Sennheiser MKH 60 is the third shotgun microphones listed in My New Microphone’s 50 Best Microphones Of All Time (With Alternate Versions & Clones).


Sennheiser MKH 8060

The Sennheiser MKH 8060 (link to compare prices on Amazon and B&H Photo/Video) is the third MKH mic and the only modular design on this list.

Sennheiser MKH 8060
  • Frequency response: 50 Hz – 25,000 Hz
  • Capsule directionality: supercardioid
  • Length: 175mm (145 mm excluding XLR module) / 6.89″ (5.71″)
  • Diameter: 19mm / 0.75″
  • Weight: 112g / 3.95oz
  • Sensitivity: 63 mV/Pa (-24 dBV/Pa)
  • Self-noise: 11 dBA
  • EQs filters: N/A
  • Pads: N/A

The MKH 8060 part of Sennheiser’s modular 8000 series. It is a relatively short shotgun microphone with a length of 175mm. This mic is an ideal candidate for camera mounting or any other mounting situations with limited space in indoor and outdoor film and TV applications.

The MKH 8060 is made of the MZX 8000 analog XLR module and the MKH 8060 microphone head. Two additional modules are available to customize the MKH 8060:

  • MZD 8000 digital module: screw-on A/D converter optimally matched to the microphone
  • MZF 8000 filter module: screw-on
    Fixed -3 dB @ 16Hz low-cut filter
    Switchable -3 dB @ 160 Hz high-pass filter
    Switchable -10dB attenuation pad

So we have plenty of options when it comes to using the MKH 8060. Note that the filter module will add an extra 29mm to the length of the microphone.

The 8060’s RF condenser comes with the typical benefits of low self-noise; high sensitivity; immunity to interference, and weather resistance. Its rugged metal housing further ensures the longevity of this beautiful microphone.

The sound of Sennheiser’s MKH 8060 is what we’d expect of a top-quality shotgun mic: an absolute natural sound and outstanding off-axis linearity, attenuating sound coming from the side without coloration. The microphone exhibits a narrow supercardioid-like pattern to about 4 kHz and a much narrower lobar pattern above.

This microphone runs on +48V phantom power and is compatible with the vast majority of shotgun mic shock mounts.

Here is the polar response graph of the Sennheiser MKH 8060 to better understand the mic’s directionality:

Sennheiser MKH 8060 Polar Response Graph

The Sennheiser MKH 8060, by itself, comes with a 2-year warranty and the following included accessories:

  • Microphone clip
  • Foam windscreen
  • Threaded transport tube
  • User manual

Rode NTG-8

The Rode NTG-8 (link to compare prices on Amazon and B&H Photo/Video) is the longest and most directional shotgun microphone on this list.

Rode NTG-8
  • Frequency response: 40 Hz – 25,000 Hz
  • Capsule directionality: supercardioid
  • Length: 559mm / 22″
  • Diameter: 19mm / 0.75″
  • Weight: 345g / 12.17oz
  • Sensitivity: 100 mV/Pa (-20.0 dBV/Pa)
  • Self-noise: 8 dBA
  • EQs filters: N/A
  • Pads: N/A

Like the Sennheiser MKH models previously mentioned, the Rode NTG-8 has an RF condenser capsule. This RF-bias technology is the same as the NTG-3 and makes the shotgun mic impervious to humidity and temperature changes.

The externally-biased capsule exhibits extremely low noise; high sensitivity; immunity to radio frequency interference, and a supercardioid polar pattern. This polar pattern is narrowed incredibly by the remarkably long interference tube of the microphone.

The design of the NTG-8 shotgun mic yields a transparent broadcast-ready sound quality and a natural but sharp drop-off of off-axis sound. The mic excels at capturing sound within the fine acceptance angle while virtually ignoring the sounds that happen outside of this scope.

These factors make the NTG-8 an excellent choice for electronic newsgathering and film use. They’re also ideal characteristics for television’ sports and outdoor broadcasting; live performance, and any professional distance miking application.

