Shotgun Microphone

Azden SGM-3500 Series Shotgun Microphones

Azden has made microphones for video production for a number of years. About five years ago, I reviewed their SGM-250 which was a decent, entry level short shotgun microphone. But now it looks like Azden is moving up market and making some higher quality shotgun microphones. Let’s take a look at and have a listen to their new SGM-3500 and SGM-3500L shotgun microphones.

If you’d like to learn how to make great dialogue audio for your film and video projects, please have a look at my courses including processing dialogue audio in Adobe Audition and DaVinci Resolve/Fairlight, recording sound, how to use the Zoom F4, F8 and, F8n, and how to get the most from the Sound Devices MixPre series of recorders.

Gear used and mentioned in this episode:

Azden SGM-3500 Shotgun Microphone - B&H

Azden SGM-3500L Shotgun Microphone - B&H

Deity S-Mic 2 Shotgun Microphone - B&H

RODE NTG4+ - B&H

D&O 180W LED Panel Light used as a key light - Amazon

Aputure COB120DII LED light used for background - Amazon

Panasonic GH5 Camera - Amazon

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 OIS Lens - Amazon

Get a free trial of the best music for your videos at Musicbed

Copyright 2019 by Curtis Judd

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are Amazon.com, B&H Photo, or other affiliate links.

Deity S-Mic 2 Shotgun Microphone: Initial Impressions

At NAB 2018, Deity Microphones announced their S-Mic 2, an affordable shotgun microphone targeted at independent filmmakers with some important improvements over the original Aputure Deity Shotgun Microphone. Deity refined the voicing on the S-Mic 2 for a fuller, more balanced sound. They also coated the circuit board to reduce the microphone’s self noise. Let’s take a closer look and a listen, and even compare it to the RODE NTG-4+, a similarly priced shotgun microphone, as well as a pro-level shotgun mic, the DPA 4017b.

Links to gear discussed and used to shoot this episode:

Deity S-Mic 2 Shotgun Microphone - Coming Soon, ships July 2018

Sound Devices 633 Audio Recorder/Mixer

Aputure COB 120d - This is the light I used as a key in the talking head clips

Aputure Light Dome Soft Box - Used to soften the key light

Panasonic GH5 - My favorite small camera for video

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 OIS Lens - incredibly versatile lens that is on the GH5 most of the time

Copyright 2018 by Curtis Judd 

Music - Elegance in Entropy - Copyright 2017 by The Vacationist, used with permission

Sanken CSS-50 Stereo Shotgun Microphone Quick Demo

The Sanken CSS-50 is a professional grade stereo shotgun microphone. This is a rather unique design in that the mic has 3 square capsules. I was pretty impressed with the sound it produces and it also stood up well to a key jangling test where we stress the microphone's transient and high frequency capture abilities. This is not the one microphone for everyone or every occasion, but it is a nice option, particularly for those who do a fair bit of stereo recording.

Gear used/covered in this episode:

Sanken CSS-50 Stereo Shotgun Microphone

Sennheiser 5-pin to Dual 3-pin XLR Adapter Cable

Rycote Softie Wind Cover (good for light wind)

Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro Camera

Panasonic GH5 Camera (behind the scenes wide shot)

Panasonic 12-35 f/2.8 Lens (original mark I version)

Copyright 2017 by Curtis Judd

5 Shotgun Microphones: Audio Samples and Off-Axis Test

In this episode we listen to five different shotgun microphones and also listen to how each of them sound when off-axis (the person speaking is off to the side of the mic).

Gear used or mentioned in this episode:

Azden SGM250 Shotgun Microphone - Entry level mic with good off-axis rejection. Sounds decent but not particularly warm.

RODE NTG2 Shotgun Microphone - Entry level mic with nice warm sound. Off-axis rejection is not as pronounced as the higher-end mics, but decent.

Aputure Deity Shotgun Microphone - Nice sounding mid-level mic with warm sound. Off-axis rejection is not as extreme as Azden, RODE NTG4+ or DPA 4017B.

RODE NTG4+ Shotgun Microphone - Mid-range mic with decent sound and good off-axis rejection. Not as warm as NTG2 or DPA 4017B

DPA 4017B Shotgun Microphone - Great, warm, but articulate sound with good off-axis rejection and more natural off-axis falloff compared to other mics here.

