Best directional microphone for filming

5 Best Directional Microphones For Filming

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In this article we look at the best directional microphones for filming, aka shotgun mics!

Out of all the different factors that combine to make a great film, audio is one of (perhaps the most) important.

Audiences can handle a little bit of lower-quality footage if it’s still telling the story. They can look past minor faults. But audio? As soon as your audio is anything other than great, you’ve lost them. People will switch off.

Ask yourself, for instance, how many times have you sat through and watched a YouTube video with poor audio?

You need to nail it. Not just for your audience, but for yourself.

So, to help you avoid making the same mistakes, we’ve put together an article covering five of the best directional microphones for filming.

→ Rode NTG5 Microphone

Price: £469.78

  • Weight: 76g
  • Length: 20.3cm
  • Output: XLR
  • Power: Phantom
  • Supercardioid shotgun, polar pattern
  • Frequency Range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz.
Rode NTG5 Microphone

Firstly, Rode’s NTG5.

Rode are one of the best when it comes to directional microphones and this latest flagship model does not disappoint.

Their new design offers a ‘natural, uncoloured sound’. Rather than the classic ‘slots’ you’ll find on most shotgun mics, the NTG5 sports circular ports. Polka-dots, if you will.

The sound quality is exceptional and it’s also weather resistant 👍

Furthermore, weighing in at just 76g and 203mm in length, boom operators up and down the country will be grinning from ear to ear.

This thing is very easy to handle. It comes ready to go with a windshield, a pistol grip and a few other accessories. Or you could mount it on your camera.. the choice is yours.

→ Rode Videomic Pro Plus Mic

Price: £201.28

  • Weight: 122g
  • Length: 10.92cm
  • Output: 3.5mm jack
  • Power: in-built rechargeable battery, USB power & AA battery
  • Supercardioid shotgun, polar pattern
  • Frequency Range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz.
Rode Videomic Pro Plus Shotgun Mic

Secondly, another Rode product. The Videomic Pro Plus.

This particular microphone has been specifically designed to be mounted on your DSLR camera, slotting perfectly into the hotshoe, ready to go. It boasts a really comprehensive sound profile and a clean tone through the 3.5mm microphone jack.

Considering it’s a shotgun mic, it’s impressively small and unassuming which is important when it comes to mounting on DSLRs.

Consequently, it never dwarfs your camera, sitting there just perfectly on Rode’s signature suspension system. The soft plastic works as a shock mount, absorbing any unwanted noises as you go about your shoot.

Additionally, the on-board battery can last up to an exceptional and reliable 20 hours, charged by a mini-USB port.

Personally, my favourite feature about this particular shotgun mic is it’s auto on/off detection system. When you have the audio jack plugged in, the microphone will turn on when you camera turns on. When you camera turns off, so does the microphone.

It seems like such a small and simple touch but it’s a real lifesaver 😉

→ Sennheiser MKH-416 Directional Microphone

Price: £899.00

  • Weight: 165g
  • Length: 25cm
  • Output: XLR
  • Power: Phantom
  • Supercardioid shotgun, pick-up pattern
  • Frequency Range: 40 Hz – 20 kHz.
Sennheiser MKH-416 Directional Microphone

Moving on, the Sennheiser MKH-416.

This directional microphone is one that’s been used by boom operators and filmmakers the world over. It’s an industry favourite and has been around for several decades!

It boasts a cardioid sound pick-up pattern that can really zero in on a particular person or object, without picking up too much background noise and, a strong, metal build quality.

Let’s face it, sometimes accidents happen on set. Every piece of gear will inevitably, at some point, be subject to a scratch or scrape. With this shotgun mic you don’t need to worry about that.

Moreover, the matte-black body means you won’t have any reflection issues when it comes to lighting. It’s a small detail but, when paying this much, you expect that.

Yes, it is a little more expensive when lined up alongside the Rode’s mentioned above but, when it comes to sound, paying more is always worth it.

→ Audio-Technica AT897

Price: £466.00

  • Weight: 145g
  • Length: 27.9cm
  • Output: XLR
  • Power: Phantom
  • Supercardioid shotgun, polar pattern
  • Frequency Range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz.
Audio-Technica AT897 Mic

In complete contrast to what I just wrote above about ‘paying more is always worth it’, the Audio-Technica AT897 is another trustworthy shotgun mic, well respected by filmmakers yet only a quarter of the price of the Sennheiser MKH-416 mentioned above.

To clarify, why it’s so popular. It’s a rare budget option that doesn’t compromise on sound quality despite how cheap it is.

It holds its own against much higher-quality setups, perfectly hitting that sweet spot between price and quality. Furthermore, at just 279mm long and 145g, you can rely on it remaining out of shot and not killing your boom operator’s arms in the process.

On the other hand, if you fancy, it can be mounted on your camera. It’s a great option to consider.

→ Schoeps CMC641 Supercardioid Microphone

Price: £2,718.00

  • Weight: 77g
  • Length: 13.8cm
  • Output: XLR
  • Power: Phantom
  • Supercardioid shotgun, polar pattern
  • Frequency Range: 40 Hz – 26 kHz.
Schoeps CMC641 Set Colette Series Supercardioid Microphone

Lastly, Schoeps’ CMC641.

This is a directional microphone that sits firmly at the other end of the price scale. It will cost you a lot. But boy, is it worth it. It’s become a real favourite, beloved by many audiophiles and technicians who swear by it.

In short, the most common remark is that it often sounds as if you are in right there in the room when listening back to recorded dialogue. That tells you all you need to know about sound quality.

The basic set up is the amplifier, the CMC6 that can be powered either by 48V phantom or 12V T-power and the capsule that sits on top, the MK41. All hand-made in Germany so you know it’s good. Those Germans don’t mess about.

Its super-cardioid design ensures it isolates dialogue and individual sounds from the background with ease, giving a sound that’s crisp, clear and uncompromising from high to low.

It will get the job done across a wide variety of locations both indoors and out. If you can afford to splash the cash, you won’t regret it.

Wrapping up – Best Directional Microphones

So, there you have it. Five best directional microphones for filmmaking!

When you start conducting your own research you’ll quickly realise just how many options are out there. Therefore, it’s important you know what your needs are e.g

  • size
  • weight
  • compatibility
  • sound quality (obviously)
  • price

It can be a bit daunting at first and for some of us, it’s not first on our list of priorities when it comes to filmmaking. But, it’s important to take it seriously. When you begin to nail audio, you begin to nail a huge part of your production.

Film Production, Gear, Video Production

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