The downside, of course, is the long form factor of the NTG-8 which limits its use in tighter situations.

The specially-designed SM8 shock mount effectively holds this long microphone steady while providing incredible isolation from mechanical/handling noise.

The Rode NTG-8 is a +48V phantom-powered microphone. Though its diameter will allow it to fit inside most universal shotgun shock mounts, I’d recommend using this long mic with the SM8.

Here is the polar response graph of the Rode NTG-8 to better understand the mic’s directionality:

Rode NTG-8 Polar Response Graph

The Rode NTG-8, by itself, comes with a 10-year warranty and the following included accessories:

  • RCNTG8 Weatherproof aluminum transport cylinder
  • SM8 shock mount
  • WSNTG8 Foam windscreen

Rode is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.


Schoeps MiniCMIT

The Schoeps MiniCMIT (link to compare prices on Amazon and B&H Photo/Video) is the smallest product on Schoeps’ amazing CMIT product line of which the CMIT 5U (mentioned above) is the flagship microphone.

Schoeps MiniCMIT
  • Frequency response: 60 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Capsule directionality: supercardioid
  • Length: 151mm / 5.94″
  • Diameter: 21mm / 0.83″
  • Weight: 78g / 2.75oz
  • Sensitivity: 18 mV/Pa (-35 dBV/Pa)
  • Self-noise: 14 dBA
  • EQs filters:
    Low cut filter: 70 Hz – 24 dB/oct
  • Pads: N/A

Essentially, the MiniCMIT offers the same characteristic of its big brother in a more compact form factor.

The circuits of the MiniCMIT and the CMIT 5U are so similar that they can be interchanged without altering the character of the on-axis sound.

A big advantage of the MiniCMIT is obviously its size. Its 151mm length is 100mm shorter than the original CMIT 5U. This allows the MiniCMIT to excel in camera and boom-mounted applications and in tighter spaces.

Though not an RF condenser, the MiniCMIT is practically immune from radio-frequency interference. This is achieved via careful construction and filter design with the mic. The mic design and included windscreen also provide a significant reduction in wind noise for use in the outdoors.

A fixed 24 dB/octave low-cut filter at 70 Hz mitigates much of, if not all, the potential mechanical noise in the mic signal while also helping to reduce any possible EMI.

The polar response of the MiniCMIT is surprisingly narrow considering its short interference tube. Its off-axis colouration is neutral, which is to be expected of a high-end Schoeps microphone. The mic’s pickup is radially symmetrical and a prime example of a high-quality shotgun mic.

The MiniCMIT will work on both +12V and +48V phantom power.

Here is the polar response graph of the Schoeps MiniCMIT to better understand the mic’s directionality:

Schoeps MiniCMIT Polar Response Graph

The Schoeps MiniCMIT, by itself, comes with a 2-year warranty and the following included accessories:

  • W 140: foam-type windscreen
  • SG 20: mic clip

DPA Microphones 4017B

The DPA Microphones 4017B (link to compare prices on Amazon and B&H Photo/Video) is another modular shotgun microphone.

DPA Microphones 4017B
  • Frequency response: 60 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Capsule directionality: supercardioid
  • Length: 212mm / 8.3″
  • Diameter: 19mm / 0.75″
  • Weight: 68g / 2.4oz
  • Sensitivity: 19 mV/Pa (-34.4 dBV/Pa)
  • Self-noise: 13 dBA
  • EQs filters:
    High boost: +4 dB at 8 kHz
    Low cut: First order filter below 120 Hz
  • Pads: N/A

The DPA 4017B is made of the 4017 shotgun microphone (capsule and interference tube) with the MMP-B shotgun preamp. The other optional preamps include:

  • MMP-A microphone preamp: ultra-transparent, transformerless preamp with active drive for impedance balancing
  • MMP-C compact microphone preamp: ultra-compact preamp with active drive for impedance balancing
  • MMP-E modular active cable: XLR output
  • MMP-G modular active cable: MicroDot output

The MMP-B in question also features an active drive for impedance balancing. It is the standout preamp choice not only for its clean transparent sound but for its two onboard filters:

  • High boost: +4 dB shelf at 8 kHz compensates for high-end loss when distance-miking and/or when using the windscreen
  • Low cut: first-order filter below 120 Hz minimizes handling and wind noise.

