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Choosing a microphone for YouTube – BOOM MIC SHOWDOWN (7+ Shotgun & Boom Mics Compared)


Since I’ve covered a lot of microphones
in the past, I get a lot of questions about the kinds of microphones I haven’t really
reviewed much – boom and shotgun microphones. Should you choose one for YouTube, which one
should you go with, what’s needed to power them? I think it’s time FOR ANOTHER MICROPHONE
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and download it for free. In the studio, I currently have SEVEN boom
microphones, only one of which I’ve reviewed before – the Sennheiser MKH-416. Three of these are on loan from a subscriber
named Pablo – many many thanks for such a generous loan for me to make content. Let’s start with a simple important question:
When should you use a shotgun or boom microphone? Some people will say to never use them indoors,
but I don’t find that to be entirely true. In a room that has tons of reverb and echo
and isn’t sound treated, a shotgun mic will not serve you well, they can start to sound
warbly or just plain bad or weird. In that kind of situation, you’ll get much
cleaner audio out of a shirt-clipped lavalier microphone or short cardioid boom – though
please sound treat your recording sets. A lav mic is also more useful if you or your
video subject or host regularly moves around out of the direction cone a shotgun mic would
cover. But if you’re using a sound-treated set
where your host doesn’t move away from the microphone much – like most of my talking
head video shoots – a shotgun or cardioid boom microphone is a fantastic choice. You can leave it up on a mic arm, positioned
to pick up great audio, and not have to worry about charging a wireless mic, fumbling in
your shirt, and so on. Plus, I just personally prefer the sound of
these microphones. This video is going to focus on REAL boom
microphones – big, professional studio microphones that connect to an audio recorder or mixer
via XLR – not the cheapo on-camera mics from Rode and so on. The VideoMic Pros, $40 mini shotguns like
I reviewed before, etc. are great for quick and dirty on-camera vlogging microphones,
but don’t hold up for studio work when your camera isn’t directly in your face. Here we have the Sennheiser MKH416, Rode NTG-2,
Aputure Deity S-Mic 2, Oktava MK-012-01, Audio Technica AT875R, Azden SGM 1X, and Audix SCX-one. The Rode NTG-2 was the first high-end mic
for on-camera work I ever invested in, having bought it in November of 2014 right before
I made a full-time switch to tech videos. The Sennheiser MKH416 I’ve already reviewed
and was sent for review and use in my OBS Master Class. The Azden was a freebie from a buddie who
got it from a local surplus sale. The Aputure Deity S-Mic 2 is a review unit
from Aputure. The last 3 are on loan from Pablo, he wanted
to know what I thought about them. I wanted to weigh what viewers preferred out
of the mic samples, so I uploaded some blind tests to gather feedback, and I will feature
some of those responses in this video. All of my tests were recorded with the SoundDevices
MixPre-3 audio recorder, using the FetHead Phantom mic pre-amp to help reduce self-noise
as much as possible. These mics require phantom power, and this
new version of the FetHead passes through phantom power to the mic while also providing
clean gain to help boost the levels. I was also recording within a few feet of,
and directly facing a Producer’s Choice Sound Blanket to help reduce unwanted noise
and reverb. By far the crowd favorites from that round
of testing are the Sennheiser MKH-416, which was both sample E and G, and the Rode NTG-2. Followed by the Oktava MK-012, sample A. This
makes sense and follows my own preferences. The Sennheiser is a $1000 microphone – way
more expensive than any other in the lot. It sounds natural and clean, retaining some
of the warmth and bass of my voice, while not sounding quite as boomy as the Rode NTG-2. The Sennheiser is expensive as heck for YouTube
work, but an absolute workhorse and beast of a shotgun mic. You can check out my full review for more
info. The Rode NTG-2, on the other hand, is a very
bass-friendly shotgun mic. In fact, it’s identified as a condenser
microphone, akin to side-address desktop condenser microphones that many use for YouTube and
streaming. I was incredibly happy with it when I used
it pretty much from 2014 to early 2017, due to how well it picked up the natural bass
and deepness of my voice, while still sounding clean in the right conditions. It accepts a single AA battery to provide
its own self-power, if needed, and doesn’t play well with the FetHead Phantom, but it
sounds great. Some might find it too colored and boomy,
however. The Oktava mic is also described as a condenser
mic, a “Pencil condenser” to be exact. This is usually sold in matched pairs for
stereo work, though I’m only working with one. It has detachable capsules and you can even
integrate different modules in the capsule chain. Mine came with an addition for a high pass
filter, though I left it flat as with all of these mics. I did run into some electrical feedback issues
