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How To Record Audio – Shotgun Microphone


Perhaps you’ve been recording with a smartphone
or a handheld recorder for some time now and you’d like to up your game. One of the best things you can do to improve
the front end system is to attach a directional microphone. For wildlife recording, two types of directional
microphones are commonly used. The parabolic reflector system, or parabola,
for short, and the shotgun microphone. In this session we’ll focus on the shotgun
microphone. Specifically, we’ll talk about four things. Why use a shotgun microphone? How it functions. How to aim a shotgun microphone. And the Pros and Cons of why you’d use a shogun
over, say, a parabolic reflector. A shogun microphone is one of the most commonly
used mics for recording bird and other wildlife sounds. It’s a directional microphone. A characteristic that helps reduce unwanted
sounds in your recording and it’s relatively inexpensive. So how does it function? What gives a shotgun microphone its, directional
property, is the interference tube. A hollow tube with precisely placed slits. Sound pressure waves arriving directly at
the front of the tube pass, unimpeded, to the microphone’s diaphragm. However, sound pressure waves arriving off-axis,
are delayed in their arrival at the microphone’s diaphragm. When we look at the microphone’s polar pattern,
an illustration that roughly shows how the microphone picks up sound, we can see the
angle of acceptance and angle of rejection. This is where the mic will be most effective
and least effective for picking up sound. At low frequencies it becomes ineffective
and significantly less directional. So how do you aim a shotgun microphone? Aiming a shotgun microphone is intuitive. Point the interference tube in the direction
of the target sound, making sure to orientate it both vertically and horizontally. Wherever you illuminate with that conical
beam, that is what the shotgun is most effectively picking up. However, not only does the shotgun accept
sound in the forward plane, but to the rear as well. Therefore, when aiming a shotgun, the sides
of the microphone should be toward the unwanted or interfering sounds. An important addition to a shotgun microphone
setup, is a windscreen. The point of a windscreen is to prevent gusts
of wind from directly impacting the diaphragm of the microphone. On a windy day, your audio could sound something
like this without a windscreen, like this with an inexpensive foam screen, and like
this with a blimp or thick fur wind screen. It’s best not to have the microphone perpendicular
to the wind, but rather to face it head on or have your back to the wind. There are many pros in favor of using a shotgun
microphone. For one, it’s directional property allows
you to overcome the impact of unwanted sounds such as, other birds or anthropogenic sound. It is straight forward to aim, carry in the
field, and to transport. It is also easy to track a moving subject. Lastly, the shotgun microphone offers a flatter
frequency response that that of a parabola. This is because the shotgun does not differentially
amplify higher frequencies as the parabola does. So what are the cons of a shotgun microphone? One, it does not amplify sounds. Two, there’s no directionality at lower frequencies. In short, a shotgun microphone is a great
way to begin building your recording kit. It can help you overcome unwanted sound in
the environment and maximize the signal of interest.

47 thoughts on “How To Record Audio – Shotgun Microphone

  1. What an excellent video!! Thanks for the clear information and superb production. You mentioned shotguns lose their directional ability with lower frequencies. When you say low frequency, what range do you mean? < 500Hz? < 5000Hz? Does this differ greatly between different shotgun mics? Thanks!

  2. Could you recommend a much smaller microphone still efficient and with direction? Also what kind of mic should I look for if I want to record in stereo (primarily outdoor nature sounds)?

  3. Hi, excellent video. So helpful. have you any suggestions as to how I might record the sound of the ocean? Thanks!

  4. very nice and informative video.can you tell me the benefits of having the headphone jack port on the camera,please?

  5. when the foam is not enough and we need a furry one? light air (no more than 3mph) is a problem with just the foam on the mic?

  6. hi,i'm going to film a documentary about nature and animals in Costa Rica , would you recommend me the Rode VideoMic Pro or do i need a Stereo Mic?

  7. Low frequencies are relative, like speed, grandma verse an F1driver.
    * So with respect to recording wildlife, and directional pickup/rejection,
    ******WHAT do YOU CONSIDER- LOW FREQUENCIES? Hippo grunts for sure, but what about animals? Cats, dogs, coyote howls maybe.
    In reading the comments, Does this dude EVER answer any questions? I wish he would.

  8. A simple and yet very informative video from Cornell labs, if you are interested in birding then you should download the Merlin app by Cornell labs to your smartphone as it is helpful

  9. What microphones does he use? I'm planning on getting into this but there are so many options to choose from. I'm thinking on a Sennheiser MKE600

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