These filters are activated via an easy-to-use switching ring design. Note that the microphone has a permanent third-order high-pass filter at 50 Hz to remove low-frequency noise (mechanical and wind).

Though not part of an RF circuit, the capsule of the 4017 continues to perform as intended in environments with high humidity as well as in very hot and cold temperatures.

The capsule has a highly directional hypercardioid polar pattern that is improved upon with a carefully crafted interference tube.

This capsule utilizes a high voltage pre-polarized back plate which gives the mic a high output as well as a wide dynamics range; extremely low noise; a wildly high max SPL of 152 dB, and a natural sound pickup on-axis and off-axis.

In terms of application, the small and lightweight 4017B is an ideal choice as a camera-mounted mic; in fixed positions for sports broadcasts; for boom-miking, and even studio recording environments.

The DPA 4017B is a phantom-powered microphone that is compatible with universal shotgun microphone shock mounts.

Here is the polar response graph of the DPA 4017B to better understand the mic’s directionality:

DPA 4017B Polar Response Graph

The DPA 4017B, by itself, comes with a 1-year warranty and the following included accessories:

  • UA0639 microphone clip
  • DUA0073 windscreen

Danish Pro Audio (DPA) is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.


Neumann KMR 81 i

The Neumann KMR 81 i (link to compare prices on Amazon and B&H Photo/Video) was the second-ever shotgun microphone developed by the microphone manufacturer tycoon Neumann. It didn’t take them long to perfect the design of their world-class shotgun mic.

Neumann KMR 81 i
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Capsule directionality: supercardioid
  • Length: 213mm / 9.09″
  • Diameter: 21mm / 0.83″
  • Weight: 145g / 5.11oz
  • Sensitivity: 18 mV/Pa (24.9 dBV/Pa)
  • Self-noise: 12 dBA
  • EQs filters:
    High-pass filter: 100 Hz – 12 dB/oct
  • Pads: -10 dB

Like all the microphones on this list, the Neumann KMR 81 i has an exceptionally directional polar pattern that maintains a natural response to both on-axis and off-axis sounds, albeit the off-axis sounds a must less-represented in the mic signal.

Below 1,000 Hz, the microphone has a rather supercardioid polar pattern. Above 1 kHz, the pattern becomes increasingly lobar/shotgun-like. Neumann classifies the acceptance angle of its KMR 81 i as being 90°, which allows some flexibility in the relative movement between the microphone and subject without a vastly different sound pickup quality.

Even with this naturally increasing directionality and excellent rejection of off-axis sound, the mic exudes a natural sound with little off-axis colouration.

The frequency response of the KMR 81 is exemplary for a shotgun microphone. It has a natural first-order (6 dB/octave) roll-off of frequencies below 100 Hz to help reduce low-end rumble, EMI and handling noise. The bulk of the midrange response is flat so that the microphone sounds neutral and natural. Lastly, a broad presence peak of 3 dB around 7,500 Hz improves speech intelligibility while helping to mitigate low-end loss from distance-miking and the utilization of a windscreen.

This microphone includes a high-pass filter switch that moves its low-end roll-off up to 300 Hz to reduce proximity effect and unwanted low-frequency noise. In addition to the HPF, the mic also has a 10 dB pad for louder source which brings the mic’s maximum SPL to 138 dB.

Neumann’s lightweight KMR 81 i was initially intended for film and broadcast applications and it excels in both as a camera-mounted and boom-miked microphone.