with this microphone, my first couple recordings with it seemed like they had some grounding
issues, but I’ve not had that issue again, so maybe the cable was just loose. This is a short mic designed to be as close
as possible to the vocal source, though I had all mics at the same distance. As a result, in this position, I feel like
it picks up more room reverb than the previous two mics, but still performs very very well
and has a very natural sound. Very clean, though brighter than the others. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this if
you’re going to be at any significant distances from the camera and microphone, but for indoor
vocals you can do some good work with it. Let’s go on and knock out the Azden SGM-1X
mic. This one is quite long and can also be self-powered
via a AAA battery, touting up to 1000 hours of life from one battery. It has a super cardioid pickup pattern, but
it just… doesn’t sound great. It had some popularity for a while due to
its price – $150 to $170 for a proper shotgun microphone is a decent deal, the cheapest
in this lot along with the Audio Technica, but it’s just… ehhhh. It sounds muffled and compressed as if I’m
talking behind something, and has a LOT of hiss and self-noise. Meanwhile, the Audio Technica AT875R for virtually
the same price new sounds LEAGUES better. It has much much less self-noise, if any,
sounds very clear, if a bit focused on the low end. It’s shorter and picks up a little more
reverb, but for a budget microphone I would definitely put a strong recommendation behind
this one. It doesn’t stand out as anything special,
but it sounds great and in most cases you certainly won’t get any viewer complaints
about your audio quality. The last of the mics from Pablo is this Audix
SCX-one with a hypercardioid capsule. This is another short microphone designed
for vocals and instruments aimed at keeping a low noise floor. I’m told this microphone is supposed to
be a “poor man’s Schoeps CMC641” – I haven’t used that mic, but listening to
some samples of it, I guess I can see it? In my testing setup for the blind samples,
it wasn’t directly close to my mouth, and not being a shotgun mic meant it picked up
a bit more reverb and hiss once I normalized the audio up. Hopefully in this test setup that has been
somewhat alleviated. I really like how this microphone sounds overall,
I just need to keep it closer to avoid some of that reverb pickup, which can be a problem
in some of my shooting scenarios. And lastly we have a late entry to this project,
the Aputure Deity S-Mic 2, a new shotgun microphone from Aputure. This supercardioid shotgun microphone has
no self-power options nor a high pass filter, but sounds pretty good for the price. I feel like it’s not as clear in the high-end
as my MKH-416, but still provides a natural sound, even when you start getting off-axis,
which is not super common. It doesn’t have the most focused directional
cone of pickup, it picks up the most reverb in this shooting environment of all the shotgun
mics I tested, sounding more like the cardioid booms, oddly enough. But for the price, this would definitely be
a good starting point I’d recommend people go with if you have a budget around $350. So… final recommendation time. First, you need to choose between a shotgun
microphone, lavalier microphone, or a short boom cardioid microphone. If you plan on moving around a lot or have
a shooting environment that can’t be treated, a lavalier microphone might be your best bet. If you’re shooting outdoors or indoors with
a good amount of distance from your subject to the mic and camera, but in a sound-treated
environment without a lot of reverb, a shotgun mic is a great choice. If you’re able to keep the mic close to
the speaker, you’ll be VERY satisfied with the audio results from it. Though honestly, I prefer the flexibility
you can get from quality shotgun mics instead. If you have a smaller budget, I’d recommend
the Audio Technica AT875R boom mic or Rode NTG-2 shotgun if you can go up a bit more
in price and have a high quality recorder or pre-amps. Or if you want to hunt used deals, you can
get the Oktava MK-012 cheaper than any of these. If you have a ~$400 budget, the Audix is a
decent choice, though I’m not sure of the upgrade value over the cheaper models, and
the Deity S-Mic 2 provides more flexibility in that price range. Or if you can drop 1000 buckaroos on a mic,
using the Sennheiser may make you never want to go back, like me. It’s just amazing. There you have it. Seven shotgun or boom microphones, all possible
choices for YouTube audio work or small productions – except maybe the Azden. Avoid that one. Affiliate product links for all of these microphones
will be in the description as always. Super duper thanks to Pablo for loaning me
some of these to check out, and thanks to those who gave feedback on the blind tests! I’ll probably have individual reviews of
the Rode NTG-2 and Deity S-Mic 2 on the channel in due time. Until then, subscribe for more tech education
and consider joining us on Patreon where you can get early access to content, behind the
scenes peaks, special Q&A episodes and more. I’m EposVox, I’ll see you next time.

