This is an ultimate comparison to Boom Mic Vs Shotgun Mic. If you are confused about their right use (if they can be used in field recording or podcasts etc) then this guide will give you the whole knowledge of both mic types. So read this guide till the end.
From vocal mics to drum mics and so on, there are several types of microphones that exist for different occasions. That’s why you need an in-depth knowledge of mics to choose the right type of mic for a given application.
In the past, I have shared a lot of stuff about mics such as 10 Best Microphone For Vocals and Acoustic Guitar and Top 10 Lavalier Microphones in 2023 For Youtubers and Podcasters.
In THIS post, I’m going to share my knowledge about 2 important mic types, boom mic and shotgun mic.
Most people don’t know much about boom mic and shotgun mic end up using the wrong mic type in a given application.
That’s why I’m going to give you the information related to boom mics and shotgun mics, so you won’t be confused about them.
Without further ado, let’s find out all the knowledge of boom and shotgun microphones.
Table of Contents
Boom Mic Vs Shotgun Mic
First of all, I want to tell you that, both boom mics or boom poles and shotgun mics are used in field recording as well as podcasts and live programs.
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BUT, boom mic or boom pole is especially used in filmmaking just above the character to capture his voice in a crowded environment.
Note: There are no certain characteristics of a boom mic. Any mic that is used on a boom pole is called a boom mic. It can be a condenser mic, shotgun mic, or dynamic mic.
Shotgun mics are used as a boom mics, in interviews, podcasts and even vlogging to capture characters’ sounds and reject off-axis ambiance.
So, it’s really confusing, when we mention a boom pole as a boom mic and people take it as a separate mic, however, it’s not. Any mic can be used on a boom stand. It all depends on the filmmaker’s needs and priorities.
Now, you have a basic knowledge of both mic types, let me give you some more information about them.
What is Boom Mic?
Boom mic is a mic attached to a boom stand that is used to capture the character’s audio in the film. Boom mic is used out of the frame in video production, typically from the above.
When we talk about boom mic, there is no certain definition of the mic type, because any mic that is attached to the boom pole is called boom mic.
Before the invention of dynamic mics, condenser mics were used as boom mics. With time, technology got more convenient, and unidirectional dynamic and condenser mics were invented. So, filmmakers had been using those mics as a boom mic.
Today in most field recording scenarios, shotgun mics are used as a boom mic.
Boom mic poles are held by boom mic operators above the character in the film. It is always kept out of the frame to hide from the audience.
The boom operator keeps the direction of the mic to the character to record only his voice in a crowded environment, which is post-processed after. Even boom recordings are used as a reference track in further dubbing sessions.
What is Shotgun Mic?
A shotgun mic is a highly directional mic used in various applications, such as,
- Used as a boom mic in filmmaking
- As a backup mic in Interviews
- Youtube videos etc.
A shotgun mic acts like a shotgun and capture the sound only from a pointed direction, that is why it’s called a shotgun mic. It is designed to capture sound only from the pointed direction and reject all off-axis sound.
This is the main characteristic of shotgun mic which makes it ideal to use as a boom mic in filmmaking.
Even, now vloggers are using shotgun mics over their mobile phones and cameras to capture their voices in crowded places.
Shotgun mics are also used in public interviews, however, in these types of interviews mostly Lavalier mics are used, but shotgun mics are used as backup audio recording equipment.
How Does a Shotgun Mic Work?
Might be you are wondering, how shotgun mic rejects off-axis sound and capture crisp and clear straight-direction sound?
Actually, there is a great technology works behind it.
Shotgun mic has a pencil-like structure which is actually called an ‘interference tube‘. The capsule of the mic is located about halfway down the interference tube.
Shotgun microphone has also a series of slots in length. These slots capture the sound source coming straight and reject noise that is coming in from other directions by phase cancellation.
That’s how shotgun mic works. Audio picked up from the sides is canceled through the slots and audio coming from the center is captured clearly.
This characteristic of shotgun mic gives it a tighter polar pattern for which this mic is famous.
Boom Mic Characteristics
Here are the characteristics of a boom mic.
- Any mic used over the boom pole is called boom mic.
- Boom mic is a highly directional mic that accepts on-axis sound and rejects off-axis sound.
- Boom mics are staples in film and video making and are used as the main mic in these applications.
- Boom mics are held by boom mic operators who move them as the characters move during the performance.
- Generally, lightweight mics are used as a boom mics that the operator holds for a long time during the shoot.
- The boom pole has an internally coiled cable that doesn’t interfere with the performance.
What is Boom Pole
Boom pole is a horizontally extended mic stand that is used to hold the shotgun or other types of mics over the character during film shootings, live performances, interviews etc.
It is lightweight and has an internally coiled cable attached to the mic that doesn’t interfere with the performance.
The lightweight and robust design makes it comfortable to hold for a long time during the shoot.
A boom mic operator holds the boom pole over the character and points the mic direction towards the character to capture only his/her voice and rejects off-axis sounds.
Shotgun Mic Characteristics
Here are the characteristics of a shotgun mic.
- Shotgun mic is used in various applications, such as podcasting, vlogging and as a boom mic.
- Shotgun mics have a hyper-cardioid polar pattern, which enables them to capture sound from a highly pointed direction, and any other off-axis sound is rejected.