Since its inception, the microphone has also become cherished as a go-to for dialogue in and out of the studio as well spot-miking in orchestral situations.

The Neumann KMR 81 i require +48V phantom power to function properly and is compatible with universal shotgun microphone shock mounts.

Here is the polar response graph of the Neumann KMR 81 i to better understand the mic’s directionality:

Neumann KMR 81 i Polar Response Graph

The Neumann KMR 81 i, by itself, comes with a 1-year warranty and the following included accessories:

  • WS 81 windscreen
  • Leather carrying case

Neumann is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.


Sanken CS-3e

The Sanken CS-3e (link to compare prices on Amazon and B&H Photo/Video) is Sanken’s flagship mono shotgun microphone.

Sanken CS-3e
  • Frequency response: 50 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Capsule directionality: supercardioid
  • Length: 270mm / 10.63″
  • Diameter: 21mm / 0.815″
  • Weight: 120g / 4.9oz
  • Sensitivity: 50 mV/Pa (-26 dBV/Pa) 
  • Self-noise: 15 dBA
  • EQs filters:
    High-pass filter: 100 Hz – 12 dB/oct
  • Pads: N/A

The standout design feature of the Sanken CS-3e is that it has 3 individual capsules.

These 3 directional capsules are set up in a front-to-back array and combine line mic performance (the interference tube-induced directionality) and second-order pressure gradient response (2 directional capsules positioned and pointed on the same axis in opposite polarity). The result of combining the signals from the 3 capsules is a highly directional polar pattern even in the midrange of the CS-3e’s frequency response.

Sanken claims that a single-capsule shotgun mic would require an interference tube measuring 39 inches to achieve what the tri-capsule CS-3e does with 170mm. In addition to the extreme directionality, the CS-3e is exceptional at rejection undesired off-axis sounds and extraneous noise even in ambient and reverberant spaces.

Speaking of frequency response, the mic’s 50 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response range is mostly flat with a gentle high shelf above 5 kHz to increase intelligibility without sacrificing neutrality. This boost also helps to make up the high-end that is naturally lost when distance-miking and/or using a windscreen. With a low self-noise of 15 dBA and a high sensitivity rating of -28 dBV/Pa, the Sanken CS-3e is sure to produce a quality signal for our recordings.

In addition to the pinpoint accuracy of the narrow acceptance angle, Sanken’s CS-3e 3-capsule design exhibits very little proximity effect. This allows the mic to be positioned close to and far away from an intended source without a great change in the character of the audio.

A switchable high-pass filter at 100 Hz (12 dB/oct) offers added protection against handling noise, low-end rumble, and the potential of electromagnetic interference.

Sanken states that its CS-3e is perfect for independent and major films; television, and location recording gigs. It serves well as a camera-mounted mic or a boom mic and will excel in many more situations that those modestly listed by the manufacturer.

We’ve likely inferred from reading this article so far that humidity can be a real issue with shotgun microphones. The CS-3e combats this problem with a rugged design and 3 PPS (Poly-Gold-Phenylene-Sulfide) diaphragms. These PPS diaphragms provide optimum resistance to humidity and hostile temperature changes and ensure dependable signal quality in a variety of environmental conditions.

The CS-3e has its own foam windscreen (CS-3FW). It functions on +48V (44 to 52 VDC) phantom power and is compatible with a wide variety of universal shotgun mic shock mounts.

Here is the polar response graph of the Sanken CS-3e to better understand the mic’s directionality:

Sanken CS-3e Polar Response Graph

The Sanken CS-3e, by itself, comes with a 1-year warranty and the following included accessory:

  • Vinyl Case

Shure VP89M

The Shure VP89M (link to compare prices on Amazon and B&H Photo/Video) is the medium-sized model in Shure’s VP89 series of modular shotgun microphones.