38 thoughts on “Choosing a microphone for YouTube – BOOM MIC SHOWDOWN (7+ Shotgun & Boom Mics Compared)

  1. Hello my friend , i have the zoom h5 recorder and iam willing to buy the shotgun capsule (ssh6)for it , what do you think ?

  2. Great video.
    One thing to mention about the 416. I record a lot of remote VOs and the majority use the 416 (some of the old schoolers still use u87s)
    The 416 has been a staple in TV/movie production for years and is constantly referred to in this regard. So, what I’m getting at is the 416 will retain the most value for resale out of the mic’s you’ve reviewed, you’ll always be able to flip it for 75-80% retail.

  3. well… i use a ps3 singstar mic…. lmao. good audio though i do have to turn it's audio levels up and edit with audacity to make it so you can't hear background noise

  4. the mkh 416 has been on my "one day" list for a while. I have 1000 buckaroos but not to justifiably spend on a mic lol. still top of list as of now. appreciate the comparison and all the tech stuff you do 😀

  5. No mention how MKE600 and MKH416 are similar in audio quality except no guarantees for weather resistance and other professional features?

  6. Would be awesome if you did a showdown with popular voiceover microphones.

    Eying the Sennheiser MKH50 as I see that a lot in documentary filmmakers' kits for voiceover dialogues when they're not using MKH416 or Sanken Cos for interviews.

  7. @Eposvox – i am not sure if i am blind but you dont have any guide / reviews for Turtle Beach Stream Mic.

    Is there a change you could do a guide to set it up so i Can use follow setup

    – PS4 Pro
    – Elgato 4K60s
    – And use xsplit or OBs for comments etc.

    I could just put it to ps4 USB – but that wouldnt make me record My comments or Will it if o have elgato chat link ??

  8. Great review Adam, i enjoyed the presentation, i also agree the 416 sounded the best, i also liked a lot the Audiotechnia 875R, the octavia and audix to me didnt sounded anything special, not bad but to me 875R seems a better pic for value and the 416 for bigger budgets. Thanks again for taking the time and sharing this great roundup.

    In time, im planning on getting an Sanken CS-3e, if i do ill send it to you to compare to your mighty 416.

  9. Hello, I know it is not the best video to ask for this but I have a big question of what to buy.
    I have an AT2020USB +, I am thinking of selling to buy a mixer + a mic XLR for future plans (dual pc streaming).
    What mixer + mic would you recommend me to get to meet my needs?
    Your opinion would be of great help, as you are one of my most reliable sources.

  10. Hey man I got a question. So I own a shure sm58 and an audio technica at2020 but I don't use the shure because my audio interface can't drive it enough and creates hiss when I boost it later. For gaming and future streaming should I invest in a better interface and sell my at2020 or sell the shure?

  11. I'll throw another option into the mix – the AKG CK93. So good I bought a second one!

    I tried a few you have featured in this video and just couldn't quite be happy with any of them (for my voice and use). I've also had no luck getting a lavalier to sound even usable, but the two I've tried (some cheap thing and a Rode smart lav) might have just been the wrong choices.

  12. Holy cow 🐄 I'm surprised how similar the Audio Technica AT875R sounds in comparison to the much, much more expensive Sennheiser MKH-416!
    If I had to choose a mic, it would be a no-brainer to me. Thanks for this comparison EposVox! Cheers

  13. Hi…I really need your take on the HTDZ HT-81 shotgun microphone…I listened to it's quality on a couple of reviews, but I, along with some other interested folks, are not gonna buy the mic, till we here your take on it

  14. Is worth keeping some context in mind when discussing the 416, as you keep on calling it "expensive" yet in a professional context it is a fairly midrange typical workhorse. Not expensive. But not cheap either. Just a trusty middle of the road mic.

    I've got a several mics which are even more expensive than the 416! And several more which are nearly as expensive.

  15. Thanks for this video, which is quite an eye opener and certainly gives food for thought regarding mic selection in certain production setups. I'll probably give an AT875 a try in the near future but I'm wondering — how far are you from the mics (as shown around 2:02)? About two feet away? And what is the approximate width of the direction cone at that distance? Thanks!

  16. Thank you for the review! I'm leaning toward the HC-X1000 to mount onto my Panasonic HC-X1000 for shotgun mic applications, and this vid helped me make that decision!

  17. Great video. i sometimes feel that audio is a bit placebo for me. aside from the Senheiser I can hardly tell and if I didn't know I was watching a mic review video I'm not sure my brain would even notice 😛

  18. Thanks, EposVox. You got me on the path to a camera upgrade and now you're helping me decide on a mic. Probably going m50 and the 875r. I still need a tripod, a GPU, and a NAS so I can't spend too much. Thanks.

  19. It's odd you were getting more room echo with the Oktava and the Audix. I just did a test with the MKH416 and a hypercardioid like the Audix (an AT4053B) and it significantly reduced room echo. Also, the MKH416 sounds really bad if it's even a little off axis (but very good on axis). It is natural to pick up more room ambiance with the hypercardioids however. In my case, about +2db. Put on a high pass filter and it was about -3db quieter than the 416, but it's really going to depend on type of ambiance.

  20. I'm pretty sure I've caught up on all of your shotgun mic reviews now. You've mentioned being so in love with your 416 that you were tempted to get one for your desk. I noticed you're still using a dynamic mic though. Have you tried a shotgun for your streams? Was there enough rejection for keyboard sounds and the like? Thoughts?

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