Sound Devices 633 Audio Mixer/Recorder - My main recorder/mixer. Great sounding, low-noise preamps. Can also be controlled remotely with iPad or iPhone (adding the Wingman USB transmitter)

Copyright 2017 by Curtis Judd

Black Friday Deal: Tascam DR-60DmkII & RODE NTG2

One last gear nerd black Friday notice and we're moving back to other things: B&H has a deal on the Tascam DR-60DmkII recorder with the RODE NTG2 Shotgun Microphone for $379 USD.  Normally they'd cost over $450 separately.

I've used this combination many times in my corporate jobs with great results. If you're just getting started, this is probably the best deal I've seen on a solid shotgun and recorder combination.

My review of the Tascam recorder:

https://youtu.be/TRoIMPHS91U

And my really old review of the RODE NTG2 shotgun microphone:

https://youtu.be/GlQ32DwdpEw

RODE VideoMic Pro with Lyre Suspension and Redesigned Capsule

We had posted this overview of the new RODE VideoMic Pro a few months back but had to pull it because RODE found an issue with the electronics a couple of days after release and recalled it. (Full disclosure: RODE sent me the mike for evaluation. They do not pay me and I retain the right to express my opinion.)

They've got the issue resolved and it is now available online.

Overall, I really like having this in my kit. I'm not a huge fan of using a shotgun mike mounted on top of my camera or rig but there are a few cases where it makes sense. Filming my daughter's marching band in the summer parade this year was one case where it made sense and worked well.

But I also find that this mic works great boomed just above your talent using the RODE VC1 extension cable. In fact, this is how my friend Dave Dugdale shoots 85% of his videos for YouTube (with the older version of the mike). I also like the sound of the new mike. Rich low end when you've got it boomed in close (less than 90cm) . Very neutral when farther away.

If you're wondering whether to get the older version of the mic or spend the extra $40 for the new version, I'd go with the new. You'll have a lot fewer issues with the lyre suspension system in terms of isolating the mike from handling noise and you won't lose and have to repair those pesky rubber bands.

Battery life seems really good as well. I'm still on the original 9v battery and have probably clocked about 8 - 10 hours of use.

RØDE NTG4+ Shotgun Microphone Review

https://youtu.be/B8aE0loboMA It's here and everything I had hoped it would be! But is it for everyone?

A couple of months ago you all voted on what you wanted to cover next and one of the things you voted for was a review of the RØDE NTG4+ shotgun microphone. This is RØDE’s next generation enthusiast/pro shotgun mic and it has a few interesting features:

- The "+" version has an inbuilt lithium battery that can power the mic for 150 hours - A re-designed microphone capsule (which I think sounds a bit more natural than the NTG2 with less of the low frequency boost that sounds like FM radio announcers) - Electronic buttons for high pass, high frequency boost, and -10 dB pad as well as mic power

We’ve spent a few weeks working with it and it is a great, very versatile mic! RØDE has done a great job filling a hole in the shotgun mic market. Better quality than the $100 - $300 mics and added features that make this mic incredibly versatile.

RODE NTG-4 and NTG-4+: Innovative New Affordable Shotguns for Enthusiasts

RODE NTG-4+ And speaking of RODE, they also just announced two new Shotgun mics for enthusiast filmmakers: The NTG-4 and NTG-4+. These sit between their NTG-2 (an approximately $220 USD mic) and their professional NTG-3 (a $700 USD mic). The feature set includes several nice little upgrades from the NTG-2, my workhorse shotgun:

  • Super Cardioid Broadcast Quality Sound
  • Low Noise Circuitry
  • Condenser Transducer
  • Rugged Metal Construction
  • On-Board Power Button and LED
  • High Frequency Boost Button
  • High Pass Filter (Flat or 75 Hz)
  • -10 dB PAD Button
  • Low Handling Noise

And then the NTG-4+ also has a built-in LiOn battery that apparently powers the mic for 150 hours and includes a USB port so that you can charge it nearly anywhere (including in your car)

But the thing that intrigues me most about this is the newly designed capsule that is apparently not quite as bright as many other microphones. You know, that brittle, sibilant sound that many modern mics produce? But then if you need a little more sparkle, you can always turn on the high frequency boost feature built into the mic. That sounds pretty handy!

Another item to put into my "To review" pile...

 

 

Affordable Shotgun Microphone: Audio Technica AT897

Audio_Technica_AT897_AT897_Short_Condenser_300615 B&H has got some nice pricing on a good mid-level shotgun that sounds great in the samples that I've heard: The Audio Technica AT897. If you're in the market, looks like their Black Friday price is about $175 USD through November 30th. Pretty nice deal for a good shotgun mic.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!