Shure VP89M
  • Frequency response: 50 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Capsule directionality: hypercardioid
  • Length: 239mm / 9.41″
  • Diameter: 21mm / 0.815″
  • Weight: 138g / 4.9oz
  • Sensitivity: 2.11 mV/Pa (-33.5 dBV/Pa)
  • Self-noise: 15 dBA
  • EQs filters:
    Low frequency roll-off filter: 200 Hz – 12 dB/oct
  • Pads: N/A

The Shure VP89M is made of Shure’s RPM89/PRE preamplifier body and the RPM89M capsule head and interference tube.

In typical Shure fashion, the VP89M is built tough. The interference tube is made of aircraft-grade aluminum and is housed within the aluminum grille. The electret (pre-polarized) capsule is also heavy-duty and tested to survive a 12-foot drop.

In terms of directionality and audio quality, the RPM89M capsule has an exquisitely narrow 50° acceptance angle throughout most of its frequency response. The capsule also showcases high RF rejection and superior side noise rejection in addition to its low self-noise.

The frequency response of the VP89M, like the response of many other mics on this list, has a slight high-self boost in sensitivity to improve intelligibility during distance-miking or when a windscreen is being used.

A natural low-end roll-off of 12 dB/octave happens at about 100 Hz. This helps reduce the mechanical and handling noise in the mic signal. To further improve the rejection of low-frequency noise, a switchable low-frequency roll-off filter is included in the design at 200 Hz – 12 dB/octave.

Shure produces the A89U, an interesting U-shaped “double-barrel adapter,” that allows the long capsule head/tube to be mounted parallel to the amplifier. This reduces the overall length of the assembly to help it fit in tighter shock mounts and windscreens.

The Shure VP89M is a phantom-powered microphone.

Here is the polar response graph of the Shure VP89M to better understand the mic’s directionality:

Shure VP89M Polar Response Graphs

The Shure VP89M, by itself, comes with a 2-year warranty and the following included accessory:

  • A89MC protective case
  • A89MW foam windscreen
  • A57F microphone clip
  • 31A1856 5/8” to 3/8” thread adapter

Shure is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.


Rode NTG-3

The Rode NTG-3 (link to compare prices on Amazon and B&H Photo/Video) is the most budget-friendly professional shotgun microphone on this list.

Rode NTG-3
  • Frequency response: 40 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Capsule directionality: supercardioid
  • Length: 255mm / 10.04″
  • Diameter: 19mm / 0.75″
  • Weight: 163g / 5.75oz
  • Sensitivity: 31.6 mV/Pa (-30 dBV/Pa)
  • Self-noise: 13 dBA
  • EQs filters: N/A
  • Pads: N/A

The NTG-3 contains an RF-biased capsule with a high sensitivity rating and a supercardioid polar pattern. As we’ve discussed, the RF technology (also featured in Rode’s NTG-8) makes these microphones very impervious to high humidity and high or low temperatures. The externally-biased capsule is also immune to radio frequency interference.

The polar pattern of the NTG-3 is a bit less directional/narrow than most other shotgun microphones of its length. This design feature makes it a bit more forgiving of off-axis placement and allows it to excel as a moving boom microphone in film and television applications.

The sound quality of the NTG-3 microphone is broadcast quality and suits the human voice particularly well. This mic has been designed for professional use on film, television, electronic newsgathering. I would never hesitate to choose this microphone as a boom mic due to its aforementioned forgiving nature.

Its body is machined from solid brass, making it especially robust and lightweight.

The Rode NTG-3 is phantom-powered and fits with the vast majority of universal shotgun microphone shock mounts.

Here is the polar response graph of the Rode NTG-3 to better understand the mic’s directionality:

Rode NTG-3 Polar Response Graph

The Rode NTG-3, by itself, comes with a 10-year warranty and the following included accessories:

  • WSNTG3 pop filter
  • Aluminum storage cylinder
  • ZP2: padded zipper pouch

This article has been approved in accordance with the My New Microphone Editorial Policy.


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