- Shotgun mic captures clear and crisp sound from the pointed direction.
- It is often used in crowded environments where a lot of off-axis ambiance is present, especially in filmmaking.
- However, it rejects off-axis sound, it’s recorded in a lower dynamic range, which can be removed in post-production.
- As Shotgun mics mitigate the off-axis ambiance, you need foley artist to artificial environmental sounds in post-production.
When Would You Use a Shotgun Mic as a Boom Mic?
As I have told you above, shotgun mics are used in various audio recording applications.
Here, we’ll discuss 3 main applications of Shotgun mic.
In filmmaking, boom mic setups are used as a staple audio recording equipment. Today, in most boom mic setups, shotgun mic is used to capture audio from the pointed source and reject audio from off-axis sources.
Shotgun mics are fixed at the cornet of the boom pole and placed above the character, out of the frame.
The angle of shotgun mic is pointed towards the character to capture his/her voice during the shoot.
Further in post-processing, the voice is edited and enhanced. As the off-axis ambiance is below a certain dynamic range, it can be easily removed from the track.
Similarly, in studio applications such as podcasting, interviews, etc, two shotgun mics are used above the host and guest to capture their voice and reject the off-axis sound.
However, lavalier mics are the main mics in interviews and podcasts to capture the voice, shotgun mics are used as overhead boom mics to capture the voice as a backup recording.
In stages, shotgun mics are used as stage overheads, especially in plays where multiple characters participate in the play.
Shotgun mic operator operates from above the stage and moves the mic positions according to the dialog delivery of different characters.
Today, shotgun mics are widely used in vlogging. Vloggers use it as a staple mic over the camera or mobile phone to capture their own voice during vlogging shoots.
Mics, like Rode VideoMicro II are specially built for this purpose, and capture high-quality audio from above the camera.
The best thing about using shotgun mics in vlogging is it rejects axis sound that’s why vloggers use it in crowded places.
However, today, we have other options such as wireless lavalier mics that can be clipped on the cloth to capture vloggers’ sound.
Even I have one for my vlogging Youtube channel. BUT, shotgun mic is also a great equipment to capture your voice on the go.
Shotgun Mic Pros and Cons
While shotgun mic is used widely in multiple audio recording applications, it has some pros and cons that you should know before make your purchase.
Here they are,
Pros of Shotgun Microphone
- Shotgun mic is one of the best mics to capture the character’s voice and reject other off-axis sounds. That’s why it is widely used in movies, podcasting, vlogging etc.
- As shotgun mic is a condenser-type mic, the sound captured by it is crisp and clear.
- Shotgun mic can be easily fixed over the camera, on boom poles and over the stage.
- Compared to other mic setups, shotgun mic gives you a crisp and clear recording which you can adjust on the editing table.
- Latest shotgun mic setup is easily movable so you can use it on the go.
Cons of Shotgun Microphone
- Shotgun mics need phantom power like condenser mics. So, in filmmaking, an audio interface or mixer with phantom power is used to power up the shotgun mic. However, vlogging shotgun mics are battery-powered which fulfills the need for phantom power and you don’t need a phantom-powered device to power them up.
- As shotgun mic captures the sound coming from straight, if the character moves a lot, the boom mic operator has to struggle a lot to keep the mic on-axis.
- Shotgun mic captures wind noise however it can be fixed by using a wind muff over the mic.
Shotgun Mics: My Recommendations
Now, you know all the required information regarding boom mics (pole) and shotgun mics and thier use in different applications.
If you are planning to purchase a shotgun mic for a purpose then here are my recommendations according to the purpose.
Best For Filmaking: Rode NTG-2
Rode NTG2 is a lightweight shotgun microphone. It is specially designed for applications like filmmaking, video, television and broadcasting.
It is both 48V phantom power and battery powered so you can use it as a boom mic in filmmaking via battery or in studio applications with phantom power.
Rode BTG-2 features a high-pass filter switch for added flexibility to your recordings.
Best For Studio Overheads: Sennheiser MKE 600
Sennheiser MKE 600 is another great shotgun mic used as a boom mic for filmmaking and studio overheads.
It can also be mounted over the camera/camcorder. So you can use it on the go. It also has a low cut filter which you can use to cut the low frequency ambiance.
It is a battery-powered mic so you can use it anywhere without worrying about the phantom power availability.
Best For Vlogging: Rode VideoMicro II
If you are searching for a shotgun mic for vlogging then there is no other better option than Rode VideoMicro II.
It is a professional-grade on-camera shotgun microphone. It is only 39g in weight so you can keep it anywhere you go.
It can be easily fixed over the camera or your mobile which makes it a widely flexible microphone.
One of the best things about this mic is you don’t need a phantom-powered device or battery to power up this mic.
So, above you have learned all about the boom mic and shotgun mic. Now I think you are not confused between the use of boom and shotgun mics.
Well, boom mic is actually mic setup in which a shotgun or other type of mic is used over the boom pole.
On the other hand, shotgun mic is a mic type that captures the sound only from the front and rejects sound from other sides. That’s why shotgun mics are great to use in the crowded area.
If you have any other questions regarding the shotgun and boom mics, let me know in the comments. I will answer all your questions.